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Jessica Alba: Honest is the policy, especially when it’s the name of your company

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The core promise of Jessica Alba’s brand, the Honest Company, is being questioned in a pair of lawsuits that question whether the company’s organic products are as organic as advertised. Alba, however, has fought back–but will the accusations sink the business?

Millions of women juggle career and motherhood, and do it quite spectacularly. But it takes a truly dexterous and focused person to balance the parenting of two girls under the age of ten, the demanding life of a major movie star, and a multi-million dollar company. In addition, Alba, 36, just announced her third pregnancy with producer Cash Warren in a charming Instagram posting.

Alba’s movie career has made her famous and rich, but it’s her business, The Honest Company, which manufactures and sells organic household and personal products, that redefined her as an eco-entrepreneur, and made her even richer–The Honest Company passed $300 Million dollars in revenue this year.

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But then came the lawsuits, and the negative press that followed them, and finally a failed sale–Unilever backed out of a deal to purchase the wounded company.

The core of the complaints alleged that the Honest Company fraudulently labeled dozens of home and personal care products as natural and plant-based and chemical free, and that its laundry detergents and surface cleaners contained a skin irritant that the company said it never used.

While Alba and CEO Chris Gavigan vehemently denied the charges, the damage to the reputation of the products was real. As an executive crisis communication company said to CNN: “To call something The Honest Company is a marketing coup, but it creates some extra concern when things go wrong.”

Both lawsuits were recently settled. The fraudulent label lawsuit was settled in New York in June for an undisclosed amount. The other suit was settled a week earlier in Los Angeles, when Honest agreed to pay $1.5 Million to the plaintiff, an unnamed consumer group.

Through it all Alba and The Honest Company have stood by its safety and effectiveness, and only time will tell if the company suffered any irreparable damage. As Alba recently told Entrepreneur Magazine, “It’s an ongoing process, and you’re always evolving and learning, and there’s not going to be any shortage of things that are going to try to keep you from fulfilling your dream and what you know you can do. You just have to push through. Those who push through are the ones that are going to be successful.”

Jeff

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