Every time we move into a new place, we make that epic Target run to buy all those household essentials that don't feel worth the money, even if it is Tarjay (do we really need a utensil organizer for 16.99?). Now, Bay Area tech and venture capital icons Tina Sharkey and Ido Leffler are coming to our rescue.
The pair's new online store, Brandless, is stocked with home essentials aimed at modern, value-minded folks looking for a deal on stuff when brand names just don't matter that much. We're talking about pantry items (gluten-free waffle mix! sea salt quinoa chips!), kitchen necessities (knives, plates, mugs), beauty products (lip balm, hand cream), and cleaning goods (toilet bowl cleaner, anyone?). And it's all just $3 (even the shipping, with the code hello3). Welcome to the "value-led generation."
Based in San Francisco and Minneapolis, the site was launched on July 11th with the promise of changing how we shop for everyday goods. And since the company comes from the minds of such a high-power pair of friends—Sharkey was cofounder of iVillage before becoming CEO of SF's Sherpa Foundry, and Leffler (a former 7x7 Hot 20) is the guy behind Yes To Inc., Yoobi, and Cheeky Home—it's already generating plenty of buzz...and cash. (Brandless was incubated at Sherpa Foundry and has earned $50 million in funding from the likes of Cowboy Ventures, Slow Ventures, and more).
When Sharkey and Leffler got together to brainstorm a new venture, they wanted something that would be both industry- and world-changing and also reflect their shared beliefs. Brandless is built upon the ideals of value, transparency, and giving back to the community.
"I've always built everything with profit and purpose in mind," says Sharkey, who felt it was "time to build something with soul, with authenticity, with transparency, and most importantly something that everyone can trust."
But how come it's all so cheap? Sharkey and Leffler have eliminated what they call the "brand tax": "If people really knew what things cost versus what they're actually paying for them, they'd be rioting in the streets," says Sharkey. The team estimates that the average consumer pays about 40 percent more for household items and up to a 370 percent more for beauty products just because we like the names on the labels. Brandless leaves that all in the dust, eliminating the costs of branding, middle men, and markups.
There are currently six categories of products on Brandless, and Sharkey says new products will be added every day, with many more are to come. And, happily, affordable doesn't really translate to cheap: Brandless products are designed around health- and environmentally conscious values, loaded of organic, all natural, and non-GMO options. Brandless has also partnered with Feeding America to give a meal to someone in need every time you make a purchase.
So now we can spend less money and feel better about ourselves with no catch-22 in sight. As Sharkey says, "'Better shouldn't cost more and everyone deserves better. We like to call it the democratization of goodness." // brandless.com