AIB Featured Business Leader – Jessica Alba
While many know Jessica Alba for her extensive career in acting, she is also the founder of successful online store, The Honest Company. The Golden Globe-nominated actress launched Honest in 2011 as she searched for alternative baby products that didn’t contain ingredients such as petrochemicals and synthetic fragrances. Alba was inspired by the birth of her first child Honor and her personal history of childhood illness – experiences which prompted her to make a change in that market. Although she received advice to start with a singular business focus, Honest launched with a total of 17 products and has not looked back.
Headquartered in Santa Monica, USA, Honest’s mission is to “empower people to live a healthy, happy life”. They’re “committed to creating effective, safe, delightful, accessible and responsible products”. While the product line originally started with baby products such as diapers, it has now expanded significantly to include ranges of chemical-free cleaning products, personal hygiene products, vitamins and more. When asked why she started Honest, Alba said “I created The Honest Company to help moms and to give all children a better, safer start.” Both Alba and co-founder Christopher Gavigan wanted an ideal – “not only effective, but unquestionably safe, eco-friendly, beautiful, convenient and affordable”, adding that “if you want it done right, you gotta do it yourself”.
When talking to Vanity Fair, Alba recalls her early days as an entrepreneur. “If it was easy, everyone would do it. You have to be a little bit crazy; you have to have gumption and tenacity. A lot of people give up at the first roadblock. But for entrepreneurs, if there isn’t another road, we create it”. Despite having some obvious financial backing behind her, Alba and Honest still had to seek numerous investors in order for the company to succeed. Setbacks such as investors falling through occurred along the way, but Alba believed in her product and wanted to see every parent provide the same opportunity for their child.
Perseverance has certainly paid off for Jessica Alba – in November 2014 it was estimated that Honest had 275 employees, as well as totalling $170 million in sales that year. The great thing about the Honest business model is that it is not a once off purchase – 80% of its sales are online via a monthly subscription service as parents restock supplies for their children and homes. With $70 million raised from venture capitalists, and an initial public offering, the company is now valued at $1.7 billion as of August 2015. This is no modest figure, and just goes to show that Alba is not only a great actress, she is also extremely business savvy.
‘Honest Beauty’ was launched in September 2015 as a separate entity with its own logo and website. This sees Alba tackle the beauty industry with an 83-element product line including skincare and makeup free from parabens, petrolatum and sulfates. On her second venture, Alba gave the following advice to new entrepreneurs “Know the marketplace you’re entering better than anyone. Even if you do, know that you’re going to make mistakes and it’s okay – you have to learn from them and not be defined by them”.
Today, Honest’s products are available at retail outlets across the United States and Canada, with further international expansion on the cards. Alba’s approach means that they have never employed traditional media such as print advertising, television or billboards, yet business is thriving more than ever. Honest is a company giving people of all ages a start, as Alba says “We hire a lot of people right out of college”, making herself, at age 34, older than the office average. It is reported that Alba owns between 15-20% of Honest, and with sales continuing to grow this is a rather large amount. However, like many highly successful organisations, The Honest Company’s journey has not been met without criticism and controversy, including claims of false advertising.
What do you think?
Are you impressed by the success of Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company? It’s a wonderful story which shows that just because you have fame already, this does not mean that you don’t have to work hard to succeed in business. I’d love to hear what you think of Alba’s story, so comment below and share your views.
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: The Honest Company; WWD; Wikipedia; Vanity Fair; Elle
Image Credit: Baby Bellies and Beyond