Jessica Alba at the Honest headquarters. Jamel Toppin for Forbes.
Take that, haters. Forbes says that The Honest Company, which Jessica Alba co-founded and helps run in Santa Monica, "has experienced an absurd level of growth" and has a current valuation of $1 billion. "That figure means Alba, who owns between 15% and 20% of the company, according to a source with knowledge of her investment, is sitting on a fortune of $200 million," says the story. "She’s on her way to earning a spot on Forbes' new ranking of America’s Richest Self-Made Women, just $50 million shy of Beyoncé and Judge Judy, who are tied at number 49. The only other two celebrities to make the inaugural list are Oprah and Madonna. The difference is that foursome made their money in their core field, media and music. Alba, at a young age, has done it in a completely unrelated industry."
I've noticed that a lot of people resent Alba — for being a beautiful actress and model, or being a publicly happy mother, or being in front of the paparazzi too much of the time, or even for not seeming Latino enough. Yes, she's prettier than you and pictures of her in bikinis are the gold standard of such things on the Internet — 26 million hits on Google for the search term "Jessica Alba bikini." And no, she's not the greatest actor, to be honest. But give her some due credit for this other thing.
She’ll join her troops shortly, but for now she’s transfixed by a box of tampons that looks more like it holds an expensive candle than Kotex. “Dope!” she declares, approvingly.
“We’re using all-organic cotton and plant-based polymer and a bio-plastic applicator,” says the 34-year-old actress earnestly, contrasting that with the plastic content of drugstore tampons and their effect on hormones. Honest’s new feminine care line launches in July.
Alba can go similarly deep on almost all of The Honest Company’s 120 products, whether the ingredients in a new organic beeswax sunscreen or the clever insulation pocket hidden inside a chic $170 vegan-leather diaper bag. Yes, she has a pretty face–it seems as if every men’s magazine has named her the most beautiful woman in the world at some point–but it’s the details from which great fortunes stem.
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.
Honest products will debut in South Korea later this year and in China possibly in 2016. And then, most likely next year, a public offering, according to people familiar with the company. Such a move provides a war chest, though that doesn’t seem to be an issue at present. “The company’s outperforming,” says General Catalyst’s Neil Sequeira. “They have pretty much unlimited access to capital and a very strong balance sheet.”