Founder's Stories With Jessica Alba and Brian Lee of The Honest Company | Summary and Q&A

September 21, 2012
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Founder's Stories With Jessica Alba and Brian Lee of The Honest Company

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In this video, actress Jessica Alba and entrepreneur Brian Lee discuss the creation of their company, The Honest Company, which focuses on creating non-toxic, eco-friendly products for babies and families. They talk about the challenges parents face in protecting their children from chronic diseases and the toxic chemicals found in everyday products. Jessica explains her personal experience with allergic reactions during her pregnancy and the difficulty she faced in finding transparent and safe products for her family. She approached Brian with the idea for The Honest Company, and together with Christopher Gavigan, they spent eight months developing the formulations for their products. They discuss the importance of trust, community building, and listening to customer feedback in their mission to provide better and safer choices for families.

Questions & Answers

Q: Why did Jessica Alba choose to focus on creating non-toxic products for families?

Jessica Alba became interested in this space because she wanted a company that provided safe products for her own children. After having an allergic reaction to a baby-safe laundry detergent during her pregnancy, she realized the need for transparency in the products marketed to moms and babies. She discovered that many everyday products contain toxic chemicals that have been linked to chronic diseases like autism and childhood cancer. With the rise of these diseases and the difficulty she faced in finding trustworthy products, Jessica felt the need to create The Honest Company to fulfill her own needs as a parent and provide other parents with non-toxic options.

Q: Why did Jessica approach Brian Lee about starting The Honest Company?

Jessica approached Brian because she admired his previous entrepreneurial ventures and believed he had the expertise to help bring her vision to life. She was drawn to his passion, creativity, and logical thinking, which she believed would be crucial in creating a successful e-commerce business. Brian was initially busy with his other companies, but after hearing Jessica's and Christopher Gavigan's determination and passion for creating safe products for families, he changed his mind and decided to join them.

Q: How does The Honest Company distinguish itself from its competitors in the childcare sector?

The Honest Company differentiates itself by being a mission-driven business rather than solely focusing on financial results. They measure their success based on the number of families they can help and the positive impact they can have on children's health. They aim to build a community of customers who share their mission and values. They believe that word-of-mouth and the strong support of moms, including mommy bloggers and Mommy and Me classes, will help them reach their target audience. By prioritizing customer experience and providing the best products in the marketplace, The Honest Company aims to build a large community of families who trust and rely on their non-toxic products.

Q: Why did The Honest Company decide to offer a subscription commerce model and later expand to other e-commerce options?

The Honest Company initially started with a subscription commerce model because they believed it worked well for need-based products like diapers and shampoos, which parents consistently need. However, they also wanted to provide an option for customers who may not want to commit to a subscription but still wanted to purchase their products. As they listened to their customers' feedback and realized their customer base extended beyond moms, they expanded their e-commerce options to include direct purchases of individual products. They aim to fulfill the needs of all customers who want safer and higher quality products.

Q: What has been the most surprising thing for Jessica Alba in starting a tech startup?

Jessica emphasizes that starting a tech startup is incredibly hard and requires intense passion and dedication. The work is never-ending, and being passionate and working harder than anyone else is crucial for success. However, she also believes that with the right partnership and a shared goal, anyone's dream can become a reality. She credits the incredible team she works with and the alignment of their goals for the progress they have made with The Honest Company.

Q: What has Brian Lee learned from his experience with The Honest Company that differs from his past experiences in technology?

Brian Lee admits that he has learned a tremendous amount in the short time since The Honest Company launched. Although he specializes in e-commerce, he had never sold family products before. However, he quickly learned the intricacies of the family product space and the different margin challenges it presents. He believes that being a part of The Honest Company has made him realize the importance of a mission-driven company. The mission to provide non-toxic products for families is ingrained in the entire company's DNA, from customer service to warehouse fulfillment. This shared understanding and belief in their mission are what sets The Honest Company apart from other ventures he has been involved in.

Q: What does Jessica Alba envision for The Honest Company in the next five years?

Jessica's vision for The Honest Company is to become a trusted family brand that resonates with parents everywhere. They have numerous products in the pipeline, and they aim to expand the brand into different verticals that touch every aspect of a family's life. They want to go beyond baby products and enter into sectors such as home goods, clothing, and more. By building a brand associated with non-toxic and safe products, they hope that when customers see their logo or products, they feel confident that it is the safest choice for their family.

Q: Will The Honest Company consider selling its products in retail stores?

While The Honest Company is primarily an e-commerce company, Jessica acknowledges that for certain types of goods, especially hard goods, parents may want to have a physical experience of seeing and touching the products. They believe that talking one-on-one with pregnant moms and providing them with information and tools is important. They are open to the idea of pop-up concept retail spaces where they can engage directly with customers and offer a more personal experience. They see potential for innovation in the retail space and look forward to disrupting traditional business models with technology.

Q: How does working with celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian add value to a business venture?

Working with celebrities can bring significant attention and draw to a business. However, it is crucial for the celebrity's involvement to be authentic and align with the company's mission. Brian believes that celebrities should be genuinely passionate about the project they are involved in, as that passion translates into authenticity and resonates with customers. Trust is a key factor, especially when asking customers to provide sensitive information online. Jessica approached Brian because she believed he would be a passionate partner, and their shared determination and belief in the mission of The Honest Company have been crucial to its success.

Q: How did Brian Lee approach Robert Shapiro with the idea for LegalZoom?

Brian called and left a voicemail for Robert Shapiro, stating that he was a lawyer with an idea he wanted to run by him. Despite facing rejection initially, Brian convinced Robert to give him 15 minutes to present the idea. During that time, he explained the concept of LegalZoom and its potential to solve the trust issue prevalent in online legal services. Robert recognized the value in the idea and became intrigued by the potential of LegalZoom. This cold call eventually led to a successful partnership and the growth of LegalZoom.

Q: What advice does Brian Lee have for entrepreneurs who have an idea but find it daunting to approach investors or potential partners?

Brian advises aspiring entrepreneurs to believe in their idea wholeheartedly. Despite facing rejection and negativity, it is essential to stay determined and keep moving forward. While many people may doubt or dismiss the idea, having unwavering belief can lead to success. Persistence is key, and entrepreneurs should be prepared for the doors to be slammed in their face multiple times. By staying focused, working hard, and believing in their vision, entrepreneurs can make their dreams a reality.

Q: How does Jessica Alba balance her acting career with her role in The Honest Company?

Jessica's typical day starts with getting her kids ready and having breakfast with them. She then goes to the office for meetings and usually tries to be home by around 7 p.m. to spend time with her kids during their bath time. She acknowledges that her acting commitments vary, sometimes requiring a few days or weeks of work in a month. However, she ensures that she remains involved in The Honest Company by being present at the office, even setting up a playroom there for her kids and others. She aims to balance both aspects of her life by managing her time effectively and prioritizing her family.


In summary, Jessica Alba and Brian Lee's conversation highlights the challenges parents face in finding safe and non-toxic products for their children. The creation of The Honest Company was driven by personal experiences and a desire to provide better options for families. By being mission-driven, building a community, and listening to customer feedback, The Honest Company aims to make a positive impact on children's health. Jessica and Brian emphasize the importance of belief, authenticity, and hard work in entrepreneurship. They envision The Honest Company becoming a trusted family brand and disrupting traditional business models with innovation. Balancing work and family is achievable through effective time management and prioritization.

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