Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company has grown up a lot since its start-up days. The mom and Hollywood actress-turned-entrepreneur first launched a direct-to-consumer model focused on clean and sustainable products for home and baby back in 2011.
After welcoming her first daughter Honor back in 2008, Alba’s goal was to build a brand focused on chemical-free, non-toxic ingredients and products for babies and families.
A decade later, the inclusive, mission-based company manages to defy economic climate changes. In 2015, the brand expanded into the beauty space, and Honest’s influence and power in the market continues to grow. In May 2021, The Honest Company went public and its early gains reportedly made the company worth an estimated $2.68 billion.
Now that Honest Co. products are available in brick-and-mortar stores like Ulta and Target, Alba recently forged a new partnership with Walmart. We chatted exclusively with the mom of three about her business successes, her new venture, her parenting style, lessons learned during the pandemic and more.
Tell us about your recent Walmart launch. What can consumers look forward to and what does this new growth mean to you?
It’s incredible the number of people you can touch and affect on a global scale and in this country. From a supply-chain perspective, we weren’t in a place a few years ago where we could do it with integrity, but we really got to a point where I feel like now we can show up the right way and be great partners, because you don’t want to disappoint the consumer or our partners ever.
You know, we’ve had a lot of growing pains along the way as a business … I’m just really proud. Walmart has been an amazing retailer to work with, and they do so much good.
Becoming a mom was what really inspired you to launch Honest. What do you hope your kids learn from you about building this business from the ground up?
I mean, [my kids] only really know me as a business person, you know? I think it shows them that you can have an idea, a vision and you can push, figure out, learn and grow. I want them to know that you can learn from your challenges instead of letting them define you. They can be fuel to help you get to that next stage, and if your heart’s in the right place, anything is possible.
I [also] think it’s cool to see your parents create. There’s so much humility that happens when you’re an entrepreneur, because every day you only learn through making mistakes. You have to learn to push through anyway and figure it out. You also have to surround yourself with people who are experts in fields that you’re not and just be open. So all of those qualities I think are great for kids to learn.
Honest Company is celebrating its 11th anniversary in the fall. The brand’s mission has always been about creating meaningful impact. When you reflect back, what are you most proud of?
I would say that prior to us launching Honest, companies didn’t really have to think about health and wellness. Or even think about the ingredients. They didn’t have to be consumer-centric as far as sustainability and chemicals that they’re putting into the environment.
Because we’ve taken enough market share and made enough noise, and once consumers realized that they didn’t have to compromise anymore and could make better choices, they demanded more from everyone. I’m proud that we were the light that paved the way … I’m hoping more and more companies will follow.
How do you define motherhood now as a mom of three?
You know, it’s such an honor, frankly, to do this. For a long time, the mentality in society was [that] kids just sort of happen, and you have to deal with it, and they disrupt your life if you choose to have them.
I would say in this journey of motherhood, it’s really me just trying to be good enough for them, in a way. I care about showing up for them the right way. Because the more I do that genuinely, the better they are, because they feel seen and heard. They are the future. They’re going to live longer than me, they’re going to be here longer, and it’s an honor that they chose me to be their mom.
How would you describe your parenting style?
I’m different with each kid, but I would say that I believe in boundaries. I believe in consistency, but I’m also not afraid to be impulsive. I’m really big on kindness, truthfulness and treating people right. I care about them showing up and being considerate to other people.
I think they should have the context that everyone’s realities are different. That’s important for adults, but for kids as well. If they get disappointed, I want them to acknowledge that it makes them feel a certain kind of way, but that person is probably so unhappy, and maybe be curious about why that is and have a little more compassion for their situation.
When it comes to post-pandemic parenting, what has been a game-changer for you?
I had to learn about self-care. I guess I used to fake my me-time in like, ‘Well, I have to drive to work,’ so you use that commute time. And I made myself available 24-7, from a work perspective, and the lines really got blurred of when is work and when is home time. You had to compartmentalize your time or figure out time management in a different way.
I started to become more diligent about my time, and I don’t think it’s selfish time. I think it’s self-care. The more you lean into your own self-care, and what that may look like for you, the more your kids see that too. It gives them the agency to think about their own self-care, and that’s important for mental health and for life.
You shouldn’t always spread yourself so thin. Just because you want to be an entrepreneur or whatever it is, it doesn’t have to be the number one thing. You have multiple things that you enjoy and do, and you have to first connect with your soul and make sure you’re okay. You gotta fill your own cup — whatever that means to you. For some, that’s exercise, making art or whatever it is, just doing that is good.
We’ve noticed that the fanny pack has become the new mom purse. What would you keep in your fanny pack as an on-the-go mom?
I have my phone, headphones. Lip gloss, cream blush and concealer because sometimes a little freshening up throughout the day is always good. What else? Gum, hand sanitizer and that’s it! That’s my fanny pack bag!
How is the rest of 2022 looking for you? What are you most excited about?
In the fall, we’ll be doing in-store [installations]. I saw a rendering, and I’m really excited about it. We did some exclusives for boxes, wipes and packaging for Walmart, along with a specific fragrance for the body care line. I wanted something that’s special and different. It’s called Comfort, and the smell reminds me of a soft cozy blanket and warm sugar cookie. Everyone in the family can use it and it just smells so good!
For beauty, we have an acne line coming out and we’re offering a new mascara too. We have our popular lengthening mascara, but soon we’ll have an extreme-volume one. So we’re excited about that too.
You share plenty of self-care tips on your Instagram feed, and sometimes it can be a struggle to make the time for yourself. What affirmations help you stay motivated?
When you start a new habit, it’s easy to try to resist it because you’re used to the hold pattern. So when you’re switching up your pattern, people may be like, “Wait, what? You aren’t just going to be there to help or fix it for me?” It’s an adjustment for everyone, but just being consistent — (“Nope, this is my time!”) — [will help].
The same rules apply to your kids, your work and your partner. Everyone will get it in about a week. And everyone figures it out! It’s wild how that extra hour of me-time you didn’t think you had time for makes such a difference. You can start or end your day with that hour, and it’s okay. Everything will be fine. [Laughs]
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