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Social Entrepreneur Launches CBD Business ‘prima’ With Legal Framework and Call for More Conscious Businesses
The call to create positive change is strong for health activist and social entrepreneur Christopher Gavigan, who this month launches his latest enterprise: The Uplifters’ prima, or prima, a purpose-driven luxury hemp/CBD benefit corporation with publishing and product channels.
“My heart always has been fully connected and aligned with responsibility of conscious businesses to act as the primary source of change, impact and society evolution,” he says. “We have big plans for prima, both as a business and as a changemaker to unlock the science of being well.”
With a background in environmental health, Gavigan wants prima to help spread education about cannabinoids and hemp and their role in self-care and wellness. And with his experience in purpose-driven, conscious business, he has built a strong foundation for prima by acquiring benefit corporation status at the outset to ensure that creating good is inherent in its products and operations. In a controversial and fledgling industry like CBD products, having the company’s mission transparently and legally locked adds a layer of legitimacy to the company.
“Becoming a benefit corporation clearly identifies an honorable pathway for a brand’s tone and manner, as well as giving meaningful, verifiable structure to an organizational and financial plan,” he says. “I firmly believe that a business’s financial statements and operating structure are moral documents. They identify why you exist and what you care about: Do you care about others or yourself? Do you care about impact or profit?”
They also reveal how a business values and treats its customers and employees, Gavigan says, who are crucial for companies that seek success beyond the bottom line.
“Thematically, big lessons always circle back to people and relationships. Those you’re serving at every level, specifically your customers and your people,” he says. “Quality, care, transparency, integrity and consistency matter so much. You can’t focus on these enough, since you truly serve and partner with them.”
Benefit corporations, like prima, give consumers and prospective employees confidence in their values because they are legally committed to their mission. Learn more about benefit corporations.
Early Conscious Business Lessons
More than eight years ago Gavigan co-founded The Honest Company, a healthy lifestyle products brand that markets natural baby and beauty products.
“It started out as a passion project because as an environmental health scientist, I just knew too much about the science and the facts about chemicals in our bodies,” he says. “I was appalled by the questionable, harsh, untested ingredients that existed in the consumer products sitting on store shelves around the country. People everywhere, especially parents, were searching for one brand, one trusted source.”
Building on seven years of experience as chief executive of the nonprofit Healthy Child Healthy World and his work in preventive care, Gavigan felt a call to meet the needs of these parents and his standards for better ingredients, consumer products, and social good.
In its early years, The Honest Company became a B Corp as part of the growing movement of brands pioneering what it meant to be mission-based, conscious businesses.
“Like our contemporaries, we felt there was a moral imperative for businesses to act swiftly and with clear intent on environmental and social issues threatening humanity,” Gavigan says. “It was a club of commitment, and we absolutely wanted to do our part.”
Yet, because Honest was initially established as a C-corp, growth and governance dynamics made it difficult for the organization to make the shift to a public benefit corporation in Delaware (B Corps are required to become benefit corps or the equivalent offered in their state of incorporation to maintain certification). The company ultimately lost its B Corp certification.
Bringing a Light Lift to the Exploding CBD Business Market
While he continues as co-founder and chief evangelist of The Honest Company, Gavigan shifted away from day-to-day responsibilities. To build upon the commitment to purity and protection with prima, he’s reimagining the future of healing as an “uprising” and continues his mission and business leadership with functional plant wellness.
“For prima, we focus on the core theme of uplifting,” he says. “Our purpose is to serve humanity by uplifting science, nature and health. Uplifting also defines our actions toward and responsibility to amplify the power and therapeutic potential of hemp and botanical compounds. It’s the needed rallying cry to manage the biggest epidemic of our times: chronic stress. It’s having a profound impact on our bodies, our relationships, our choices. Imagine the positive ripple effect that would happen if we felt better — what would we choose to do?”
The overall cannabis industry (both hemp and marijuana) is exploding right now, with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which allows regulated hemp-growing operations and related product sales, as well as more states approving laws allowing medicinal or recreational use. Gavigan and the seven others on the prima launch team want to add credibility, sophistication and trust to the newly emerging cannabis wellness category — embracing self-care as powerful healthcare, as he says.
“It’s a personal responsibility and duty to be of support for those who need it most — vulnerable, sick, uncared for, unseen — no matter where they are in their journey,” Gavigan says. “Each day we are publicly crafting the rigor and standards of care — it’s a call-to-action to be principled — and prima will conduct business with the utmost integrity to create not only personal, social and environmental impact, but to raise the bar on how businesses can operate.”
Gavigan encourages other people who believe business can be better to take the leap and create companies that create change. The work can be challenging, he says, but it’s gratifying to know you are helping others.
“Any brand I build is a personal, real extension of myself. Every day we have an opportunity to live our truth … to seek continuous improvement, and to do something that dynamically evolves the status quo,” Gavigan says. “Establishing prima as a public benefit corporation simplified, yet solidified, everything. From the start, our governance, our paperwork, our investor relations, our legal consideration all flow through a clear filter and value-based structure.”
Beyond operating with transparency, accountability, and purpose, prima’s status as a benefit corporation reinforces what Gavigan wants the company to accomplish for customers and workers.
“I’m not Pollyanna about it, achieving the fragile balance between profits and social impact is a challenge, but there is no better challenge I’d want to address. Businesses of today need conviction and courage, and take the bigger risk to holistically address the social, health, environmental issues of our time — they are not separate. When this spirit of ethical innovation and hopefulness collide, conscious capitalism and social betterment are more possible than ever.”
B the Change gathers and shares the voices from within the movement of people using business as a force for good and the community of Certified B Corporations. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the nonprofit B Lab.
New Benefit Corp Sets the Bar for Being a Conscious Business in the CBD Business Boom was originally published in B the Change on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.