Jessica Alba a tech-entrepreneur

Agence France-Presse
Motherhood brought out the actress' business smarts

ACTRESS JESSICA ALBA, CO-OWNER of The Honest Company. Image from the Jessica Alba Fans Facebook page

SAN FRANCISCO, U.S.A. – Film star Jessica Alba swapped Hollywood for Silicon Valley on Monday, September 10, introducing fellow technology entrepreneurs to her new Internet firm, inspired by motherhood.

The star, known for roles in films including “The Fantastic Four,” said it was becoming a mom that compelled her to create The Honest Company devoted to non-toxic, environmentally-friendly products for families.

“I wanted this company to exist for me as a parent,” Alba said during an on-stage chat at a TechCrunch Disrupt technology conference.

“I found that there are lots of toxic chemicals in everything, from the laundry detergent to the mattress your baby is sleeping on.”

Alba has two daughters: one is 4 years old and another born just last year.

The 31-year-old star teamed with Christopher Gavigan, author of “Healthy Child Healthy World” to build The Honest Company. They eventually convinced successful serial entrepreneur Brian Lee to sign on as a co-founder.

“They were absolutely determined to make it work,” Lee said

Lee has a winning record of collaborating on start-ups with famous people that began with talking Robert Shapiro into being part of Legalzoom more than 10 years ago, in a cold call to the OJ Simpson defense team star.

The online legal documentation service has rocketed to financial success.

Lee also worked with reality television show star Kim Kardashian on startup ShoeDazzle, a website specializing in trendy shoes, handbags, jewelry and other fashion accessories.

“It is always great to work with celebrities because they have so much draw,” Lee said.

“But it really depends on how passionate they are about the product; it has to be something authentic,” he continued. “When I heard Jessica speaking about The Honest Company for the first time, I knew it was going to work.”

The Honest Company, based in the Southern California city of Santa Monica, launched in January as an online shop for diapers, detergents, shampoos and more, made without ingredients harmful to people or the environment.

Lee described The Honest Company as a lifestyle family brand meant to represent “non-toxic, ultra-performing high-end products.”

“Anything that touches your family, that touches your baby, we want to be a part of,” Lee said. “We are looking at everything from carpet and paints to things for your nursery. There are endless possibilities.”

Word of The Honest Company has spread quickly in parenting circles and Alba flexed her star power on the start-up’s behalf on television talk shows and in magazines.

“We found that our customers go way beyond moms,” Alba said.

“I think that the big corporations and big ways of doing things — we are sick of them,” she continued. “That is the reason we are all here (at Disrupt). Every industry is going to be disrupted.”

Hundreds of technology start-ups were sharing ideas and competing for attention from media and investors at Disrupt, that ended Wednesday, September 12.

Alba said that the night-and-day work pace of a start-up is harder than her acting job, where filming typically lasts from a few days to a couple of weeks.

She told of being back in the gym to get ready for a new action film role, that also involves gun and fight training.

“I feel guilty,” Alba said. “I am trying to get others at work to work out with me.” – Glenn Chapman, Agence France-Presse

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