Named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the world in 2020, Gabrielle Union has taken her platform as an A-list actress to the realm of activism, championing causes around women’s health and safety. She’s an outspoken advocate of breast cancer awareness and supports programs fighting domestic violence and racial discrimination. She is the founder of Flawless by Gabrielle Union, a line of hair care products that promote natural curls and textures, and she has authored two books, including a children’s book about nontraditional families, inspired by her toddler daughter.
As a mother, Union has become increasingly aware of the challenges of modern parenthood, which led to her investment in Yumi, a subscription company that delivers all-natural baby food to the doors of parents across the country.
- Startup: Yumi
- Location: Los Angeles
- Year founded: 2017
- Valuation: Not disclosed
- Investment level: Series B
- Number of employees: 50
- Other major investors: August Capital, NEA, Brand Foundry, Neil Blumenthal of Warby Parker, Uber, SoulCycle, Sweetgreen
Why she invested, in her own words
If you want the world to change, you have to make big bets, and entrepreneurship is one of the most powerful vehicles to do that. As a founder myself, I know that it takes a lot of guts to pursue a hairy, audacious dream, so I love backing other founders—especially women of color—who have been grossly underrepresented in entrepreneurship.
I gravitate toward startups that have a strong social impact angle and reflect my values and aspirations. As a mother I already knew about Yumi. I immediately connected with Yumi’s mission to raise a healthier generation. Parents today also don’t want their children eating the processed and unhealthy products the industry developed generations ago. We are learning about traces of heavy metals and other dangerous ingredients in traditional baby food brands. The incredible thing about Yumi is that it is not only giving parents better options but it is empowering them with the tools, information, and resources they need. Kids’ minds and bodies are learning what real nutrition feels and tastes like.
Beyond the quality of their products, you can tell that there is a deeper mission here focused on advocacy and setting new standards for the food industry, all things I’m very passionate about. When I heard about how they’ve sparked this movement and their plans to reach communities in need, it was a no-brainer [to invest]. They’re already feeding 3% of all babies in America. I love that they’ve partnered with organizations like Feeding America, No Kid Hungry, and Partnership for a Healthier America. And, honestly, they’re just getting started. They recently brought on Josette Sheeran, former head of the UN World Food Program, to advise on their public policy and social impact.
I love that I’m supporting two women founders taking on an industry that has historically not reflected our values. I was instantly drawn to Angela [Sutherland] and Evelyn [Rusli], their stories, and their passion. They founded a company as two women of color and muscled through hundreds of rejections to get where they are today. The deck was stacked against them, and against all odds they created something special and have already impacted hundreds of thousands of families.
I hope that my experience backing Yumi helps me connect to even more women building companies that will change the world. Baby food is one industry that needs new leadership, and Yumi is doing it. Yumi can serve as an example to all women that they can pursue their most audacious ambitions. I hope this opens doors to other visionary women ready to take on other industries.
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This is an installment of Why I Invested, a series featuring famous investors from all different backgrounds and industries, revealing what inspired them to invest their own money in a new business.