Revolutionizing the Power of Water with Leah Stigile of hai

March 21, 2024

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Leah Stigile is the CEO and Co-Founder of hai, a company that makes innovative, sustainable and transformational shower heads. Leah has been building, growing, and leading companies in the e-commerce space for the last 20 years. Leah started her career in investment banking at Goldman Sachs before joining TOMS, where she held a variety of leadership roles and ultimately ran the global e-commerce business through its sale to Bain Capital in 2014. She then led venture-backed Fame and Partners, a fashion brand fueled by on-demand manufacturing, as President & COO. Most recently she was an Entrepreneur in Residence with Caravan, where hai was born.

John Shegerian: Do you have a suggestion for a rockstar Impact Podcast guest? Go to and just click Be a Guest to recommend someone today. This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet, and your privacy, and is the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company in the United States and maybe even the world. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit This episode of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by Closed Loop Partners. Closed Loop Partners is a leading circular economy investor in the United States with an extensive network of Fortune 500 corporate investors, family offices, institutional investors, industry experts, and impact partners. Closed Loops platform spans the arc of capital, from venture capital to private equity, bridging gaps and fostering synergies to scale the circular economy. To find Closed Loop Partners, please go to

John: Welcome to another edition of the Impact Podcast. I’m John Shegerian and I’m so honored to have with us today, Leah Stigile. She’s a CEO and co-founder of hai, H-A-I. Welcome Leah to the Impact Podcast.

Leah Stigile: Hi, John. Thank you so much for having me. Really appreciate it.

John: It’s really my honor. You’re doing such important work at hai, and we’re going to get into that in a little bit. Before we get into that, I’d love you to share a little bit about your backstory. You’re a relatively very young woman. Where’d you grow up? How’d you get on this important and impactful journey and how’d you end up where you are today?

Leah: Yeah, definitely. I’m from Iowa, a tiny little town called Bluegrass, Iowa that unless you’re from Iowa, you probably have never heard of. Born and raised and very proud of where I come from. Went to the University of Iowa for college. Huge Hawkeye fan.

John: Sure.

Leah: So, if anyone’s watching women’s basketball, we’ve got a lot going on right now. But a very proud Hawkeye. And out of college, actually, got a job in investment banking at Goldman Sachs. So, I moved to New York, and I was actually very much that person who was smiling at everyone on the subway because I didn’t know that wasn’t what you were supposed to do. And you mentioned you’re actually from Manhattan.

John: I’m from Manhattan.

Leah: So you know that’s not what you’re supposed to do.

John: No, that’s okay, though. Got it.

Leah: So, worked in an investment banking there, took a transfer to the Los Angeles office, which is how I wound up in the LA area. Continue to work in the technology media and telecom space, and ultimately, realized that it wasn’t my life’s ambition to be an investment banker. And so, started thinking about what the other opportunities might be out there for me. One of the things I really enjoyed as part of my investment banking career is working with those smaller companies where you could actually really make a difference.

When you were putting pencil to paper in the investment banking world, those synergies are actually people doing things and creating things, and I wanted to be one of those people. So, from there, I was really lucky and was introduced to the founding team at Tom Shoes, and jumped on board at Tom’s as one of the early employees and was part of the team that helped to build that brand. Ultimately, I ran the global e-commerce business there and was there through the sale to Bain Capital. Have done a few other startups and was ultimately introduced to the folks at Caravan, which is a startup studio based out of Vancouver, which is where I met my co-founder for hai.

We had a little bit of a meeting of the minds on the opportunity in the shower space. And interestingly, we kind of came at it from different angles. For me, I was definitely that person that moved every year during my 20s and early 30s and just kind of accepted whatever showerhead was there. For me, you can’t tell because we’re on Zoom, but I’m actually quite tall, so having a tall showerhead was very important to me. And so, that’s one of those things that you just accepted and never realized it was something that you could actually change quite easily. Fast forward to a couple of years ago, COVID struck, I have a few small children, and sometimes, the only time I get to myself during the day is really that time in the shower.

So, that time is super important to me. But what I realized is that it’s important to a lot of other people as well, but it bothered me that I actually wasted a lot of water. So, I was inspired to help build a company that could deliver an amazing experience, so you didn’t have to skimp on the self-care and reset moment that’s so important for a shower, but also be mindful of the resources that you’re using. My co-founder is a self-proclaimed shower nerd, and he had scoured the earth for the best spray tech. And so, we had that moment of the [inaudible] minds, did a little research, found out there was in fact an opportunity, and hai was born.

John: I love it. So, it really started its shoes and ended up in showers.

Leah: Yeah. Totally the same thing.

John: That’s great, though. That’s great. And for our listeners and viewers, we’re going to give up all the information you need in the show notes to find Leah about. It’s, is her website. I’m on it right now. It’s really colorful, really wonderful in terms of the information it has. And we’re going to get into all the different things that they’re doing here in the shower. Now, you start the company. Your co-founder isn’t in California. You’re in the Manhattan Beach area. Your co-founder is where?

Leah: He splits time between Vancouver and LA.

John: Got it. So, you start this company. Before we get into specifics about hai, talk about being a mom, woman, entrepreneur. We’d like to think we’ve evolved, but have we evolved that much in terms of equity, in terms of do women entrepreneurs have a heavier lift than male entrepreneurs in startups?

Leah: Well, it’s hard for me to answer that question because I’ve only ever experienced this as a woman. But what I will say is, I feel like I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have some great mentors in my life going back to my college days, to Goldman, to Toms, and even beyond that. I’ve always personally felt very supported in the endeavors that I’ve tried to bring to life.

And so, I personally have never really felt that being a woman has held me back. I remember having my first child when I was at Tom’s and being incredibly supported to take a maternity leave and to do all of those things. And in fact, I actually came back to a promotion when I came back from maternity leave. So, from my perspective, I’ve been very fortunate. I know that’s not everyone’s story, but I think some of that is being lucky and sussing out the right people to surround myself around. And then, also, I have an incredible husband who’s very supportive and my kids are part of the business.

John: That’s good.

Leah: My 9-year-old son will help me fold boxes sometimes.

John: Love it.

Leah: The entrepreneur’s plate. It’s definitely just part of our lifestyle.

John: There’s no other greater experience for your kids either. By the way, my kids have been involved in my businesses. They’re off now, much older. But I think that’s a great way to raise kids, make them part of the family business.

Leah: Yeah, absolutely. And they take pride in that as well because they see mommy and daddy working hard, and they want to be a part of that too.

John: And mom’s win is the family’s win.

Leah: Absolutely.

John: Your co-founder is a male or female?

Leah: Male.

John: Got it. Understood. And you say you’re tall, so how tall are you? Because I want…

Leah: I’m 5’11.

John: 5’11. Okay. I’m 5″9. I ask you this because now, my son was born, he’s 31 now. He’s behind me over there, Tyler. And ever since he was a little kid, my wife was always like, “Oh, I just hope he’s tall. I hope he’s taller than you. Tall people have the whole world on their own.” And so, I would give him vitamins, and my wife would pray for him every day. And he ended up 6″3.

Leah: Oh, good. It worked out.

John: It worked out. And my wife is like…

Leah: You should market those vitamins.

John: Exactly. And he’s doing quite well for himself. He got his JD at UCLA, and he opened up his own little bank and he’s an entrepreneur like you. And my wife’s like, “See, I told you. Height is where it’s at.” So, anyway. Now, when did you actually, you and your co-founder… What’s your co-founder’s name by the way?

Leah: Leonard Brody.

John: Leonard Brody. So, when did you and Leonard start hai? When was it officially launched?

Leah: Sure. So, we started ideating on this back in 2020, early 2020. Obviously, it takes time to build a product and figure out what you want to bring to market and all the research and all of that, that goes into bringing a company to life. But we’ve really been in the market for the last two years in terms of actually trying to sell things.

John: Got it. And so, talk about how you came up with the product. If you and I are in an elevator in Century City right now, we get on the ground floor and you say, “What do you do?” And I say, “I’m in the electronic recycling business. I’m the CEO and chairman of ERI. What do you do?” And you are going to say to me, what’s the elevator pitch?

Leah: Well, first of all, maybe taking a step back in terms of giving some context around showers because the first thing that comes up when I say I’m in the showerhead business, everyone’s like, “Really? That seems a little bit weird.” But one of the things we did early on was actually did a whole bunch of market research. And one of the things that we found out is that almost everyone identifies a shower as one of their primary tools for self-care in the home. But if you ask those same people to name the brand of the shower that they stand under every single day, almost none of them could do it, which was a super interesting opportunity to build a brand.

And so, that was kind of what set us down this path. And we’re like, “We can take what’s out there right now and make it work harder for you, both from delivering a better experience, but also giving you the tools to be mindful of the resources that you’re using.” And so, really what we’ve done is we’ve developed the world’s smartest shower that delivers wellness through your water. So, that’s why I would say it’s the simplest one sentence of hai.

John: I like it. [crosstalk] I’m the nerd, when you said, “What’s your shower?” I say, “Speakman.” See, I’m that nerd because I love my shower. I’m like you, I love it. This show meant a lot to me, [inaudible]. But let’s step back, really what you were trying to do. Before we go into the shower business and how you came up with your model, you were looking to tackle, though, and attack the issue of water. The water issue there.

Leah: Correct.

John: So, let’s go back to water. Talk a little bit about it, frame it up on the [inaudible]. Toms was facing an issue of shoes, but shoes were really a holistic solution for numerous other issues. Talk about water being an issue for all of us. Because we’re all talking about net zero now, and we’re all talking about decarbonizing the world, electrifying the world. How important is water to all of us? And what kind of crisis are we facing when it comes to the water issues, Leah?

Leah: Yeah, absolutely. Stating the blatantly obvious, water is important. hai’s stated mission is to revolutionize the power of water, and that obviously can mean a lot of different things. But taking a step back, when you think about the importance of water, humans are a huge percentage of water. We need to drink water. Access to clean water is incredibly important.

Cleaning yourself with water is important, all of those things. But looking ahead, five years, something like two-thirds of the planet is expected to be under water scarcity. Some of that depends a little bit on where you live and all of those different things, but regardless, that’s a huge amount of people. And as we continue to grow in terms of population, access to clean water becomes more and more important and it needs to be readily available to everyone.

John: It’s so interesting. My daughter now is 37, my daughter Courtney, also a lawyer and a successful young woman. She’s a mom, a young mom like you, and very concerned about what she ingests, what her kids ingest. She literally talks to me once or twice a week about these studies that are coming out with microplastics in water. So, this issue of water, I think, with your generation is going to continue to grow in tackling the issue in terms of water conservation, but also getting drinkable water that is not contaminated to not only us but to the world at large. I think it’s just going to be a growing trend in tackling a huge issue.

Leah: Absolutely. Look, we don’t claim to solve everything as it relates to water, but I do think starting small and helping in your small piece of the world is a great way to start. Hopefully, we can inspire other people to think about how they can impact their little corner of the world, too.

John: Listen, like you said, you can’t eat the elephant in one bite, and if you got to put one foot in front of the other, then that’s a great way to start any business and then grow it from there. So, now, the water is the issue. You start looking at the showerhead business. Take it from there.

Leah: Yeah, absolutely. Again, like I said, we did some market research, and we really spent a lot of time figuring out what people wanted and what mattered to people. The one thing that came to light, even though we wanted our business to be core around sustainability and being thoughtful about the resources that you’re using, people’s showers are very important to them. And they were not willing to give up that experience of their shower at the expense of less water necessarily.

And that was something that came through pretty clearly. So, it made us start to think about, “Oh, okay, well, let’s not take away water necessarily, but let’s give people tools to be mindful of the resources that they’re using.” So, that sent us down a whole nother chain where we’re like, “Okay, how do we let people know while they’re in the shower, how much water they’re using?” And so, that gave us the idea of actually putting a little hydro-powered turbine into the shower that does a few different things. It gives you in-shower notifications with a little LED light that lets you know when the water’s warm and ready. So, one of the biggest waste of water, you flip on the shower, and you wander away.

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The next thing you know, the shower’s been running for a few minutes, or if you’ve wandered down the hall, who knows how long it’s been running? And so, the light comes on in the shower to let you know the water’s warm and it’s reached your desired temperature, but it’ll also send a push to your watch or your phone to let you know it’s time to hop back in. Two, a little light will come on when you’ve hit a certain number of gallons. So, the average shower in the US is about 20 gallons. hai users are using about 30% less water than the national average. And basically, that light will just come on when you hit the desired number of gallons.

And so, you can leave that at 20 gallons, or you can set that in the partner app to come on when you hit whatever gallons that you’re targeting. And then, in addition, that turbine powers a Bluetooth connection, which we have a partner app, and that allows you to track your water and carbon usage over time and you can watch your trends in terms of yourself or other showers. We’re actually doing our first little challenge right now. So, if you don’t know, World Water Day is actually in March, and we’re doing our first challenge amongst our high community. And so, people are competing against other hai users. And the top water savers are going to win a little prize at the end of March.

John: What day is World Water Day?

Leah: Friday, March 22nd.

John: Friday, March. So, this show was airing before World War Day, a couple of days before.

Leah: Oh, great.

John: Yeah, we’re going to really help promote that, and I think that’s wonderful. So, wait a second. So, now, I buy your system. Do I buy it online or where do I buy it from?

Leah: Yeah. So, you can buy our showerhead at We also sell on Amazon, Best Buy, and Home Depot. You can check us out at any of those locations.

John: Okay. So, you buy the showerhead, there’s a sensor inside. Is setting it up more difficult than just when I put my Speakman on the shower in the place I move in, or same thing?

Leah: So, going back to that market research, the other thing that we knew was crucial was actually making it really easy to install. I am not a very handy person, and so, my co-founder will always say a three-year-old can install our shower. And I’ll always say, I can install our showerhead. It’s truly so simple. We have a proprietary clamping mechanism, so you actually don’t even need any tools. So, to install your Speakman, you probably need a plumber’s tape and maybe [inaudible].

John: 100%.

Leah: So, to install a hai, you don’t need any of that. You just screw it right on and it just locks in place. It’s truly the easiest thing to install.

John: Okay. So, it’s easy. Then hooking it up to my Bluetooth on my cell phone or my watch. How hard is that, getting that whole thing connected?

Leah: Yeah. So, it’s all just part of the process. You’ll create an account in our app, and it walks you right through the steps. The whole process shouldn’t even take you more than 10 minutes, and that includes installing the actual showerhead. But basically, you just flip on the water, the showerhead pairs to your device and you’re off to the races.

John: Okay. So, now, it’s paired, we get going. The average user of one of your showerheads is using 30% less water than they typically would’ve used before they got your showerhead?

Leah: Right. Compared to the national average, yeah.

John: Compared to that. That’s amazing. That is amazing. How have the sale been? What was the first account you broke into, Home Depot, Amazon, or Best Buy?

Leah: So, we actually went to Amazon first and then have expanded from there. We’ve been pretty lucky. So, our product is pretty different than anything else that’s on the market. I think people have been really interested in giving it a try, to see if it’s an area in which they can be successful in their own channels as well. As we talked about earlier, there’s definitely some opportunity in the shower market space just generally. And so, hai kind of just slides in there nicely and has its own little niche and really gives people an opportunity to have that kind of elevated shower experience, but also has that unique aspect of the sustainability side, which very few other showers offer besides just cutting water flow.

John: We’re going to get into sustainability in a second. A couple of years back, my hot water heater broke down and I put in one of those instant hot water heaters. Is that tremendously good also for sustainability? Because it’s immediate hot water. Is that something that you’re a big advocate of or have any relationship with at all?

Leah: So, we don’t have any specific relationship with that area at all. But what I would say, and this is part of the savings with hai, but not only do you save water, but you’re using less water…

John: That’s right.

Leah: … that’s hot. And so, obviously, there’s carbon related to heating the water. So, it all kind of works together.

John: And for those who also are big believers in the Wim Hof method, which I am, take a cold shower instead of hot and you’re going to be fine anyway.

Leah: All the rage right now.

John: All the rage.

Leah: Not for me.

John: It’s the rage, for sure. Before we get into sustainability and impact, which we’re definitely going to cover, talk a little bit about luxury. There’s a place in LA that I belong to. It’s a health and wellness place called Remedy. And they said, “Oh, we have vitamin C in a few showers.” And I thought, sounded a little bit woo woo. And I’ll tell you, after taking a vitamin C infused shower, you almost don’t want to take another type of shower. Talk a little bit about the different options you give with regard to your great products at hai in terms of sleep recovery and energy.

Leah: Yeah. So, we actually have an add-on to our showerhead. It’s called the hai Fuse, and it just adds on super easily, again, no additional tools are required. Everything that we make in one of our promises to the customer, it’s easy to install. And all you do is we have these tablets, they really are focused on three different times where people tend to shower most frequently.

We have an energy boost for the morning to kind of help you wake up. There’s a little bit of caffeine in there. It’s citrus-driven, and as you mentioned, that’s very nice. We have a post-workout repair, which is eucalyptus-driven to help you repair, I think kind of Epsom salt bath with a little bit of magnesium in there. And then, we have a lavender-driven tablet as well that allows you to help relax and wind down at the end of the day. And really, those tablets simply infuse into the water and help deliver an amazing aromatherapy experience and also infuses some vitamins and minerals directly into the water stream as well.

John: Got it. And for our listeners and viewers who’ve just joined us, we’ve got Leah Stigile with us today. She’s the CEO and Co-founder of hai. You can find Leah and her great products to save water and also give yourself a better experience and be part of the water conservation generation at get gethai, G-E-T-H-A-I, .com, Not only on, but on Amazon, Home Depot, and also Best Buy. Water conservation is very important as we’ve discussed earlier. Talk a little bit about the sustainability impact you and your partner and your great products at hai are making on the greater planet at large.

Leah: Yeah. Look, like I said earlier, no one’s perfect, but we’ve had the fortunate, I guess, experience of building this company from the ground up. We’ve really been able to do things as right as we can from day one. And so, first of all, that starts with the product. And so, our product is actually very cool in the sense that it’s made from best-in-class materials. We use stainless steel. Because we chose hai quality materials, it actually means the product will last longer and, therefore, less product ultimately in the landfill. And again, we chose stainless steel, a lot of showerheads are actually chrome plated.

That whole process of chrome plating is actually not that great for the environment in its own, right? And then, the other thing, given the results that we’re having with our product and people are actually saving a lot of water, our product actually offsets itself within two years of using it. So, there’s a lot of talk in today’s world about how you carbon offset your footprint and there’s a whole can of worms there that probably is too deep to go into for this conversation today. But by simply putting your hai on the wall and using the tools that we’re giving you, you’re actually offsetting the entire footprint of the product in less than two years with regular use, which is something we’re super proud of.

John: I see. Talk a little bit about your relationship and hai’s relationship with the Clean the World Foundation.

Leah: Yeah, definitely. So, Clean the World is a super cool organization that is one that we actually found by simply doing Google searches to try and find organizations that we’re doing good in the world that we could partner with because we obviously have our own mission, but we also want to support those that are doing good things in the world, particularly in the water space. What they’re doing is really expanding access to hygiene resources across the country. And they do a couple of things that are pretty cool.

So, first of all, they take unused soap and little plastic bottles from hotels and they repurpose those in several places, but specifically within their own mobile showering units that they have across the country. And they really focus these mobile showering units on helping homeless folks that don’t have access to clean showers the opportunity to shower and giving them soap and different things like that. And so, we’ve actually fitted all these mobile units with high showerheads and they’ve been amazing partners and they’re doing really amazing things throughout the country.

John: Got it. As you mentioned earlier, World Water Day is March 22nd. A little birdie that I know, being my executive producer, Paul Williams, told me that there’s going to be some big announcements, or big announcements that you guys are going to make on World Water Day. Why don’t you break some news? I never get to break it. Break a little news, Leah, and share a little bit. Give a little teaser of what you guys are going to announce on March 22nd.

Leah: Yeah, absolutely. So, one of the things that we’re most proud of is that we actually have all sorts of data from the people that are actually saving the water. To date, we’ve actually saved more than 4 million gallons of water across our high community and more than 200,000 kilowatts of energy, which it’s hard to put that in perspective because I think to the average person, that probably doesn’t mean all that much. But just to give some perspective to that, that amount of water, that 4 million gallons of water would actually be the amount of water that it’s required to make more than 6,000 Teslas. And that amount of energy could actually power thousands of homes.

John: It’s huge. Come on, that’s huge.

Leah: When you think about just a little tiny showerhead, if you do the math, if we could get hai in every single home across America or the world, it gets to be a huge solution. And so, we have big dreams for that.

John: Well, let’s talk about dreams, and let’s talk about, first of all, you and your partner in your respective homes, when you lay down at night, it’s got to feel good for both of you, your husband, your children, and your family. We’re not just doing our thing in this little home, we’re doing more than our thing. We’re really making a difference on this planet. That must feel good as just an entrepreneur with a growing and really still startup business.

Leah: Well, yes. Of course, it feels good. But I’m laughing a little bit because as an entrepreneur yourself, you understand how it’s kind of like one foot in front of the next each day. And sometimes, it’s hard to pop your head up and see that bigger picture. Look, we have a lot of big dreams and a lot of big plans.

John: Which is where I’m going to take you next.

Leah: Yeah. Building new things is hard, and it’s easy to forget that that does make a difference.

John: Oh, no. For a moment, I was letting you forget about the loneliness and the soul-crushing nature of being an entrepreneur. Okay?

Leah: But, yes. We are very proud.

John: Okay, good. So, you’re proud. But now, you already were ahead of me. Talk a little over to what’s the dream. What are you guys dreaming of? How big could this be, not only here in the United States, but around the world? Because I’ve done over 2000 shows. I’m in the middle of the whole sustainability revolution, evolution, whatever we want to call it. I’ve never seen a great product like this. I’m so proud that you’re doing this. I’m so proud that you’re on the show today. How big do you want this to be and what are you both dreaming of where the possibilities are?

Leah: Yeah. Look, there’s a lot of opportunities and potential here in a lot of different ways we could take this. But I think taking a step back, and I think the most important thing, and I think my co-founder would agree to this, is just being good people to each other, to our teams, to our families, and to the world around us. And that’s kind of the ethos in which this brand was started. And so, making sure that we’re true to that and anything that we build.

And then, I guess the second piece of that I would say, and I kind of hit on this already, is that really remembering that small changes to behavior can make a big difference. And so, there’s a whole world of people trying to figure out how to solve all the problems that this world has, but if we can really focus on changing small behaviors one step at a time, over time, those small changes will actually result in big changes. And so, we really focus on the things that we can control and making sure that we’re controlling the controllables.

And then, look, we’ve got a lot of exciting expansion plans in places where we can take this company. And I think both from expansion here in the US but even beyond that globally, there’s a million ways we can take what we’re doing and apply it to even more things within the shower, but even beyond the shower and thinking through how you can impact all the different sources of water in the home and beyond.

John: That’s great. Well, as you and I know, sustainability and entrepreneurship, there’s no real finish line. It is just a journey. So, what we’d like to do is have you come back on as your journey continues and share your continued journey and success and scaling of this great company. For our listeners and viewers, to find Leah and her great products, please go to, Or, of course, as she mentioned earlier, you go to Amazon, Best Buy, or Home Depot. Leah, it’s a fascinating story.

It’s really great stuff. Yes, I’m going to buy your showerhead now because I am a shower nerd and I want to do the right thing by the world and the environment, and I want to save water. I think it’s just wonderful what you’re doing. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Thank you for sharing some time with us in the Impact Podcast. Most importantly, thank you, your partner, and your entire family for making the world a better place.

Leah: Thank you so much. We really appreciate the time.

John: This edition of the Impact podcast is brought to you by Engage. Engage is a digital booking platform revolutionizing the talent booking industry. With thousands of athletes, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and business leaders, Engage is the go-to spot for booking talent, for speeches, custom experiences, live streams, and much more. For more information on Engage or to book talent today, visit This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet, and your privacy, and is the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company in the United States, and maybe even the world. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit