Jessica Alba on the past, present and future of The Honest Company

Four years after her appearance at Disrupt SF 2012, Jessica Alba took the Disrupt NY stage to discuss The Honest Company’s latest news.

Alba started by touching on the company’s early days, which was plagued with the usual technology issues faced by young startups, like website downtime and even occasionally having to process credit cards by hand.

Alba and CMO Chris Thorne then moved onto talking about the current state of the company, which is a thriving e-commerce store and a distribution network of more than 6,000 third-party stores like Target and Whole Foods.

When asked about the lawsuits facing the company, Thorne noted that the company is striving to be as transparent as possible with its customers.

In regards to the accusation that Honest’s organic baby formula contains unnatural ingredients, Thorne noted that the issue is about how the FDA has multiple methods to classify organic products, and thinks that consumer advocacy groups are using the company as a target for issues that should actually be taken up with the FDA.

Another product under fire was their mineral-based sunblock, which some said didn’t actually prevent sunburn. While not directly explaining the cause of the issue, Thorne said that the company’s response was starting an educational campaign around how to best use the product, as well as a slight reformulation to increase the SPF from 30 to 50.

The talk then shifted to the company’s new cosmetic line, Honest Beauty. The startup recently opened their first retail store in Los Angeles, and when asked why, Alba described how Honest wanted to take control of a customer’s shopping experience themselves, instead of leaving it to a third-party department store. Alba also said they are hoping to soon expand to another location in Los Angeles, followed by stores in New York, since these are their two biggest markets.

When asked about an IPO, both Alba and Thorne joked that their big announcement today is that they would be continuing their policy of not commenting on financial matters pertaining to a future IPO or acquisition.

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