I have always LOVED Jessica Alba. She is so beautiful and such a great actress, it was enlightening to learn she is also a powerful business woman. Ms. Alba has become a self-made business mogul with the creation of her company, Honest Co, which makes environmentally friendly baby products, household products, and this year women’s skin care products. She worked with Congress to pass Safe Chemicals Act. Alba has two children, and still pursues acting roles.
Alba started out acting before age of 18 in series by Cameron Dark Angel. Cameron states Alba was the cornerstone of the show, she worked 86 hour weeks in Vancouver and did a lot of her own stunts, she rose to the occasion, and the show became very successful. She has also started in Honey and Sin City franchise. Alba was bitten by the acting but when she auditioned for a Hollywood acting school the summer she was 11 years old. She attended an acting workshop in Vermont at 17 years old that opened her eyes to becoming more loving and tolerant of people different than herself.
When she started in Hollywood, she approached her acting as her business. She went after “tent-pole franchises.” She also required if she was on the cover of a men’s magazine, she needed to be on the covers of three women’s magazines. She did not want to be seen as just an action hero actress.
The Business Venture
Ms. Alba started Honest Co after her first pregnancy. She was washing baby onesies in a detergent recommended by a family member, and broke out in hives. Alba has a history of asthma and allergies as a child that frequently hospitalized her. She reports starting to freak out that her baby might have the same reactions. She researched chemicals usually used in detergents and other household products and discovered most chemicals banned by Europe are freely used in the US. Initially, Alba worked with Christopher Gavigan, author of Healthy Child, Healthy World which describes some of the most common toxins children are exposed to that are used routinely in the home. After a few failed attempts at getting investors, she refined the name and concept. Ms. Alba eventually partnered with Brian Lee a start-up entrepreneur and Sean Kane to be president. So the Honest Company had their brain trust of four professionals.
Honest Co grew very quickly with only 17 products that addressed diapering and wiping initially, and they had a subscription service for customers. They have since expanded their offerings to body care, household cleansers, detergents and softeners, and adult skin care. The products are also available at chain retailers. Honest Co will be opening a brick and mortar location as a popup in an upscale West Hollywood mall. Sales in 2015 surpassed $150 million with 135 product offerings.
Ms. Alba describes herself as many entrepreneurs would, you have to be crazy, very tenacious and have gumption. Roadblocks do not mean you quit, you blast through it and will go around all road blocks.
Lessons Learned from Honest Company
- A partnership is like a marriage. Pick anyone who may join your company very wisely
- Surround yourself with smart people. They should have other strengths that compliment your weaknesses.
- Reward your early employees by hiring more people. This enables them to not have to work long hours being less productive.