Splash Talks


Alba: giving back is embedded into our business model

The Honest Company gives 1% of its net revenue to charity and chemical research

Innovation series by Steven Loeb
October 2, 2014
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At our fourth annual Vator Splash LA on Wednesday, Vator founder and CEO Bambi Francisco took the stage to interview two of our special guests: Brian Lee and Jessica Alba, the co-founders of The Honest Company, a subscription service for eco-friendly baby and family products.

The Honest Company has a very worthwhile, and socially conscious, mission: it was created to allow families choose chemical free products in order for them to help keep their children both safe and healthy. So it's no surprise that the company would have a philanthropic streak as well. 

In fact, it gives away a full 1% of its net revenue to both families in need and to chemical research, Lee told Francisco. And that is just the  beginning.

"We just launched the Honest Company Ultra-Clean Lab at Mount Sinai in the city of New York, where Dr. Phil Landagran, who's one of the most foremost experts in research in chemicals, is leading the charge to try to define which chemicals we should be avoiding," said Lee. "Which chemicals cause which diseases? Because today, I'll tell you, you can't say if you're pregnant and you ingest these chemicals, you've got a five times higher likelihood of having a kid with autism. Just not enough research has been done and we're here to solve that."

So how would Lee and Alba advise other companies on how to give back in this way? For Alba, it meant making it a priority from the very beginning of the company's inception, even though not everyone was always on board with the idea.

"We embedded it into our business model. I remember my first, very exciting, board meeting, I pitched them this idea of, like, yes, we're going to be making safe, healthy, beautifully designed, affordable, products, that are modern. But we're also going to give back. And they're like, 'Ok, you can do all that other stuff, I don't know about affordable and we're not really sure about the giving back thing.' And I said, 'Well how about we try it, and if it's not working, then we can always adjust.' Cause we were a startup," said Alba.

"And, luckily, we never had to adjust, and, frankly, we go into our board meetings and we talk about, you know, changing people's lives, and saving infants lives with this crib, or giving children clean diapers that normally would have to wear a soiled one and reuse it all day, and they’re excited and they're passionate and they're happy to be able to provide this to families from the jump. So I think that if you just embed it in your model from the beginning, then it's hopefully no turning back."

As Francisco pointed out, all this philanthropy means that The Honest Company now has a double bottom line, plus is giving away 1% of its revenue. So would Lee invest in such a company himself? His answer: "absolutely." Because giving back is just that important  

"I think it's good for your own company, and its good for your souls, I think it's good for your employees. And I think the millennial buyer wants to make a difference. They truly do care about what your company does and how you're going to affect change,” he said.

Related companies, investors and entrepreneurs

The Honest Company
Description: The Honest Company (, founded by Jessica Alba, Christopher Gavigan, Brian Lee and Sean Kane, was created to ensure that pa...
Bio: Founder Vator, Managing Partner - Vator Investment Club; Former Columnist/correspondent Dow Jones MarketWatch; Business anchor ...

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