Jeffrey Hollender on Building Seventh Generation to a $600 Million Social Enterprise, Co-founder Relationships, & Whole Systems Thinking | Evolve 055


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Jeffrey Hollender is Co-Founder of Seventh Generation, The American Business Council, & Hollender Sustainable Brands. Jeffrey went from dropping out of college and selling skill classes like the “art of flirting” or “how to marry money” to building one of the most successful sustainable product brands in the world, Seventh Generation, which sold to Unilever in 2016 for over $600 Million. Their line of over 100 products is distributed in most leading retailers including: Target, Whole Foods, Kroger, Safeway and Amazon. And for the last 30 years, from its humble beginnings as mail order catalog till now, the brand has been focused on nurturing the health of the next 7 generations.

But after being ousted by his own company in 2010, he took his idea of doing good to a whole another level becoming a leading authority on corporate responsibility, sustainability and social equity. He created a coalition of over 250,000 businesses called the American Sustainable Business Council which drives progressive public policy.

In 2013, with his wife and daughter, he created Hollender Sustainable Brands, which started Sustain, Sustain Natural, a new brand of female-focused, all natural sexual wellness products that sold. The company has rapidly grown and was acquired by Grove Collective in 2019.

Full show notes and worksheets can be found here:

What You Will Learn In This Episode:

  • What Jeffrey's first business was after dropping out of college
  • The first business Jeffrey sold to Time Warner
  • Why Jeffrey's guilt ended up leading him to Seventh Generation
  • How Seventh Generation started from a failing mail order catalogue
  • How Seventh Generation got it's first customers
  • The troubles in Jeffrey and Alan Newman's co-founder relationship
  • Whether it is right for you to have a co-founder
  • The absolute must haves before entering into a co-founder relationship
  • How Jeffrey made a key decision to cut 80% of Seventh Generations revenue source
  • Why educating your customers can have positive effects
  • How to create company culture
  • How Jeffrey took being fired from Seventh Generation and what he learned
  • How Jeffrey practices the art of reflection
  • Why businesses need to do good rather than less bad
  • How Jeffrey got into the condom business and built Sustain Naturals
  • Why to be truly sustainable we need to implement a whole systems approach
  • How Jeffrey navigated selling three companies
  • The most important lessons he teaches social entrepreneurs
  • How to fuel innovation in your startup
  • How we can solve major global issues

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137 episodes