Our 2020 Like a Boss issue features the women changing how we cook and eat. Get to know innovator Kristen Bell, the bar raiser.
kristen bell
Photography by Mark Williams + Sara Hirakawa
| Credit: Photography by Mark Williams + Sara Hirakawa

Kristen Bell isn't your average mom—and she knows it. "My husband and I are not unaware that we live in the bubble of Los Angeles, that we're overpaid for the jobs we do, that we can walk into any baby boutique and buy premium products and never look at the price tag," says the actress-activist (Frozen, The Good Place), who has two daughters with husband and fellow actor Dax Shepard. "But in our bones, that doesn't feel fair. We don't believe that any parent or caregiver should have to choose between their baby and their budget."

So Bell is working overtime to level the parenting playing field. As a founder of plant-based baby brand Hello Bello, she's laser-focused on bringing premium goods—sustainably absorbent diapers, organic baby powder—to everyone. A lot of offerings in the baby space rely on a "very clean and pure" aesthetic, but Bell felt that didn't match her own experience. "My nursery was a mess—there were avocado fingerprints on the wall, there were pee stains on the rug," she says. "So we chose to be very specific and put the word 'butt' on the diaper box because it is for the butt. We put the word 'booger' on the wipes packaging because that's what the wipes are used for." Bell and company partnered with Walmart to "gain economy of scale and accessibility among people who don't live in our bubble."

And for Bell, that ethos extends beyond what goes on your child's body to what food goes into it. This spring, the actress donated more than $150,000 to No Kid Hungry to help schools and community groups feed children during the COVID-19 outbreak, but she caught the mission-based bug years earlier. In 2013, she helped found This Saves Lives, a snack-bar brand aimed at fighting childhood malnutrition. "We're very honest with our kids about how lucky we are and how they're never going to experience a scarcity factor, God willing, but that a lot of people do," says Bell. The bars are yet another effort to equalize quality goods: Each purchase helps send a nutrient-dense packet of food to malnourished children in Haiti, Somalia, and, yes, even the United States. (One in seven Americans lives with food insecurity every day.) More than 11 million food packets have been donated so far.

As with Hello Bello, cofounding This Saves Lives just felt right to Bell, another go-by-her-gut decision in a string of many that have helped he forge a long and successful career in fickle Hollywood. "There have been jobs I've been offered with a story I didn't connect to, or that didn't have any meaning," she says. She wants consumers to use the same logic when making food choices for their families. "Why buy something with an empty message when you could choose something that's doing good in the world?"

This article originally appeared in our Summer 2020 issue. Get the magazine here