B Corp Spotlight: Vital Plan

A certified B Corp since 2016, Vital Plan is an e-commerce holistic health company offering premium natural supplements paired with step-by-step health education and support to lead customers to reach their wellness goals.

We had the privilege to connect with Braden Rawls, Vital Plan’s Co-Founder, to learn more about their story!

Tell us a little about your company! What do you do, and what is your mission?

I co-founded Vital Plan in 2009 with my father, Dr. Bill Rawls, a conventionally-trained physician who discovered the value of herbal therapy during his recovery from chronic Lyme disease. Our shared goals of providing clinical-grade herbal extracts, formulation transparency, and unparalleled customer support and education formed the foundational principles of the company.

Thanks to Dr. Rawls’ expertise and thought leadership combined with extensive R&D and a complex global supply chain, Vital Plan is able to deliver a unique and robust product line, step-by-step wellness plans, and unparalleled support to meet and exceed our customers’ needs and expectations. Our mission has held steady since we founded Vital Plan twelve years ago as an extension of Dr. Rawls’ gynecology practice: To make herbs and healthy habits a simple, safe, and effective part of everyone’s every day.

While the company has grown and evolved tremendously since those early days, our reason for being remains the same – we exist as a complement to conventional medical therapies, providing trusted herbal products and support that empower our customers to reach and maintain their wellness goals.

Why did your company decide to become a B Corp?

Vital Plan is celebrating 6 years as a certified B Corporation and has just completed our 2nd recertification with a score of 98.4 (woohoo!).

Our primary business objective with the certification was to communicate our high ethical standards to our customers and community through this third-party certification of business as a force for good. In the supplement industry, which is full of fly-by-night players, customers often do not know who to trust. Many brands are touting the same things (quality, ethical standards, giving back)––whether or not they are actually true to these commitments. The Vital Plan brand has been built on trust and a paragon of honesty in an industry rife with false promises and quick fixes––and the B Corp certification helps us to more quickly communicate this with the backing of a third party.

The B Corp certification has been a growing trust symbol among reputable herbal supplement brands. Vital Plan was proud to be among the first herbal supplement brands to become certified as a B Corporation, and we welcome like-minded herbal brands to this growing community where we can together amplify our positive impact. We have enjoyed being a part of the community of businesses operating as a force for good and having the opportunity to learn from others.

As B Corporations, our work is ever-evolving and we’re constantly working on improving our sustainability efforts. What are some social and/or environmental goals that your company is hoping to achieve by the time recertification comes around?

In 2021, we completed a deep dive audit of our product packaging and shipping, which was inspired through our B Corp commitment. It was quite the project and an incredible learning experience. Through this audit, we identified e-commerce packaging solutions to reduce our environmental footprint as our business grows. It was truly eye-opening to learn the extensive pros and cons and complexity associated with each packaging option, such as weighing the energy requirements for production of materials vs. transportation costs, which sometimes made for a surprising net gain or net loss. By the end of the project, we had an enormous spreadsheet weighing inputs for each consideration––even factoring in rates of recycling and composting amongst our customer demographic.

In parallel to mapping out the long-term plan, we are pursuing low hanging fruit opportunities we identified during the audit, such as better education around recycling of our current packaging. We were surprised to learn through the audit that the type of plastic bottles we currently use have one of the highest recycling success rates (hence making sure they get to a recycling facility!) and have a low shipping footprint as they are lightweight. It has been helpful to gain a full understanding of our current packaging footprint and the opportunities ahead. It is our goal to make improvements on the sustainability and carbon footprint of our shipments by the time of our next B Corp recertification.

Having the support of other B Corps during this research project was really valuable. It was another experience where we really valued the openness and collaborative mindset of the community, thanks to our shared environmental goals. Truly, we are all on this journey together!

For more, see our 2021 Impact Report: https://vitalplan.com/blog/impact-report

In your opinion, what role does consumer education play in supporting the B Corp movement?

Ultimately, customers drive companies to do better and enact social change. As individuals, we must each be an advocate for the change that enlightened choices in consumerism can bring. As companies, we must in turn empower customers through product transparency and education that enables customers to support positive change through their buying decisions.

Has your company collaborated with other B Corps in the Triangle? What was that experience like?

While we have many local B Corp friends and cheer one another on, we have not yet engaged in formal collaboration. That said, we would be thrilled to see this collaboration take place and would love to be a part of it, such as a B local community volunteer day or a community fundraiser. We’re all ears and welcome local collaboration!