Enthusiasm is infectious, unstoppable, a primal force of nature. Kind of like malaria. Those of us born with a natural immunity to it are called pessimists—or journalists. (The terms are pretty much interchangeable.) We are adept at spotting the canker in the rose, to paraphrase Shakespeare, and truth be told, we strain to see it even when it's not there.
That is why I feel sorry for any journalist who has to profile Jessica Alba, an actress of uncommon beauty who has become an extraordinarily successful and savvy businesswoman. Her enthusiasm is genuine, her success is earned, and her disarming smile and sweet demeanor make you ashamed of all the mean questions you wanted to ask.
Launched in 2012, Alba's Honest Company (she is a cofounder and the chief creative officer) has grown into a robust online subscription business that markets a whole host of household and beauty products positioned as safe and mostly naturally derived. Honest was valued by Fortune this year at $1.7 billion, making it a real live unicorn, a term generally reserved for start-ups valued at $1 billion or higher. (Though "real" and "live" are probably not the best modifiers of "unicorn.") Recent history shows that those hypothetical billions can evaporate into bankruptcy as fast as you can say "dot-com bubble." But Alba's business seems robust: Aside from its loyal online following, Honest works with powerhouse retailers, such as Ulta Beauty (for beauty), Target, Costco, Nordstrom, and Whole Foods, to name a few.
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