Sometimes, honesty is brutal! Jessica Alba spoke to More in its May 2015 cover story about being the boss at her very own venture, The Honest Company, and how her ruling style is sometimes downright scary.
"People act like starting the Honest Company is such a departure," the Sin City actress, 34, noted of her career in Hollywood. "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."
One skill that she's currently still refining? "Sometimes I’m a little more iron fist than velvet glove," Alba observed. "I’m straight to the point."
In fact, her candidness has caused some drama in the workplace. "I’ve made people cry," the Honey star noted. "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." Her mother Cathy even referred to the star as "a workaholic control freak" in the office — but with good reason.
"Being an actress is like a vacation," Alba reflected to More. "Business is relentless. People work hard here. It’s nice to be around people who are so committed." In fact, the company has plans to expand into beauty and feminine care products.
"We are doing an organic tampon, but it won’t be in a cardboard applicator," she noted. "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… The increases [of demand] 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."
That commitment has translated itself into a value of nearly $1 billion for the eco-friendly brand. "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," she explained, as opposed to her previous life in Hollywood.
"I was kind of unsatisfied and angsty. It’s nice shedding the angst," she mused. "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."
Alba has also been balancing her life as a mother of two daughters. "You don’t really know how [your career] is affecting [your kids] until they’re adults and they say, ‘You ruined my life, Mom!’" Alba joked. "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?"
Her firsthand experience as a mom, however, continues to contribute to The Honest Company's successes. "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," she noted. "So that’s how we get stuff done over here."
For now, Alba has zero apologies for who she's become. "If you don’t know those things, you can float," she said. "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."
The May 2015 issue of More hits newsstands on April 28.
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