Hustle, Struggle, Figure it Out: Jessica Alba of The Honest Company
Everyone it's rebecca to superwomen before we get into this week's episode. I just wanted to do some shameless plugging. So if you haven't gotten a handbag or an incredibly appropriate zoom sweatshirt aka are selling janine head over to my site. This podcast is brought to you by the support of you. So would love for you to buy. Some guests enjoy some of our sales that were having and just support the cause in the brand. That floats his podcast. Also i'm not sure if you've heard but i launched a fragrance. It is available at macy's nordstrom and birch box and sanford so highly highly. Advise you smell good from the comfort of your bed or living room. Everyone welcomed superwomen. Today's guest. I am so excited about. I've been wanting to interview her for probably three years and the stars would not align for us to be in the same city together. But guess what doing this all remotely. So jessica alba needs no introduction. She is incredible actress. Businesswoman founder philanthropist. Who has a heart of gold. So i am so thrilled to welcome you today. Thank you for having me. I mean we really did try and do this so many times over so many years not happening and so i finally happened. It's happening. I remember the last time i was in. La you text me like. Can we come a record right now. And i was like i have zero equipment but rajak okay so i wanna go back to your childhood. Where did you grow up. And did you always know that you wanted to first start acting or did you always think there's gotta be something more to this as well so i grew up in southern california in like a mexican american family very hardworking self made. My grandparents are from southern. California also grew up in a similar city that i did and and my dad is well. I think we actually may have all been born in the same hospital. Pomona valley shoutout down and Yes i'm like third generation and i really grew up in a family where my grandfather and grandmother were like the first in their family to really kind of create opportunity and a new reality for themselves and and certainly Through like grit. Hard work they they got to. I think just give themselves an end. Their children and grandchildren opportunities that they weren't afforded ins- things like you know being able to go to school for full day. Frankly was a luxury being able to get a job and and being treated with. Dignity was a luxury for them They grew up in a segregated california. And so i would say that oppose depression era you know grandparent reading mixed with very ambitious people who roll up their sleeves and stop at nothing in achieving their goals. It didn't set the stage for me to bring big although my mother is not mexican. She's she's white her dad's from denmark and her mother is is french-american. She all of her her family had actually passed away when i was young. So my dad's family really like brought my mom in under their wing. And i really grew up really only with my dad's side of the family and my mom has a lot of that same gumption. A lot of that same figure it out as you go. Stop at nothing you can achieve anything. Don't let anyone hamper your dreams. So between my mom's influence certainly my family units influence. I guess i had. I would say the fearlessness to really go in and tryin and be successful in an industry that is literally impossible to be successful in. You know this is the place. Hollywood and entertainment is a place where everyone who has a dream of being something. One day i would say from every small town that has an ounce of talent comes here to really fulfil their dream and tell stories and it's a very competitive place in it's in. It's really hard to figure out how to be successful because there is no real rhyme or reason a lot of people say it's a lack. I say it's a it's a combination of definitely the stars aligning. But the of you being ready for it and putting in the work to to open up those doors and create opportunity. So when i was eleven actually i was like there was a casting call and it was everyone from my mom to my aunt. Cathy and her four kids and her sister and her sister's boyfriend and me and my mom and my brother and we all went to this open casting and it was basically like wanna be a model or an actor come to this hilton hotel by the lax and there were thousands of people waiting outside. Think of like in american idol audition. I so i i remember those days. We winds we save money gas money to even get there. I remember i used to like dig through the couch and like find any change and how we'd like pay for food. We can get at some fast food restaurant and then gas money and that and i ended up winning the prize at of thousands of people Which were free classes. And they were going to pay for head shots and then an opportunity to audition for agents now. Usually this program would take like a year and a half to two years to do all of it. But i was like eleven so i had to fit it into one summer and i basically went to acting class whatever. This class was a date night and learn everything from hold reading. What's a casting director too. Wet the producer to how to audition headshots. Had like present yourself ride and all of these things and i was told even by my teachers. They were like you. Look too old Every actor child Actors usually five to ten years older than the roles that they play. You're probably not going to be successful just enough. Why i and i had really. You know lots of encouragement that i was going to actually be able to be successful and i just like didn't care you know i was just like so we will see what did i have to lose. When you're starting from the bottom. There was nowhere you can go up so my parents you know. We live paycheck to paycheck and my parents often had multiple jobs so it was a huge sacrifice. My is actually not working in order to carve out time to take me to these all day acting classes so then she would have to take night shifts if she was going to do any kind of job on usually that's like waitressing or bartending complicated and it was hard but i would say that what motivated me From that moment on. I always knew that i needed to be able to supplement my mom's income. Frankly because she would be working at a job as she wasn't working for me so i had to become essentially that piece of the puzzle for my family. If i wanted to do this and for me it gave me independence. You know. I i come from a very conservative family. I was always very outgoing very vocal very much. A feminist the antithesis of what it is to be like a proper conservative girl. I was not one to like run away. From controversy or something provocative iran straight for it and it rattled my family. I would say that my family is. They don't like to talk about anything really. That would be controversial. They sort of wanna be accepted. In a lotta ways and just kind of like blend in and i just had this rebellious spirit in i and i challenged everything and i don't know if that's something that's learned. I actually just really think that some people are just born with that right and so there was probably something about naysayers. And something about people thinking. That i wasn't going to be successful That encouraged me even more to to be successful in hollywood so i just sort of hustled and struggled and figured it out identified without so much because recently i turned forty and my husband. Did this compilation and my brother says i. I remember some of the first full sentences you said is if someone corrected you you said i can do it however i want and i was like i did say that a lot and i feel like whereas those naysayers like i had a my entire life as well for everything i thought i wanted to do and then when i decided to be a designer but It just was like. I'll prove you wrong and i think that whatever that is that we were born with our that our mothers or fathers instilled in us is like i tell people yes. You might have talent but that that stubbornness that persistence. What gets you through. Yeah a hundred percent. It's it's funny. 'cause i i actually never really thought twice about it but definitely i find that even when i'm hiring folks and i'm thinking about who i want to surround myself with when it comes to any goal right whether it's goal in entertainment or its goal at honest and it's like okay. Here's this next phase. Who would i want to surround myself to help. Get me to that goal for that. Gold become fully realized and it's usually finding other people that have a chip on their shoulder. And you have that chip on your shoulder and you have something like drives you to get up every day and stop at nothing that to me is the most valuable asset over a degree over. You know being born into a family over being born into opportunity or privilege that chip on your shoulder. There's nothing like that. So i say this struggling with it as a mother so i was raised in a in a similar environment and that my grandparents were immigrants. They had to save every dollar work every dime they. They raised a very. If you want it earning household and that was passed down to me. How do we and you might not know the answer this but how do we i try and raise my kids to have a chip on their shoulder by saying no all the time and making them earn it. But i think it's different right one hundred percent. i mean. our kids are in a obviously a position of privilege compared to how we were raised. But i think how to instill that drive or fire is for me. It's it's like these micro steps so starting with a don't ever in a million years. Thank you are entitled to any of this. Yep every piece of your life is a gift and start talking to them about that. When they're like three years only start telling them stories in there in my own way about how lucky they are and how they're so many people who are in a completely different situation and don't even get to decide what they want to eat that day. You know when they start trying to get picky about food when they're like three and they love using that word now that's when it sort of starts and it's not like they ever really grasp it and i don't know if it lands but by the time they're five it lands right and they started to really understand what that means and so i would say like for me. I've been taking these tiny steps along the way and also just not allowing them to get anything they want at any moment and so that also starts at around three years old when they just want to. They think they're every win will be fulfilled. Whether that's you know. My son wants to eat candy all day and all night sodas my middle child haven and i'm just like you just can't or when you get frustrated you can't just throw a toy eight your siblings face which is something they love to do and so they get to learn about having timeouts and nose and toes in the corner now. It might be for ten seconds. But it's to just kind of say you can't just do anything you want at any time and then also really enforcing and it is relentless the nice manners so say thank you be grateful and even if they don't understand what thank you means it. They say it enough and they understand the connection between their getting something that they didn't have before and then they have to say thank you. It starts to connect for them And then also. I think even harder for them is to say. I'm sorry because you know. Low though is the hardest word for hayes to to actually say he would do anything. He'll roll around on the ground and throw a real temper tantrum just because he's not try to stay low News sister haven. After throwing her her barbie doll you know in the pool or whatever he decides studio being relentless not just giving up in letting him get his way but to be relentless with that is not nice. And we're better than that and you're gonna have to have a timeout again. Even if it's just for ten seconds just to start that type a boundaries discipline at an early age and then being consistent you know it's worth it in the end because now i see my twelve year old in. It's not even a question and for her. During the black lives matters movement hurts a stand up to family members. That didn't get it or that. Were taking the message. The wrong way are were saying. We'll all lives matter. Cops lives matter and she had just like such a grace. In the way that you're titillated the injustice that's happening and such a steadiness in her in her voice and her confidence in and to speak with such conviction but then always have like this big heart in this big mind in kindness where i might tendency is to be fascinating. Combative and i'm like come for me. I'll catch you. Don't even care for family. This is crazy that she's not like got. She has a totally more open. Heart open mind approach but still like so strong in her convictions and will stand up for injustices whenever she sees it. So i eventually it pays off. I love that so much. And i hope my daughter gets that grace. 'cause right now she's probably more rebellious than i ever was wasn. I'm not sure what to do with it. But i will figure it out so since we're talking about we're on the subject of kids in motherhood and i do wanna get into business. I will go there but you have managed not only one career which takes the all of you then launching you know as a globally recognized incredible company honest and your philanthropic work. How have you pre cove it. How did you find the time to have your spend that meaningful moments with your children. 'cause i struggled with it and i thought i was spending a lot of time with them and then kovin hit our i. Oh i actually have hardly been with my kid. I thought i was like balanced with my time. But i truly was not. I would love to hear how you manage it where it's been hard. I think what what you're talking about. Is we because we both have careers right. And we've we haven't stopped with our career ambition if not i would say i even got more ambitious after i became a mother and thinking through. You know the legacy that. I want to pass down to my children and what i'm passionate about in purpose and making a difference in the world and all of those things how how you know in my tiny little part what can i do to lead the world better place than how i found it. You know And certainly trying to do that for my children and their children. And so on. So you. And i probably and we've talked about. This have really thought through the quality time. It's not the quantity right. It's about the quality of the time that you spend with your family because frankly you just can't be everywhere and everything to everyone. All the time. And i think what coded revealed i think more than anything to me certainly in it sounds like to you as well is just how much tenderness and and growing in learning are in the everyday mundane and you know the time where you're brushing your teeth every morning or making your breakfast in eating together every morning and having your urine the lunch break and then having the family dinner like that sort of stuff that you need to do to just like be person in the world is sort of like a catch you when we do this family game night. We're gonna watch a special movie and we're going to order in from the favorite restaurant once a week thing or we're just going to hunker down on the weekends and that's when we're gonna get our all in family time actually the day to day routine stuff revealed to me just how much i was missing and how much you know. I felt like. I look up and it was. There was no denying that every single time. I would look at all of my kids at different stages. Same what just happened to a year or what just happened to the baby. Stage of what just happened to them being diapers in. I just felt like their lives. Were flashing before my eyes and it was just going so fast and i think during covid we really got to like sink into each other. I feel like every moment every nuance of every stage of who they are and who they've evolved into over the last year i was there and it's something that i i want to be there for. Always you know. I don't wanna miss that. But at the same time. I also got to still working and i still got to be present at honest. And you know it's like it's not like it was sacrificing. My career ambitions in. There is a way to do it now. Sometimes i feel like i definitely have no me time and i definitely have no anti and i have no fun time. But on the flip side. I got to really be with my kids. During every sort of curveball. Up down side ways change and it's been really fun to to go in grow with them. Because i feel like i'm better yet. It's been incredible mixture of like. I wanna pull my hair out. But i got to see my son's like language actually begin and end to think and i never would have caught that i would have been home for bath time. Redistributing go to bed you know. And so yeah. It's over. linings had taken from from this time. It was like oh my gosh. I got to experience that. And i'm so glad did yeah on spotify. You can listen to all your favorite artist and podcasts in one piece for free. You don't even need premium account. Spotify has a huge catalog podcasts. On every topic including the one. You're listening to right now on spotify. You can follow your favorite podcasts. So you never miss an episode if you haven't done so already be sure to download the spotify app search for your podcast on spotify or browse products in the your library tap. Also make sure to follow me so you never miss an episode superwomen and thanks for listening. Everybody i wanna tell you a little bit about the platform. I use to distribute this podcast. It's called anchor. It is the easiest way to make a podcast and it gives you everything you need in one place for free. Which is what you can use right now from your phone or your computer and allows you to record edit your podcast. So it sounds great. They're also distribute your podcast for us. Who can be heard anywhere on. Spotify apple podcasts. Google podcasts and so many more then guess what you can make money with no minimum listenership which i can tell you is a game changer. So download the anchor at or go to anchor dot. Fm to get started so back to business. At what point were you rolling around the idea in your head honest. And did you have any idea that you were going to not just launch with diapers and things for kids but now it is home in terms of products cleaning products. It's makeup in beauty and skin. Like where did that seed grow. And then we'll i wanna talk about your leadership style. Yeah so. I grew up when i was younger. I actually grew up with a lot of illnesses. I had multiple surgeries. I had various like weird. Tumors removed insists from like my throats and my ovaries and i had decided. S tonight and i had a tonsils taken out and then i had severe asthma and allergies like literally everything from like grass to strawberries to oranges. I didn't realize until later cleaners detergents would give me an asthma attacks. So i just thought that i was just allergic to life in the world and any cold had would usually land me into in the hospital for two weeks with double pneumonia. I spent so much time in the hospital as a kid in a kind of grew out of it. When i was about twelve years old. I don't know of my immune system got stronger. Or what have you so. I i then from each twelve on just needed like in an inhaler once in a while. It wasn't like every day and i had you know. I was definitely on allergy medicine. If i if i was around like dogs or horses or or anything like that but for the most part i could just kind of like live my life and it wasn't until i was pregnant with honor my first child that i had a terrible reaction to a detergent that my mom recommended for me and when i had this allergic reaction it took me back to my childhood and like thinking. Oh my god would've. My kid is sick like me in it. It was traumatic. And i guess i just sort of buried it and in i never really thought twice about it once i was over it and and it all came flooding back to me and then i learned about all of these harsh chemicals that are in everyday products from beauty. Products was like the worst. You know when when it came to what could be toxic in bad for you all away. Through to personal care products so think of like bath and body products Hair products and then thinking about detergents and then even the materials that things are made of and they spray them with all of these chemicals. And what does that do to your body over time and it was just like i don't know what to do. I'm overwhelmed and i then try to shop around the problem trying if you know. Put together a home. That didn't have any of these harsh things. Because even when you're pregnant what you put on yourself goes into your bloodstream and even like tiny amounts of certain chemicals could actually mess up the way the your baby's brain develops in it can affect your brain and your body and you're just like ooh. How is this not regulated so actually went and lobbied on capitol hill. This isn't about a conservative or a liberal agenda. This is about human health and safety and common sense. You should just be able to shop with peace of mind. You shouldn't have to worry that overtime. It could make you sick. So i'm after it was frustrated with just like that then i was like we'll all just make my own detergents at home and then you know you could buy things from different places was just like exhausting and i felt like i was like i had to be like a vegan hippie yogi everything was like had been burlap in small dipa truly and didn't really work. I was like the stain is not coming out of mme laundry and like this is just not right by my house. Smells like salad dressing. And i just felt like you know. Even when i was looking at the more the alternative in clean mega brands like putting layers of dirt face. So i was like there's just gotta be An answer to all of this. And so that's when i had this idea to create this company that really stands for safety transparency honesty. My daughter honor inspired me to create the company. Because i really started to think about those things differently. After i became a mom and so i just love all the virtues that are aligned with honesty and i was like what if this company just stands for honesty and it's like building ethical company that has values really relaunched nine years ago and it just feels like now the consumer or people out there more than ever are really leaning into companies that town. I something good. A we really care about diversity and inclusion always have but have been able to really like build a different corporate america where diversity and inclusion is even part of our professional development programs are hiring processes. And then when you think about the products that we make for me it's like education first because if you can empower people with knowledge to make the best choices that to me is like job done but then to actually give them access to the solution again. That's like great as well. So if you aren't into making detergents at home and you want to or your own makeup because you could do that as well and you wanna be able to shop like highly. Effective beautifully designed products that are made with clean ingredients with high safety standards in thinking of people's health in the planet across the board. You got you covered. And we launched with seventeen products so we actually launched with a whole line of family body care products and cleaning products and then the baby specific products mainly had a handful. Even though we got known for our subscription model in diapers wipes. i think it was just. That model was so groundbreaking To really like build a lifestyle brand in cpg and am beauty. Which hadn't really been done before. So i like to before we wrap. I always like to ask all my guests to questions. I prefer embarrassing. But you don't have to some women. Don't share embarrassing things. But what is one thing. We'd be surprised to know about you. surprised to know about me. I love interior design. You know what it is. I think i think shied away from this word because my family. Although my grandfather was essentially like the cfo of a paper company in southern california he was like the head finance guy and that's what he did for all the years and worked at this one company basically his entire professional career he also was a singer. Dancer and Classical guitar player in. That's where he met. My grandmother and my grandmother was also a singer a dancer and she painted and sculpted head But we're a really sketches. She's lots of sketching and painting and all of her siblings were some version of singers dancers. Painters sculptors so. I have like what i would say like. True artists and creative people. And i always felt like kind of a an imposter or fraud compared to them. 'cause like hollywood ed and all of that was all smoke and mirrors in. I don't i don't know why just always felt like i wasn't as good as any of them are as talented but Something that is undeniable. That i that i definitely have learned over the years to embrace the fact that i am very creative and i cannot sit freaking still you know from t- to myself had had macro macro to learning how to cook and he had to cook in. I like to do things from scratch to i'm diy. Like definitely like santa tables and refinish before. And and i just love figuring it out as i go in and i definitely have like a very creative spirit. So it's like all try anything. And i don't know i guess i don't know what that with that is. I haven't tried like sewing with sewing machine will for our next youtube video. I'll teach you how to so. How's that that would be really fun. But i'm verified. I'm terrified because i feel like my fingers going to get in the sewing machine. Oh my god is shadow. I can teach you how to put a needle in your where there's like so many others like is just all strict kenneth. There's somebody calls and it's so tiny. Alright so my last question it can be at that. You received that you were like actually this. This is helpful because we all get tons of advice that i just wanna throw away or something. You've learned that you would love to share with my audience of just like. Hey this works for me. It could be about motherhood work whatever it is that you want to sort of relate. I guess one of my biggest lessons over the last decade. Because i went through. After i had the idea of honest. I don't think i shared this yet. Was i went through about three years of rejection. but before. I finally got the people on board to to join me to launch the company and one of them actually had rejected me eighteen months earlier. And i back and re pitched it but i would say that i think having relentless drive is not just important to achieving your goal is kind of the only way to do it and i think sometimes when you have a relentless drive to fully realize your vision or your dream for yourself in your career whatever it is sometimes that goes hand in hand with thinking that you're always right or thinking that you have the path to get there and i would say the biggest lesson for me is to have that relentless drive but to also acknowledge that a lot of times your idea of how it's gonna go down or how it's gonna come to. Life is usually quite different than the reality of how it's gonna come to life or how it can really become a the reality that you want it to be so i would say the journey the how even a is very difference in reality than it is in your mind and and that was something that was really hard for me because cash was like it's a great idea this you know honest in all of that obviously people you actress and so you have to overcome that hurdle but also like what you're talking about is you're basically wanting to build a global business that ticks all of these sort of light checks all these boxes and that is so ambitious and so you just have to make it really simple for people so my idea was so big and and even though my idea never it never changed right that i think everyone should have access to safe in healthy products And to be able to lean into an ethical company and that corporate america can look different. Yes i have all those ambitions but you kind of have to know your audience and you have to know how to frame it so that it's easy for them to understand that you can get whatever you need to get done to move the needle. It's a hard lesson to learn at. I think it took me quite a few years To get there but once you let go of your idea on how to do it And you're open than anything is possible and keep on with that relentless drive. I fucking love that. And i it it makes me think about the fact that you know. I hate this question. What would you have done differently in your career while. I don't know this got here here. I'm here now you know. So how do i take any about away. Yeah and i think what you probably appreciate. And what i appreciate is every challenge because it's only getting through those challenges that you're then set up to take on and to be able to grow to that next stage so if if this challenge hold you back go you may ready for that next thing because now is going to be a lot worse right a lot more complex. There's going to be so many more layers to it so in this lull challenge is going to set you back. Good luck seriously mic drop. Well thank you. This has been incredible. And i'm so excited. We were finally able to do this and i value. I value your friendship your support your incredible human and i feel so lucky to know us. Thank you thank you. Thanks for listening. Everybody and don't forget to head over to rebecca minkoff dot com. Show your love and support for the brand by some things for yourself by something for another and also don't forget to try new fragrance again. It is available at all nordstrom. Macy's sent birds and birch boxes as well as our saint.