Corner Office: Gregg Renfrew of Beautycounter on Toxic Chemicals and Getting Fired by Messenger

Corner Office: Gregg Renfrew of Beautycounter on Toxic Chemicals and Getting Fired by Messenger




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You left Martha and went to work for Susie Hilfiger at Finest & Firm.
I’ve had the pleasure of working for some very strong-willed girls.
Any commonalities there?
Companies are profitable when the enterprise aspect and the artistic aspect have good checks and balances. When one aspect of the enterprise has an excessive amount of energy, it may be actually difficult. And people two corporations tipped extra towards artistic than the enterprise aspect of it. When the artistic may at all times trump enterprise choices, it made it very troublesome to do my job.
So what occurred at Finest & Firm?
Susie flat out fired me by messenger in entrance of my complete crew once I was C.E.O. within the fall of 2006. The messenger got here and mentioned, “Are you Gregg Renfrew?” And I opened up this bundle, and it mentioned: “You’re fired. You’re out of this constructing proper now.” I used to be in the course of a gathering in entrance of the complete crew. In order that was a humbling expertise.
What did you be taught from Martha and Susie?
One of many challenges that we face as girls main a company is there’s this want to be preferred, and this want to not be thought-about a tricky bitch. Girls who’re highly effective are sometimes thought-about to be robust, versus sturdy. I attempt to be sturdy and assured, versus robust and abrasive.
How did Beautycounter get going?
I watched “An Inconvenient Reality” and had change into impassioned with the environmental well being motion. I used to be washing my kids with a pure foaming oatmeal physique wash by a reputation model, however once I went on the Environmental Working Group’s database, it rated it an eight out of 9 for toxicity. I assumed I used to be utilizing pure oatmeal physique wash, and in reality I used to be placing toxins on my infants. I used to be simply outraged. And I turned really obsessive about this.
On the identical time, I used to be taking a look at the place direct to shopper was going, and the place I noticed the most important white house was in magnificence. Nobody had pioneered significant change in that business. It took me a few years to idea the thought, the promoting mannequin, create the merchandise from scratch. I went in considering that we may simply use white-label merchandise and alter a couple of components. That was actually not the case.
You’re very centered on bringing extra regulation to your individual business. That’s uncommon.
Most individuals nonetheless consider that the Meals and Drug Administration is defending them when it comes to private care merchandise. And most of the people consider that the merchandise in the marketplace are secure. However the F.D.A. shouldn’t be essentially screening components for security, which could be very totally different from the meals business. The F.D.A. will be protecting of the patron in sure industries, however in our business, we’re woefully underregulated, and so they don’t have the facility to recall merchandise. And that is one space the place you might have bipartisan help. Everybody agrees that we have to replace the legal guidelines. It’s been 80 years now.

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