Jessica Alba covers Forbes Richest Women issue, her company is worth a billion

ForbesAlba
Above is Jessica Alba on the cover of Forbes’s “America’s Richest Self Made Women” issue. It looks like they put two halves of her face together from separate photographs. Forbes’s profile of Alba’s Honest Company is careful to note that she’s not quite on the list of the Richest Self Made Women yet, but that she’s headed there. The Honest Company, which Alba founded in 2011, sells organic baby, cleaning and household products and is currently valued at $1 billion. Jessica’s 15% – 20% share gives her a personal net worth of around $200 million.

You can see the full list of Forbes’ 50 richest self made women here. It includes celebrities such as Oprah (#5: $3 billion), Madonna (#28, $520 million), and Kathy Ireland (#33, $420 million), with Beyonce and Judge Judy in a tie at the end of the list with a net worth of $250 million. You’ll recognize many of the other names, including fashion moguls Tory Burch, Diane Von Furstenberg and Vera Wang along with tech leaders like Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook and Marissa Mayer of Yahoo! I could spend all day reading that list and thinking about these powerful women, but I digress. (I haven’t even heard of #1, Elizabeth Holmes, who is all of 31 and founded a blood testing company called Theranos. I’m going to look up her Ted talk after this.)

Alba’s story goes into how The Honest Company was founded, and it sounds like it lives up to its name. Alba saw a need for products that were eco-friendly, chemically safe and with a design that would appeal to modern moms. She wanted products that she would use for her family that didn’t exist under a single brand, so she created one. I’ll just except some of the relevant parts here and the entire article is worth a read if you’re interested.

Alba works 86 hours a week
Details and hard work. Alba laughs about how she once worked an 86-hour week as the star of James Cameron’s sci-fi TV series, Dark Angel — the series that launched her career. Now, she says, she spends those 86 hours at a vintage teal blue desk, overseeing marketing and brand development for a company that feeds a growing demand for safe, nontoxic products, particularly among young helicopter parents who treat children — and what goes near or inside them — like porcelain.

Her company is valued at a billion
Safety sells. The Honest Company has experienced an absurd level of growth. In 2012, its first year selling products, it hit $10 million in revenue. By last year it was $150 million, and industry insiders are predicting over $250 million this year. The company is focused on growth over profits, boasting a current valuation to match: $1 billion.

How Alba was inspired to create safe products
[After getting hives from laundry detergent twice] Alba spent late nights on Google and Wikipedia researching the contents not just of the offending detergent but also of everything in her bathroom cabinet and under her kitchen sink. “I was like, ‘How can this be safe for babies if I’m having this type of reaction?’” she says. What she found terrified her: petrochemicals, formaldehydes and flame retardants in everyday household products from floor cleaners to mattresses. Some were listed on the ingredients label plain as day, with others disguised under the catchall of “fragrance,” which is entirely legal…

By 2011 she had turned herself into an expert on consumer products and traveled to Washington, D.C. to lobby for updated legislation. She was — and is — particularly focused on reforming the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, which has allowed more than 80,000 chemicals to remain in household products untested. Only five are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency; just 11 are banned from consumer goods. (In Europe that figure is more than 1,300.) “Enough people have to get sick or die from a certain ingredient or chemical before it’s pulled from the marketplace,” says Alba.

[From Forbes]

I’m chemically sensitive and have to be careful of perfumes and dyes in my products, so I appreciate when anyone brings awareness to this issue. Certain perfumes make me dizzy and my skin is very sensitive. It goes beyond that though, to long term health concerns. I heard a radio show recently on NPR about how the EPA barely controls any of the chemicals in consumer products, and how the conversation around chemicals is almost entirely controlled by “scientists” hired by powerful chemical conglomerates. It was sobering and this is what Alba is lobbying to change. Everyone should have the right to safe products, but much of the information required to make purchasing decisions isn’t known or is deliberately covered up. Good for Alba for creating products that families can feel good about.

Jessica Alba makes her way through LAX

Exclusive... Jessica Alba & Family Stop By A Rite Aid Pharmacy

Jessica Alba is shown at LAX yesterday (credit: Pacific Coast News) and out on 5-25 (Sail away shirt, credit: FameFlynet) and on 5-24 (scarf, credit: FameFlynet

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75 Responses to “Jessica Alba covers Forbes Richest Women issue, her company is worth a billion”

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  1. ToodySezHey says:

    How did this happen?

    • Jenns says:

      Right? Who saw this one coming. But hey, good for her.

    • Pinky says:

      Ha-ha-ha! IKR?

    • NUTBALLS says:

      I thought the same thing. I remember her from Clueless and next thing I know, she’s the head of a successful company. Good for her for finding something that she cares about, turning that passion into an alternative career and providing alternative, healthy products in the marketplace.

  2. Kdlaf says:

    Ill definitely give this article a read! Its nice to see that shes found what seems to be her calling and actually making a difference.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I think she was smart enough to see a demand for something that didn’t already exist.

      I REALLY hate the way chemicals are treated in our country. Like with fracking, they won’t release what chemicals are in the water, so it is impossible to fight against it by saying it is harmful. They avoid facing consequences for the chemicals by keeping the public in the dark about what the chemicals are.

      I strongly believe that a lot of our early-puberty and obesity problems are caused in part by the hormone mimicking chemicals that are found in plastics and other materials. Kudos to anyone who fights for more information to be made public.

    • blogdiz says:

      I give Alba credit for having a genuine concern and doing research for alternatives
      But (I am too lazy to find the article ) but I have read that she basically partnered with a Chinese company , who was already producing some eco friendly products with her being the face of the company , given a percentage and some management involvement and input in products etc
      It was basically a win win for both as the Chinese company got the sales coverage it never would have gotten
      Either Way Kudos to her but this is very different from the angle being given with this article

  3. Bridget says:

    This drives me crazy. The $1 billion number came about based on the IPO, which is a predicted future valuation, and even then the Honest Company’s number was considered to be overly high and kind of unrealistic. But “Hollywood Actress at the head of billion dollar company” sounds good, so people run with it. And as a shareholder, I’d be concerned with the phrase “growth over profits”

    However, I have to give Alba a lot of credit. She not only saw a niche to be filled, but is also clearly doing it well.

    • Jegede says:

      Thanks for the breakdown.

      Good for Alba but this does seem like the throw away ‘billion dollar’ line they insert in Jessica Simpson write ups as well.

      • Artemis says:

        And people ate that up too. The amount of people jumping to JS’s defense while clearly knowing nothing about the company still baffles me.

      • Bridget says:

        Alba is definitely more active in the company than J Simp (who licensed her name to Camuto and didn’t just start her own fashion line from scratch) so I can appreciate what she’s building. But there is definitely some PR game going on. It’s also why we still see paparazzi shots of Alba and her family and she still attends showbiz stuff – she needs to keep her profile high, because that’s part of what keeps the Honest Company visible.

      • FLORC says:

        It’s worth saying When Alba started this she was considered a joke and a type off Goop wannabe. She got the same criticism as Blake and a few others. It was not highlighted she was going to take this route and if not for some very well picked advisors this whole company would not be what it is.

        Alba has evolved into a smart business woman by great staff, desires, and luck with the market.
        Not to remove credit where it’s due with this… She did agree to change direction to make this company what it is and leave out the original routes.

      • Bridget says:

        I think it’s a really interesting discussion, FLORC. There is no denying that Alba and the Honest Company are genuinely successful (though I disagree that her business got the same ridicule that a Blake got – Alba had the benefit of being one of the early adopters of the Hollywood Mom model). But even so, there’s always some PR going on, that very much plays on the celebrity angle. It’s a fine balance.

    • Wilma says:

      As a human being I love the phrase ‘growth over profits’.

    • Palar says:

      Growth over profits are always recommended for companies that are establishing themselves such as this one..the move to profits happens once the entrepreneurial phase is complete.

  4. ToodySezHey says:

    You know , now that I’ve the article. Good on her.

    Also, lobbyists should be banned.

    • Bridget says:

      This is why campaign finance is such a big issue, but unfortunately because it’s not sexy no one wants to talk about it. Lobbyists wouldn’t have nearly the influence without financial power backing them.

    • Reeely?? says:

      I guess I’m lucky in that in live in a community that is considered both chic and progressive. I haven’t used the horrible commercially offensive products regularly due to my zeitgeist. I’m one of those people who uses dr bronner for example. I guess her company is necessary for those who are allergic to being from Colorado, not wearing deodorant and looking “vegan”.

  5. Karen says:

    Did they have to pose her pushing hey boobs together?. I mean is forbes! She’s on the civet for her business acumen.

    Nitpicking aside: Good for her!

    • Jeanne says:

      Agreed! They admit that she’s not on the top 50 list, so why did they put her on the cover? Looks like because she has nicer boobs than the top 50, I guess.

      Good for her, though. It pisses me off just how much untested stuff is in products, and that companies can just bundle a bunch of chemicals under the term “fragrance”. People can make a difference, though. BPA didn’t stop disappearing from children’s products because of the goodness of the manufacturers’ hearts.

  6. Jegede says:

    So whose richer between Simpson and Alba?

    And yes I know what a person is ‘worth’ is not the same as how much money/liquid cash, they actually have or earn.

    • Kate says:

      Simpson sold her stake in her businesses long before they were worth a billion. She didn’t get that much, relatively speaking, and now she just gets paid to remain the active face of all the stuff marketed with her name.

      I would say Simpson has more actual money in her hands right now, but Alba is on track to become far, far wealthier.

      • Bridget says:

        I’ve always wondered that Simpson was all about the cash money, so she probably has some good liquidity – when Joe was her manager he got money for everything possible. But then again, the aggressiveness makes me think that she needed to bring more cash in; for example, why on earth did she do that Weight Watchers deal that seemed like it made her miserable?

      • FLORC says:

        Bridget
        WW made Simpson miserable? I think it was the reverse. Simpson got paid to have a personal trainer and eat not meals they package, but a WW personal chef. And she still refused to follow the diet plan or meet her personal trainer. Even not telling them when she left for vacation and her fitness team was at her home.

        And for this WW extended her contract and gave her a few more million while the company let go a few employees over this deal.

        Simpson though have her image attached to a great many things and there’s a continuous flow of funds coming in as a result.

      • Bridget says:

        I always thought that she regretted the WW contract because it meant that she had to lose the weight for real.

        During the Joe years he slapped her name and image on pretty much anything that had the right price, but aside from the fashion stuff we dont really see much of her anymore.

    • Tiffany says:

      I think Alba. Jessica sold her name and she gets a percentage of the profits. There is a different company that designs, produce, etc…

    • Alicia says:

      My guess is right now Jessica Simpson is richer, but that Alba will pass her very quickly. As said above, Simpson pretty much sold most of her stakes in her name-brand business and is basically just the spokeswoman/face of the brand rather than investing, choosing products, being the boss, etc.

      Alba actually owns her company (at least most of it) and is actually a boss unlike Simpson.

  7. Greek chic says:

    I don’t know, wasn’t there a story about her products not be so Eco friendly as she claims them to be?

  8. Birdix says:

    A friend worked for Elizabeth Holmes a few years back–called her “my change the world client” and said she’s the real deal. She has a very compelling story.

    • Rhiley says:

      She does have a very compelling story, but when I read the New Yorker piece, that I posted below, a few months ago, I felt a little conflicted about her life. She is an absolutely amazing person, and her mantra truly seems to be, “How can a live the most purposeful life I can,” but she is also very isolated, perhaps lonely. Her mind knows no depths, but emotionally she is a little stunted.

      • michkabibbles says:

        I might be misreading your statement, and apologies if I am, but I don’t think that choosing to lead an isolated life, or choosing to be alone, makes one emotionally stunted.

      • LAK says:

        My personal experience is that people who are brilliant in a professional sense tend to be bad at personal relationships and end up alone or lonely.

      • FLORC says:

        LAK
        I’ve got some amazing brilliant friends and the same is true.
        It can be worrying though. You have to wait for them to want to be social again.

  9. Amy says:

    Props to her. Honestly.

    I give her and Jessica Simpson a lot of credit for not letting their detractors define them.

    I have a lot more respect for women building companies and creating businesses rather than ghost-writing books and becoming media personalities. Do and build things ladies, this patriarchal world isn’t going to change with words.

    • Bridget says:

      I don’t know if you see the above thread, but Jessica Simpson didn’t actually build a business, so that’s an interesting thing to lump her and Alba together.

  10. Rhiley says:

    Old Ashton Kutcher is probably going to start wearing t shirts for the Honest Company as he runs errands with his daughter in tow.

  11. Prairiegirl says:

    Truly happy she found her calling as an entrepreneur since acting wasn’t it.

  12. Rhiley says:

    Oh, CB, I found this article about Holmes very interesting. You might like to read it when you have a few minutes.

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/12/15/blood-simpler

  13. Esmom says:

    Good for her. I needed some green dryer sheets (I have slowly converted to all green household products although bleach is a hard one to get rid of because it works so well on so many things!) when I was at a Target I don’t usually go to and hers were the only ones.

    I haven’t tried them yet so I can’t say if I like them better than any of the competitors. But since hers were the only ones on Target’s shelves its not surprising to me that her company is doing so well.

    • lisa2 says:

      I’ve tried several of her products and like them a lot. Got it from a friend. I usually don’t do the celebrity merchandise..

      but I won’t let go of bleach. Ever. A childhood thing. It is my go to no matter what..

  14. Nadine says:

    Can we have someone create a company similar to Honest, but cheaper? It is so sad that people can’t go organic or eco-friendly for their kids without burning a hole in their pocket.

    • Rhiley says:

      Exactly. I think even most middle class families probably cannot afford to buy exclusively from companies like Honest.

    • Mel M says:

      I’m with you. I actually really love their products but have only purchased diapers and wipes when I got a 50% off coupon. I’m currently using their shampoo, conditioner, lotions, and tooth paste because I’m pregnant and wanted to get away from all the chemicals I usually use but to be honest once I give birth I will probably start switching back to my old stuff since they are so pricey. But I do get the shampoo/body wash from Costco at a pretty good deal so I use that on my kids and might just share with them from now on 😉.

      • wonderwoman21 says:

        You could try Shea Moisture; their products are free of sulfates, parabens, synthetic fragrances, mineral oil, synthetic color, DEA, phthalates, and they are cruelty free as well. They have a baby line, though I haven’t tried it yet but I am planning to as I’ve been using their hair care products and soaps for a year and a half and have loved it. I am particularly sensitive to washing with scented soaps/washes and have found their products to be gentle enough.

    • FLORC says:

      But they need those profits to boost their net worth and make the Forbes cover!
      This isn’t about changing the world. It’s about offering a product that in theory is wonderful, but comes at a premium price to do more than run a company and live well while changing the world for the better..

    • Esmom says:

      I think you could say the same about organic produce or ethically-sourced meat. Quality unfortunately tends to come at a higher price.

      • Rhiley says:

        I agree. I am all for organic foods and eating as locally as possible, but I can afford to do so, not because I am wealthy (I am not), but because I am single and do not eat out very often because I choose to spend more money on food that I can have at home. At the same time, I am really happy that Walmart now sells vegetables and fruits. I am sure most of the food at Walmart is not organic, but they are much healthier than overly processed foods, and allow lower income families the opportunity to purchase healthier food. If I had a lot of family members to feed, I am sure I would be buying more food from Target/Walmart. It is hard to spend 5 dollars on a gallon of organic milk that will last week; I don’t think I could afford to do that several times a week.

  15. Sunny says:

    My only beef is how mich more expensive her products are than 7th Generation or Method or JR Watkins and sometimes Myers.

    It all boils down to scent for me and I don’t particularly care for hers, but I agree – she is making good and ensuring success long after she quits making movies.

  16. Lisa says:

    Barf. use that, Jessica, it’s natural.

    • hoopjumper says:

      Thank you. I am all for consumer safety, but a lot of this is just marketing. The whole, “It hasn’t been tested” thing, while technically true, applies to a lot of “natural” products. Do people think lemon juice should be tested? Or vinegar? No, because they’re not made in a lab. But a lot of things that save lives, like antibiotics, ARE made in a lab, so it’s not exactly a bright line…

  17. qtpi says:

    Is everything made in China?

    • FLORC says:

      A fair amount of their products do come from China. And found that more than they orginally admitted to do too.
      They have a blog addressing this stuff, but link wo’t hold. blog (dot) honest (dot) com
      To sum it up it’s a very common reason. It’s not cost effective to have their manufacturing anywhere else, but China. What devalues their argument from a consumer viewpoint is this. Their profit margines are insane for products like wipes. They could have those items made elsewhere where they would be less of those chemical slip ups and laws with harsher penalties for those mistakes. All while still bringng in a large profit. Not massive, but you wouldn’t blink an eye at.

      The Honest Company is still a company. You can’t assume they’re only going to deliver you the best quality items at the lowest cost possible. They’re in it for profit. And as another stated, they’re far more expensive than other well known comapnies doing the same thing.

  18. LAK says:

    Firstly, good for her.

    Secondly, i’m very sensitive to fragrances which means many household and toiletries are off limits to me. I can’t walk into the front hall of a dept store because of all the perfumed products stationed there. Thank goodness they banned those fragrance girls who spray perfume at you whether you want them to or not.

    I’m grateful for companies like the honest company for making my shopping journey less stressful.

    On a snarky note, GOOP must be so annoyed by Jessicaks success because she put out a b!tchy comment about the honest company and here it is valued at $1B!!!!!

    • FLORC says:

      What was the comment Goop put out?
      A while back I got tired of these companies claiming they’re natural when my skin (also sensetive) proved otherwise. It’s easier and far cheaper to just DIY imo.

      • LAK says:

        GOOP wrote a newletter about companies that should be avoided because they weren’t natural or elitist, blah, blah and made a list of these companies which included the honest company.

        At the time, Jessica’s response was that she grew up poor and that was the model for what she wanted to stock in her company.

        Regarding products I can use, it’s so annoying that they keep changing the formulas such that formerly safe products aren’t safe anymore due to the added ingredients.

        Currently, the only brands I can use, bearing in mind these are UK products, are ecover, simple, Aveda, vaseline, and Palmers cocoa butter. That’s it. Formulas haven’t changed in decades and my skin/respiratory system is safe…..so far.

      • Dana M says:

        Because of my leaky gut issues, my skin has major problems and my face is very sensitive to chemicals and I’m super sensitive to fragrances now. I tried many DIY hair washes with no luck. Sure, I don’t react to homemade hair washes, but my hair looks terrible. I leave that routine for weekends. I currently have good luck with Pure Life Soap Company’s chamomille shampoo. Very Mild fragrance and face doesn’t turn red!

  19. moomoo says:

    I’m glad she’s bringing this issue to the mainstream. Most scented products we use have tons of hormone-disrupting phthalates (which do an awesome job of carrying the fragrances) in addition to other toxic substances. There is no regulation. The Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) has *great* free databases for you to check the safety profile of your favorite cosmetics, sunscreens, and household cleaners. I donate to EWG because I use their databases to make buying choices. You can get discounts on a lot of the eco-friendlier products online through sites like Vitacost, Swanson, etc.

    EWG also gives a list of produce with the most and least pesticide residues. One recent study found that men who ate just one serving a day of high-pesticide produce had 50% sperm count and 2/3 decrease in sperm motility compared to men who did not eat the high pesticide produce. And there was no protective effect if they ate extra servings of other produce — if they ate just one serving of the high-pesticide produce their sperm was affected regardless of the rest of their diet.

    Michael Greger at nutritionfacts.org described a study that found soaking produce in a 10% salt solution for 5-20 minutes did a much better job of removing pesticides than just plain water.

  20. elian says:

    You should see the pissing contest at my son’s daycare about who uses Honest products and who doesn’t. Those that do, definitely judge those of us who don’t!!! I wish I could afford honest products on a regular basis. I splurge here and there.

    • Bridget says:

      What a random thing to brag about. I hope you don’t let you get you down!

    • Michelle says:

      Those are the people I would want to avoid. How miserable they must be. Who cares what products someone uses?

  21. Wren33 says:

    I thought Honest Company products were a bit of a scam – like you have to sign up to receive them every month and it is hard to unsubscribe type of thing.

  22. Jess says:

    Wow. Good for her!

  23. Jess says:

    Good for her, definitely didn’t see this coming when she started, it’s actually pretty inspiring to me!

  24. Michelle says:

    Well this explains why she is constantly photographed in the Target parking lot!

  25. PG says:

    I don’t think Alba’s company is comparable to Blake’s. Blake sells “artisanal” crap people don’t need.
    The Honest Company found a void and filled it. Parents searching for ecofriendly safe products.
    I don’t have children and am not focusing on avoiding chemicals. But if I do have children this is something I would focus on. I would start to research and be open to other products but because of brand recognition would probably start looking at The Honest Company prods first.
    People say the best business ideas are those that solve a problem a lot of people have and this company claims to do so.

  26. Caz says:

    I wish Alba would be more Honest…she is in this for the high profit margin.