Jessica Alba Opens Up About Building Her Billion-Dollar Business and Staying Grounded in Hollywood

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Jessica Alba got her start as the bombshell actress on every Hollywood hot list. Now she’s deep into her second act as the resident badass at the head of the Honest Company, a super-successful eco-friendly brand that’s now valued at nearly $1 billion. In the May issue of MORE, Jessica opens up about how she stays grounded amid all the Hollywood hot air, and built her empire of environmentally friendly home and baby products to compete with the likes of Apple, Nike and Disney.

Check out the highlights from MORE magazine below:

On the contrast between her femme fatale roles onscreen and her conservative personality in real life:
“I’ve always been very practical and real with what Hollywood is. There’s a lot of hot air there. When I did press in those days, the journalist always wanted to hit a club or go drinking. I would have to explain, ‘I don’t do that stuff.’”

On how her Hollywood career has helped her business career:
“People act like starting the Honest Company is such a departure, but the reality is I’ve been selling other people’s TV products, beauty products, movie products. I’m leveraging skills I’ve honed in Hollywood for years.”

On being more afraid of not trying than failing:
“I didn’t want to wake up and kick myself for not pursuing something I believed in. I couldn’t wait to reject the status quo, punch it in the face and kick it to the curb. With Honest, we created a lane that didn’t exist … I was creating a brand for me. I was the consumer.”

On finally feeling content:
“Content is good because I wasn’t always. I was kind of unsatisfied and angsty. It’s nice shedding the angst.”

On owning who she is and not apologizing for who she dreams of being:
“If you don’t know those things, you can float. And when you float, someone can come in and push you out of the way. Maybe this is just the first step, but I feel like at least I am in the right place at the right time for me.”

On being what her mother Cathy calls “a workaholic control freak” in the office:
“Being an actress is like a vacation; business is relentless. People work hard here. It’s nice to be around people who are so committed.”

On questioning her career decisions and finding work-life balance:
“You don’t really know how [your career] is affecting [your kids] until they’re adults and they say, ‘You ruined my life, Mom!’ Maybe they want me to be a stay-at-home mother who bakes chocolate-chip muffins all day. Nah. I’d probably want to start a chocolate-chip-muffin company. Ya know?”

On her management skills:
“Sometimes I’m a little more iron fist than velvet glove. I’m straight to the point. I’ve made people cry. I have to say, ‘This isn’t personal. This is what needs to get done, and it’s just as simple as that. And … we’re not crying anymore.’ I’m learning to tone myself down.”

On being a female business leader:
“My [business] partners are men. Whenever I say something that’s kind of against their intuition, they go back and talk to their wives. And then their wives usually agree with me. So that’s how we get stuff done over here.”

On the Honest Company’s impressive growth:
“When you look at the marketplace that we’re playing in, it’s trillions of dollars. Window cleaner alone is a billion-dollar business, just to give a bit of perspective, because people get so freaked out by our valuation. Also, it doesn’t feel tangible yet, because I’m still hustling.”

On establishing an iconic brand and competing with the likes of Apple, Nike, Disney and more:
“You’re not really going to make a big difference in the world if you’re playing in a niche marketplace.”

On the link between environmental hazards and the recent increases in everything from cancers to allergies to learning disabilities:
“The increases have coincided with the rise of these untested, potentially harmful chemicals. I know firsthand what it’s like to have a compromised immune system. I really, really didn’t want to have my kids go through what I did. If [the government] won’t safeguard my family, I’m going to have to.”

On the Honest Company’s expansion into beauty and feminine care products and what’s coming up next:
“We are doing an organic tampon, but it won’t be in a cardboard applicator. It’s in a plant-based plastic compact applicator, which is the first of its kind. [As a result of customer suggestions] I’m working on skin care, hair care, mattresses, air filters, paint. Our customers really want paint.”

What an inspiration!

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