Actors Pivoting to Entrepreneurship
They may be better known for their hit records or award-winning performances on screen, but many celebrities also have built successful businesses. Here's how five Hollywood A-listers pivoted from entertainment to entrepreneurship.
1. Jessica Alba
An allergic reaction to a laundry detergent gave Alba, star of films such as Sin City and Fantastic Four, the idea for The Honest Company. Launched in 2011, her startup sells more than 100 nontoxic products, like diapers, shampoo, and household cleaners, online and in retail locations including Whole Foods and Target. Despite lawsuits claiming the company misled customers about ingredients in some products, as well as another suit charging its sunscreen was ineffective, the company says it grew revenue to $300 million last year and now has a $1.7 billion valuation. By all accounts, Alba is an active co-founder. "I'm always trying to learn and grow--but I do have drive," she told Inc. in June 2017. "I guess I'm sort of relentless."
2. George Clooney
Clooney has received two Academy Awards, but perhaps his biggest win wasn't for his film work: In July, the actor sold Casamigos, the tequila company he co-founded, to Diageo for $700 million in cash up front and up to $300 million more if the company hits sales goals over the next 10 years, according to Diageo. Clooney developed the tequila with nightlife entrepreneur Rande Gerber, and in 2013, the two partnered with real estate mogul Mike Meldman to launch the company. Casamigos says it sold 120,000 cases of the liquor in 2016 and was on track to sell 170,000 this year.
3. Reese Witherspoon
The Oscar winner is a serial entrepreneur, starting three companies in recent years. In 2012, Witherspoon co-founded Pacific Standard, a production company that has developed hit movies including Gone Girl and Wild. Three years later, she launched clothing and lifestyle brand Draper James, which received a $10 million investment from Forerunner Ventures and made a deal in May to sell in Nordstrom stores. (The companies have not released sales figures.) Her newest venture is multimedia firm Hello Sunshine, which opened for business in 2016 and aims to bring female-centric literary properties to TV and film. Hello Sunshine currently is set to produce Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Something in the Water, the first novels of two female authors.
4. Sofia Vergara
One of America's highest-paid TV stars, Modern Family's Vergara is also the co-founder of the multimillion-dollar licensing, production, and marketing company Latin World Entertainment and digital media company Raze. Vergara and co-founder Luis Balaguer launched the first company in 1994 when they saw that few Latino talents had their own agents. Now the company represents some of the biggest stars in Spanish-language television, such as Alejandra Espinoza and Rafael de La Fuenta. Raze, which Vergara founded with Balaguer as well as former president of Fox TV Studios Emiliano Calemzuk, launched in January and is dedicated to producing "Latin-centered" content across multiple platforms. Its first show, Her Name Was Dolores, the Jenn That I Knew, premiered on Univision in January and was produced in partnership with Dhana Media and BTF Media.
5. Jessica Simpson
Simpson went from pop star to reality television sensation before pivoting to entrepreneurship in 2006. That year, she co-founded the Jessica Simpson Collection, a shoe line, with her mother Tina Ann Drew. After that took off, the business expanded to women's clothing, jewelry, and sunglasses. Most recently, Simpson launched a home goods collection and a line of baby clothes. More than 10 years in, her brands bring in about $1 billion a year, according to Forbes.