As former All Black Jerome Kaino winds up his professional rugby career in France with style and prepares to start his coaching career there, he is also taking his undie business global.
Last weekend Kaino played his last home game for Toulouse, marking the occasion by posing afterwards with wife Di and their three young children on the field.
The 38-year-old helped his club win the European Champion’s Cup last month and has cemented his name in France. It’s understood he will start his desired coaching career there.
Meanwhile, Kaino’s underwear business, MINT, has gone global less than eight weeks after launching in New Zealand — and has plans to branch out into the children’s market.
He and his business partners — Papakura childhood friends Bayon Kim and Rocky Lokeni — have taken the undie world by storm with sellout online sales and global retail chains wanting to stock them.
“Making MINT has been a team effort between me and the boys,” Kaino tells Spy. “We all bring something different to the table. Playing in France, it made sense to push MINT here and we’re fortunate people are loving the brand and what it stands for — inclusiveness, diversity and body confidence.”
The Māori/Asian and Māori/Samoan heritage the trio share is represented in the waistbands of their signature range. Kaino’s star power has seen big sales in rugby nations, surpassing all the growth expectations of the business.
“As well as NZ and France we’ve also had orders in Ireland, South Africa, the UK and Australia,” Kaino says. “The feedback’s been amazing. Some of the international front-rowers have replaced their performance skins with MINT, saying they’re far more comfy than other big-name brands.
“I think part of it is down to the bamboo fabric we use. It’s incredibly soft, light, breathable and durable.”
As for the MINI MINT range, Kaino says it was always part of the plan.
“It’s an idea we loved creatively and one we thought could bring families together — fathers and sons, uncles, granddads, carers, all wearing their MINT underwear.
“My own boys don’t want to wear anything else and I know Rocky’s son refuses to wear anything but his red MINTs when he plays rugby on Saturdays.”
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