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Jessica Alba’s Honest Company is replacing its CEO after a sale to Unilever fell through

Clorox executive Nick Vlahos is the new chief executive.

The New York Times 2014 DealBook Conference
Honest Company co-founder Jessica Alba with CEO Brian Lee
Thos Robinson/Getty Images for New York Times
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Honest Company, the baby and household product company co-founded by Jessica Alba, has replaced CEO Brian Lee with Clorox Company executive Nick Vlahos.

Lee will remain a director on Honest Company’s board, where he will be joined by Vlahos, the company said in a press release. Vlahos was most recently one of Clorox’s two chief operating officers and previously ran its Burt’s Bees subsidiary, a brand known for its “natural” vibe.

His role at Burt’s Bees may be notable to Honest Company customers who choose its products because they believe in its nontoxic, eco-friendly branding. The association with “Clorox” might not resonate in quite the same way.

The CEO change is not unexpected; Recode reported last month that Honest was contemplating making this very move and interviewing potential replacements for Lee. Lee said at the time that he planned to remain CEO but would do what’s best for the company.

The switch comes several months after Honest Company’s sale talks with Unilever fell through, after the consumer goods giant purchased Honest competitor Seventh Generation instead. Sources previously said that Honest Company’s $1.7 billion valuation was a roadblock in deals.

In the wake of these developments, Honest laid off 80 people and overhauled its entire executive team after realizing it needed to bring on executives more experienced in developing and marketing products to be sold in traditional retail stores. For many years, Honest ran its business like an e-commerce company, where it has its roots.

“With our strategic shift from e-commerce to omni-channel brand under way, this is the perfect time to welcome Nick Vlahos as the new CEO of The Honest Company,” said Alba, Honest Company board chairperson, in a prepared statement. “Nick shares our mission of building a modern brand with ethical standards, trust and transparency at the forefront.”

Honest Company surpassed $300 million in sales in 2016, the company said. The five-year-old company remains unprofitable.

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