Everyone is talking about Jessica Alba, the actress who we’ve seen in movies like Sin City, Honey, Machete, and in shows like Dark Angel (still my favorite project of hers).
Even though she’s well-known as an actress, what’s getting the most buzz now is the fact that she is a successful businesswoman and the founder of The Honest Company — a company that sells organic, non-toxic, and eco-friendly diapers, bath & body products, and cleaners.
Honest was founded in 2011, and in this short time, her and her team have built a such a strong brand. They went from being a small startup to what is now huge company valued at $1 billion and generating over $150 million in revenue a year (and growing). Jessica now has a fortune of about $200 million and is on track to joining Forbes’ top 50 list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women. Such an inspiration!
Jessica recently did an interview with Forbes magazine, in which she discussed about her company and how she built it into the massive success that it is today. I’ve always been a fan of Jessica, and I love reading about how she did it all — so inspiring!
Here are a few lessons about business and entrepreneurship that I took away from Jessica’s interview.
1. Have a purpose
Part of the reason Jessica founded her company was that she was (and still is) concerned about the ingredients in her household products. She focused on reforming the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, which has allowed more than 80,000 chemicals to remain in household products untested.
I like that she has an actual purpose that she works for. I think it allowed her to make the right decisions for her company because she was so driven. Speaking of drive…
2. Let your passion drive you
Since Jessica was a little girl, she’s always had sensitive skin. In 2008, when she was pregnant with her first child, she used a detergent that broke her out in hives. She started doing some research and found some disturbing ingredients in the products she had been using. She wondered how and why these products were safe for children if they weren’t even safe for her. She sought out products to fit her needs but didn’t find any that she liked. And that’s how her idea was born.
The passion she has as a concerned mother and as someone with sensitive skin is what drives her. As entrepreneurs, we all have something that drives us. The key is to make a business out of it!
3. Find a niche market
When Jessica founded her company, there were no brands at the time positioning themselves as the leader in eco-friendly, safe, and nontoxic products. Jessica and her team saw a perfect opportunity and went for it. I’m sure there were smaller companies making natural products, and of course there were tons of companies making regular products, but there was nothing like hers. I think that’s the key to standing out in a market like that — finding a specific niche that you can serve.
4. You don’t have to do it alone
It seems like Jessica was clear on her strengths and weaknesses from the beginning, and new that if she was going to build a successful company that she would need the best people around her. So she surrounded herself with a great team of people — a non-profit leader to help her research ingredients and survey the market, a web entrepreneur to help launch the business online, and a product specialist. Her daughter was a her inspiration and her husband was her support.
5. It’s ok to start small
The Honest Company started out selling diapers, which has always been their most popular product. But they knew they wanted to be seen as more of a global brand than just a diaper company. So once that part of the business was solid, they raised funding to start making other products like dish soap, detergent, multivitamins and even nursery furniture. They also intended originally to only sell products online, but once the company started getting popular, they were approached by several boutiques and shops about bringing their products into stores. The company is even making plans to go global and sell to England, Australia and China very soon. They’ve come a long way from selling diapers!
I like that the company didn’t start out trying to do everything at once. They niched down in the beginning, and as the company grew it expanded and evolved into what is now on the way to becoming a lifestyle brand and a household name. Now THAT is how you start and run a company.
6. Be Patient
It took Jessica 3 years to startup her company, from concept to the time it was officially founded in 2011. I’m sure it was frustrating for her at times, and she has said that many people doubted her, but I’m sure she’s glad now that she didn’t give up.
This was a fantastic interview! Read the article for yourself over at Forbes.com.