Walking around with a huge bag of stuff is never a good feeling and it’s a sure way of losing items in a disorganized mess. One of the latest solutions to this problem is Cadence, the 100% leak-free, magnetic capsules that can easily be filled up with your must-have, on-the-go products. The portable personal care industry leaves a tremendous carbon footprint; billions of silicone and plastic travel bottles end up in oceans and landfills. Cadence capsules are TSA-compliant and made of recycled ocean-bound plastics collected from beaches and the smart design includes interchangeable labels, allowing you to know exactly what’s in each capsule. Travel size items are extremely expensive, travel bottles are clunky, and not all of your favorite products are available in small sizes. With Cadence, the magnetic capsules attach to one another ensuring that you are organized when on the road and packing exactly what you need.
AlleyWatch caught up with Founder and CEO Steph Hon to learn how Cadence is differentiating itself as a sustainable brand that’s solving a classic, human problem and how the brand caters to travel, beauty, fitness, and everyday needs.
Tell us about the product or service that Cadence offers.
Cadence creates products that help you move — because you do it all. Our first product on the market is the Cadence Capsule: a portable, intuitively designed refillable container built for frustration-free daily transitions.
Made with recycled ocean-bound plastics collected from beaches in Haiti and Thailand, Cadence capsules are 100% leak-free, TSA compliant, durable, non-leaching, non-porous, and wide-mouthed for easy filling and easy cleaning. Interchangeable labels (marked cleanser, vitamins, toner, etc) make it easy to tell which product you’re reaching for, and built-in magnets allow you to build a system that stays together and saves space. All you have to do is fill up your capsules with your must-have products, connect them together, and go.
Our product is the first of its kind. It took us nearly three years of development and over 200 prototypes to engineer a design that strikes the optimal balance of beauty, durability, and functionality. The result is an intuitive system that combines form and function to solve a long list of movement dilemmas, while preventing more plastic from entering landfills. Our use of recycled ocean-bound plastics is unlike anything else in the market: each capsule we produce takes one travel bottle’s worth of plastic from beaches and repurposes it into something that helps reduce your daily plastic footprint.
Finally, we’re differentiated by our brand and the fact that there IS a brand. Until now, your only options were:
Buying a travel-sized version of an existing product (which is limiting: only very few of my favorite brands and products carried small sizes, and the small sizes have a huge markup, and came bundled with products I wouldn’t use)
Buying a generic single-use plastic travel bottle and trying to fill it on your own—an inefficient process that results in all sorts of headaches for users. We took out everything that’s wrong with the existing solution and found a way to solve it with smart design.
What market does Cadence target and how big is it?
Cadence targets the 40M Americans with routines who need to take their products on the go. Consumers spend $700-$4,000 annually on personal care products to empower them but have lacked a good way to take them mobile until now. Cadence is the only brand solving that pain point.
We are a cross-market brand that touches the lifestyle, beauty, wellness, fitness, and travel spheres. Our mass-market potential comes from the fact that we aren’t asking consumers to change their existing habits: we’re providing a solution that fits into their daily lives, while making it easy and frictionless to cut back on plastic use.
Who do you consider to be your primary competitors?
We are the first company to build a brand around this concept. At this stage, our closest competitors are the refillable plastic travel bottles you can find on Amazon or at MUJI.
What is the business model?
E-commerce, DTC, wholesale, corporate partnerships.
What inspired the start of Cadence?
Cadence was inspired by my background as a dancer, rock climber, and my belief that the way you move impacts the way you feel. I’d always been bothered by the moments of inefficiency and chaos in my daily transitions from place to place: from home, to work, to climbing gym, to partner’s house, and beyond. I had put a lot of time and care into finding personal care products that worked for me, and I needed a way to take them on the go. I didn’t want to settle for those leaky single-use plastic bottles you can buy at the drugstore.
It wasn’t until a visit to a campground bathroom on a rock climbing trip that I realized the problem was bigger than me. I was at the sink surrounded by all my products, feeling like a high maintenance bag lady. Then other women started coming into the bathroom with their own clunky, makeshift solutions for taking their routines mobile, and we started chatting. I realized that this was a common problem, not just for travel, but for movement in our day to day lives, and set out to build the first reliable, sustainable solution.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
Within the next few months, we plan to launch new colors of the Capsules, and advance plans for our upcoming product collection. We’re looking to secure meaningful early brand partners and solidify our wholesaler relationships. While I’m not actively raising a round right now, I’m always looking to build my angel network.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
No one ever prepared me for the reality that being a founder is a lot like being a parent. You have to shield your children (your team) from the bad news and find a way to present the information differently to them to keep spirits up.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
I’d love to be in touch with Sarah Kauss, Founder of S’well. I’ve pitched Cadence as the “S’well of personal care,” and have always drawn inspiration from Sarah’s design-centric approach and business model. By creating a product that prioritized recognizable design, and seeding it with niche communities, she managed to create fashion in an otherwise (and at the time) unfashionable space. I’d love to learn about how she’s handled the challenges of running this type of business, so I’d ask her – if you were me, what would you ask you?
I’d love to be in touch with Sarah Kauss, Founder of S’well. I’ve pitched Cadence as the “S’well of personal care,” and have always drawn inspiration from Sarah’s design-centric approach and business model.
Why did you launch in New York?
In addition to being from the area, I launched in New York because it’s the greatest place to start a company. The creative talent pool in NYC is unparalleled. The city is big on physical goods, big on creators, and full of people who are super passionate about what they do. In comparison to another creative city like LA, New York is where you find the true hustlers.
There’s a creative energy in New York that I’ve never felt anywhere else. When you’re up working at 1 am, you always have people in the office next to you, so you’re never alone in the hustle.
When I drive into the city early in the morning when it’s still dark out, and see the Manhattan skyline all lit up, it never fails to inspire. Corny as it may sound, it reminds me that if people built that skyline, I can do anything.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
King’s County Imperial in Brooklyn.
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