Jessica Alba Learned to Tune Out Naysayers When Building Her Empire: 'I've Had to Pave My Own Way'

"I just knew in my heart that this company should exist," the Honest Company founder tells PEOPLE

Jessica Alba built her wildly successful Honest Company from the ground up — but not everyone had confidence that the actress and businesswoman could achieve her dream.

In one of this week's cover stories, Alba opens up to PEOPLE about how she combated naysayers who didn't believe she could run a prosperous company.

"I love facts and data, so whenever there's a naysayer with a laundry list of why everything shouldn't happen, I love asking questions. 'Oh really? Why couldn't this work?' And then you collect all the data that you need to come in and hit them over the head with it," says Alba, 40. "It's also the way you deliver it. Because if you deliver it with a smile, it's just facts."

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Before launching the brand in 2012, Alba says she "absolutely" envisioned how big it could become someday.

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Jessica Alba. Mike Rosenthal

"I actually had the biggest vision right away, and then I had to bring it down to earth," she says. "I just knew in my heart that this company should exist. If people knew that they could take their health and wellness into their own hands and make better choices, why wouldn't you? The hardest part was probably getting it off the ground."

Alba adds: "Every detail mattered. So I didn't sleep very much, and worked weekends and obsessed."

Watch the full episode of People Cover Story: Jessica Alba on or on the PeopleTV app.

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Mike Rosenthal

The Honest Company sells a variety of sustainable products ranging from beauty to baby products to household cleaning items. It currently has an initiative with Baby2Baby to support families in need during the back to school season. For every sanitizing or disinfecting product purchased, Honest is donating a hand sanitizer to an underserved child through Baby2Baby.

The brand also announced a new sustainable packaging initiative for Honest Beauty featuring 100 percent recyclable cartons using 100 percent tree-free paper made from upcycled sugarcane by-product. Furthermore, Honest is launching the Daily Defense Collection — a new line of skincare products designed to defend skin against environmental aggressors.

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And while Alba has found success both as an actress and in the world of business, she knows what it's like to struggle. "I know what it's like to live paycheck to paycheck, and it's not freaking fun," she says.

"So I just had a different mentality or a different drive," she continues. "I've had to pave my own way."

Alba — who shares children Honor, 12, Haven, 9, and Hayes, 3, with husband Cash Warrentook The Honest Company public in May. The IPO valued her company at $1.44 billion.

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Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

For more from Jessica Alba, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

As for the advice she would give to those wanting to take a big chance like her, "I didn't feel like I had anything to lose," says Alba.

"No one believed I could do it in the first place," she continues. "If you're doing something that you haven't done, or has never been done before, what do you really have to lose?"

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