Actress Jessica Alba's face sells Revlon cosmetics. But will her stamp of approval sell green products?
Alba, 30, this week launched a Santa Monica-based startup called The Honest Company, named for her 3-year-old daughter Honor. Customers can buy monthly subscriptions for eco-friendly products she vets—which include diapers, bath and skin products and household cleaning products.
If the model sounds a lot like ShoeDazzle, the Kim Kardashian-fronted shoe subscription site, that's because Brian Lee is behind both projects. (Lee is also the founder of LegalZoom, with O.J. Simpson lawyer Robert Shapiro.) Other partners in the project: author and environmentalist Christopher Gavigan and PriceGrabber executive Sean Kane.
Alba said the idea for the company came to her shortly after Honor was born, when she had an allergic reaction to a detergent that was labeled baby-safe. The brand, like many products she realized she used every day, was full of chemicals.
So Alba—who welcomed a second daughter, Haven, in 2011—is selling biodegradable, safe, affordable products.
She told the New York Daily News: "'I would talk to my brother—he has two kids—and I talk to my sister-in-law and my cousins, they’re like, 'Well, we can’t afford that.' Then I was like, 'How in the world is a safer and healthier product only available to those in a higher tax bracket?' That was my big a-ha moment!'
She said she pitched it to her partners, and that it took three years to launch, a venture she described as "hands down" more nerve-wracking than the opening of a new movie.
She's also given the products a makeover.
No lipstick kisses, but the diapers are emblazoned with ice-cream cones, anchors, pink stars—even a skull-and-crossbones, which she said was an homage to designer Alexander McQueen.
"I’m like, just because it’s eco why does it have to be brown, beige or have a green leaf on it?" she said.
Lee said in November that he is a "big, big believer" in using celebrities to start companies—as long as it's the right celebrity.
He told a Beijing audience at TechCrunch Disrupt: "You have to have a true partnership with that celebrity. It's got to match, and almost match perfectly."
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