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Stuart Landesberg believes entrepreneurs can change the world. As the co-founder and CEO of Grove Collaborative (Grove), Landesberg has a deep passion for sustainability and a strong view that businesses can drive change. That’s why he started Grove, a sustainable consumer products company fueled by a mission to transform the industry into a force for human and environmental good with a commitment to be 100% plastic-free by 2025.
Growing up in a family that ran a small business, Landesberg was introduced to entrepreneurship at a young age. After taking a job as an analyst at Lehman Brothers early in his career, followed by a stint at a private equity firm, he ultimately left to start his own business. His goal was to marry his passion for sustainability with a business that could help solve one of the biggest problems facing the world today — the growing plastic crisis.
In my conversation with Landesberg, he spoke about the driving force behind Grove, how the company strives to normalize sustainable practices and aims to make sustainable consumer products more accessible. As an example, Grove launched its plastic-free personal care line, Peach not Plastic, which offers shampoos and conditioners in bar format and refillable body care, and Grove Co., its household cleaning brand with zero plastic waste.
He also spoke candidly about some of the obstacles he encountered when first getting Grove up and running.
“The first five years were the hardest, both personally and professionally, that I’ve ever been through,” he said, recalling that during the early years of Grove, the idea of a sustainable DTC cleaning and personal care brand was hard for investors to stand behind.
After receiving 176 “no’s,” all it took was just half a “yes” from one investor to put Grove Collaborative on a new trajectory. After taking off, the company began scaling its business. Landesberg also learned just how large of an issue plastic packaging, and the CPG industry’s heavy reliance on plastic was.
This eventually led to Grove’s commitment to be 100% plastic-free by 2025. Grove went from selling a curated collection of products from third-party brands to developing its own private labels. With the company’s mission of delivering sustainable consumer products, Landesberg emphasized just how critical product innovation is.
“In 2016, we really started focusing on how we could create a brand that over-delivered in terms of efficacy, price and experience, without sacrificing the sustainability component,” he said. “Now, our Grove Co. brand is available on our DTC site and at Target stores nationwide, making sustainable home care products more accessible than ever before.”
Grove will soon hit another major milestone by going public after entering into a SPAC agreement with the Richard Branson-backed Virgin Group Acquisition Corp. II in December. The transaction, valued at $1.5 billion, is expected to close in late Q1 or early Q2 2022 and will mark Grove’s debut on the New York Stock Exchange, elevating the opportunities and resources available to the company as it works toward future growth.
Grove has been making progress toward becoming 100% plastic-free goal with its Beyond Plastic initiative, a comprehensive plan to help the company reach its goal. The plan focuses on three key pillars including product innovation, a unique plastic scorecard to measure progress, and a third-party plastic working group composed of more than 75 of Grove’s third-party brands to exchange ideas and work toward a healthier planet.
“It’s on us to create the change that’s needed,” Landesberg shared. “And when starting any business, if you have a mission, you’ll always be on the right side of history.”