Want to talk to Jessica Alba? Try calling customer service at The Honest Company.

Jessica Alba has said that she doesn't pay the bills for The Honest Company, which she co-founded in 2011 and which makes earth-friendly health, beauty, and cleaning products. But any doubts about the depth of her involvement with her business were put to rest at Inc.'s recent GrowCo conference, during an on-stage conversation with The Honest Company's CEO, Brian Lee, and Inc.'s Lindsay Blakely.

Most surprising was Alba's revelation that yes, she takes customer service calls. No joke. If you're calling to complain about diapers made by Honest Company, you just might get Alba on the line. Not that she'll let on.

"I get so nervous," she says. "I don't tell [callers] who I am." She also sometimes listens in on calls and whispers comments to the customer service staff while they're on the phone, she said.

When asked what kind of boss she was, Alba said she was "energetic," to which Lee replied that Alba was a control freak. "With a lot of energy, though," was Alba's rebuttal.

Then an audience member asked how Alba instilled her values and ethics in her employees. "You hire people you respect, and then you hammer them over the head the same way every day until they're saying and thinking the say things that you do," said Alba, drawing laughs from the audience.

When laundry detergent pods designed in California exploded on East Coast doorsteps during a particularly cold winter, Alba and Lee rolled up their sleeves--although their method for fixing the problem wasn't particularly high-tech. "We sat in parking lots looking at better ways to ship," said Alba. "We would throw cardboard boxes around the parking lot."

Alba also originally owned the URL for thehonestcompany.com, for which she said she paid about ten bucks. But she dearly wanted honest.com, and tried enlisting her friends to buy it for her. "We tried to get everybody we knew to call and casually say, hey, how about that honest.com," said Alba.

It didn't work, and Alba had this idea that she could cut a better deal with the owner of the domain if she called herself. "Jessica came up to me and said, 'Why don't I just call him,'" said Lee. "I was like, actually, it goes the other way." 

In the end, the company paid $180,000 for honest.com, without revealing exactly who was buying the domain. Said Lee: "I still think if they knew it was Jessica Alba it would have been a million dollars."

Published on: May 13, 2015