The Honest Company almost didn’t exist.

By Samantha Zabell
Updated October 17, 2016
Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

In 2012, The Honest Company launched with a mission to create safe, eco-friendly, affordable products for babies and children. Since then, the company, lead by actress Jessica Alba, has expanded to include safe personal care, health and wellness, and cleaning products. Alba visited the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit to reveal how her start-up came to be.

Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images


When Alba approached her now co-founder and CPO, Christopher Gavigan, with her idea for The Honest Company, he said no. He was uninterested in the idea. Rather than allow rejection to shut her down, Alba refined her idea and approached him again 18 months later. In this time, he had become a parent himself, and her idea was fine-tuned. Her lesson? Don’t run from the word “no.” “No just means they didn’t get it today,” Alba says. “But they may get it tomorrow.”


As a child, Alba had chronic asthma and allergies, which often left her sick and in the hospital. In fact, Alba says this might be why she plays so many superheroes on the big screen—“As a sick kid, I wanted to have superpowers,” she says. When she became pregnant with her first child at age 26, she had an allergic reaction to a laundry detergent, and was suddenly nervous her baby would be chronically ill as she was. As she began to investigate the detergent’s ingredients, she realized how many unsafe chemicals were in everyday products, and the seed for The Honest Company was planted.


Their new policy offers 16 weeks to mothers and 8 weeks to fathers. One of Alba’s main concerns for her employees is how they manage work and family—and this new policy was an important aspect of that balance. “To foster a healthy environment for new parents is super important,” Alba says of her business philosophy.


Many people assume The Honest Company is just for parents—and they do have many all-natural, chemical-free products for new babies. However, last September, Alba launched Honest Beauty, a comprehensive, safe skincare line made without any questionable chemicals, and not tested on animals. These products are now available at ULTA Beauty retail locations.


Not only did Alba conceptualize the company as a response to her desire to keep her daughter healthy, she also named the company after Honor, her now eight-year-old daughter. Conveniently, the name also points to the company’s commitment to ingredient transparency.