The Honest Company
The Honest Company creates eco-friendly, convenient, and affordable products for babies and homes. The growing product line is comprised of eco-friendly diapers and a natural line of bath, skincare, home cleaning, and organic nutritional supplement products all packed in convenient bundles that can be customized, personalized, and conveniently shipped whenever needed.
As an early seed investor in The Honest Company, Bryant Stibel became part of the wellness brand’s meteoric rise back in 2013. The advisory work started with co-founder/CEO Brian Lee and transitioned in 2017 when current CEO, Nick Vlahos, joined to continue the company’s strategic shift from e-commerce to an omni-channel brand, while ensuring the mission creating safe products with high standards of consciousness, community, performance and design. Previously, Vlahos had been EVP/COO at The Clorox Company, where he created buzz and boosted bottom lines for global CPG brands such as Burt’s Bees, Brita and Green Works. At Honest Co., Vlahos calls on Bryant Stibel’s cross-functional team in a multitude of ways – from addressing potential issues to exploring new ways to scale the business.
CEO, The Honest Company
Q: How did you first come to know Jeff Stibel and team?
A: It’s been a little over two years. When I joined The Honest Company as the new CEO, I engaged with both Jeff and Pete at the time, who are investors in the organization. Bryant Stibel has been an initial seed investor with Honest and we have frequent interactions with their team.
Q: What has impressed you most when working with the team?
A: I think what has been most impressive with this group is the fact that they’ve created this Office of the Chairman role. With their organization, they bring a cross-functional expertise as it pertains to our business, based on the different experiences that each of the leaders within their organization have had. The Honest Company has certainly benefitted from being in a position to have operators with different backgrounds to sit down with us as a group and discuss issues and opportunities. They really take a very collaborative approach in being able to do that successfully. I would say that the Office of the Chairman provides “thought partners” that are able to pressure test ideas, get insight, develop your plans and make things a little bit better within your organization.
Q: Do you have any specific examples around something they created value for?
A: We recently spent some time at their office talking through our subscription model and our approach around top of funnel, middle funnel, and bottom funnel marketing. We also discussed acquisition and how to bring people to Honest. That led to how we should think of our value offerings. We’re going to be re-platforming our site and reimagining our go-to-market, so the team gave us some good insight around how to think of the top funnel piece as well as how we should start thinking about our bundle offerings to evolve them from what they’ve been historically.
Q: Do you think that Bryant Stibel brings a new way of thinking as a venture capital firm?
A: I talk a lot about insight all the way to activation and I think this team does a nice job of starting with a consumer lens and understanding the insight around the consumer and then going down this continuum that takes them through all the way to how you activate a consumer and drive closure. Closure in our business is obviously a sale and a transaction and I think they do a nice job of thinking about that consumer engagement holistically, whereas some experiences I’ve had with other firms is that they’re good with an element, but not really at connecting all the dots the way that I think Bryant Stibel does.
Q: What qualities do you admire most in the Bryant Stibel team?
A: Number one is I love how collaborative they are. Number two is that they really live by “the art of the possible” and what could be. The “art of the possible” is really how they approach business opportunities. They break things down and allow you to reimagine your offerings and how you’re thinking about your product or service. So, I think it’s more around stretching your ideas and your thinking and then obviously being able to test some of that and see if it works or not.
I think the third area that always comes to mind is that they are very results driven. They have real accountability and it’s always clear that we’re not just collaborating and thinking up possible ideas but have a results oriented mindset. Ultimately are we driving profitable growth or not.
Q: Are there any specific team members that have stood out for you?
A: I think Pete Delgrosso is a great thought partner. I enjoy being able to bounce ideas off him around how we’re thinking about certain things. I look for his insight around subscription-based businesses and approaches that have worked in other areas. He is also good at identifying where the landmines could potentially be. It’s nice having someone like that who has kind of ‘been there, done it’ as a thought partner to bounce ideas back and forth. Having access to Pete is very valuable and his receptivity is outstanding.
Q: What do you enjoy most about working with the team?
A: I think they do a nice job of taking data and information and sitting together as a group in that Office of the Chairman to hypothesize and come up with ideas. As you sit with them, from a process standpoint, you take their insights and the ideas that they’ve extracted and you pressure test them as a group. The business operators are connected with the Office of the Chairman in that their team starts by understanding the operator’s hypothesis and then they are able to take that and deduce actions. That’s the third step of the process, where they take two or three things and test them. Then it’s up to the operators and the business to look to apply their suggestions. It’s a very collaborative process and where we all roll up our sleeves and actually just work it together. I think that’s refreshing that it’s not a top-down approach or “this is the way you need to do it.” Instead, the team aims to give you some ideas based on the business goals to marinate on and think about a little bit to then test two or three actionable ideas.
Q: Has the team impacted the culture at Honest in your experience with them?
A: One thing that I like and think that they do a nice job of is the whole collaboration approach and cross-functional integration of their team. I think that is something that we continue to push on here at Honest. I try to amplify a lot that they’re doing culturally to emulate and build off of that here at Honest.
Q: Are there any unexpected benefits in working with the team?
A: There is a little bit of this Malibu effect that I always appreciate when I meet with them. You take a drive to Malibu next to the ocean and in driving up the Pacific Coast Highway, it’s like all your concerns start to drift away a little bit because you’re almost resetting yourself. I think the ocean and the topography in that area has that ability to change your demeanor and your thinking. I think being able to step through the doors to sit in a conference room and have a view of the ocean while you are able to sit with the group and just ideate resets you. The team has a great space for creativity and where they are able to think of the art of the possible and what could be. It’s very different than firms that I’ve worked with in the past where you go to New York City and sit in an office on the 25th floor of a building on Fifth Avenue or you go to Chicago and it’s snowing outside. I think the uniqueness of location feeds into their ability to a bit more laid back in how a group can think and create. I think creativity and the ability to come up with breakthrough ideas are about creating the right setting for that to happen and Bryant Stibel is a great example of how to do that well.
Q: What are your hopes for the future of the relationship with the Bryant Stibel team?
A: Relationships are always important to me. The future of Honest’s relationship with Bryant Stibel is simply being able to be connected and work with good people. Life is about moments and being able to be with people that you want to be around and engage with. You want to know that you’re surrounded by good people that want to do things the right way and they want you to be successful. We have that assurance with Bryant Stibel to call on and we want to continue that relationship.