Not just a girl in movies: Jessica Alba and her $1B company

jessica alba forbes women

Nobody would take Jessica Alba seriously.

She had a 50-page presentation that detailed the chemicals found in consumer products like detergents, carpets, makeup and mattresses. She had done the research, had the statistics, and was looking to build a company with home products that were safe, healthy, affordable and -- this was important too -- really cute. She pitched and pitched, but was met with skepticism.

It wasn't her ideas that were the problem.

"People just saw me as this girl in movies who wore bikinis and kicked butt," she told the crowd Wednesday at the Forbes Women's Summit in New York. More than that, she said she didn't think she was smart for a really long time, and people treated her that way.

She doesn't feel that way anymore.

It helps that her business, The Honest Company, which she co-founded in 2011, is now valued at $1 billion. And it's growing.

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"I feel like we're just getting our toes in the water," Alba said, saying $1 billion feels "like a small number for the opportunity of what's possible."

That's true: The consumer goods market in the U.S. is estimated at nearly $420 billion and is the largest in the world, according to 2012 data.

When The Honest Company launched, it offered 17 products for laundry, dishes, diapers and wipes. The company now has 120 products -- which are all-natural and non-toxic. It just expanded into Asia, with more markets on the horizon.

"This was a risk, starting this company," she said. "It was something that I didn't think I'd ever do and I still can't believe I'm here, and it happened, and this is real."

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