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1 year ago
Jessica Alba: People Thought I Was 'Nuts' For Starting My Own Company

Reported by Lesley Rotchford

On-screen, Jessica Alba crushes challenges and saves the planet. At the office, she…pretty much does the same thing. Bet you never knew just how hardcore—in business, in activism, in health care—Jessica really is.

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"People thought I was nuts. 'You're going to go make what? Laundry detergent?'" Jessica tells Women's Health, regarding the reaction she recieved from Hollywood before the 2011 launch of The Honest Company, her line of environmentally friendly household, baby, and personal-care products. Those doubters had to eat it this year when Honest was valued at $1 billion.

"As a celebrity, you're good in a room, you know how to turn it on," she says. "That doesn't make investors want you. They looked at me like, 'What the hell do you know about health and business?'" 

Apparently, Jessica knows a lot (let us remind you about that $1 billion), but she doesn't do it alone. 

To get the job done, Jessica counts on a team she respects. "I put together a great team, surrounded myself with people who are smarter than me," she says. "I took a lot of advice. I took all of the" criticism as constructive."

"When I first went to Washington to lobby [to help keep toxic substances out of consumer products], I knew I was addressing a human-health crisis," she says. "We are all guinea pigs—people have to get sick or die for a chemical to be banned."

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Honest is donating $3 million to health-related causes this year. "We're investing in medical research that links certain chemicals to illnesses like autism," says Jessica. 

Part of her mission is educating consumers on just how dire the situation is. For example, she notes that Europe has outlawed more than 1,200 chemicals from personal-care products, while the United States has only outlawed 11. "I sat down with people in government. ... Every single person just couldn't believe the reality."

How does all of this hard work and knowledge translate into Jessica's day-to-day life? It's all about balance, of course."I'm not a yogi master living off the grid and eating vegan," she explains. "Kudos to people who are, but that's not me. I want to have products in my home that reflect my lifestyle. It needs to smell good, it needs to work good, it needs to look good."

For more exclusive interviews with game changers like Jessica Alba, pick up the October 2015 issue of Women's Health, on newsstands now.

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