Get Inspired: Linda Kahler

By Kimberly Rodrigues

Linda Kahler brought her passion for sustainable business practices and community responsibility with her to Rainbow Light. As the president and CEO, she has helped drive the company for 25 years. To date, Rainbow Light has donated 20 million supplements to Vitamin Angels, an organization dedicated to improving nutrition of children around the world. This year, the company’s goal is to donate 5 million supplements worldwide, with a recent focus on the Ivory Coast and Haiti. In addition, Rainbow Light provides ongoing supplement donations to the NUTRIR Barranquill foundation, benefiting impoverished children in Colombia, and they also provide continuous local support to their community at the Santa Cruz-based Second Harvest Food Bank through cash contributions and office-wide food drives.
 
A portion of your mission statement reads: “At Rainbow Light, our mission is to make a difference in the health of people, pets, and planet.” Can you explain to me how and why this is the backbone of your company?
From the start, Rainbow Light has taken a science-based, holistic approach to formulate our food-based nutritional supplements. Our products provide proven potencies of therapeutic ingredients with customized digestive support to aid absorption—all in a base of superfood concentrates. In addition to the direct health benefits our products deliver to our customers, our promise has always encompassed a commitment to planetary health through a focus on business choices such as sustainable ingredient selection, and an energy efficient distributor-fulfillment shipping model. This year, Rainbow Light is celebrating 30 years of making a difference in both personal and planetary health.
 
How did you come to be a founding supporter of Vitamin Angels, and how has your relationship grown over the years?
I knew Howard Schiffer, the founder and president of Vitamin Angels, from his years in the natural supplement industry. When Howard approached Rainbow Light for supplement donations, there was no question that we would participate. We began contributing productdonations from the start, but wanted to develop a more meaningful way to make a difference through our work with Vitamin Angels that would be more personal and relevant to the Rainbow Light brand. Since maternal health was an area of focus for Vitamin Angels early on, this was a natural fit for us. By linking our donations to the sales of our No. 1 selling prenatal multivitamin, we knew the volume would be substantial, would grow with our sales growth, and would provide high quality prenatal nutrition that would deliver a dramatic, positive impact to both maternal and infant health. By tying the program directly to monthly sales reporting and inventory management, the donations happen automatically. Such well-planned and ongoing corporate giving programs are crucial lifelines for areas affected by extreme poverty, natural disasters, pandemics and civil strife. Howard recently shared with me that Rainbow Light’s commitment to long-term support year after year was a key factor in helping Vitamin Angels reach 20 million children in 2010.
 
Do you encourage your employees to participate in charitable causes, and if you do, how do you support them in their goals?
We certainly do encourage our employees to participate in social contributions. Rainbow Light offers paid time off forour employees who volunteer at the Second Harvest Food Bank. We also fully sponsored a Rainbow Light employee to go on a Vitamin Angels distribution trip to Haiti to help provide nutritional supplements, food, and medications to
communities in need there. After the earthquake in Haiti, Rainbow Light matched all employee contributions for earthquake relief.
 
What made you decide to move Rainbow Light products into 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastics?
[Our] Eco-Guard bottles are the natural outcome of Rainbow Light’s history of environmental stewardship. We began converting all of our bottled products to the new Eco-Guard bottles in December 2009, and completed the conversion in 2010. They reduce our bottle footprint by 92 percent and are BPA-free and FDA approved for safety. Eco-Guard bottles will keep an estimated 6 million or more bottles out of the waste stream every year.
 
In extending your mission statement to our readers, how would you suggest they start to “ to make a difference in the health of people, pets and planet”?
First, attend to optimizing your own health—our ability to do good work in the world depends upon our own health and vitality. Good nutrition, exercise, supplements, a healthy positive attitude, and connections with our loved ones. Next, align your work as best you can, both professionally and altruistically, with your personal values and passions. Choose organizations or causes to get involved with, whether locally or globally, that you care deeply about. This will energize you every day, and research proves the connection between volunteer work and our own personal satisfaction! Finally, remember that the small lifestyle choices we all can make can have a big planetary health impact. Even the some of the most simple things like reducing waste and minimizing energy consumption will end up making a big difference for all of us!