Exclusive: Jessica Alba on How She is Staying True to Her Roots
Clean beauty is here to stay. While it sometimes seems like the term is now inescapable, ten years ago you would have been hard-pressed to find makeup with a clean, transparent ingredient list, much less for an affordable price. That's where Jessica Alba stepped in.
She shares, "I was the face of other beauty brands when I was younger, and I learned a lot about the business side of it. I always felt so connected to the consumer and I thought, 'gosh, it feels like all of these middle-aged white dudes are making so many decisions for us. Wouldn't it be great if a woman who is the consumer can create exactly what we want?'"
After giving birth to her eldest daughter, Honor Warren, and realizing just how difficult it could be to find baby products without harsh chemicals or synthetic fragrances, Alba took matters into her own hands, establishing The Honest Company in 2012. In just a few years, the brand's range includes home goods, skin care and makeup.
"You can't just make anything with any kind of chemicals, put sexy packaging together and say it's clean," Alba explains. "Consumers are educating themselves. If we could prove that there's a better way, which we have, I think it forces other companies to be more responsible and to step up."
In an exclusive interview with People Chica, the actress, entrepreneur and mother of three gives a glimpse into her journey with Honest Beauty and how she has managed to stay true to herself and her family while in the spotlight.
You made a conscious decision to branch out of acting and establish your own company. What did you learn about yourself through that process?
I think I really understood what I was capable of. I never really allowed myself to believe that I was smart, and it was the first time I really embraced my intelligence, my work ethic, my perseverance. Anybody's capable of creating anything and I don't think you really know that about yourself until you try.
What is your advice for Latinas and other women of color who want to start a company and succeed in such a competitive market?
Know what you want to do, and know what's already out there, and how you're going to do it differently. One of the big things I learned early on is your idea of how it's going to happen is so different than how it really happens. You may have these really strong ideas that it needs to happen this way and all of that. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow, and you learn as you go, staying humble and surrounding yourself with as many people that you respect as possible.
Let's talk about this new product that you're launching, the Fresh Flex Concealer.
We're launching a few products, but one of them I'm really excited about is the Fresh Flex Concealer. A confident person is the most beautiful person. If you have confidence, and you are a kind and loving person, those are always the most beautiful people that you're drawn to. I wanted to build the campaign around people's "flex" in life.
The models that we chose were not just professional models, but also my family members and my friends. We have a rocket scientist who's also a surfer, we have my friend who's an entrepreneur, she built a company called ClassPass, and she's an author. I just love how dynamic people are and I wanted to celebrate that.
And so as much as this is about the performance of the product—it has clean ingredients, it has long wear, it has skin care benefits—it's not trying to cover you up, but it's meant to really bring out the best in you.
You are very close to your kids. What have they taught you?
Everything. What haven't they taught me? They are an interesting reflection of [where I see] I can improve. Because when I get frustrated, I'm like, "oh, that's me. That's what I do." Or on the flip side, they're so pure in their essence and it just teaches me to be kinder to myself, too, sort of slow down and take in the moment.
When I was growing up, you sort of had to put a lid on who you really were to fit the mold of what other people want or society's expectations. For them, it's so opposite. The more unique you are, the better you are, and I really tried to celebrate that in them.
What do you think is the secret to having a stable marriage in Hollywood?
I don't know if it's necessarily in Hollywood as much as I just feel like "in life." I think you have to allow yourselves to grow and change, and to constantly check-in and try to find each other along the way. You can't ignore each other. You have to constantly communicate how you feel.
What makes you proud of being a Latina?
How resilient we are. Certainly, for me as a mestizo, our culture, our background, and our history were rewritten by the conquistadors. We've had to come back and find our own relationship with our identity. Many [of] our ancestors hid who they really were. Now, we can show up and be like, "No, I'm proud of who I am. I'm proud of the family that got me to where I am."
Which Latinos in Hollywood do you admire the most?
Anyone who can survive this brutal business. No one is making it easy for any of us. I'm proud of anyone who can do it and I want to work with all of them. America [Ferrera] and Eva [Longoria] and Sofia [Vergara] and Salma [Hayek] and Jennifer [Lopez]—we have kind of been doing this [for a while], so we all know each other. Whenever there's new talent that comes up, I'm so happy. I'm so proud.
Now there's Instagram so I can DM people, "Oh my god, I saw you in this, it was amazing, and I'm here for you." The more we really support each other and put our arms around each other, I think the more progress we're going to make.
What did you learn about beauty from your Latina grandmother?
My grandmother helped raise me. My mom didn't look anything like me, she was dying to get tan, and I always had brown skin. I look exactly like my grandmother. She was really about fresh, clean skin. She usually just used one product, like her lipstick was her blush and sometimes she put it on her eyes. Before she would take me to school in the morning, she would pinch my cheeks.
She always had a plant that she would break off to put on a cut or scrape. I think I'm turning into my grandmother, like doing little potions on my kids, with different plants. That's probably a bit of what Honest is about, like the calendula, chamomile, aloe vera, lavender, just different ingredients that are natural and putting them in all of these different products that can be good for your skin.