“Runk. We are Jayne and Vaughan. We set-up Runk – Run Kind. Be Kind, to support those who run, but feel their body and skin need a little TLC, although we feel anyone would love our products.”
This is how a couple from Wiltshire describe their company on their website. I caught up with Vaughan to find out a little more about their business journey.
Vaughan had been a keen runner for many years, completing half marathons and was planning to extend this to the Paris Marathon but COVID-19 has delayed this ambition. His wife Jayne started running in 2019, after the birth of their second child, using the Couch to 5k app and it was a conversation about the lack of really good lip balms for runners, which sparked their idea for a business.
A simple Google search of how to make lip balms ensued and further discussions led to the couple formulating a plan to produce products designed for runners and other sports people with a strong ethical and sustainable stance which sourced natural ingredients. (Their strapline!)
With more people taking up running during lockdown, Vaughan and Jayne noticed that many were nervous about getting too close to each other or acknowledge each other and they developed an ethos of Run Kind Be Kind. This evolved into Runk, their company name and they now offer a range of products and accessories on their website and when possible, at sports events across the country.
“Outset really helped us to get in the mindset of customers, keeping our messaging on brand”
Vaughan got in touch with Outset Swindon and Wiltshire to help them ensure that the business was set up and managed on a sustainable footing, staying true to their core values whilst also developing into a profitable business.
Their products include a mini hand sanitiser which can be carried on a runner’s belt, which is refillable and is effective without drying the hands. All of their products are created using natural and sustainable ingredients and in the case of clothing and accessories are recyclable or made from recycled bottles, as well as being Fair Wear Foundation standard.
“During lockdown, we’ve used the time to work on our marketing and advertising and developing our social media reach as we couldn’t go out to sports events and races to meet potential customers,” stated Vaughan. He has also attended workshops run by the Outset team and received 1:1 support to help develop their vision and increase their skills and knowledge of social media and marketing.
“Whilst I already knew some of the business side of things, Outset really helped us to get in the mindset of customers, keeping our messaging on brand. I really enjoyed my discussions with the team and they provided with just the right combination of mentoring, coaching and advice to help develop the business, which was still at quite an early stage,”
“We have a really mixed customer base and we have intentionally created products with a wide appeal across a range of sports – our lip balm flavours are also really popular with young girls!” Vaughan noted.
“I suppose that we had talked about having our own business for a long time, but it was this idea which had the potential to turn into a real company and we have had a lot of encouragement,” stated Vaughan.
“It was great to have the Outset team to talk through ideas with and help us to focus on what would make the business work. Outset were never forceful with their advice, nor did they push us to take out finance, which we were keen not to do, instead finding ways for us to work in the way that we wanted with an ethical approach.”
The couple are exploring options to promote their products through potential sponsorship partnerships which they hope will expand their reach across other sports and to new customers. “The best thing about running your own business,” commented Vaughan, “is when you get feedback from someone who has used your product and loved it! We are looking forward to sharing them with more people in the coming months as we all start to participate in group sports again”