Jessica Alba, Issa Rae Talk Entrepreneurial Success and Millennials

Courtesy of Invision for American Express
Issa Rae (left) and Jessica Alba

Five women entrepreneurs candidly discussed the current business climate and offered advice to millennials and younger would-be business owners.

Female entrepreneurs Jessica Alba, Issa Rae and more came together to discuss what drives them, their missions for their businesses and the importance of engaging millennials in the business world.

Alba, founder of The Honest Company, was the keynote speaker of the morning held at The Springs in Downtown L.A.; and Insecure actress Rae, founder of Issa Rae Productions; Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint Inc.; and Debbie Sterling, founder and CEO of GoldieBlox, were all guest panelists at the American Express event.

“What’s great is we’re going to let all these women tell their stories, and I think their stories will be inspiring to women and people of color and really help lift them to achieve their full potential,” Susan Sobbott, president of global commercial payments at American Express and moderator for the morning’s panel discussion told The Hollywood Reporter.

Rae, the Golden Globe-nominated star of her show Insecure, which she also writes and produces, said she strived to create a platform that highlights black female friendships at their core to display a more diverse representation of black women that television has lacked in the past.

“I started thinking about myself and my friends and the kind of women that I identified with and wanted to see a reflection of that,” Rae said.

During her keynote talk, Alba reveled that while her company’s products aren’t the cheapest because they are made with "high-quality ingredients," her goal is to make her products as accessible to the masses as possible.

“I just felt like it shouldn’t just be people who live in the highest price-point that should be able to afford a better, healthier alternative,” Alba said of her beauty products, which are now available online and at retailers such as Costco.

Adding to the conversation, Stanford-graduate Sterling said she discovered the “pink aisle” in toy stores and wanted to present young girls with an alternative to toys like “ironing boards and dolls that look like street-corner prostitutes.”

“I almost dropped out [of Stanford] a million times, but I stuck with it because, to me, the idea of engineering and technology as enabling me to have the tools to invent anything and make the world a better place was something that was really empowering to me,” Sterling said.

On the topic of millennials and what that specific generation looks for in a business brand, Rae — a millennial herself and also a Stanford alumna — noted, “I think we value authenticity, first and foremost.”

Alba chose to stray away from discussing millennials specifically because “[Millennials] need to have a purpose when they’re going through their lives,” and added that they can be resistant to putting in the extra work past a traditional nine-to-five schedule.

“It’s important that I think everyone feels valued; everybody knows what they’re doing and has a clear perspective on how their job is adding to or contributing to fulfilling the mission," Alba said.

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