From middle school science project to thriving e-commerce company, American Provenance sticks to the formula.
It all started in a chemical fog of body spray. Former middle school science teacher Kyle LaFond kept getting headaches but didn’t understand why until a fateful day next to the lockers. “Two little guys were just absolutely showering themselves with Axe Body Spray, and as I walked by I could feel my throat get tight,” LaFond says. He inspected the can, recognized very few ingredients and designed a science project on the spot. Students brought in personal care items and LaFond helped them formulate replicas using natural ingredients. Over the years, LaFond developed quite a product line — and his family and friends loved it.
“They all said this is really good stuff, you should do something with this,” LaFond says.
He did. In May 2015, LaFond launched American Provenance in his mother’s machine shed on the 110-acre Blue Mounds Township property originally purchased by his great-grandfather as a wedding gift for his grandparents. LaFond started living on the farm after his mother died in 2018 — the same year the business outgrew it. After seeking invaluable help from Michelle Somes-Booher at the Small Business Development Center, graduating from gener8tor’s gBeta accelerator program and raising $500,000 in funding from Wisconsin’s Winnebago Seed Fund and Chicago-based Tru Fragrance & Beauty, LaFond moved operations 10 miles up the road into the Premier Building Solutions business park. That little science project had morphed into a line of all-natural deodorant, body wash, aftershave, pomade, beard balm, beard oil, hand sanitizer and liquid soap. Today it’s a multimillion-dollar company with products in more than 4,000 stores nationwide, with a thriving e-commerce platform and a 2021 deal with Target.com.