Two former J&J executives plant a Seed in personal care aisles

NEW YORK —A desire to try to start a family and to support a healthy potential pregnancy prompted two former Johnson & Johnson executives to embark on a path of research that eventually would give birth to a new natural personal care line named Seed.

Graine de Vie was founded by Rebecca and Benjamin Gournay—who are partners in life and business—and in November 2009, the company launched its first 100% natural personal care brand called Seed. The collection is comprised of nourishing body lotions (suggested retail price of $8.99), moisturizing body soaps (SRP $4.49) and lathering hair shampoo bars (SRP $4.49). It was soft-launched in Whole Foods Market in late 2009, and also is sold on Amazon.com and Alice.com.

Now the company is looking to expand to mass-market retailers. The target: Mainstream consumers who are interested in buying natural personal care products but haven’t yet made the switch.

The Gournays are far from strangers to the mass market. Rebecca Gournay previously served as president of Gem Business Development, where she worked with startups in the natural sector, launching new products to market. Prior to Gem, she focused on sales and marketing at three Johnson & Johnson consumer products divisions. She also led the internal go-to-market strategies and planning at J&J consumer products division on several brands.

Benjamin Gournay was sales strategy director at Mars Snackfood. Before Mars Snackfood, he led business development for the Club Channel at Personal Products—a division of J&J—where he identified new growth opportunities and led new product-development initiatives.

Eager to leverage their entrepreneurial spirit and live a healthier lifestyle, the Gournays, who met while working at J&J, found their answer inside a grape seed. Each grape seed, a natural byproduct of the winemaking process, is rich in vitamin E, a potent mix of antioxidants and beneficial essential fatty acids—all known for healthy skin benefits.

In addition, Graine de Vie has signed the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics contract, indicating its commitment to never use ingredients that are known toxins. All of the Seed packaging is recyclable and/or biodegradable, and all products and packaging in the collection are made in the United States to cut down on its carbon footprint.

Going forward, the Gournays said they are looking to expand the line eventually, but noted that it was too early to disclose details. To promote the current Seed products at retail, the Gournays said they see great value in product sampling, in-store marketing, public relations efforts and social media.