Safe Products for Your Family: EverydayFamily Speaks with Christopher Gavigan

christopher family pic

Which baby products are safe, and which have toxic risks we are unaware of? How do you know what to buy in order to provide the best care for your children? Christopher Gavigan, founder and chief product officer of The Honest Company, has “devoted his life to helping families nurture the healthiest, happiest babies and children.”

EverydayFamily’s Shiloh Johnson, director of content, chatted with Christopher to learn about The Honest Company, a brand that promises chic, absolutely safe products for your entire family. Here is what she learned (you’ll want to read on … we can’t believe we hadn’t heard of this company before now!):

Shiloh: So I just wanted to ask you a few questions about you and your role with the Honest Company for our audience at EverdayFamily.com. It says here, “The purpose of the Honest Co. is to help parents create healthy environments for their children.” What made this focus a priority for you? Also, we’d love to hear a little about how you came to co-found the company.

Christopher: So, I’ve always been uniquely interested in the health and wellness of children. I have a Bachelors in Environmental Science, and during my undergrad and grad school work I was uniquely struck by the realities that young children are facing around behavioral disorders and attention deficit disorders, and just physical challenges as increasing. I was just struck by just a generation before that, you know, when I was growing up, I didn’t really have that happening and surrounding me, so that reality lead me to really work in-depth with kids, and I really want to blend how the physical environment impacted the health of children, and what you put in on and around your body, how does that have a positive or negative affect.

Shiloh: I think a lot of people think about what they put in their body, but not so much about on and around [their body] like you just mentioned.

Christopher: That’s exactly right, and I was researching and connecting with some of the top scientists and researchers around the world in environmental health and pediatrics research. What they will tell you is a lot of credible data and research points that have been aggregated over the last 20 years, really linking what is in our homes and in our food and in our skin care products and in our mattresses and in our couches and in these things that surround us every day. There are some chemicals and there are some realities with the builds of those materials that can have a negative effect on our health, and children’s diseases and illnesses are rising to epidemic proportions, and you can link some of those specific chemicals to health challenges, and I was really struck by [the fact] that I served as the executive director and CEO of a nonprofit called Healthy Child and Healthy World whose sole focus was to empower and educate parents around these health threats and these realities in our everyday life, these environmental triggers that could harm children, and how do you prevent them, and how do you take smart solutions to create a more non-toxic, healthy, natural, organic lifestyle? In that messaging and in that work there, the reality was a lot of families just coming back to me after giving them a ton of data points. I’m writing this book, creating this huge wealth of informational website partners with WebMD and all of these major people. I hadn’t worked with everyday health, though, as much as I wanted to. Parents would come back to me and say, “Ok, what are the products you recommend? We have to have these products in our home, what are the ones you recommend?” And from a nonprofit perspective I really couldn’t. You know, I had to be unbiased, and you had to walk a very fine line. But the reality was, I was a young parent myself. I have three right now. I would travel around the world looking for products. You know, I’d search Europe, I’d search and I’d look around the world because they had stronger regulatory standards, and what I was finding was really disappointing, and I was purposed in vetting some of these “ugh” companies, and so I looked under the hood and I really saw what they were doing right and what they weren’t doing right. And I said, “Oh my gosh, someone’s got to do it better. Someone has to have a company that really stands for purity of ingredients, cleanliness of overall formulation, the quality of the ingredients, and then how do you blend all of that, the healthiness, with top tier performance? Because consumers aren’t going to sacrifice on performance. If a diaper doesn’t work, it won’t be in the home.

Shiloh: No matter how safe it is.

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Christopher: Exactly, no matter how safe or nontoxic.

Shiloh: Ok, interesting. Now, it says here the Honest Co. makes it easier for parents to buy safe products for their families. Now how does it (the Honest Co.) do that, and what makes your products better than most? I know you’ve already talked about that they’re more pure and less toxic. Can you tell us about how easy it is to get these products through the Honest Co.?

Christopher: Yeah, I mean what we envisioned, and I, again, I talked to a lot of business leaders and thought leaders, and working with Jessica we imagined, now how do we create an experience where the modern parent, who’s uniquely used to purchasing online, how do we create an experience for them where things just arrive at their doorstep? We thought going direct to them. Selling directly to them, I’m creating a web experience and creating consumer experience where they purchase online and receive the goods delivered through mail services and carriers to their home. That’s a relationship we can manage. You can really curate that box, and really understand what’s inside that box and what’s the look and feel of that box, so the level of convenience of buying directly with us, having our own customer service team. Here we have a customer service team of over 20 people here in our headquarters in Santa Monica, CA. There, right here, we have a direct connection with them. We’re being highly responsive to that mom who, “Hey! Can you push my ship date up,” or, “Hey! Can I add this to my order,” or, “Hey, can I do this.” We’re entirely much more convenient and much more accessible as a company, which is really great. And our fulfillment team, which is only 15 miles away from our headquarters here, it’s a 50,000 square foot warehouse of guys and gals working there, packing the boxes, knowing exactly what’s inside. So customer service is, as every company will tell you, it’s top of the line, but really we live and breathe it. It is one of our core pillars and foundational elements that really sets us apart.

Shiloh: Well I hadn’t heard about your company before this, and when I started researching…I have a daughter, she’s 18 months, and now I’m like, “Oh, I need to start using these products.” I had no idea how awful some of the things I’ve been using are.

Christopher: I know, and we have this social engagement through the social platforms that really allows us to use that as a listening device and as another customer service platform tool to really respond and answer questions. I mean, moms are obviously going on Facebook and Twitter and asking questions and responding through social forums, and they want to hear from the company, “We’re there.” If it goes more than 5 minutes and we haven’t answered the question, we feel like we have done a disservice. We’re on those platforms and really monitoring and being responsive to their needs there.

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Shiloh: Gotcha. Now, between this and the book that you wrote, which is basically a guide that outlines the steps to take to reduce your families exposure to these toxic chemicals…your kids–you have three–do they ever get sick? You probably safeguard them from everything.

Christopher: Yeah, I mean you can’t safeguard them from germs at preschool. Yes, they do get sick, but I’m blessed with very healthy, beautiful children. And look, I mean, I’m like every parent, there’s a universal desire and hope, and I don’t want to say fear, that you want the healthiest, happiest children and that all you want is a healthy baby, and I’ve seen the struggles of real families, and we’re seeing millions and millions of them struggling with real disease and real illness and chronic challenges and behavior that are hitting a generation; these newer, younger generations. And it is heartbreaking and hard and stressful, and really pushes on the reality of the family unit, and if that could be prevented, if you could choose safer products that could prevent some of these harms and challenges from happening to your family, I think any family would choose that, and any family would go above and beyond, so we’re here to provide products that are safer, that are more nontoxic

Shiloh: And it seems that they’re pretty affordable. I was looking at the website, I mean they’re right in line, really, with what you would pay in normal offline retailers.

Christopher: Yeah, it’s funny you bring that up, because we really try to have the pricing fair and really accessible. You know, it’s not going to be the lowest cost leader. We can’t do that; we invest way too much in the quality of the products, and way too much in the raw ingredients, and way too much on packaging, so there are things where we go above and beyond, and there are things that will cost more. But because we are selling it directly to the customers, we don’t have to charge as much. So we don’t have these three different brokers in between touching the product and collecting their percentages. We really try to get in a position where moms and dads throughout the country, anywhere in the USA really have access. And yes, we understand some of the things are a little more, but it’s because we’re investing more in the quality of the build of the product and the overall customer experience, and from my perspective as a parent it’s like insurance in the bank. I’ll spend a little more now so they’re not sick in 20 years. Women, just as an example: 99% of all breast cancer tissue that’s ever biopsied, if they tested it for parabins, which is a synthetic preservative that goes in body care products, women’s breast cancer tissue has parabins found inside. It’s inside our bodies now, and besides our bodies are our little children. The Environmental Working Group did a test in 2006 of children and they found that children have over 200 synthetic chemicals in their blood that shouldn’t be there and that aren’t there at the time they’re born. So my wife and I, we have three children; I didn’t ask for those chemicals to be there; I live a very pure lifestyle. It’s scary that those things could be in my children and how can that impact their health. So we’re here to really remove those things from everyday products and really look at individual ingredients ,and I like to think that an ingredient or chemical is actually guilty before being proven innocent. I want to make sure that it’s safe before it hits the market place, not vice versa. In most of our regulatory agencies and our regulation here in the United States, a chemical has to be proven to be unsafe and then taken off the market. Europe is just the opposite: to be proven to be safe for it to enter the market. So, in the personal care category alone, if you look at Europe they’ve removed over 1,000, 1,100 chemicals from personal care products. Here in the United States we’ve only banned 9. So it’s really, really tragic and sad that we have poor regulation, so either you have watchdog groups, or companies that are on a mission like the Honest Co. to really make changes here.

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Shiloh: And I think it’s great that obviously you’re focusing on children with the Honest Company and the diaper, and you’re also producing products for the family as a whole. It’s not just about taking care of your baby and getting your baby all of the best products, but it’s taking care of yourself.

Christopher: That’s right. It’s so funny we’re seeing a huge trend in buyers and membership, that we’re having young men and women out of college purchasing our family essentials, which are cleaning products and personal care products. Our shampoo and body wash, yes I use it on our one-day-old infant, but grandpa can use it. Our surface cleaner that can be used in the college dorm room as well as in the family home when you’re making PB and J sandwiches; it’s a family brand, and that’s really how we’re positioning it. Yes, we started with more of an initial suite, more towards baby and child, but everyone is using our products and really loving it, so we’re really excited about that.

Shiloh: Well thanks so much. One last question, can you tell us what’s on the horizon for the Honest Company, and if you have anything new and exciting coming up?

Christopher: Yeah, we do, we do. Coming up in the first quarter of next year, we’re going to be rolling out some oral care products, so some toothpastes and mouthwash. We’re going to come out with some bar soaps and different types of soaps. We’re going to be coming out with more cleaning line; we’re going to have three different cleaners launching at the end of this month, actually with some accessories. You know, we’re actually going to start a brand new category, we’re going to start dipping into the world of nutrition and how we feed our bodies. We’re really excited to start taking positions in a number of categories, because quite honestly, moms and dads are asking us to do it, and we’ve engendered this reality around this emotional brand that looks beautiful and cute. Moms constantly say, “God, it looks so cute,” and it’s a really pretty aesthetic that‘s not just something with green leaves all over it, but actually looks cool and actually performs well and it’s easy to use, so they’re believing and trusting in us to come out with a number of things. They’ve asked us to come out with femme care, and cold and cough, pest control products, even a wide variety of products.

Shiloh: Well, I know myself. I heavily research everything before I buy it and I look at everything. If I knew that you guys were doing that for me, and I could just go to your site and I don’t have to spend my time researching what’s in each product; I can just go to your site trust that you’ve done it and that it’s going to be good for me and order it from there, it’s going to save me time.

Christopher: There you go, that’s exactly the premise that we’re trying to create.

Shiloh: That sounds great! I’m so excited; I’m definitely going to be ordering a kit for my household.

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What do you think? Just like Shiloh, I had no idea that most of the products I have my daughter using could be harmful to her health. And for the same price as our current store-bought products, our family could be using The Honest Company’s products. I think I’ll give them a try – why not?! Will you?

Comment below!

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Safe Products for Your Family: EverydayFamily Speaks with Christopher Gavigan

Kimberly Shannon is a wife, a mother, an editor, a writer ... She is always working to find the perfect balance¹! After Kimberly received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she worked on two master’s degree programs (Creative Writing, and Marriage and Family Therapy). At various times in her life she has signed up to study Naturopathy, only to back out at the last minute, and humored the idea of returning full-time to the world of dance. Kimberly has also started 10 different children ... More

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1 comment

  1. Kathy says:

    be honest healing balm is great also A& D is also great!

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