“I always say once you know, you can’t unknow,”
When Christopher Gavigan met Jessica Alba at the 2008 People Magazine launch party for his book, he had little idea that the foundation of a new and game-changing company had just been laid.
Gavigan’s best-selling book, “Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer World,” focused on the importance of healthy and nontoxic lifestyle choices for children. At seven months pregnant, Alba had already been pondering this topic. She approached Gavigan, a father of three, to discuss the subject in more detail. “She was determined in a really focused and passionate way to ensure that her children were safe,” said Gavigan of Alba. It was a determination they shared and one that proved to not only benefit their own families but families around the world, as it eventually led to the creation of The Honest Company.
In the seven months that followed his first chance meeting with Alba, Gavigan spent evenings and weekends working with the actress to set up the early foundation of their company. Though still occupied with his full-time responsibilities as CEO of the national nonprofit Healthy Child Healthy World, he was also able to focus his efforts on putting together business plans, preparing to pitch to investors and defining The Honest Company’s primary goals.
“We really took time to understand who we were and what the vision was that we wanted to put out in the world,” Gavigan said.
Inspiration came from their own lives as young parents and also from the experiences of family and friends. He and Alba were anxious to find products that were not only effective and affordable but also safe and nontoxic for their children. While many manufacturers made claims that their baby products were “organic” or made with “organic materials,” Gavigan’s degree in environmental science, his experience as an ecology teacher and his collaboration with WebMD put him in a unique position to know exactly what the wording on all those labels really meant.
“I always say once you know, you can’t unknow,” Gavigan said. That knowledge and awareness sparked a desire in both Gavigan and Alba to provide safer options for children and families. The Honest Company was really “started out of a need,” he said, adding, “We’re here to provide a service and that service is being a trusted resource for families.”
Today, that resource includes offering a wide selection of nontoxic and high-performing products that benefit children as well as their surroundings. These products range from very popular, uniquely patterned diapers, (which Gavigan and Alba both help design), to a selection of bath and body items (including the newly released and much-requested toothpastes), to a variety of home cleaning products and health and wellness options. As the company’s list of products continues to grow, Gavigan says they use their customer service team as “listening devices” to find out what parents are in need of next. Items currently under consideration for possible development include deodorant, wood and stainless steel cleaning products, and more diapering accessories.
Regardless of what new items The Honest Company will make available in the future, one thing remains certain: They are dedicated to staying “serious about honesty.”
“Our goal, our job and our duty as The Honest Company is to really be as authentic and transparent as possible,” said Gavigan. The company does this in large part by making sure their labels say exactly what each product contains without hiding components in vague or misleading wording. The description they provide for their shampoo, for instance, highlights exactly what is, and isn’t, included in the product’s formula: It contains ingredients such as jojoba, quinoa, organic coconut oil, chamomile, aloe and “fresh-smelling sweet orange vanilla.” What it doesn’t include, however, are any harsh chemicals or fragrances. In fact, none of the products developed or sold by The Honest Company contain those elements.
Gavigan said he wishes other manufacturers of children’s products would follow suit and adopt The Honest Company’s process and philosophy regarding the production of safer, nontoxic items. For him, that would be one definition of success. He says knowing “children aren’t being subjected to polluting chemicals” and “extending [The Honest Company’s] brand to as many families as possible around the world” are other alternatives for this definition. He goes on to say, “I think there are different versions of success but, in a word, stripping it all away, it’s all about the children.”
While The Honest Company is all about ensuring safer, greener, nontoxic products for children and families, it is also still a company.
“Right now, our team is growing and expanding by leaps and bounds.” Gavigan said, adding that he felt it was important to give “yourself and your staff time to grow personally and professionally” in a developing business. He went on to say that a company really comes down to the people. “Business, as well as life, as well as everything, is about how you mange relationships,” he said.
That belief extends to the relationship he has with Alba. “She’s been a true inspiration to this company and a phenomenal leader,” he said. “She’s a great strategic partner and a huge asset to this company.”
As The Honest Company moves forward, Gavigan and Alba remain committed to providing safer, greener products that will benefit families throughout the world while also leaving it better place.