Ido Leffler: “Lance and I have always had a vision that Yes To would affect the world in positive ways. Part one of that vision was bringing affordable, high-quality natural-beauty products to the mass market: check! Part two was something of a bigger picture: How could we take our brand, shake it up with a little cash and a lot of passion, and create something that would benefit people outside of our natural-beauty customers?...
…We realized that if we wanted to be effective, we needed one specific mission; after all, we were working with a fixed budget. Spending five hundred dollars here or a thousand dollars there ultimately wasn’t that effective. Instead, we decided to invest all of our budget on one project and see if we could make a meaningful difference that way. We reached out to the Very Important Carrots (the company’s initial supporters), asked what we should do, and the number one project they suggested was something that would improve nutrition for children.
We teamed up with a group called the Environmental Media Association, or EMA, that mobilizes the entertainment industry in educating people about environmental issues, which, in turn, inspires them to take action. We started planting organic fruit and veggie gardens in schools in Los Angeles. We were able to get some celebrity support (always useful when you are trying to raise money and interest!) when people like Nicole Richie, Rosario Dawson, and Daryl Hannah pitched in to help.
The first few gardens were a hit, and we decided to expand the program nationally. Because that’s a big commitment, we partnered with retailers like Whole Foods, who helped us to get the world out about the program and encouraged schools to apply for a grant. We now have seed fund programs all over the States. We’ve also partnered with two amazing women via an organization called Mama Hope to take the program overseas and start helping kids in Africa. Our micro-farms in Africa are phenomenal: We found an efficient, effective way to plant organic product around the schools there, and our first projects feed ten thousand kids a day. We hope to reach tens of thousands of kids on a daily basis.
Why does any of this matter?
Look around you; these are challenging times. If we are going to pull through on a local, regional, or international level, then we all have to pitch in, now. Giving back has to be part of your company’s mission statement, no matter what your personal beliefs, your politics, or your passions. I strongly believe that we in the business world have an obligation—and an opportunity—to help others. Lance and I have two wonderful children each. Our kids get the best food, education, and health care money can buy. I would literally do anything for my children, and I know that the homeless mother, the out-of-work father, and the inner-city teacher all feel the same way about their kinds. If I can help them take care of their kids, that’s a wonderful thing.”