At B+C’s core, we strive to inspire women to take action — to pursue endeavors with courage, confidence, and community by their side. Whether it’s kickstarting a small business, running for office, or learning how to watercolor, we want to be that small, encouraging nudge toward your loftiest ambitions, because you CAN do anything you set your mind to! We’re proud to team up with Burt’s Bees for their third Natural Launchpad program, an annual grant and mentoring opportunity for female health and well-being pioneers akin to the company’s co-founder, Roxanne Quimby. Through this program, Burt’s Bees hopes to nurture the next generation of women dreamers and innovators trying to improve our planet and everyone on it.

Psst: 2018 submissions to Burt’s Bees Natural Launchpad are now open!

Today, we’re celebrating previous winners of Burt’s Bees Natural Launchpad: Irena Todd and Jean Sim of Fresh Monster, Lauren Gropper of Repurpose, Michelle Carfagno of The Greater Knead, and Kari Block of EarthKind®. These women know the entrepreneurial hustle all too well, and their successes are incredibly impressive. Just think — with the help of Natural Launchpad, YOU could be among these ambitious ladies!

Meet Irena Todd + Jean Sim, Co-Founders + Co-CEOs of Fresh Monster

Tell us about Fresh Monster.

“We founded Fresh Monster with a mission to bring toxin-free, affordable kids personal care products to all families. As parents, we were tired of worrying about toxins in the tub and tired of overpaying for safe products. As former haircare executives, we saw there was a clear need in the market, so we combined our hair care expertise with our passion for safe, natural products and developed Fresh Monster. It took years to craft the perfect formulas, so we’re extremely proud of the results. Today, Fresh Monster can be found in 2,000 retail stores nationwide.”

“Given our background and entrepreneurial spirit, we felt it was our responsibility to tackle this problem, not only for the sake of our own kids but for all families.”

Tell us about yourself. What inspired you to become entrepreneurs?

“We’re both first generation immigrants from self-made backgrounds, so both of us knew that entrepreneurship was in our future. When we became moms, we struggled to find safe and suitable hair care products for our own kids. After some digging, we were outraged to learn that most hair care products contain harmful chemicals which weren’t readily disclosed nor understood. Families are forced to choose between safety and affordability. We found it unbelievable that despite all of society’s advances, the options for safe personal care for our most vulnerable ones are sorely lacking. Given our background and entrepreneurial spirit, we felt it was our responsibility to tackle this problem, not only for the sake of our own kids but also for all families.”

Congratulations on being winners of Burt’s Bees Natural Launchpad! Tell us about your experience with the program.

“Being selected for the Burt’s Bees Natural Launchpad was extremely validating. To have one of the biggest pioneers in the natural personal care industry recognize us as up-and-comers following in their footsteps showed that we are on our way to making a difference. The Launchpad has provided so much information and expertise, which has helped fuel our efforts. From several days onsite with their in-house experts to ongoing access to resources and a cohort of like-minded natural products crusaders, our circle of mentors has grown exponentially because of the Launchpad. Ultimately, it will be this type of support network that will help accelerate our success.”

If you had one piece of advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs, what would it be?

“Be choosy when bringing investors on board. It’s a two-way street — you need to vet them just as much as they are vetting you. Are they aligned with your vision and mission? Do they agree with your way of working? You need investors who will be helpful and supportive.”

Meet Lauren Gropper, Co-Founder + CEO of Repurpose

Tell us about your company.

Repurpose is an LA-based company that makes compostable tableware from plants for the consumer retail market. We’re on a mission to reduce the amount of plastics in the environment and offer high quality, durable, and guilt-free renewable alternatives. 6,000 stores carry Repurpose products, and we were recently recognized by a major magazine as one of the fastest growing consumer companies in America.”

“I’ve always been driven by the opportunity to create a positive impact and to do well by doing good.”

Tell us about yourself. What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

“I know this sounds cliché, but I’ve always been driven by the opportunity to create a positive impact and to do well by doing good. I’ve been passionate about sustainability my whole life and I’ve spent my career in the sustainable design field — in architecture, film, and TV production. When I learned it was possible to create plastic from plants, I was so inspired that I decided to make the crazy leap into entrepreneurship, and Repurpose was born!”

If you had one piece of advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs, what would it be?

“Surround yourself with great people that believe in you and your vision. Commit 100 percent and go for it!”

Meet Michelle Carfagno, Founder + CEO of The Greater Knead

Tell us about The Greater Knead.

The Greater Knead is a food manufacturing company and brand that specializes in gluten-free and top allergen-free products. In 2012, I started my company out of a passion for baking and a family struggle with food allergies. Six years later, The Greater Knead’s line of bagels can be found in over 1,000 retail stores and restaurants. With no prior experience in the food industry, we’ve created a growing brand that inspires and empowers change in the food industry. We have a mostly female company, and I believe that women supporting women is the only way we can continue to succeed and grow. I give back by mentoring other women in business as well as by offering manufacturing services to other food brands owned by women that are allergen-free.”

“As a mostly female company, I believe that women supporting women is the only way we can continue to succeed and grow.”

Tell us about yourself. What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

“Baking has been a passion of mine since I was eight years old. I watched my father become an entrepreneur and always knew one day, I would too. It took me a while to put both my passion of baking and my dream of entrepreneurship together. I remember thinking that a career and a passion don’t go hand in hand and that money and stability is more important.

“I almost went to law school with hopes of being an entertainment law attorney. It was when I was studying for my LSAT and becoming really frustrated that a friend asked me why I wanted to be a lawyer. I answered quickly, “Because I will make enough money to start my own business.” My friend replied, “You don’t need to be a lawyer to start a business.” In that simple moment, I realized I was on the wrong path. I ultimately landed on this dream idea that I could turn my passion for baking into a business; and being that my sister and grandfather were just diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I knew I found an industry ripe for disruption.”

If you had one piece of advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs, what would it be?

“I have three terms that sum up what I believe the key to success is: Passion, Persistence, and Red Lipstick. The first two are pretty self-explanatory — follow your passion and persist through the challenges. Red lipstick is a metaphor for finding your confidence and your voice. The reason I describe it as ‘red lipstick’ is that for someone who’s historically shy, putting on red lipstick was a bold thing to do — and it’s exactly what I needed. I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone so I could take more risks and become the person I’ve always wanted to be. Finding your ‘red lipstick’ will be the key to your success.”

Meet Kari Block, Founder + CEO of EarthKind®

Tell us about your company.

EarthKind® is a US-based developer and manufacturer of DIY household pest repellents. We’re committed to bringing safe, effective, affordable, and non-toxic DIY pest control to American households.”

“It hit me that if it was to be, it was likely up to me!”

Tell us about yourself. What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

“I wanted to use pesticides that were as safe as they were effective. There was no such thing. When I started EarthKind®, 98 percent of DIY pest control products sold were toxic. It hit me that if it was to be, it was likely up to me!”

Congratulations on winning a spot on Burt’s Bees Natural Launchpad! How has the program supported your business?

“Burt’s Bees has been there for me and my company as advisors and mentors. They’ve helped me more realistically envision where I’m going. They’ve helped me see what a manufacturing plant can look like (I toured one with others on my team), what a presentation to a big retail store can look like (I got help with a big one — now, we’re IN), and what a culture day can look like (they helped us establish our own). It’s all fertilizer for growth!

“I think we are in a new time. Businesses, like individuals, are looking to empowerment and enlightenment as paths to growth — whether that be spiritual, intellectual, or economic. Burt’s Bees seeks to empower other like-minded female-led businesses, and they believe that a collective ‘force for good’ can cross-pollinate and amplify each other’s missions and companies in powerful ways.”

“Businesses, like individuals, are looking to empowerment and enlightenment as paths to growth — whether that be spiritual, intellectual, or economic.”

If you had one piece of advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs, what would it be?

“Your business grows to your vision, as large or as small, or whatever that looks like. It’s really up to you to own your power.”

There you have it! Five ambitious, inspiring, phenomenal women who are paving the way for female entrepreneurs. Want to follow in their footsteps, or do you know a strong, savvy woman who does? Spread the word about Burt’s Bees Natural Launchpad — submissions close 5 pm on April 30! You’ve totally got this.