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Yes to Carrots’ Green Ambition

The creator of the Yes to Carrots line, Ido Leffler, sees green living through orange-colored glasses.

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Ido Leffler sees green living through orange-colored glasses.

This story first appeared in the October 24, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The fun-loving, youthful entrepreneur is a walking emblem of the paraben-free personal care line, Yes to Carrots, that he created two years ago.

Leffler, 31, wears his love of carrots — and everything the natural, smile-inducing line stands for — on his sleeve, through his belt loops and on his feet, as he has proudly cultivated a wardrobe of bright orange pieces.

Earlier this month, Leffler extended that aesthetic to the firm’s newly opened San Francisco-based global headquarters, which were relocated from Israel to keep pace with the company’s U.S. expansion.

The office, described by Leffler via phone as he dashed from room to room on his first day there, incorporates the brand’s signature colors. Yes to Carrots lamps top desks, file cabinets are cucumber green and staplers and pencils are orange. The color palette is catching on. Job applicants have begun arriving for interviews outfitted in a splash of orange, said Leffler, whose business card reads “chief carrot lover.”

Like his wardrobe and interior design choices, Leffler’s enthusiasm for Yes to Carrots is difficult to ignore, particularly when faced with his high-energy, rapid-fire style of speaking. Also, the brand seems to fit the bill for U.S. mass retailers looking to dabble in the natural products space.

Introduced abroad in 2006, the Israeli-born brand launched Stateside in May 2007 in Walgreens. It has since garnered considerable attention from shoppers with its paraben-free, antioxidant and Dead Sea mineral-powered products, coupled with its bright orange packaging and carrot logo. Today, the Yes to Carrots brand is available in 17 countries and sold in 20,000 doors worldwide, including Duane Reade, Ulta and on HSN. In September, the company launched two new lines, namely Yes to Tomatoes and Yes to Cucumbers, to Walgreens.

“If you ask my wife, she thinks I’m starting a cult,” he quipped.

Leffler’s real aim is to bring natural beauty care products to the masses.

“One thing that is very important to us is to make sure that we are eco-friendly and that the products are natural, but at the same time, that the products are affordable, because in our view that’s the key to getting more people into this trend,” said Leffler. “Not everybody is going to be able to buy a $60 [face] cream, but a $14.99 [face] cream or a $8.99 shampoo is something that most people can do.”

“I don’t want somebody to buy one of our products and feel terrible about it when she gets home because she can’t afford it. I want her to come home with a big smile on her face,” he said.

The company is working to widen that smile through its Yes to Carrots Seed Fund, a nonprofit organization that aims to provide underserved communities with the resources needed to develop and sustain an organic food source and access to healthy nutrition. As part of that effort, in February, Yes to Carrots plans to send a group of employees to the eco-village of Kibbutz Lotan, where they will learn to design, build and run sustainable communities. Leffler will also spend time at the eco-village, although the timing depends on the arrival of his first child, whom he affectionately refers to as “baby carrot.”

“That will be my holiday,” said Leffler of the eco-village. “How cool is a holiday where you go and spend time in an eco-village? Forget the Four Seasons.”

“Our company has a mission not to make people beautiful, but to make people happy,” declared Leffler.

Explaining his interest in natural products and promoting sustainable business practices, he said, “As a [human] race, we don’t have the option not to do something. I don’t want to be living out one of those [sci-fi] movies where in 300 or 400 years nothing exists on earth anymore. That’s a real worst-case scenario, but it could potentially happen. We have options today to live a sustainable life.” For instance, having recently moved to San Francisco from Israel, Leffler is in the midst of deciding what hybrid car to buy.

“There’s no point in me being ceo of Yes to Carrots and not using the products, or supporting local farmers markets and restaurants that serve locally sourced foods,” he said. Leffler also works to offset his carbon footprint by purchasing carbon credits through airlines that allow passengers to do so as part of their ticket. After all, building an international business requires constant air travel. So far this year, Leffler has accumulated 1.5 million frequent- flyer points. “On average, I sleep on a plane six to eight nights a month.”

The travel, it seems, hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm or energy level.

“I don’t think Yes to Carrots will be able to save the world, but we will definitely do our part to change it a little bit. The most important thing is to be able to do it with a big, big, big smile,” said Leffler. “Life is too short not to.”

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