Jessica Alba has come a long way since her Honey days. About three years ago, she had an itch to do something more than just act. An allergic reaction to laundry detergent made her realize that a lot of the products we buy contain toxins, and she decided that she wanted to do something about it.

As Alba explained at the New York Times DealBook conference in New York City on Thursday, she started off with pretty lofty goals. She wanted to make everything healthier and safer, especially for babies, and she wanted to do it all at once.

So she approached serial entrepreneur Brian Lee with a 35-page deck that ran the gamut of her many ideas. Originally Lee brushed Alba aside, saying the concept wasn't that promising. But when she approached him again 18 months later with a refined pitch, he was convinced. And so the two joined forces and launched The Honest Company to "create a non-toxic world," starting with diapers and wipes.

Now the company is thriving, which Alba admits can be attributed in part to her celebrity. "I have an authentic relationship with the media," she said. "I've been doing this for 20 years."

Alba was able to leverage those relationships to help bring The Honest Company into the limelight. For instance, when the company first launched its one-for-one charity project with cribs--for every crib purchased, one would be donated to a child in need--Ellen Degeneres called Alba up to ask her to come on her show. Immediately after the show aired, the cribs sold out.

But while her fame has definitely helped the company succeed, Alba also pointed to some frustrations that come from it. "People think it's an endorsement," she said. "They don't know I came up with the idea."

Alba also admitted that she sometimes misses being an actress with all the hard work required of being an entrepreneur. "Being in business is so stressful," she said. "Meetings are so long. It's like pitching your movie all the time."

Published on: Dec 11, 2014