By Jessica Alba, Actress (HuffPost Latino Voices)
Becoming a mom has been the most profound, life-changing experience and I’ll never look at the world the same. Having a child made me so much more aware of the dangers and risks all around my new baby; it seemed like overnight an instinct to protect kicked in.
For decades, parents have been taking precautions to reduce dangers around their children by using car seats, child gates, outlet covers and more. But today there are many invisible risks that most parents aren’t aware of — risks from everyday products we buy for our homes and children.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, Honor, I read Christopher Gavigan’s book, Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home. This book served as my handbook on toxic chemicals in products and their link to illnesses. I learned that our current chemical regulatory system is doing an abysmal job of protecting us, the consumers. Simply put, manufacturers are allowed to use questionable, untested, toxic chemicals in everyday consumer products like baby shampoo, diapers and household cleaners.
As a lot of new parents do, I spent hours and hours researching products for my baby. Then I spent more time jumping from site to site buying products online or running around from one store to another trying to find them. I’d shell out way more money for the products in brown packaging and pictures of nature only to get home and find out the brown diapers I just bought still had ingredients in them I was trying to avoid. And the few products that were actually safer never seemed to work as well as I needed. My dishes didn’t get clean. The conditioner wouldn’t detangle my daughter’s hair and those diapers kept leaking. I was utterly frustrated, and sick and tired of compromising.
I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was one company I could get all my daily essentials from — from diapers to cleaning to bath time — and I could trust that they would be safe, eco-friendly, affordable, and effective, as well as designed beautifully and delivered to my doorstep?” (I know I’m a dreamer.) What a relief it would be for me, and many parents, to have this kind of resource! I wanted and desperately needed this kind of company — so I decided to create it.
But, having a dream is the easy part. Making it happen is a whole different story. Turning any business idea into reality is hard, so I enlisted the help of experts:
• Christopher Gavigan, my co-founder and Chief Products Officer, is a nationally recognized environmental health leader, author of the aforementioned book, former Executive Director and CEO of the national non-profit of the same name, and Chief Advisor to the Green Product Innovation Institute.
• Brian Lee, eCommerce innovator, Founder of ShoeDazzle, Co-Founder of LegalZoom, and former attorney, is our CEO.
• Sean Kane, eCommerce veteran, former PriceGrabber.com executive, and expert in business operations and development, is our COO.
When I shared my idea with them, they each personally imagined how they could participate and add their expertise. And everyone agreed there was an important market niche to fill. But ultimately, being parents themselves, they all wanted this kind of company to exist for their own families, too.
So, we put our heads together and started dreaming. We dreamt up the core philosophies a brand should reach for, the culture we hoped to foster, the service that every parent needed, but didn’t know they wanted yet. We sampled an expansive range of products currently available and connected with the best formulation experts and market veterans to see how we could improve on what existed. We looked into all the different options for packaging — materials, shapes, sizes, colors — and now I know more minutiae about packaging and labels than I ever could have imagined. This is what the beginning stage of being an entrepreneur is about — exhausting all your resources, pivoting as the plan evolves and feedback rolls in, and devising solutions you believe should exist in the world.
And, with four cooks in the kitchen, we’ve had our fair share of respectful disagreements. For example, some people on the team weren’t big fans of the idea for transparent bottles, but as a mom I felt it was important to see how much product was left in the bottle (no more running out unexpectedly mid-way through bath time). I also loved the idea of having packaging that embodied our Honest Company ethos of being transparent as a business.
After identifying exactly what we wanted to make, we carefully selected premier manufacturing partners with pristine safety records, who not only had the capabilities to meticulously craft the exceptional products we wanted, but also shared our vision of progress and creating a better world. We found our operations team and our fulfillment and shipping team to manage our inventory. We also needed a technology team that could craft a robust and stable software platform to elegantly manage our web presence, customer service interface, logistics and orders — all with the idea that it could expand and evolve over time depending on our business development. And, of course we wanted a world-class customer service team that could manage orders, have a patient ear and helpful voice.
Together, we have created The Honest Company — a monthly service that delivers customized bundles of non- toxic, eco-friendly, adorable products directly to your front door. We launched on January 17th with a product line that parents across country chose based on what they use everyday: diapers, wipes, baby bath and skin care and home cleaning products.
What will that business look like? I don’t know exactly — but again, we are dreamers. I do know that the core values, passion and principles we share at Honest.com lay a strong foundation of good intentions to help “change the world.” How will we turn our genuine intentions and strong beliefs that our children deserve better into a business and cultural revolution? Ask me again in ten years and hopefully I can give you the road map.
One of my favorite historical figures is Eleanor Roosevelt and her tenacity has always been an inspiration to me. She said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” I’m living that. People told me I couldn’t start a business like this. They told me I couldn’t set the bar so high. They told me I couldn’t do everything I was proposing to. At first I thought maybe they were right. Not anymore.
With Honest.com, we are going to do things people think cannot be done. And we know a key to that will be honestly engaging our customers — parents — as part of this journey. It just makes sense that a brand made for families, should really listen to families. But, it goes beyond that, too. At the end of the day, we believe that together, we can make things better. Whether that’s diapers, business, raising a family, homes, cleaners, connecting, bath-time, or whatever — we all have to collectively work to make this world a better place. An honest company might just be the right place to start.
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