Investing in amazing goods that make your house a home is an easy way of surviving through yet another lockdown in (more often than not) teeny tiny spaces.
When it comes to purchasing well-made goods, we also want to ensure that they are ethically sourced and (hopefully) low cost, high return. Enter: Kilne Cookware. From the creators of Endy mattresses, Kilne is on a mission to help you learn to love cooking again. They’ve designed products worthy of — and tested by — top chefs, but made for home kitchens and at a price that leaves money in your pocket. How do they do this? By working directly with the best producers, skipping the retailers and selling direct to consumers.
We chatted with the brains and brawn behind Kilne Cookware, husband-wife power-duo, Mike Gettis and Noelle Hjelte, to learn more about their quality cookware.
Tell us a bit about yourselves.
We are Mike Gettis and Noelle Hjelte, co-founders of Kilne. [Mike] My previous role was founding the direct-to-consumer mattress brand, Endy. We sold our company in 2018 and thought: it’s time to start a new company. Looking at what we wanted to focus on, there was this really interesting spot for home goods, especially because people are spending a lot of time at home.
You mentioned Endy, a wildly successful business venture. It seems you’ve really found this niche for luxury home goods. How did you go from beds to knives?
We saw an opportunity. Similar to how Endy started, we went shopping for a set of knives about a year and a half ago and, when we looked at the different options, it was surprising to see how many similarities there were — or rather were not — for shopping. There were the same brands, but they had different products in different stores with different price points. And when we looked into it, they definitely varied in the quality and price. So it seemed like a great opportunity for a direct-to-consumer business. Plus, we felt like there was a way to make nice stuff that was better than what was currently available.
Yes, because knives ain’t cheap. And if you buy a cheap knife, it’s not good.
Exactly. That’s what we started thinking. To get the best stuff on the market, you’re paying $150 or $200 for a knife. Sometimes you’re in that $300-400 range for a set. So we were just kind of assessing how much that added up. When you buy the cheaper stuff, you worry about your health. You don’t want to have coating or anything toxic or buy knives that aren’t sharp. Even that can be dangerous in terms of cutting. So we noticed a huge difference in terms of quality from higher-end knives. Our goal was to bring that to more people and make it more accessible for everyone.
How do you keep the price so affordable?
The biggest thing is not having a retail footprint. Being a startup and being able to directly ship to customers with a smaller team. It definitely makes a big difference in terms of what we’re able to pass along to our consumers.
How is it working not only as life partners but also as business partners?
[Noelle] Mike and I both had established careers before starting this company. We both have about 15 years in our specialty. My background is in communications and, obviously, you know Mike’s background as well. So having that experience under our belt and coming into it with some learnings of what we’re good at, how to run a project and how to be successful as a team really helps. I mean, we talk about it quite a bit, so it helps to live with that person too, right?
Your specialties are so different, which works well in life and in business.
Yeah. I think it’s a newer approach in some ways. I know talking to other couples, a lot of them would rather work separately. We thought it’d be fun to try. And so far, I think us having different specialties is working out well because we divide and conquer.
Suzanne Barr is one of your brand ambassadors. How did you approach renowned chefs, like her, to be part of this process?
Michael and I are home chefs, but we also wanted to engage some of Canada’s top chefs to ensure that with the product design and the testing, it was something that was really great quality and we were getting that extra culinary experience that we don’t have. So, we’re so happy to partner with chefs, plus they offered great insight and they’re amazing to work with.
Creating the ideal bed is challenging, especially because everyone’s experience is so subjective. Do you find that your target demographic is quite similar?
It’s a little early to tell, but we had a really strong Black Friday. We’d say it goes up to 65+. I would say the one surprise early on was seeing a lot more people in the older age demographic, especially during these times of shopping online. When we first launched Endy, it was really about targeting young professionals, so it’s interesting to see an even spread all the way through different age groups.
Are you planning on expanding the line to other kitchen tools?
Yeah, we’re working on a full plan for 2021, including, cookware, flatware, cutlery and tableware. So, the whole gamut.
One last question: you mentioned that you’re home chefs. What do you like to prepare and who for?
We have two young kids, so we tend to make sure that they eat well. It’s really simple everyday stuff that’s quick and easy for us because we’re working parents and that’s kind of what truly happens at home. But we will say that our knives are used daily in our house, for sure.