An Honest Conversation With Jessica Alba and Brian Lee of The Honest Company
As the keynote speakers at South by Southwest (SXSW) on Sunday, The Honest Company's Chief Creative Officer Jessica Alba and CEO Brian Lee offered an open, honest and frank assessment about their eco-friendly e-commerce startup's future goals, challenges and secrets to success.
The Honest Company, which launched in 2011, generated $150 million in revenue last year, triple the company's revenue in 2013, and is now valued at nearly a billon dollars. In the past six months, it's grown its employee base from 250 to 320, expanded its total number of SKUs from 450 to 625, and widened its wholesale retail presence from 2,800 to 3,500 stores, including Target, Whole Foods, Nordstrom, Costco, Buy Buy Baby and independent boutiques. While three-quarters of The Honest Company's revenue is generated online, 80 percent of that is via subscriptions to one of four monthly bundle options.
The discussion, which was moderated by Lindsay Blakely, Inc.'s Los Angeles-based features editor, started out with Alba talking about how the idea for the company came about. She explained that when she was pregnant with her first child, Honor, she got an allergic reaction from a laundry detergent, so she dove into research about toxic chemicals. But when she shopped for products she thought were better, it turned out that only the packaging was better, not the ingredients, Alba said. Therefore, she set out to create The Honest Company, which would offer people safe, non-toxic products.
People didn't get it at first, however, Alba said. "It took three years of people not getting it," she said. "It was too big of an idea — my pitch was long and confusing."