How trying to make it as an actor prepared Jessica Alba to build a $1.7 billion startup

jessica alba

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In a few short years, Jessica Alba has turned The Honest Co., her startup that sells eco-friendly household products like premium diapers and toothpaste, into a $1.7 billion company.

And while Alba's celebrity status has been a pillar of the brand, she says her career as an actor has helped her in another crucial way: dealing with rejection from investors.

In a new interview, Alba told Vanity Fair about trying to get Brian Lee, a cofounder of, to invest early on in Honest Co.
Lee, who was a friend of Alba's husband, agreed to a meeting, but passed on investing. He wasn't convinced by the idea behind the company. After Lee passed, Alba says two other investment deals fell through. Things were not looking good.

But, though Alba's celebrity afforded her with many other financial opportunities, she didn't give up on Honest Co.

"Actresses are used to rejection," she explained to Vanity Fair. This is certainly true. An up-and-coming actor can face rejection a dozen times - if not hundreds - for every gig he or she books. Going out on auditions is a brutal process, and in some ways it provides a fertile training ground to develop the thick skin any startup founder trying to raise capital needs.

18 months after Lee rejected Alba's pitch, he had a baby of his own. And when Lee's wife started "manically" researching household cleaners, he finally got it. "In the time between the first and second meeting, my wife had changed our whole life. Jessica's goal to make safer products for the family resonated with me," he told Vanity Fair.

Lee wasn't the only one, based on the company's growth so far. Though it wasn't always certain, Alba's success in business should not, perhaps, be completely surprising if you look at the way she approached her acting career.Vanity Fair writes that Alba sought out "tentpole franchises" like "Sin City," "Fantastic Four," and the "Meet the Parents" series. She wasn't just an artist looking to express herself, but an businesswoman trying to put herself into successful franchises.

In Alba's acting career, this didn't always pan out. She was in plenty of flops. But it seems that Alba's attitude in approaching business has finally led her to an even bigger blockbuster hit than she could have hoped for in Hollywood.

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