Jessica Alba Talks Transformation From Actress to Billion-Dollar Businesswoman

Jessica Alba was a box-office bombshell who went on to build a billion-dollar business, The Honest Company.

Now the 34-year-old mother of two is speaking honestly about the challenges of starting her company of non-toxic baby and homecare products.

“People just saw me as a girl in a bikini in movies kicking butts,” Alba said this week at Forbes’ third annual Women’s Summit in New York City. “It took three-and-a-half years of lots of like condescending nods.”

Alba appears on the cover of the latest issue of Forbes magazine, which featured America’s richest self-made women to become multimillionaires, or billionaires, before the age 50.

“A lot of people dismissed her as just another pretty face and instead she built this business from the ground up” said Moira Forbes, the executive vice president of Forbes Media.

The “Dark Angel” star co-founded The Honest Company in 2011 after she developed a rash during her first pregnancy and went looking for non-toxic household products.

Alba told Forbes it was her naysayers who helped clarify her vision.

“I needed people telling me no,” she said. “I needed people to not get it.”

“It’s something I had to learn as a woman in business…to ask for help and to not be afraid of criticism,” Alba continued. “There’s road blocks, you just have to figure it out. You have to surround yourself with really smart people.”

Alba – who is in the company of actresses like Reese Witherspoon, Blake Lively and Gwyneth Paltrow in starting their own lifestyle or health brands – admits that even she underestimated herself.

“I didn’t think I was smart for a really long time,” she said.

Asked if she thinks she is smart now, Alba replied, “You know, I’m not the smartest but I try. I’m on the cover of Forbes, that’s so cool.”

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