Actress Jessica Alba says she was never taken seriously as an entrepreneur as people identified her as “this girl in a bikini in movies kicking butt.” But the 34-year-old “Sin City” actress was chosen as the keynote speaker at a recent two-day Forbes magazine conference in New York City, showcasing female leaders in retail, entertainment and other industries.
Alba talked about her online venture, The Honest Company, at “The Women’s Summit: Power Redefined, Transforming the Rules of Engagement.” Alba's company sells eco-friendly baby products such as diapers and organic clothes, and is a hit with new moms. But the actress is not promoting the website using her celebrity status.
“I didn’t put my name and face on the company,” she said Thursday, writes Forbes. “I didn’t want it to be a celebrity-driven thing. The customers love how it’s transformed their lives.” The actress-turned-entrepreneur, who appears on the cover of the latest issue of Forbes, was one of several top women entrepreneurs and leaders who spoke at the conference.
The actress was dressed formally in a plain, no-frills, gray dress. She spoke of her transition from acting to retail and revealed how she felt when her company's valuation was pegged at $1 billion. “I feel like we’re jut getting our toes in the water. We just launched Asia. It feels like a small number compared with what’s possible.”
Alba also talked about why she chose to be an entrepreneur. When she was in the entertainment industry, all her acting decisions were “financially motivated,” said Alba. She knew that she would not be able to act forever, so she invested her money into her business. “I just needed to make as much money as quickly as possible, knowing it was going to go away at some point. I was very deliberate about it,” Alba said.
According to Forbes Woman publisher Moira Forbes, Alba's company has shown impressive growth in the last three years. The startup rose from $10 million in revenues in 2012 to $150 million in 2014, writes the magazine.
Other speakers included Donald Trump's wife, Ivanka Trump, and Spanx hosiery founder Sara Blakely.