Today, Jessica Alba’s Honest Company is a publicly traded company valued at nearly $1 billion. But when the “Dark Angel” actress decided to launch her consumer goods start-up in 2012, she was met with plenty of doubters — including herself.
In the years since, she’s had to work to combat the naysayers, developing a strategy to address critics with concerns about her business acumen. Alba, an Honest Company co-founder, also serves as chief creative officer and sits on the company’s board.
“I love facts and data,” Alba recently told People. “So whenever there’s a naysayer with a laundry list of why everything shouldn’t happen, I love asking questions. ‘Oh really? Why couldn’t this work?’ And then you collect all the data that you need to come in and hit them over the head with it.”
The preparation strategy works especially well, Alba added, when you control your demeanor while asking those questions. “If you deliver it with a smile, it’s just facts,” she said.
Alba’s advice is simple, but definitely not easy — a fact the 40-year-old mother of three acknowledged, recalling the sleepless nights and weekends of Honest Company’s early days. It’s difficult to put a smile on your face when you’re exhausted, but Alba said the sheer amount of work was necessary to get the company off the ground: “Every detail mattered.”
The path remained rocky for years after launching, too: The company has dealt with class-action lawsuits over false advertising, leadership turmoil and a failed initial public offering over the past nine years. For Alba, the key was to tune out the outside noise, which is also easier said than done.
“I think the secret [to success] is surrounding yourself with people who are incredibly smart, staying focused on the mission and making sure — regardless the size of your company — that you have alignment,” she told Vanity Fair in 2016.
Honest Company successfully went public in May at $16 per share, netting Alba roughly $122 million, according to Bloomberg. The company is currently trading at $10.71 per share, as of Tuesday morning.
Instead, she said, she’d credit anything else she could — luck, magic or God — until her husband, Hollywood producer Cash Warren, set her straight by saying her success came from “all the hard work” she’d put in. His message: She deserved to be there as much as anyone else.
“And over time I guess I’ve sort of let that sink in and marinate,” she said.