Jessica Alba on Startups (and Her Spirit Animal)

They told her to do a fragrance like all the other celebrities. 

But actress and entrepreneur Jessica Alba wouldn't be dissuaded from pitching The Honest Co. for nearly three years before someone finally said yes.

That yes came from Brian Lee, The Honest Co. CEO who joined Alba, sporting her new shorn locks, at SXSW Interactive Sunday.

When the Sin City actress was pregnant with her first child Honor, Alba experienced an allergic reaction to a laundry detergent and began researching the chemicals found in laundry products—even ones that purported to be safe and gentle. When she couldn't find any, she set about to create one.

Although Lee said no the very first time she pitched him, he identified with Alba’s struggle to find better products for her baby, this time having just welcomed his first child.

“I saw the way my wife changed her behavior, making organic purees for the baby,” Lee says.

So, The Honest Co. launched in the same fashion that many successful products have, fulfilling a void that existed in the market.

Her original name for the company? "Love and Honor," Alba says. "But that sounded too bridal." They arrived at the name The Honest Company.

"We're not a perfect company," Lee says. "But we're an honest company and we want to be as open as possible."

And because every SXSW panel should have a little element of the odd, an audience member asked Alba what her spirit animal was. "Whoa, I'm in Austin," she said with a laugh. Her answer: a unicorn. 

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Journalist, podcaster and southpaw Shelby Skrhak is the director of digital content and social media for She's co-host of the SUCCESS Insider and SUCCESS Talks podcasts. Before joining SUCCESS magazine, Shelby launched the weekly suburban newspaper Plano Insider, and covered topics ranging from cops and courts to transportation and fashion. Her handwriting should be a font.

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