Jessica Alba may run a $1 billion business in the Honest Company and be one of Hollywood’s most recognizable actresses — but when it comes to parenting, she’s the first to admit that even she’s felt judged for her parenting skills.
“I know as a mom — and as a new parent — I felt confused. And I felt judged,” Alba, 34, tells Yahoo Parenting from a bright room in the sprawling Santa Monica headquarters of her rapidly growing lifestyle brand.
“Doesn’t it feel like the mean girl thing from high school sort of just transforms into adulthood through motherhood?” Alba says. “I think it has to do with hormones, right? I mean, this is the first time I’m actually saying this out loud, but that mean girl stuff happens when your hormones are going crazy. And then your hormones go crazy again when you’re pregnant and having a baby. And even when you’re breastfeeding. And I feel like maybe it’s just all those hormones, and people don’t know where to put their energy, so they just start clashing.”
Alba in the Santa Monica headquarters of The Honest Company, which launches a feminine care line on Wednesday. (Photo: Yahoo Screen)
In her 2013 book, The Honest Life, Alba — mom to daughters Honor, 7, and Haven, 3 — writes, “I breastfed as long as I could, but not as long as I wanted. I had to get back to work, and I wasn’t able to keep it going.” That feeling played into the decision to launch a feeding line at Honest Co. that equally supports breastfeeding and formula feeding, a teeming battleground among parents.
The Honest Company’s feeding line is geared toward breastfeeding and formula feeding. (Photo: Lisa Aileen Dragani for Yahoo Parenting)
“The overall community online was either one or the other. And a lot of my friends did both. So I wanted to develop a real dialogue, and create a line that’s for everyone,” she says. “So whether you want to breastfeed, or whether you want to supplement feed, we’re going to give you the best in both areas.”
But today Alba is meeting with Yahoo Parenting to speak of Honest Co.’s new feminine care line, featuring, among other products, thong-shaped panty liners and a tampon with a biodegradable applicator made out of sugarcane and certified organic cotton, and packaged in neither “boring” nor “loud and neon” boxes that look “like a cute candle” or “an artisanal chocolate.”
Jessica Alba’s Honest Company has expanded its line to include feminine care products such as panty liners and tampons. (Photo: Lisa Aileen Dragani for Yahoo Parenting)
The smart packaging is one of the reasons Honest Company has grown such a devoted following. Their diapers are eco-friendly and splashed with designs ranging from strawberries to boom boxes to skull and crossbones — a different take than the plain brown eco-diapers also popular in stores.
Alba says a lot goes into choosing those diaper designs, which are released seasonally. “It’s really fashion forward,” she says. “We look at fashion trends … and then we ask our kids what they like. And we poll our customers.”
Alba gave birth to her first daughter, Honor, when she was 27. (She welcomed her second daughter with husband Cash Warren three years later.)
When asked if she has advice for other young moms out there, Alba jokes, “Now I’m one of those moms that gives you too much advice that you may or may not want. Usually, you don’t want [it]. But I think the biggest thing is that what works for you, or what works for your friend, isn’t going to work for everyone … there is no right or wrong.”
“I have two very different girls. And the way that I parent one is different than the way that I parent the other,” she continues. “There’s no cookie-cutter way of going about it. And I think we as women — and as moms — we need to show younger girls that we support each other no matter what. And to try and not be so judgmental.”
Alba says that she’s “terrified” of when her daughters become teenagers, in part because of the body image pressure, which she says is not limited to Hollywood. “I think that body image and fitting in and conforming and ideas of who you need to be — that happens when you’re a teenager, no matter where you live. And I think that’s something that I’m not really looking forward to!”
Jessica Alba with her daughters Honor, 7, and Haven, 3. (Photo: Instagram/Cash_Warren)
What she does have to deal with today: Raising her kids in the public eye. But Alba says she doesn’t “really pay attention” to comments about her family on Instagram or elsewhere.
“I don’t know any different. I’ve been in the public eye for so long now, it’s just part of my day to day,” she tells Yahoo Parenting. “Do I like it? No. Is it weird? Totally weird. It’s never not weird. We just try to get on with our life and ignore it.”
Her kids have a very different life than she did growing up. Alba spent her childhood in and out of hospitals with serious asthma, which played a role in her catching pneumonia up to five times a year. Her family also moved often, thanks to her father’s Air Force career.
“I’ve faced challenges through my life. And I feel like it gives me the drive and energy to move forward and to create stuff. I come from the suburbs of Southern California. Nobody in my family is in entertainment. They’re like, ‘What do you want to do? That’s crazy,’” says the actress, who has Mexican and Native American roots. “So the fact that I was even able to do this, especially as a woman of color … I didn’t look like anybody else at any audition ever. And to play leading lady roles in movies, that was unheard of … [especially] at such a young age.” Alba was only 13 when she made her film debut in Disney’s Camp Nowhere.
“I think the more people that told me no, or the more people who looked at me sideways, the more I was driven to prove them wrong, and to pave the way and create a path for myself,” she says. “And in business, I’ve had the same challenges. People were looking at me like, ‘Oh, you’re an actress. What do you know about the business?’ But I knew intuitively that there was a need in the marketplace. And I believe I tackled it in a thoughtful way.”
Jessica Alba and Cash Warren have been married since 2008. (Photo: Instagram/Cash_Warren)
Alba says she leaned on her husband of more than 7 years, a producer and the co-owner of sock line Pair of Thieves, sold at Target.
“He’s a good listener,” she says. “He’s been an entrepreneur longer than I have. He helps me a lot. … From a business perspective, we both make physical stuff. And then from an entertainment perspective, we, you know, make fantasies. He does more documentaries, more thoughtful stuff than I’ve ever done. But we have a lot in common, weirdly.”
They also tag-team at home.
“I wouldn’t be able to do what I do if I didn’t have a great partner,” she says. “My husband’s loving and supportive. And he’s a great dad. And we’re very much a team.”
Forbes recently estimated Alba’s personal net worth at $200 million, putting her ahead of Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Jennifer Lawrence.
Still, her daughters don’t have an allowance. Honor’s “not quite old enough to do hardcore chores,” says Alba. “But she makes her bed and she cleans her plate and she has nice manners. Things like that. She doesn’t get paid for that. That’s just like, you have gotta be! That’s the way we are as a family.”
“When she gets older, we can talk about chores and money and stuff,” Alba laughs. “She’ll just blow it — on candy, probably.”