“I have found myself coming back to a few words. One is ‘enough.’”
Christopher Gavigan has been sheltering in place at his home in Santa Monica, California since mid-March due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been a new challenge, but the forced pause has given the busy Prima founder some time to reflect.
“Enough” has taken on great meaning for Gavigan. “Deep in the fabric of this country, we have to confront these issues of race relations,” he says via phone, reflecting on the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests. “I do believe that if you stand idly by and don’t stand up, then you are on the side of the oppressor. That is not a place that I believe in, nor want to be, so I have to start leveraging my voice and platform and access and people.”
As one of the co-founders of The Honest Company (with Jessica Alba) and the former CEO of the non-profit Healthy Child Healthy World, Gavigan’s platform, access, and influence is substantial. He’s also a father of four, and is learning about himself through his children. “I’ve seen them go through the true grief and loss of not having friends, and not being able to connect physically with their peer groups,” he says of the self-isolation required due to the pandemic. “I’m continually impressed by them. They’re just good humans that I’m incredibly proud of, that are just trying their best, too.”
Trying one’s best has taken on a new meaning for everyone these days, including Prima: Gavigan’s hemp and CBD wellness brand, which is coming up on its first anniversary. “We’re working remotely, and we’ve really got to be attuned and listen, and be much more empathetic than we ever have been,” he reflects. Through supplements, skincare, and body products, Prima has positioned itself as a caring entity that can help improve your mental and physical well being.
Case in point: instead of bombarding customers with products to purchase, the brand’s shop page asks them how they want to feel. This is by Gavigan’s meticulous design. “I’m here for you, I’m caring for you. I want you to feel better,” he says. “Sometimes you just want a partner, you want a friend, you want some peace of mind, and you want someone else to take the burden. And I think that we’ve done extremely well within the brand.”
Still, a positive view of hemp and CBD is an inherently harder sell than, say, the non-toxic baby and skincare products of The Honest Company. “Prima has been about demystification and science-led, clinically-backed research and data, and we have been on the forefront of building trust and credibility. And that has taken a much longer time than I imagined—certainly with the retail community and the federal regulators,” Gavigan says. “It’s forced me to slow down, and that’s not my most natural tendency.” It’s clear that downtime isn’t his normal, but by leaning into his new industry’s challenges (as well as a forced intermission via the pandemic), this pause is expanding his ambitions.It really all comes back to that one word. “The ‘enough’ word also comes up in what I’m doing with myself. I demand myself to be a high performer and a high-output human. It’s unrelenting, it’s uncompromising, and sometimes it’s obsessive. That’s just who I am,” admits Gavigan. “That’s just my rate, and I have to acknowledge that sometimes I can slow down… because I just can’t control everything. And I can only control what I can control, and that’s okay.” He pauses, contemplating his growth over the last two months. “It’s interesting that the word is playing on both sides of the spectrum: I need to do more, and I need to do less,” he says. “That’s the beautiful yin/yang of it all.”