For a while, the Honest Company was considered one of the most highly anticipated potential IPOs. In recent weeks, it's become the most highly anticipated potential acquisition target.

The bottom line? Honest is considering all of its options.

A news report from the Wall Street Journal Thursday citing "people familiar with the matter" suggests that Honest has been in talks to sell itself to Unilever. The Journal reports that the talks are early stage but could value a potential deal at over $1 billion --"significantly less" than Honest's previous valuation of $1.7 billion. This follows an earlier report from Recode suggesting Honest was talking to either Unilever or Procter & Gamble.

Honest declined to comment on the reports. Last week, Unilever declined a request from Inc. to comment on the Recode story.

Since the early days of the company, founder Jessica Alba and CEO Brian Lee have been very vocal about the potential for an Honest Company IPO. "We believe that ultimately this could be a great public story where so many in our community could be shareholders as well," Lee said onstage back in 2014 at Inc.'s GrowCo conference. "As an entrepreneur, if you're going to start something, if you're going to put in the effort, dream big."

With a lackluster IPO market over the last year, it shouldn't be surprising that Honest is considering other avenues--particularly considering that in recent months, consumer product e-commerce companies racked up some big deals. Unilever picked up Dollar Shave Club in July for $1 billion and Walmart spent $3.3 billion buying e-commerce retailer Jet.com in August.

The nearly five-year-old Honest Company will pull in a reported $250 million in sales in 2016 of its nontoxic baby, home, and personal care products. To date, the company has raised $222 million.

Published on: Sep 15, 2016