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Listen, Jessica Alba is going to be honest: The time spent running her billion-dollar brand of sustainable products from home while husband Cash Warren was also handling his business and two of their three kids were doing virtual schooling was, in the words of Gwen Stefani, "bananas," The Honest Company co-founder admitted in an email interview with E! News. "We all had to figure out how to coexist—my husband with his work, me with my work and my kids with school."
Still, she admitted, there was something kind of appealing about all of those extra hours with daughters Honor, 13 and Haven, 10, and son Hayes, 3.
Sure, they faced a lot of the same struggles as every other parent tearing their hair out logging onto classes and sending in assignments, Alba said, but "I will really treasure this time that we had at home together as a family and I feel extremely lucky that we were fortunate enough to be able to work from home, and so eternally grateful to all of the heroic and brave frontline workers."
Those reminders helped her get through the days of endless screens and homeschooling. "I really tried to make the most of that time with my kids," she explained, "and turn the challenging days into lessons."
And though you can never say enough good things about teachers (truly, never), you could argue Alba's kids got their best education from watching Mom in action.
Since 2012, the actress-turned-entrepreneur has been building her lifestyle empire piece by piece (or rather clean conscious diaper by disinfecting spray) and during the stay-at-home days of the coronavirus pandemic, the 40-year-old's kids got a crash course in Sustaining Your Own Empire 101.
"I always think it's good for your kids to see you practice what you preach—those are some greatest lessons that they can receive," said Alba.
While she's an in-demand speaker, sharing her tales of rejection and the years-long struggle to find investors that came before she took her company public this past May at a value of $1.44 billion, she admitted, "I have found that you can talk to kids until you're blue in the face (trust me, I have), but having them see you actually doing the work is much more powerful."
Ultimately, she continued, she hopes the decade of nonstop efforts that saw her working days, nights and weekends, plus remembering how she struggled to survive paycheck-to-paycheck in her early acting years, will demonstrate to her children that they, too, can chart their own course in whatever they see fit.
"I want my kids to believe that they can achieve whatever they put their mind to and I believe that's what I'm showing them through my work," Alba explained. "Through teaching them via my own experience, while it's certainly not always easy, they can see that anything is possible."
For her, The Honest Company's next venture boils down to more of everything. "Our community is our top priority so we are always keeping an ear to the ground with what our consumer is looking for," she shared when asked about what's next, having tackled baby, beauty, body and household products. "There are so many areas in wellness and at Honest, our focus is to show up for our customers in a holistic way and provide them with the best solutions for their lifestyle, no matter what stage of life they are in."
But her personal goal is to continue to lift others as she climbs.
During the process of going public on the stock market, "I learned that more than 2,000 companies went public in the U.S. between 2013 and 2020," she shared, "but only 18 of them were led by a female founder and CEO."
Every last one is "an absolute inspiration," she noted. "These women have paved the way for me and it's because of entrepreneurs and business owners like them that I was able to do what we did with Honest."
While she's particularly galvanized thinking of the minority founders at the top of their game, specifically name-checking StitchFix.com's Katrina Lake, "All women in business make me proud," she said, "especially those 18 women."
Having now joined their ranks, she intends to pay it forward. "It's my mission to give other women, including Latinx women, a seat at the table," said the California native, whose paternal grandparents were both children of Mexican immigrants.
And providing more opportunities for women in business is just a small chunk of what she hopes to accomplish with her ever-expanding platform. Throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, which came to a close Oct. 15, Alba made a point of sharing a few of her favorite Latinx actors and small business owners on her Instagram feed, such as designers Johanna Ortiz, Patricia Bonaldi and Silvia Tcherassi, along with Riverdale star Camila Mendes, actress Auliʻi Cravalho and You's Jenna Ortega.
"It's absolutely vital for me to highlight people from the Latinx community," explained the star, "we represent such a large portion of the population and yet we continue to be very underrepresented in the media."
So she made sure to keep her 19.3 million followers in the loop.
"As a Latinx woman myself, it's important for me to use my platform to give voices to those that need to be heard and shine a light on this community," stressed Alba. "It is my hope that by spotlighting these talented and inspiring people, I will help bring positive change and opportunity."
Nearly a decade of striving and succeeding has taught her more than a few lessons, including the sort of difference just one person can make. "We have to support each other and lift each other up whenever we can," she continued, "and this is one small way that I can use my platform to help spread awareness."