Out on a simple household errand when his wife was pregnant, Craig Elbert found himself in the vitamin store soliciting advice from an uninformed teenage store clerk. It was overwhelming and daunting being surrounded by thousands of products with so little guidance. He was well aware that vitamins and supplements played a valuable role in a healthy lifestyle, but felt healthy living should feel fun and rewarding, not like an overwhelming chore.
For Craig, this unsatisfactory experience was when the idea for Care/of was born.
Care/of is an online subscription-based service that creates a personalized daily vitamin pack for its customers. It’s sourced transparently, encapsulated and tested in the US, and only uses the most effective, bio-available ingredients. And because it’s sold solely online, brick-and-mortar costs are cut out, saving consumers up to 20% compared with brands sold at local health food stores.
When signing up, customers are asked to take a short survey where they are quizzed about their individual goals, lifestyle and values. They are then recommended certain vitamins and supplements based on their answers. Clients can customize their order however they like, and the goods are sent straight to their door in personalized, individual packets.
At the time of his eye-opening epiphany at the vitamin store, Craig was VP of marketing at Bonobos, focusing on creating great customer experiences in the men’s khaki market.
“Building strong customer relationships and loyalty was key to the brand and was also really rewarding as an employee,” he explains. “So when I had such a miserable experience trying to purchase vitamins and supplements, I knew there was room for a more delightful, consumer-friendly, quality brand.”
Having no real background in the market other than being a consumer, Craig found a partner in Akash Shah, who had previously founded multiple businesses. From there the two spent over a year researching everything vitamin related.
“We started by speaking with literally hundreds of consumers to understand the problems and pain points,” he explains. “We also read a number of books on nutrition and then spent time working closely with experts from Harvard and Tufts. Finally, we traveled the globe to set up a supply chain to deliver the caliber of product that we wanted.”
And he’s not joking. Their fish oil is sourced sustainably from wild Alaskan salmon, their calcium from the red algae in Icelandic seawater, and the Rhodiola from the Altai Mountains in Siberia where it has grown naturally for thousands of years.
They’ve teamed up with insider experts Bob Kalill and Sheila Pinkney who have helped the brand take its vision of creating high quality, natural ingredients and have turned it into a world-class product line.
Care/of has done for the vitamin market what Bonobos did for dress up pants. They’ve made vitamins cool again, while simultaneously making their clients healthier and teaching them more about what they put in their bodies. Just take a peek at their hip, easy-to-navigate website, and you’ll learn that Milk Thistle helps hangovers, Bacopa helps you stay focused, and that Rhodiola — according to a now very knowledgeable Craig — is used by Russian cosmonauts to battle the stress of outer-space.
Which is something I guarantee the teenage vitamin store clerk couldn’t tell you.
Lindsay DeLong is the Managing Editor of The Fullest. She tends to love anything personalized, so yes, now she even loves vitamins. Find Lindsay at firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media via @lindizzaster.