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Motherhood makes actress Alba in tech entrepreneur
by Staff Writers
San Francisco (AFP) Sept 10, 2012

Film star Jessica Alba swapped Hollywood for Silicon Valley on Monday, introducing fellow technology entrepreneurs to her new Internet firm, inspired by motherhood.

The star, known for roles in films including "The Fantastic Four", said it was becoming a mom that compelled her to create The Honest Company devoted to non-toxic, environmentally-friendly products for families.

"I wanted this company to exist for me as a parent," Alba said during an on-stage chat at a TechCrunch Disrupt technology conference.

"I found there are lots of toxic chemical in everything from laundry detergent to the mattress your baby is sleeping on."

Alba has two daughters, one four years old and another born just last year.

The 31-year-old star teamed with Christopher Gavigan, author of "Healthy Child Healthy World" to build The Honest Company and eventually convinced successful serial entrepreneur Brian Lee to sign on as a co-founder.

"They were absolutely determined to make it work," Lee said

Lee has a winning record of collaborating on start-ups with famous people that began with talking Robert Shapiro into being part of Legalzoom more than 10 years ago in a cold-call to the OJ Simpson defense team star.

The online legal documentation service has rocketed to financial success.

Lee also worked with reality television show star Kim Kardashian on startup ShoeDazzle, a website specializing in trendy shoes, handbags, jewelry and other fashion accessories.

"It is always great to work with celebrities because they have so much draw," Lee said.

"But, it really depends on how passionate they are about the product; it has to be something authentic," he continued. "When I heard Jessica speaking about The Honest Company for the first time, I knew it was going to work."

The Honest Company, based in the Southern California city of Santa Monica, launched in January as an online shop for diapers, detergents, shampoos and more made without ingredients harmful to people or the environment.

Lee described The Honest Company as a lifestyle family brand meant to represent "non-toxic, ultra-performing high-end products."

"Anything that touches your family, touches your baby, we want to be a part of," Lee said. "We are looking at everything from carpet and paints to things for your nursery. There are endless possibilities."

Word of The Honest Company has spread quickly in parenting circles and Alba flexed her star power on the start-up's behalf on television talk shows and in magazines.

"We found that our customers go way beyond moms," Alba said.

"I think the big corporations and big ways of doing things, we are sick of it," she continued. "That is the reason we are all here (at Disrupt). Every industry is going to be disrupted."

Hundreds of technology start-ups were sharing ideas and competing for attention from media and investors at Disrupt, which continues through Wednesday.

Alba said that the night-and-day work pace of a start-up is harder than her acting job where filming typically lasts from a few days to a couple of weeks.

She told of being back in the gym to ready for a new action film role, which also involves gun and fight training.

"I feel guilty," Alba said. "I am trying to get others at work to work out with me."

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