A love of entrepreneurship and social responsibility led Jessica Rolph to co-found her first company, organic baby food maker Happy Family. Success did not come instantly though.
“We launched with frozen baby food in 2006, and it completely failed,” she said through a laugh. “But we hung in there … We launched more products, and it took off. And in seven years, we got the company to $63 million in sales.”
Rolph and her partners sold the company for $230 million to the French food-products company Danone S.A., which operates in the U.S. as Dannon.
“We made so many mistakes and learned so much,” she said.
Rolph was ready to apply that knowledge elsewhere, and she went on to co-found Lovevery, a direct-to- consumer toy company with products designed to help children’s brains develop through the first few years of life.
“We have a system of products and learning tools that are based on what a child wants to learn at each stage of their development,” Rolph explained. “We’re really focused on helping parents feel con dent about their choices, and feel like they’re giving their children the best.”
The transition from Happy Family to Lovevery was a natural one, Rolph said. She felt good about what she was feeding her children, but said she didn’t know what was happening with their development. She began researching, and what she found inspired her to launch Lovevery so she could help other parents feel empowered in helping their children as well.
Rolph is also the co-founder of the Climate Collaborative, a network of more than 500 natural- products companies working together to help reverse climate change.
“We have a collective road map of nine focus areas, and companies are making commitments for what they’re going to do based on those focus areas,” Rolph said.
Erin Callahan, director of the Climate Collaborative, said the impact of Rolph’s leadership extends well beyond the companies she’s co-founded by transforming entire industries.
“Jessica leads with enthusiasm, heart and a will to deliver excellence,” she wrote in a letter of recommendation. “It’s a combination of qualities that energizes everyone working for her and shows so clearly the power and impact you can have when you put visionary women in positions of leadership.”
Though passionate about her company and the environment, Rolph said her family is most important. In fact, a stressful day can be erased by simply reading to her kids, she said. Ultimately, Rolph credits her husband for helping her reach some of her dreams.
“I feel like I could not do what I do without him,” Rolph said. “I couldn’t be who I am without him.”
And for anyone wondering how she manages to balance her busy work life with her family life, Rolph attributes it to one thing: “I have a very messy house,” she said. “It allows me to have more meaningful moments when I am with my family.”