I recently sat down with Christopher Gavigan, the founder of Honest Company, (which had a wildly successful IPO this year) to talk about Prima, his latest venture. With this company he is boldly going into the premium CBD space, separating the “woo woo” from science, and in the process bringing pain and sleep relief to a Covid weary world.

I recently sat down with Christopher Gavigan, the founder of Honest Company, (which had a wildly successful IPO this year) to talk about Prima, his latest venture. With this company he is boldly going into the premium CBD space, separating the “woo woo” from science, and in the process bringing pain and sleep relief to a Covid weary world.

You can listen to it wherever you get your podcasts or click here for Spotify

Chris started thinking about CBD products before he teamed up with Jessica Alba to launch the Honest Company in 2012. His latest venture went on hold as he built one of the most successful subscription-based CPGs of recent times. He’s someone who understood the potential for purpose driven, natural, healthy, clean nontoxic lifestyle goods. He’s also a champion of human health social entrepreneurship, and author of a bestselling book I like called Healthy Child, Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home.

The Life Optimization Trend

Chris looks at the world of wellness and sees the current consumer as “citizen doctors” who are all looking to up level and optimize our lives. We want to increase focus, clarity and be more in tune with mental acuity, with a mood enhancement mindset. Covid gave us all a huge pause and made us question how we lived our health lives. Into this fertile space comes cannabinoids.

Chris points out that despite their negative image, cannabinoids and opioids naturally occur in the body, which it uses to alleviate pain and inflammation. The majority of doctors, and the pharmaceutical industry have stayed away from cannabinoids due to the stigma of association with marijuana. The reality of cannabinoids is that only one compound they contain, THC, can get you high. The other over 120 natural chemicals can have extremely beneficial properties.

As Chris relates it, we actually natively make cannabinoids in our own bodies and mothers pass them on through breast milk. They are both therapeutic and functional in nature and connected to hormone function and neurobiology. Only in the last 25 years have cannabinoids been effectively studied, but most of the medical world remains unenlightened about the endocannabinoid system.

The name Prima comes from the idea that hemp is the sober botanical female cousin of marijuana. When he set out to launch the company, he looked at market data, medical research and consumer patient experiences and also had to test them on himself. He felt a big shift in skin condition, his body's inflammatory response, sleep cycles and felt transformed. He also saw these kinds of effects on his kids.

Taking CBD to the Next Level

Chris decided to take CBD out of the grey market economy and bring an institutional level of sophistication and trust to the marketplace that didn't have much and focus on the science of stress relief. He brought key values of the Honest Company into the equation: quality, purpose, transparency and social impact. The products were not home-grown tinctures, like most of what is on the market, but doctor formulated. The products are presented in a fashion that is not rhetoric, hype, or the shadow economy, but actually backed by credible science, research and medicine.

With this approach, he was able to a forge a partnership with traditional retailers like Sephora, Vitamin Shoppe, Whole Foods Market and Nordstrom. Prima partnered with them as they stepped into the CBD space by clearing the “noise and nonsense out of the space, which CBD tends to be full of.”

Building an Honest Company

It was no mean feat to go up against established players in the baby space and build credibility with a new generation of parents. Chris believes that the Honest Company took off as it was built on core pillars of clarity and standards, plus a commitment to that end customer. He sees this as being ultra “people” rather than “consumer” focused. “In every brand you're involved in, people matter,” he says.

How do you activate this? “You need to listen and really be emotional. You can't connect to their heads; you need to connect to their hearts.”

Chris’ advice looking back at the early years of the Honest Company is that you need to slow down every once in a while, rather than just hurry up. He found that it did get to be a slog at years five and six, but that’s when he began to reimagine and construct and change within the company. He believes that an evergreen business is not built on an idea but on ideals, and that people are the fire in the fuel for those ideals.

Real People in Front and Behind the Products

Chris is a big proponent of the idea that companies cannot be anonymous and must have real people behind them. The number one thing he does before trying any brand is to check whether the “about us” page has a real person there. He takes this approach the extra mile by actually calling at least 10 customers a week and either talking to them or leaving voice messages. “It’s a consumer education first mentality and we need to do the job of changing hearts and minds and really going slow and having the rigor around that trust mantle.” Aspirational education is so important in any industry but especially Prima because ‘it’s in a healthcare industry. You really need to get intimate and personal with people.”

What’s next for this serial entrepreneur? When another strategic retailer knocks, or the FDA agrees to test and vet Prima, Chris feels “incredibly excited and confident.”

Watch the video here or tune in wherever you listen to podcasts to hear the complete interview with Chris Gavigan, co-founder of the Honest Company, and now founder of Prima, which is taking the CBD space to new levels of reliability and accountability.

About the Reboot Chronicles Podcast

Hosted by Dean DeBiase. The Reboot Chronicles is a popular no-holds-barred podcast on iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and YouTube that has been bringing together CEOs, entrepreneurs, authors, and global leaders, for over a decade, to discuss how organizations are rebooting their leadership-competitiveness of everything from growth, innovation, and technology to talent, culture, and governance. Tune in wherever you listen to podcasts or at https://www.revieve.com/rebootchronicles.

About Dean DeBiase

Named a Growth Guru" by Inc. Magazine, Dean DeBiase is a Faculty Member at Kellogg School of Management and Silicon Valley serial CEO, where he has served in chief executive and chairman roles of more than a dozen emerging growth companies, CEO of Fortune 500 subsidiaries, and a director on public, private, family-enterprise, CVC, PE and VC boards. He is a Technology Fellow at Northwestern University, a Board Leadership Fellow at The National Association of Corporate Directors, and an Advisor to the National Science Foundation. A Forbes Contributor and co-author of the best-selling book The Big Moo, Dean, is working on his next book, Dancing with Startups. Connect with Dean here: www.linkedin.com/in/FollowDean.