As the CEO of Sensible Organics—the company behind the Nourish Organic line of personal care products—you might expect Rob Robillard to spend his weekends huddled over spreadsheets, planning upcoming launches or trying out a new shower gel at home.
But that’s not the case.
“The weekends revolve around my horse,” he admitted. “He’s my pride and joy. Every Saturday and Sunday I either ride or take a riding lesson.”
Indeed, Rob, with all signs pointing to that of a City Mouse, has turned into somewhat of a Country Mouse, part of which can be attributed to his new CEO role of the USDA-certified organic beauty care line sold in Ulta, Whole Foods and on the brand’s website, nourishorganic.com. For Rob, who spent many years working in the marketing department of L’Oréal and also as CEO of Living Proof, his position at Sensible Organics not only marks a return to the beauty world after a stint at running ICU Eyewear, but shows how deeply affected he was at that last job, which involved a move to Berkeley, CA.
“My partner [Addison Van Ness] and I learned what organic and local meant there,” he recalled. “We sort of entered another world of everything related to how you live. It gave us great access to lots of new thinking about food, vitamins, supplements, exercise and lifestyle. It was sort of the beginning of it.”
Now he lives in Lyme, CT, an area with verdant rolling hills, organic farms, and flourishing gardens. The horse—who’s named Monument, and is a Morgan, one of America’s oldest breeds—stays in a barn just down the road from Rob’s home, an 1825 former workman’s cottage on a property that once housed a mill, which he shares with Addison. “It’s a magical place,” Rob raved. “It’s got a great farm culture, and it was established a long time ago as an artist’s colony, so there’s this incredible art culture that still remains.”
Although the couple lives at the Connecticut property full time, Rob leaves each Monday at 4 a.m. to spend the week at Sensible Organics’ headquarters outside Pittsburgh in Beaver Falls, PA, coming home Friday nights. Along with his horse rides, weekends typically include entertaining friends who come from New York, Boston and elsewhere in Connecticut to stay overnight. “We have a waiting list,” Rob laughed. “We have guests 90% of the time.” While visitors stay in a peaceful bedroom detailed with dark reclaimed wood—Rob calls it “the cave”—he and his partner prepare meals from predominantly local and sustainable produce, some grown on the property, served in a barn that was specifically built to host festive meals for guests.
After leaving ICU and returning to Connecticut, where he took six months off to learn to ride horses, which he’d wanted to do since childhood, Rob met with a former L’Oréal colleague for lunch and began discussing his interest in sustainability, which led to an introduction to the owners of Sensible Organics and their products. “It was really a serendipitous marriage, where there was something that was becoming important to me as a consumer and at the same time I could help bring it to other consumers,” he said.
After working in a different industry, Rob was also eager to return to the beauty world. “It was hard for me to leave beauty and I missed it terribly,” he said. “This has afforded me the opportunity to do something I can be really proud of, that’s very credible and authentic.”
Although he is thoroughly committed to the success of Nourish, “I think about this company 24-7,” he said, Rob is also focused on an immediate goal: riding Monument at a dressage event in April, armed with some skills that could come in handy at the office. “What I’ve learned is that so much of it is confidence and showmanship,” he smiled. “I’m confident and I like to show off, and my horse is exactly the same way.”
Photo caption (from left): Rob Robillard selling Nourish at a Farmer’s Market; Nourish products; Rob’s house; Monument, Rob’s beloved horse.