Jessica Alba discusses the modest background and sickly childhood that fueled her to build her near billion dollar eco empire, The Honest Company.Read More
Ask Jessica Alba who she thinks is daring and she answers quickly and unexpectedly: “Eleanor Roosevelt.” It turns out that Alba credits the former first lady for the origins of the Honest Company, the actress’s rapidly growing empire of eco-friendly home-cleaning and baby products.
When Alba, 33, first developed the concept for Honest, it didn’t immediately resonate with investors. Despite her profile as an actress, she came up against the same problems that most start-up companies face: Early business plans fell apart, prospective partners came and went, and funding was elusive. “But I was reading Robin Gerber’s Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way, and I saw how she kept hitting dead ends but kept pushing on,” Alba recalls. “She didn’t give up—she tried again. That’s what I did until it finally made it.”
“Made it” is an understatement. Less than three years after Alba and Healthy Child Healthy World author Christopher Gavigan teamed up with entrepreneur Brian Lee to launch the brand, Honest’s valuation is approaching the billion-dollar mark, and the company now employs some 300 people at its Santa Monica headquarters. (Alba’s desk sits in a row in the middle of the floor, loaded with new products and photos of her daughters, Honor, six, and Haven, three. ) “The most daring thing I ever did was take a step back from my acting career and start this company,” she says. Roosevelt “taught me that one person can make real change, that an individual has limitless power, and that if you have a will there’s a way.” She smiles. “I know, I know. How corny does that sound?”