The Honest Company
For building a brand parents can trust
Twenty-seven and pregnant with her first child, Jessica Alba had an allergic reaction to a product her mother recommended and that was marketed for use on babies. The reaction sparked memories of a childhood plagued by illnesses that included allergies, asthma, and several bouts of pneumonia. "It sort of dawned on me that I was going to bring a little person into the world, and what if she was going to have the same health issues as I did? That was terrifying to me," says Alba.
She began her research into the ingredients of everyday products that could cause reactions, and how these products could be linked to health problems.
After an attempt at lobbying for regulatory reform, and after three years of people telling her that there was no way she could create this business, Alba started Honest Company, inspired by her daughter Honor. Honest began with 17 products including home cleaning products, personal care products, and baby products. Now the company has close to a hundred products in various categories and is sold through large chains such as Target, Walgreens, CVS, and Kroger.
A subscription book club company that provides a try-before-you-buy book club service to kids 12 and under.
For taking the shame out of menopause
Jill Angelo co-founded digital health startup Gennev in 2016 to break taboos around menopause. The company started with personal care products and an online platform with discussion boards and educational resources, and in 2018, developed a so-called menopause assessment to help women understand where they are in the process. About 70,000 women had taken the survey as of August, Angelo says--a valuable data set in a woefully understudied field.
Now, users can also book individual telemedicine appointments with doctors and health coaches who specialize in women’s health, or get a monthly membership for continued access to providers. (While Gennev doesn’t yet accept insurance, patients can pay for appointments with FSA and HSA plans.)
With $5.3 million in funding, the company is looking to expand its services to mental and sexual health, and to use machine learning to help women predict and manage their symptoms. “Our vision is to be the women's health platform for the second half of life,” Angelo says, “starting with menopause.” -- Sophie Downes
Because there are too many podcasts, and not enough time
JJ Ramberg was annoyed: The serial entrepreneur and former MSNBC host would throw on workout clothes, grab her phone, and have no idea what podcast to choose for her run. Apple’s podcast reviews were useless--she didn’t know whether the reviewers shared her taste--and individual recommendations from friends only got her so far.
Late last year, she took the complaint to her brother--and together, they came up with the idea for Goodpods, a podcast-centric social network that Ramberg defines as a mix between Goodreads and Instagram. The siblings initially planned to launch in late March, until Covid-19 presented an existential crisis: Is it appropriate to launch a company right now? After some soul-searching, Ramberg says, they decided the answer was “yes.”
The app had already been beta tested, so lieu of an in-person launch, Ramberg worked to garner attention by recruiting celebrities as users--leveraging her TV connections to enlist names such as Kim Kardashian West, Simon Sinek, Katie Couric and Malcolm Gladwell. “The most gratifying thing is seeing that it works,” Ramberg says. “When you have an idea for something, you think it’s great--but you never actually know if anyone’s going to use it until you really put it out there.” – Cameron Albert-Deitch
For understanding that unisex workwear simply doesn't fit women, or their needs
Before becoming an entrepreneur, Jodi Huettner accepted a “no” when she heard one. During nearly four years as a junior field engineer at Keystone Environmental, she chafed, literally, at the ill-fitting safetywear designed for men’s bodies. That clothing also made it nearly impossible to quickly go to the bathroom during a shift in the field. Her options were not good: lost productivity by traveling long distances to a the bathroom, chronic dehydration caused by avoiding liquids for 16-hour shifts, and bladder issues from holding her pee all day.
Huettner spent a year developing coveralls with zippered leg seams for modesty during a quick pee in the field, an adjustable waist, and proportions that fit a woman’s body, all while meeting safety standards. Her company, Helga Wear, is now developing specialized gear for female pilots. Now, when Huettner hears a no, she thinks about how to go “above or around” that person. “Whatever the excuse may be, there’s always someone out there who’s going to turn the story around for you. You’ve just got to find them,” Huetter says. –Gabrielle Bienasz