Spring 2012

[Alumni News]


Working for Consumers' Rights

Ellie Cachette Submitted Photo

Whether it’s a defective laptop battery or a bag of tainted spinach, when manufacturers recall products, consumers are often left wondering: am I in danger and how do I apply for a refund?

Ellie Cachette (‘06, Political Science) is taking away some of the guesswork with ConsumerBell, a website she started in 2010 that tracks product recalls, sends consumer safety alerts and allows people to apply for manufacturer refunds online.

The company has tracked hundreds of cases, including last year’s recall of cantaloupe tainted with Listeria bacteria, mold growth in Capri Suns and defective cribs that pose a risk of suffocation. Last year, Cachette was nominated by Fortune magazine as one of the top female entrepreneurs of 2011.

Cachette’s passion for consumer safety began when she was just a child. Her father and thousands of other people were infected with HIV from a manufactured blood product that was later recalled. The incident compelled Cachette to begin advocating for consumer safety, but it wasn’t until she graduated from HSU that she decided to really do something about it.

With help from fellow HSU alum Stephanie Haller (‘08, Journalism), Cachette launched ConsumerBell in San Francisco in 2010. Last year, she relocated the company to New York City and hired two HSU alums: Community Manager Derek Lactaoen (‘11), based in Seattle, Wash., and Product Manager Ryan Mollenhauer (‘08), in New York City. Both graduated from HSU’s Department of Journalism & Mass Communication.

Lactaoen, who monitors the web for product recalls, says it’s rewarding to work for a company that’s positively changing the world.

“Humboldt taught me to be conscious of my impacts on society and to try to do good things for my community and I really feel like my work is doing that,” he says.

» FOR MORE INFORMATION: consumerbell.com