As a Hollywood actress, Jessica Alba knows typecasting all too well.
“When I started out, everyone I approached was skeptical and didn’t see me as an entrepreneur, but I was determined,” says Alba, who cites a childhood marred by chronic health issues as a motivating factor in cofounding The Honest Company in 2012. She brought together a savvy, health-conscious executive team, began pitching venture capitalists (the company has raised about $200 million in funding) and got to work in a sprawling, gorgeously appointed office in Southern California.
In five years, The Honest Company has grown to include hundreds of employees, and its plant-based diapers, nontoxic cleaners and sulfate-free beauty products are stocked on shelves from Target to Costco. Honest to Goodness, the company’s philanthropic arm, is fostering a legacy of charitable giving by donating a portion of profits to causes helping needy families. (Among last year’s highlights: handing out 500 Christmas presents to LA-area children in need, giving Honest gift bags to 80 formerly homeless people as housewarming presents, donating 1.2 million diapers to low-income families throughout the US and raising $50,000 in support of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.)
“Raising happy, healthy kids shouldn’t be a privilege afforded to only the wealthy,” Alba says. “Everything I do is for my family,” says the actress-turned-entrepreneur, whose two daughters are 8 and 5. “And I want all families to have the same access to trusted, effective products.”
“The idea came about from my experiences as a conscious consumer and a new parent. I grew up with chronic health issues and not a lot of resources. While I was pregnant, making a happy, healthy home for my loved ones became my priority. Like many entrepreneurs, I saw there was a need that wasn’t being met, so I had to create the company I was looking for.”
“Knowing that the company needed to exist gave me the drive to keep going and bring this idea to life. From finding the right business partners to pitching [venture capitalists], I had my hand in every part of it. To this day I’m truly proud that I kept pushing and didn’t get brought down by those who doubted me.”
“Creating a lasting brand is not just about what’s on the shelf. It’s also about the lifestyle you build around it that reflects your values. I think this brand resonates with people because we listen to our customers and create products based on what they want and need. And we don’t sacrifice premium design, which sets our products apart from others on the market.”