It’s easy to want to be healthy, but it can be hard—not to mention expensive, and at times inconvenient—to actually be healthy. In a perfect world, organic food would all be über-affordable, and, well, available kind of like an Uber, delivered right to your doorstep.
Welcome to 2017, where that perfect world may not be such a stretch.
The just-launched Brandless is like if Muji and the dollar store had a wellness love child. Everything at the online grocery store is priced at just $3 (or less!). Seriously. That includes both health and superfood basics (like organic oats and honey granola), buzzier items like sea salt quinoa chips and organic agave nectar, and home and beauty essentials like EPA-certified dish soap and organic cotton rounds. (Plus you can outfit a kitchen in no time—with not that much moolah—with Brandless’ $3 plates, bowls, knives, and more.)
“We want to debunk the idea that better needs to cost more, because it actually doesn’t, and everyone deserves it.”
Wondering “um, how?” Or “seriously?” Or “no, but seriously?” So were we. But Brandless co-founder and CEO Tina Sharkey wants to be both transparent and efficient, and is looking to address two main issues: the over-saturation of products on the market (AKA that feeling you get when trying to choose an almond butter is actually like finding a needle in a haystack) and the inaccessibility of organic health and wellness foods and products. “That’s our goal, to democratize access to awesome, amazing stuff at fair prices,” says Sharkey, whose business prowess includes co-founding iVillage and role of president at BabyCenter. “We want to debunk the idea that better needs to cost more, because it actually doesn’t, and everyone deserves it.”
So how does Brandless plan to pull it off? Read on for our conversation with Sharkey.
How can Brandless price things so low?
Honestly, it’s the cost of producing something versus the cost of the actual costs. Consumers are forced to pay what we call the brand tax, and that brand tax is the unfair sort of inefficiency in the current system. People think they can get away with higher pricing because people believe it costs more, and then the consumer ends up paying that. When you actually look at a product, it’s the cost of the manufacturing and then every single layer along the way before it actually gets to you—like the distribution costs, the shelf costs, the breakage costs, the trade marketing, the consumer marketing, the retail costs.
Everything in there is a broken system. So we actually went out and found the most amazing manufacturing partners who met our standards. Then we produced what we call “just what matters,” which was the packaging that made sense and the ingredient profile that made sense for that particular product, and then we sell it directly on our site. We cut out all of those middle men in order to bring the best pricing for a range of products across the things you touch, use, eat, and consume every day.
How will cutting out the middle men impact the wellness industry?
People have these values—they want to live, breathe, and eat them, they want to clean their tables with environmentally friendly, EPA-certified cleaner, to eat organic and natural foods, and to use beauty products that are free from things they don’t want on their skin or in their body. Democratizing access to these values will change and open up the lens that otherwise is unaffordable or inaccessible to the main American consumer. Our goal is that everyone can have access to the things they want, and that price won’t be a consideration as an entry point into the marketplace.
Why launch Brandless now? What makes this the moment?
First, the healthy lifestyle is so mainstream. And second, we’ve really become an overconsumption society. It’s so hard to choose—it’s so hard to figure out what are the ingredients you care about, what are the things you want to focus on? Part of the Brandless intention is to edit and curate exactly what we believe is what matters.
This shouldn’t be an area where you’re stressed-out and overwhelmed. It should be an area where you find where you’re looking for, and then go back out and live your life.
Right now Brandless is only available direct to consumer on Brandless.com. Do you see the company expanding into brick and mortar or being stocked somewhere like Whole Foods?
You will never find Brandless products on anybody else’s shelf. But the Brandless experience and getting the goods via the internet—that’s just the beginning.