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.
THE HONEST COMPANY & BRYANT STIBEL
Exploring the Art of What Could Be
When Jeff Stibel and team first invested in serial entrepreneur Brian Lee and The Honest Company back in 2013, there was a great collective passion for the mission-driven startup founded in part by Brian and Jessica Alba. It was a belief shared by consumers as well, which is what led Honest Co. to quickly establish itself as a trusted brand in the wellness space.
Since then, Honest has continued to evolve from its e-commerce origins to an omni-channel brand – while staying dedicated to the mission of creating safe products with high standards of consciousness, community, performance and design.
Nick Vlahos was brought in as CEO in 2017 after nearly a decade at The Clorox Company and began working with Jeff Stibel, Pete Delgrosso and the team as partners to the organization. As it turns out, Vlahos was “instantly impressed” by the team’s cross-functional expertise and their unique vantage point to the world.
“I think the uniqueness of their location feeds into their ability to be a bit more laid back in how a group can think and create,” explains Vlahos. “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.”
It’s what The Honest Company CEO calls “the Malibu effect” and it has something to do with that moment you drive up Pacific Coast Highway and “your concerns start to drift away” – before you step through the doors to sit in a conference room to experience a “great space for creativity” with a view of the ocean. It’s a place where Vlahos says the team is able “to think of the art of the possible and what could be.”
It’s one of the qualities Vlahos believes makes Bryant Stibel distinct from the rest.
“I love how collaborative they are… and the ‘art of the possible’ is really how they approach business collaborations. It’s strategic thinking about what could be. They break things down and allow you to reimagine your offerings and how you’re thinking about your product profile,” reveals Vlahos, who also appreciates how the team is able to stretch ideas and thinking before pressure testing and pushing them.
According to Vlahos, it’s a byproduct of being results driven. “They have real accountability and it’s always clear that we’re not just collaborating and thinking up possible ideas so much as executing and driving the results together.” Vlahos believes it is this mindset and attitude that give them a competitive advantage.
When it comes to Honest, proactive thinking around the company’s success started historically with former Honest CEO Brian Lee, whom Bryant Stibel would eventually collaborate with again as investors in businesses like LegalZoom and Art of Sport.
When Lee departed as CEO for The Honest Company board, Vlahos came in, sharing that the transition was smooth when it came to working with the Bryant Stibel team. “We didn’t miss a beat and are able to work together very naturally,” explains Vlahos, crediting this ease to the team’s collective comfort in their own skin.
“Their approach isn’t heavy handed where it’s like, ‘Hey, you need to come spend time and work with us’,” offers Vlahos of the nature of this relationship. “There is receptivity on both ends. I’d be remiss to not leverage a group that has the capabilities and abilities they have to really enhance our business and our plan. It’s been fairly seamless and we are fortunate to be able to have that connectivity.”
Former CEO Lee shares this assessment with Vlahos.
“I think the Bryant Stibel team is very smart. They bring a lot of value when it comes to operational excellence and can look into a financial model – or your profit and loss statement – and really home in on what it is that will make your company better and areas to focus on,” Lee sings with praise. “They did this for LegalZoom to great success and helped me with Honest Company, in regards to strategic direction.”
Making an Impact in a Myriad of Ways
When it comes to how Bryant Stibel differentiates itself, Vlahos is quick to point to the team’s ability to not just capture historical insights, but their ability to reframe the historical into what could be, exploring the potential of things.
“I think the Office of the Chairman is a huge strength because it offers accessibility to the cross-functional expertise of this team, giving them the ability to look inside your business and strategically activate consumers from insights,” expresses Vlahos.
It reminds Vlahos of how he operates as a CEO.
“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 all the way to how you activate a consumer and drive closure,” reveals Vlahos of the process they’ve gone through.
Thinking through the challenge of holistically closing a sale is a place Vlahos thinks separates Bryant Stibel from the pack. Some firms are good at an element of that, he says, but not really at “connecting the dots the way Bryant Stibel does.”
Vlahos thinks that’s a byproduct of the diverse expertise they bring based on the different experiences that each of the leaders within the organization have had.
“The Honest Company has certainly benefitted from being in a position to have operators with different backgrounds in our business available to sit down as a group and discuss issues, opportunities or how we’ll scale a part of the business.” Once again, Vlahos credits the collective effort for this. “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.”
Former CEO Lee also sees this quality as extremely unique to an investment firm.
“I’ve never seen it done quite like this where they come in with a team of experts that have already built companies together and then analyze your business, dissect it, and basically spend time as if they are running it – but in a non-disruptive manner – getting deep in the weeds to almost understand your business better than you.” He calls it “refreshing” to see a company easily “turn over stones you didn’t even know were stones…before analyzing everything and coming back with recommendations.” But, unlike outside consulting firms, Lee likes that the Stibel team “actually makes those changes to ensure you see the results.”
Getting Into the Weeds With Honest
When it’s comes to benefitting the Honest business, Vlahos says he appreciates the work Bryant Stibel does in using data and information to hypothesize and ideate. In fact, it’s one of the things he enjoys most about working with Bryant Stibel.
“As you sit with them, from a process standpoint, you take insights and ideas they’ve extracted and pressure test them as a group,” offers Vlahos. “The business operators are connected with the [Office of the Chairman] in that their team starts by understanding the operator’s hypothesis before they take that to deduce actions.”
It’s all part of a top-down approach that involves hatching ideas based on business goals, doing some marinating and then testing two or three actionable plans. “It’s a very collaborative process where we all roll up our sleeves and actually just work it together,” enlightens Vlahos of the relationship and a method he calls “refreshing.”
Ultimately, this has led to value creation for Honest in several different areas.
“That led to how we should think of our value offerings. We’re going to be reimagining our go-to-market, so the team gave us 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,” reveals Vlahos.
Vlahos says this has contributed to Honest’s transformation as a company.
“A big thing we strategized around was how we integrate more personal care into our mix and create more value for the consumer. We spent a lot of time chatting around that, gaining insight, and then beta testing to validate some of those ideas.”
A Natural Fit Since the Beginning
At the heart of the Honest relationship with Bryant Stibel is a shared desire that has fueled both companies since their beginnings: understanding the consumer.
It started when Jessica Alba was simply a consumer who had a need when she was pregnant with her first child, Honor. “She was really thinking about what she would be putting on that child’s skin, what that child would consume, and what is around that child from an environmental perspective,” reveals Vlahos of Honest’s origins. “At the time, there were not really products that spoke to the entire household.”
That’s when Alba envisioned a lifestyle brand that would “meet the multiple needs of a family from an environmental standpoint” and had the “gumption and fortitude as a consumer to then put a business plan together and go out and solicit investments.” “That’s really unique that she was able to do that, but it was really through this consumer insight that she had when she was pregnant,” shares Vlahos of the company’s success story. “It resonated with consumers and resonates today because there are a lot of families that have that same insight and same need.”
Alba’s passion made Honest a reality but ultimately “good businesses are built on good consumer insights” and that’s what “Jeff and team have always been focused on: the consumer first,” reveals Vlahos. “Bryant Stibel is based on what can be achieved when you surround yourself with the right people. When you take those consumer insights across Jeff, Kobe and the team, it’s amazing to think what they can bring to life, and I think that’s what’s happening at Bryant Stibel right now.”
Vlahos sums up the relationship with what really matters: “Life is about moments and being with people that you want to be around and engage with. You want to know you’re surrounded by good people that want to do things the right way and that want you to be successful. We have that assurance with Bryant Stibel to call on and we want to basically continue that relationship.”