How Jessica Alba Became an Entrepreneur and Started her Company
In this article, we will cover Jessica Alba’s journey from being a movie star to becoming a great entrepreneur by looking at 1) some introduction to who Jessica Alba is, 2) how Jessica started The Honest Company, 3) a deep dive into how her company is working, and 4) some thoughts on entrepreneurship from Jessica Alba.
Jessica Alba is a well-known name in the television and film industry for playing roles in popular films such as ‘Little Fockers’ and ‘Fantastic Four’ along with television series like “Entourage and “The Office”.
She has been nominated in the Golden Globe and originally belongs to California. She still carries her humble beginnings with her and never stays behind when it comes to sharing her fortune with the less fortunate. She actively supports charities such as Project HOME, Habitat for Humanity, ONE and Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.
Apart from all her social work, she also enjoys being a mother. For Jessica, motherhood is one of the most beautiful experiences that she has ever had. She is a mother of two gorgeous girls, Haven and Honor and she believes that it is the duty of every parent to give their children the best possible start.
“When I became a mom, I just kind of opened up and got a new perspective. I have fearlessness and a confidence that I think you can only get with experience and age. Some people get it earlier, but it took me a while” says Alba.
How ‘Honest’ is Alba?
The success of Alba’s life is not only veiled under being successful in her career as an actress and a mother of two beauties. Alba is also an entrepreneur with a company whose net value is $1 billion. That is right! Jessica Alba is the proud founder of The Honest Company. This company offers must-have products for every new family. It offers effective, safe, and natural products that are environmentally friendly and non-toxic.
The Honest Company sells baby products that can provide a family with five quintessential products of their choice for only $35.95 a month. From bath and body, diapers, vitamins, feeding, gifts and cleaning to everything that a baby needs, The Honest Company sells it all at very reasonable prices.
Jessica Alba’s venture is among the most successful entrepreneurial startups in the Silicon Valley.
“It took three years of me spending my own money, trying to figure out where to manufacture, what the product suite would be and what this lifestyle brand is all about. I did a lot of research and funded it with my personal money. Everyone told me I was crazy. It’s not very sexy to make safe household cleaning products.” said Alba.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The idea of The Honest Company came into being when Alba was herself facing difficulty to find natural and harmless products for her newborns. Alba got an allergic reaction through a washing detergent while she was pregnant, and it made her realize that every product around us contains dangerous toxins.
As a parent, in her search for safe products for her babies, she gave preference to buying products that were advertised with a green, organic, or natural vision rather than “popular brands”. She found that even the product lines, which were accumulating fame for being “green” were in reality a mere exaggeration. This was a breach of trust for Alba, and she set out on a mission to be that one brand for families that could be trusted.
This realization and struggle led her to team up with Christopher Gavigan, an environmental scientist. Ganvigan’s book ‘Healthy Child Healthy World’ inspired Alba to think about developing safer products for families. The book was written to help parents adapt a green and environmentally safer approach for their homes. He was also running an initiative by the same name at that time.
It was during his book launch that she met Gavigan for the first time and insisted him on helping her. She was so passionate about this business idea that she reportedly said, “I stalked him (Gavigan) for three years after that”.
They both shared the same vision: to develop chemical free products that they will buy for their families. The initial idea was very simple and straightforward: Alba wanted a natural world all around her and wanted to contribute to a healthy environment especially for expecting mothers and young children.
Gavigan and Alba researched tirelessly on making their dream turn into reality. After thorough research, the rough idea of the business was pitched to Brian Lee, a serial entrepreneur. He refused saying that the idea was not very promising. However, Alba did not give up and worked on refining her research and concept, along with battling with people all around her saying that developing products for mothers and babies is not “sexy” enough. It was after 18 months that Alba approached Lee again and then there was no looking back.
Lee, Gavigan, and Alba joined forces to create a brand that contributes to a healthy environment. The Honest Company was thus formed in 2011, selling only wipes and diapers.
Currently, the business sells a vast array of baby care products including deodorants, baby feed, vitamins, oils, conditioners, shampoos, laundry detergent, formula dispenser, and everything in between.
Alba believes in great transparency and ‘honesty’ in business, and that is exactly what her business is based on. According to Alba, it is the responsibility of every parent to provide the best start to their newborns and with a multitude of chemicals present in various baby products, the best start becomes almost an impossibility.
Alba and the Media
Alba has agreed on various occasions that her celebrity image has tremendously helped her with the success of The Honest Company. She has also reflected on her positive relationship with the media and how it has played a significant role in the success of her business. Alba made good use of those relationships to make sure that The Honest Company received the maximum limelight.
The Honest Company does not manufacture wood toys, totes, and cribs that it sells on its own. Instead, it outsources their production to The Collective, which is a completely ‘green’ initiative. The cribs that the company sells are created by Babyletto and are finished using safe and non-hazardous paints, created from sourced pine.
The Honest Company was launched with a charity project involving its cribs. On the sale of every crib, The Honest Company pledged to donate another crib to a child in need. Alba was called up to appear on Ellen Degeneres’ show and right after the show aired, all of the cribs by The Honest Company were sold out.
With all the help she has received from the media, she has also reflected on its negative side. While she is up on the media talking about The Honest Company, most people think that she has endorsed the brand rather than being its proud owner. It is, therefore, difficult for people to believe that Alba was the one who came up with the idea. Moreover, Alba feels that it is easier being an actress than an entrepreneur. Running a business takes long meetings and a lot of stress to cope up with, according to Alba.
While Jessica Alba was just thinking about manufacturing environmentally friendly products for families, she was constantly being told by people how the idea does not match her ‘sexy’ image and how the business would fail. She took all of that advice in a positive stride and backed her pitch with great research and pragmatic reasoning. She now realizes that the Honest Company truly defines who she is as a person.
Honesty all the way
The Honest Company makes 80% of its sales online. However, it reached a deal in 2014 with Target, which enabled it to distribute its products through chains including Buy Buy Baby, Whole Foods, Nordstrom, and Costco.
Jessica Alba chooses the retail partners of the company very carefully as they have to comprehend and appreciate the lifestyle and portfolio of the products. The Honest Company is B Corp certified and gives a fraction of its profits to families in need. Gavigan, Lee, and Alba are still in the process of investing in the brand without caring too much about the profit.
The launch of the online store of the Honest Company marks its humble beginnings. All of the co-founders wanted to adapt a model in which they will get a chance to cater directly to the final consumer and hence opening up a digital outlet seemed like the correct option. Social feeds and bloggers were approached to give the online store a strong launch.
A PEEK INTO THE COMPANY
The Honest Company is not only about creating non-toxic and green products for the family. Instead, it is a complete lifestyle. Therefore, when people are buying their products for their babies or family, they are opting for a complete lifestyle than a single product. The company just began with selling wipes and diapers, and now it sells everything that a mother requires. The company is so successful that becoming an IPO is in its pipeline.
The office culture of the Honest Company is no different: just like its products, it is a heartfelt experience and lifestyle. Santa Monica, California houses the company’s offices that are branded the color tones of aqua, black and white. The flow of natural sunlight is an absolute quintessential in its office place. The Honest Company’s office is a visual treat.
The place also hosts a kitchen for its employees. Alba was against the typical office environment for the employees and therefore got a kitchen constructed where they can easily prepare quick lunches and healthy snacks.
The dividing kitchen wall is created out of wood and has ‘Honest’ written on it with Orange, Pink, Blue and Yellow flowers. The office also hosts a common area where employees can have their lunch in peace. The common area comprises of long wooden tables, and the dividing wall has a TV and a huge black moustache on it for an upbeat look. The office space/showroom is built in the best interests of the employees.
The environment of the showroom is designed to boost creativity among the employees. The seating arrangement is very carefree with comfortable and colorful sofas, which allows creative communication and exchange of ideas. Moreover, instead of conventional conference rooms, the showroom hosts casual gathering spaces where employees can easily collaborate and bath themselves in sunlight.
The internal environment is beautifully connected with the external patio that has bamboo trees and a lot of those “green” visual delights. The garage door connects the patio with the workspace. So, employees can stay inside while having a look at what’s going around outside.
The patio contains comfortable chairs and tables along with huge umbrellas to provide the much-needed shade on the sunny days. All of the walls were removed from the showroom in order to enable sunlight to pierce through. Moreover, cubicles were removed and formed into casual rows of communal teams for a home-like office environment.
No matter where you look at the showroom, something or the other will remind you of what this business is built for. The organic and green image of the business in applied at every aesthetic corner of the workplace. Jessica Alba’s love for sustainable décor and nature is displayed through the vertical succulent garden in the common room, which is created out of reclaimed wood. Moreover, there are numerous plants around the whole workplace. The office makes use of numerous recycled materials, which comprises of the usage of reclaimed wood throughout the space. From the dividing wooden walls to wooden conference room table, reclaimed wood can probably be stated as the signature style of the whole place.
The mango-wood shelves that appear throughout the workspace are created out of sustainable wood and provide both aesthetic value and storage. The same philosophy even transcends looking at the televisions they have around the place; the TV looks amazing placed in front of the aqua colored wall and enclosed with a thin border of the wood.
The outside garden is fueled by recyclable water and workers can pick vegetables from the garden and take them to their families if they want.
The joyous environment of the Honest Company is also reflected by the fact that every table has a jar of jellybeans on them. Whenever the employees feel dull, they can just pick some candy and fuel up some creativity in their brains. There is also a 3D game of Tic Tac Toe present, which employees could play around with in their free time.
The workplace hosts a jungle gym for mommy bloggers to come with their kids and play around while trying out the latest products of the Honest Company. Bloggers can then write about their experiences of the brand to spread a positive word of mouth about the company. There is a wall that comprises of frames containing all the diaper designs that the company has to offer. The artistic flair of this company shows the various designs it has when it comes to diapers. The entire product line of The Honest Company is displayed in the workspace cum showroom. In 2011, the company offered 17 products, which were all centered on the young mother. Currently, the company sells about 100 products covering different aspects of housekeeping. Therefore, The Honest Company is now the complete home solution rather than only selling products for the babies.
There is another thing about this workplace which makes it unique: the words. Inspirational words are all over the place to provide the employees with the much-needed inspiration every single day. Let it be the walls or the staircase, anyone entering the workplace can easily lay their eyes on the mission and vision of the Honest Company. One wall has the entire manifesto of the company written over it.
The main workplace area that is visible to everyone that enters it is the Tree Of Life which contains photographs of all the employees of this company branching out from the pictures of its founders. The Los Angeles Headquarters of the company employs around 200 people while the Austin office houses a further 100 employees.
THOUGHTS ABOUT ENTREPRENEURSHIP FROM JESSICA ALBA
With all success of the Honest Company, Alba now appreciates her acting profession more than ever before as she thinks handling a business is a lot of work. During one interview, she said, “Board meetings are so long.”
She also discussed the role of raising money for the business and thinks it is among the most difficult jobs. According to Alba, appearing in movies is less stressful because your whole life does not depend on it. However, when it comes to a business, you life becomes dependent on its success.
Jessica Alba truly believes that the journey of entrepreneurship begins with an idea – that is all she had in the beginning. She took her idea and researched on it to create a practical feasibility of an entrepreneurial venture. She knew what her mission was and what she wanted to contribute to the environment, and it was her idea that took her ahead in her dream of founding her own business.
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