For ac­tress, mother and skin­care mag­nate Jes­sica Alba, lux­ury is about peace of mind— know­ing that the things you buy won’t hurt you or the earth, writes Madeleine Ross

Singapore Tatler - - CONTENTS -

For ac­tress and beauty mag­nate Jes­sica Alba, lux­ury is about peace of mind—know­ing that the things you buy won’t hurt you or the earth

es­sica alba never en­vi­sioned her­self as a busi­ness mogul. She has al­ways been con­scious of the en­vi­ron­ment (“I think it’s a gen­er­a­tional thing, this type of aware­ness,” she says), but she was never par­tic­u­larly en­tre­pre­neur­ial. The Dark An­gel ac­tress, who be­came a fix­ture on Hol­ly­wood sex­i­est peo­ple lists af­ter lead roles in hit movies such as Honey (2003) and Sin City (2005), was con­tent with her act­ing ca­reer un­til she gave birth to her first child. Honor, born in 2008, changed every­thing. Hav­ing suf­fered from acute al­ler­gies and asthma as a child, Alba was de­ter­mined to raise her daugh­ter in an en­vi­ron­ment free from the ir­ri­tants and chem­i­cals com­mon in baby, house­hold and per­sonal care prod­ucts. She searched for goods de­rived from nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents but found her op­tions shock­ingly limited. She won­dered: how, when her con­tem­po­raries were so con­cerned about the health of the planet and of them­selves, there were no eth­i­cally pro­duced, safe al­ter­na­tives to the syn­thetic, cheaply for­mu­lated goods on the mar­ket? Alba founded the Hon­est Com­pany four years later. In the six years since 2012, her start-up has be­come a house­hold name, with a staff of over 300 and a re­cent val­u­a­tion of more than US$1B. Her brain­child pro­duces baby prod­ucts, per­sonal care prod­ucts, vi­ta­mins and house­hold clean­ing prod­ucts that are ve­gan and or­ganic where pos­si­ble, and free of sub­stances like BPA, sil­i­cones and poly­eth­yl­ene gly­col. Hon­est only caters to the US mar­ket at present, but Alba says she “would love to ex­pand into Asia”. “Ev­ery step of the way has been a daunt­ing en­deav­our,” says the mother of three on the phone from New York, where she is on a busi­ness trip. The 37-year-old Cal­i­for­nian speaks calmly and de­lib­er­ately. Her man­ner is more se­ri­ous, more pro­fes­sional than her on-screen per­sonas might have one be­lieve. (Alba is of­ten cast as a sexy femme fatale or a sweet girl next door.) She is the first to ad­mit her jour­ney into con­sumer goods has been chal­leng­ing. “When it comes to start­ing some­thing you’ve never done be­fore, you kind of have to fake it un­til you make it be­cause you don’t know if it’s go­ing to work and you don’t know if any­one is go­ing to be in­ter­ested in your busi­ness. You have to learn as you go.” As founder, she guides strat­egy, mar­ket­ing and prod­uct in­no­va­tion, and al­ways per­son­ally tests the prod­ucts be­fore they hit the shelves. “We have skin­care chemists on staff in my of­fice so that when they make prod­ucts, I can go down the hall and poke around and change things. I can say, this is too creamy or not creamy enough, I want the serum to look like this or feel like this or smell like that, so I help de­velop stuff with the chemists right there. That’s what’s re­ally spe­cial about what we do.” Hon­est is one of many nat­u­ral skin­care brands, such as Drunk Ele­phant, Amala and Su­sanne Kauf­mann, that have shot to promi­nence in the past few years. But top­tier main­stream brands—ones you might see in the duty-free sec­tion at in­ter­na­tional

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