Jessica Alba talks about The Honest Company Inc. with disarming candor. Her eyes light up, and she gets animated as she shares her successes and struggles from when she was just starting the venture. From finding a business partner to lobbying in Congress for improved policies with the use of toxic chemicals —she has built the company to be a distinguished upcoming competitor against household and personal care titans, such as Procter and Gamble and Kimberly Clark. The Honest Company Founder demonstrates key qualities such as humility, risk-taking, challenging the status quo, driving for results, overcoming adversity, championing diversity and inclusion, and empowering others — these traits define her bold leadership style. Through her work with Honest Company and her philanthropic endeavors, she is changing society for the better by focusing on how to help others live a healthier lifestyle.
The Honest Company actually started as a search for products that are safe for families to use. Since its founding in 2012, the company has blossomed to be a resilient one. Notably, the company even closed 2016 with $300 million in total sales. Refusing to sink from the sea of business struggles it has sailed, it relentlessly pushes on. In fact, it currently employs 400 people.
Evidently, the resilience of The Honest Company and its accomplishments—even amidst fighting lawsuits and facing acquisition challenges—in the last six years all point to Jessica Alba’s brand of bold leadership. As a matter of fact, she is now shifting the company from a pure play e-commerce company into an omnichannel brand.
Jessica Alba as an Actress
With a string of box-office hits and a successful television program under her belt, Jessica Alba was a Hollywood high-flyer. She began her television and movie appearances at the age of 13. However, her big break arrived when she starred in the television series “Dark Angel” (2000-2002)—a role for which she received a Golden Globe Nomination. Some of her well-known movies include “Idle Hands” (1999), “Honey” (2003), “Sin City,” “Fantastic Four,” and “Into the Blue” (2005). Jessica Alba met her husband, Cash Warren, in 2004—while filming “Fantastic Four.” They were married in 2008. Currently, they have two daughters and a son—Honor (born in 2008), Haven (born in 2011), and Hayes (born in 2017).
Beyond Jessica Alba’s Filmography
As a child, Jessica Alba was beset by a multitude of ailments—pneumonia, collapsed lungs and asthma. Sickness somewhat marked her childhood. Thus, Jessica Alba was intentional in ensuring that the products her family would use are safe and nontoxic. Unable to find products that she could trust, Jessica Alba went ahead and founded The Honest Company Inc. soon after. “I wanted safe, effective products that perform,” Jessica Alba shared. “After all, you shouldn’t have to choose between what works and what’s good for you.”
Jessica has also been involved in various charities and causes. Some of these organizations include Habitat for Humanity, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Project HOME, RADD, Revlon Run/Walk for Women, SOS Children’s Villages, and Soles4Souls. In the political arena, Jessica has been a staunch supporter of former President Barack Obama back in the United States Presidential Election of 2008.
The Bold Leadership of Jessica Alba
- Taking Action to Change Things
Jessica realized that she needed to take matters into her own hands while she was pregnant with her first daughter, Honor. Using a detergent recommended by her mother, she washed her unborn baby’s clothes. The product, supposedly non-toxic, caused an allergy reaction. This episode triggered her to look for products in the market that are nontoxic and organic. Regrettably, Jessica found out that there were very few options available in the market to answer this need. In addition, she found the products unreasonably priced. Dismayed under these conditions, she decided to pursue the idea behind The Honest Company.
Jessica was aware that she couldn’t do it alone. Having no background in business, she sought the help of three others. These three would eventually be her business partners in setting up the company —Brian Lee, Sean Kane, and Christopher Gavigan. Then in 2017, with the company’s strategy shifting to brand building, Jessica tapped the expertise of former Clorox executive Nick Vlahos as its new CEO.
(Additionally, the company is currently going back to its core products. They’re reevaluating their production approaches. Plus, they’re reconnecting with the company’s core values and mission of empowering people to live happy healthy lives.)
- Empowering Women to Lead
Women comprise 65 percent of the workforce of The Honest Company. However, just like in other companies, the number of women in the executive level is scarce. Jessica admits that she felt alone. Wanting more diversity in the boardroom, she currently makes sure that the company is now working on building career paths for women to reach the C-suite level. A mentorship program specifically created for women is also underway.
Moreover, the company has launched an employee resource group called, “Women Excelling in Leadership and Living.” (The group aims to offer professional development and to provide a support network for women within the company.)
- Upholding unwavering commitment despite hurdles
With her fame, it’s easy to assume that Jessica’s idea could have easily gained support. However, fame, according to Jessica, did not work for her. People rarely took her seriously. Naysayers even persuaded her to give up on her idea. It took her three years to find business partners. Yet amidst all these rejections, Jessica persisted. She added, “I am an actress, actresses are used to rejection.” Undeterred, she fixed her gaze on her goal of providing safe and effective consumer products that were beautifully designed, affordable, and available.
Bold Leader Jessica Alba and The Honest Company—Poised to Sail Onwards
Often times, Bold Leaders conquer rough seas and the strongest come out on top. The Honest Company may have faltered in the past. However, with $200 Million in new investments, sales up 34 percent last year, an industry CEO with many years of experience, and several new announcements—the company is positioning itself for a bright future. In fact, the company is already making plans to expand in Europe.
Moving forward, and with Jessica Alba’s stewardship, the company is now poised to sail on higher seas and to progress in its omnichannel 21st-century brand strategy.
John R. Miles
EVP & Associate Publisher
John R. Miles is Executive Vice President and Associate Publisher of Bold Business. He brings visionary leadership style and talent as an internationally experienced CEO, COO, and Fortune 50 CIO. He is best known for his experience and knowledge regarding digital transformation, machine learning, innovation, big data, and blockchain. John was previously the CEO of Genius Central and ByOwner. He built the number one social brand at Dell as global CIO and led technology, e-commerce, and software for Lowe’s Home Improvement. John led the digital strategy at Catalina Marketing as CIO and global head of operations and currently leads tech, healthcare and media investments at Virgo Investment Group. Miles is active on Linkedin and Twitter has been published in a variety of media, and has delivered Key Notes at venues such as SalesForce’s DreamForce Conference, Diversity MBA, and Oracle Open World. Miles graduated with honors from the U.S. Naval Academy where he was a multi-sport varsity athlete.