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Entries in Jessica Alba Entrepreneur (2)

Monday
Jun182012

Salt & Nectar and Club MomMe Celebrate Mom Entrepreneurs

Although the term “mompreneur” is new, moms making executive decisions at home and in business is not. Obviously, we think moms make the most innovative and savvy business leaders. Who doesn't have a friend who dreamed up the best solution to a parenting problem we all face or a pal from your play group who was inspired by her kids to go out and make difference? 

Inspired by just these kinds of mom entrepreneurs, we decided to partner with fellow “reformed” lawyer, new mom, and entrepreneur Rachel Pitzel of Club MomMe to co-host the Entrepreneurship for Moms Panel Discussion + Networking Event as a way to bring together aspiring and established business women in a collaborative environment to share lessons, advice, and resources for creating your own company while raising a family. And thanks to the help of our sponsors UrbanSitter, The North Highland Company, and Tikkun Holistic Spa, we were able to turn this idea into a successful reality. 

On June 14, about 65 women gathered (including one who came all the way from Kentucky!) at Kidville Brentwood to learn from inspirational panelists Jessica Alba of The Honest Company, Erin Condren of ErinCondren.com, Leslie Newton of timi & leslie, Sandy Abrams of Moisture Jamzz and Your Idea, Inc., Galit Hadari Laibow of ink Public Relations, Jeannie Savage of Details Details, Laura Filipowicz of Bag Lady Promotions, and moderator and well-known life coach Christine Hassler. During the discussion, the panelists shared everything from their business inspiration to testing the merit of their ideas to launching it all to balancing everything with a glass of wine! Here are some of the insightful tidbits that we’re going to carry forward with us as we further develop our entrepreneurial goals and raise our boys (the rest of the fab conversation can be found on Twitter):

On finding inspiration.

If I'm going to be apart from my kids, I better be doing something I love. – Galit Hadari Laibow

I didn't invent anything, I just tweaked it. – Sandy Abrams

Women have super powers. Find creativity in the moment. – Christine Hassler

On finding balance.

I'm 100% at work, then I'm 100% at home. – Erin Condren

Give yourself a break and don't be so hard on yourself. – Galit Hadari Laibow

 Making it work in the beginning.

When people offer to help - say yes! – Erin Condren

The first two people I hired were my husband and my mom...cheap labor and trustworthy. – Sandy Abrams

Having a great support system to help execute your idea is essential. – Jessica Alba

Using social media to test the waters and grow your business.

Social media allows you to hone in on your target media. – Galit Hadari Laibow

If you're authentic, social media can be really powerful to connect with your community. It’s also a great way to tap your friends and family for help or test out whether an idea is a good one. – Jessica Alba

While social media and technology are great for free marketing, it's also important to make personal connections and be authentic. - Laura Filipowicz

Surprised to learn.

A business partnership is like a marriage. Hard! – Jessica Alba and Erin Condren

Being an employer is sometimes like being a therapist! – Leslie Newton

On being away from your kids

My mom is a childhood development expert and she always told me, "The tears stop the moment you're out the door and they are over it." - Erin Condren

We were completely inspired by the wide breadth of knowledge shared - everything from when to give up equity in your business and bring on a partner to how to handle the inevitable "But Mommy I don't want you to go to work." In fact, the intersection between the incrediably useful and incrediably personal is what we believe makes mom entrepreneurs (and this event) so special!

Not only did we want attendees to leave with helpful information from the panel, but we hoped too that they’d exchange ideas and business cards, making connections with like-minded women that will continue beyond the event.  We witnessed lots of warm smiles and engaged conversations as people noshed on delish food from Kitchit and Chef Amy Jurist, sampled sweets from SusieCakes, and sipped on refreshments from resource Natural Spring Water in beautiful surrounds created by The Vintage Table Co.

Finally, because we know it’s tough to juggle your own business while raising a family without losing your sanity, we wanted to treat the moms in the audience to a little pampering. So, they each enjoyed gift bags and raffle items that included, among others, custom ErinCondren.com notepads, Tikkun Spa and Kitchit gift certificates, Honest family essentials, EcoStore bath and baby products, Pop Chips, Luna Bars, copies of Your Idea, Inc., a timi & leslie diaper bag, a social media consultation from North Highland, a graphic design package from Pam Huber Designs, a consultation from Cameron Welborn-Wilson, styling by High Heel in a Haystack, and other products from Skinny Girl Daily, Oilo, Kokopax, Pong, and Belly Bandit.

Stay tuned for more information on event video clips and additional mompreneur news.... 

- The Sarahs

Photos by Brian Leahy.

Monday
Mar262012

Mompreneur 101 with Jessica Alba

From one mom to another, Jessica Alba rejoins Salt & Nectar today to share the lessons she’s learned about starting The Honest Company and offers meaningful advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs for getting started, turning a business dream into reality, and balancing it all with family life.

Image by Justin Coit courtesy of Honest.

Salt & NectarYou’ve mentioned how being a mom inspired The Honest Company mission and its products, but how has being a mom prepared you to run the business?

Jessica Alba: I think having to put yourself second is one key component. For me, being a mom is about putting my children and their wellbeing first. In running a business, it’s also never about my interests or me; it’s about the company and every decision we make is from the point of view of how to best serve Honest.  Therefore, being comfortable putting another’s interest above your own is something all moms and successful entrepreneurs have in common and both do on a daily basis. Multitasking is another way being a mom prepared me for starting my own business. You have to multitask as a parent to get anything done…from preparing breakfast and lunch at the same time as you’re getting your kids dressed and leaving for school, to giving them baths at same time you’re preparing for dinner, and more. When you’re starting a new business, you’re doing 50 different things at once and you’re wearing several hats. Parents can’t stop halfway through making their kids lunch or drop them off half way to school, just like in business you can’t start 50 things and not complete any of them.  Multitasking is key and doing it well is an art I hope to master one day.

Jessica enjoying having her daughters at work. Image courtesy Jessica Alba/Honest.

Salt & Nectar: Many moms have great ideas for a business concept but don’t know where to start and aren’t really sure if it’s something that could become profitable. What’s your advice for putting it in motion?

Jessica Alba: Surround yourself with experts in your field of interest and ask questions! Learn from them. After gaining as much knowledge as you can about the marketplace and the opportunity, you should then target partners who can help you convert your idea into something tangible. Be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses and try to build a team that complements your skill set.  

I am not an environmental specialist. I am mom who cares. So no matter how much research I did and continue to do on eco-friendly and non-toxic living, I am not an expert in biochemistry. I found an expert in that field for creating the formulations for the products I envisioned. I also found experts in forming start-up companies and running e-commerce businesses. As a mom who relies on convenient online shopping, I knew the Internet offered new opportunities to build a brand and get product out there. I partnered with Brian Lee [co-founder of LegalZoom and ShoeDazzle] and Sean Kane [former PriceGrabber.com executive], who built the business model around my idea.  Don’t try to do it all yourself.  

Once all these pieces are in place, you will then be in a proper position to raise capital and launch your company.  Despite being in a rough economic climate, there are still venture investors, private equity groups, banks, and individuals who are looking to give money to moms, women, and small businesses with unique ideas.   

Salt & Nectar: You told us that when you first pitched the idea of eco-friendly products, people suggested that you instead focus on clothing, fragrance, and lines that are more typical for celebrities to launch. Despite this resistance to your concept, you weren’t deterred. Any advice for moms for staying the course after they receive the first of possibly many “NOs”?

Jessica Alba: It ultimately took me three years to see Honest come to life. I think it’s a good thing if the road doesn’t prove to be easy because you’re forced to defend why you’re doing it, what your intentions are, and refine your strategy. If I didn’t get so much initial pushback, I wouldn’t be as confident about Honest being on the right path today. In hindsight, the rejections were a blessing in disguise and I feel it was through that experience that I was able to assemble the best team possible to bring Honest to life.  

Salt & Nectar: It’s no secret that the business world is male dominated. How did you prepare for and overcome the obstacles that women and moms are more likely to face when starting a company from the ground up?

Jessica Alba: It is intimidating. Because I’m an actress and because I’m a mom, I definitely encountered people who were like, “Oh geez, what does she know?” But I do know about diapers, I do know about housecleaning, and I do know that I want to put safe products on my child and use safe products in my house.  

And, yes, it’s a fact that men have historically dominated the business world across almost every sector and category. Hopefully we will look up in a few years and see a more diverse landscape. But not to be deterred, we also must remember that women currently control 89% of household spending. So I know we have a better understanding of consumer behavior and desires, giving us a competitive edge. Reflect this in how you position and speak about your company. Find the hard facts and real data to back up these sentiments that as women we know what households want and need. This will lay the foundation and help open the door, but once you step inside move beyond those statistics and deliver a forward-thinking, original business plan.

Salt & Nectar: What are your recommended must-have resources for mompreneurs (besides Mary Poppins)?

Jessica Alba: I often fantasize about finding more hours in a day. Truly, having a good support system and people that can give you reliable and constructive criticism—whether an online community, family and friends, your partner—is a must. My husband Cash has been integral in my development as an entrepreneur. He listens to me vent, gives constructive criticism, and often helps me look at things from other perspectives. It’s important to have people who challenge and question you but also motivate you to find solutions.  

Prepared in advance: Jessica's homemade food for Haven. Image courtesy Jessica Alba/Honest. Salt & Nectar: You must be great at juggling—handling your career as an actress, your work at Honest, and your role as mom. Any time management tips for other moms?

Jessica Alba: Because I start work the moment I wake up (I check my phone for new e-mails, my daily schedule, and other appointments), my mind is already moving a mile a minute and I find that I can’t focus on things in order to get out the door on time. So I pick my outfit out, Honor’s outfit out, and Haven’s outfit out the night before. I like Haven to have homemade baby food if I can do it, so I set aside time on Saturday or Sunday to make it for the entire week. For Honor, I cook her meals so I can use an ingredient for a few days. If I make broccoli or cauliflower, I make enough for different meals—sauté it in olive oil one day, serve it cold with cucumbers the next, blend it with marinara sauce or meatballs the following day, and finally stir fry it in ten minutes. It’s really about making efficient, creative use of your time.

Salt & Nectar: Although the company is only three months old to the public, you’ve been working on it for over three years. Based on the lessons you’ve learned as a mompreneur, what are your top three tips for moms out there looking to start a business? 

Jessica Alba: {1} Understanding the marketplace for your business is key. {2} Realistic business expectations and coming to terms with the fact that it may be too much of a lofty dream and tailoring it appropriately. {3} Sticking to your guns. If someone can persuade you to depart from you idea, it’s a sign that the business might not be the right fit for you.

Salt & Nectar: Any other secrets to your success as a mompreneur?

Jessica Alba:  One secret is recognizing, accepting, and embracing that your business is always going to be a work in progress. The initial resistance to my idea made me take this huge concept I had and hone and edit it along the way to better reflect the realities of the economy, the marketplace, and even the requirements of the product formulations. Recently I found e-mails that I exchanged with people a few years ago—even a year ago—about my ideas, and it’s funny how much things have evolved from then. The values of Honest are the same as what I always wanted to create, but the scope of our focus is different. And today it’s expanding faster in areas that I didn’t anticipate penetrating until next year, like personal care. Another tip, which goes hand-in-hand with the first, is be nimble, listen to your customers, and respond to them by investing in and delivering products they want. All companies need to have a real dialogue and connection with the people they are serving and they should be prepared to iterate on their product based on the feedback they receive.   

Salt & Nectar thanks Jessica for taking the time out of her busy schedule to share mom-friendly business tips. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about The Honest Company, visit its Web site, dialogue with the team on Facebook and Twitter, and watch the live video chats with Jessica and co-founder Christopher Gavigan on Vokle.