The Most Inspiring Millennial Moms
The Natural: Jessica Alba
Hometown Los Angeles Her kids Honor, 6, and Haven, 3
When Jessica Alba first pitched her idea of a nontoxic line of baby and household products to potential partners, she watched as their eyes glazed over. They likely wish they'd paid more attention: Just three years after Alba launched The Honest Company (honest.com) in 2012, it's valued at nearly a billion dollars, making the 34-year-old actress and mom of two a major player in the baby-and-kid market.
From Day 1, customers have snatched up the company's beautifully designed, eco-friendly products, such as its best-selling diapers and scented baby wipes, as quickly as they're churned out. "It's crazy how fast we're growing," says Alba from the company's Santa Monica office. "We'll have almost 400 employees by summer. I'm working with one of my office managers to figure out where we're going to fit everyone!"
The idea came to Alba while she was pregnant with Honor. Alba was testing a baby detergent, and she broke out in a nasty rash. "That definitely opened my eyes," she says. "And the more I sought out products that didn't have questionable chemicals in them, the more I found it was hard to find things that were effective and also affordable."
Alba's business model ticks every box her millennial customers hold dear: sustainability, transparency (all ingredients are clearly listed), and a personal connection. She and her business partner train each of their customer-servicereps -- sometimes jumping on the calls themselves; they've even sent handwritten notes after shipping mishaps.
Most important, Alba is the real deal. When not filming (upcoming pics include the dark comedy Barely Lethal and a horror film, The Veil) she's in the office daily. "Or I'm in my kitchen, trying out essential oils for different cleaners," she says. The company is truly a family affair: Her kids have done everything from test diapers to pick scents for shampoo.
With The Honest Company and her daughters both growing rapidly, achieving any semblance of balance can be a challenge. "Some days I feel like I balance more than others," she says. "But if I can get in a workout, put in a productive amount of hours at the office, pick my kids up from school, make them dinner, give them a bath, put them to bed, and then have a glass of wine? That's a really productive day."
-- Written by Jancee Dunn
The Voice of Peace: Alicia Keys
Hometown New York City Her kids Egypt, 4, and Genesis, 5 months
The "Girl on Fire" singer hasn't used her amazing vocal range just to heat up the pop and R&B charts and win 15 Grammys. Instead, Alicia Keys, also a mom of two boys, has worked her talents to inspire women everywhere to be their best self and give back along the way. "There's too much darkness in the world," she has said. "Everywhere you turn, someone is trying to tear someone down in some way; everywhere you go, there's a feeling of inadequacy or a feeling that you're not good enough. I want to bring a certain light to the world."
And that she has. Keys, 34, first cocreated her organization Keep a Child Alive 11 years ago, after visiting Africa and seeing the dire need for lifesaving HIV treatment, care, food, and support services for children and families. She's helped raise more than $32 million to aid those in Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, and India affected by AIDS.
The New York native is very involved in the organization -- she plans the annual Black Ball fund-raiser and brought awareness to the cause through the 2012 documentary Keep a Child Alive With Alicia Keys.
As if fighting AIDS wasn't a big enough pursuit, while pregnant with Genesis, Keys -- who counts Michelle Obama, Oprah, and the late Maya Angelou as positive influences -- felt compelled to launch the "We Are Here" peace movement (named after her song that includes lyrics such as: "How we gonna save the nation, with no support for education?") in September 2014. Its goal is to create an empowered global community. (Visit weareheremovement.com for more information.)
But as the multi-platinum artist and determined mom has already proven, she can do anything she sets her mind to. "Failure isn't an option," Keys has said. "I've erased the word fear from my vocabulary, and I think when you erase fear, you can't fail."
-- Written by Patty Adams Martinez
The Change Maker: Chelsea Clinton
Hometown New York City Her kid Charlotte, 7 months
When Chelsea Clinton sat down with Elmo to read him a book earlier this year, she'd already had some practice getting into a kid state of mind. The First Daughter, who grew up in the White House, famously became a mom herself last September, when Charlotte Mezvinsky was born. Clinton, 35, has publicly expressed the joy she gets from reading to Charlotte every night, but she wasn't simply sharing her appreciation for a good book with the Sesame Street star. Clinton was promoting Talking Is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing, a campaign to improve childhood-vocabulary development launched by Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of the Clinton Foundation (where she works with her parents) and Next Generation, a nonprofit organization that works to improve the health and well-being of America's kids. "I have always had a sense of optimism that the world really can get better," said Clinton, vice-chair of the Clinton Foundation.
Clinton shares her parents' passion for public service and philanthropy. Joining the Clinton Foundation in 2011 after working several years in the private sector and pursuing her education (she holds a doctorate in international relations from Oxford University) was a smart, if not an easy, decision. "It's frustrating, because who wants to grow up and follow their parents?" Clinton has said. "I've tried really hard to care about things that were very different from my parents. It's a funny thing to realize I feel called to this work both as a daughter -- proudly as a daughter -- and also as someone who believes that I have contributions to make."
Clinton is motivated to bring attention to issues that "existed too long in the shadows." (One way she's spreading the word is on Twitter, @ChelseaClinton.) With mom Hillary, Clinton coleads No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project, to advance and inspire the full participation of women and girls in the U.S. and around the world. "The goal is to ask: If women and girls were equal participants culturally, politically, socially, what would their countries look like?" she's said. Then there's her commitment to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which fights childhood obesity in the U.S., and the Clinton Health Access Initiative, which helps to provide lifesaving medicines, including those for diarrhea (the second-leading killer of children under 5) to the developing world.
One thing is for certain: Being a new mom is not slowing her down. If anything, motherhood is driving her to work even harder: Clinton's said: "One of the things that I deeply hope for is that the conversations that [my daughter] will be having with her friends and her communities will be radically different and unimaginable from the ones that we are having today, because the world will look very different."
-- Written by Melissa Bykofsky
The Modern Domestic Goddess: Brit Morin
Hometown San Francisco Bay Area, California Her kid Ansel, 6 months
Give an inspired girl a glue gun, and there's no end to what she can create," jokes Brit Morin, 29. As the founder of Brit + Co, a DIY crafts and editorial website (brit.co), Morin's redefining the image of millennial homemaker.
Since its start in 2011, the site, which aims to enable women in the digital generation to create, has grown nearly 300 percent per year and now reaches a community of almost 30 million unique users. And Morin's newly released Homemakers serves as a domestic handbook, addressing how technology and the opportunity to make products at home (we're talking wineglasses and toys made via 3-D printing) will continue to elevate the role of moms. "They want to be creative, just like any other woman," says Morin. "A mother should have the option to do something she loves to make money -- or simply because she wants to create." Brit + Co now provides the skills for moms to start a business. Says Morin: "She can be a CEO in the traditional sense but also the CEO of her home."
-- Written by Maryn Liles
The Deal Maker: Collin Morgan
Hometown Boise, Idaho Her kids Nicholas, 13, Ayden, 10, and Piper, 8
After racking up $60,000 in credit-card debt, Collin Morgan, 33, turned to couponing to help put groceries on the table for her three young kids. Seven years later, she's at the helm of one of the most popular deal blogs, Hip2Save (hip2save.com) filling in her 1 million-plus monthly visitors on how to cut costs on everything from coffee to laptops. "The deals she posts have saved me hundreds of dollars just on diapers," says Joni Collums, a mom of five in North Liberty, Iowa. "I watch the videos on her site and relate to her."
Morgan's initial couponing was rocky. "I spent way too much time and didn't end up saving much money," she admits. Once she got into her self-described coupon groove, she felt empowered to start a blog with the tagline "not your grandma's coupon site," to help get others over the hump. After a year, traffic on the blog picked up and by 2010, she earned enough money from blogging and smart budgeting to pay off her credit-card debt. She receives ad revenue from the site and additional small fees from some companies and manufacturers she promotes.
Morgan went on to score a partnership with NBC's Today.com, and manufacturers began to offer her exclusive savings for her readers; now with up to 60 posts daily in busy seasons, she employs 12 moms to help her stay on top of deals. "I appreciate how easy the site is to navigate," says Chasity Munn, a Houston mom. "She takes the hassle out of couponing."
-- Written by Karen Cicero
The Baby-Gadget Guru: Chelsea Hirschhorn
Hometown Miami Beach, FloridaHer kid Hunter, 21 months
We want our babies to be happy. If that means using tools such as NoseFrida: The SnotSucker to clear a stuffed nose or The Windi to relieve an infant's gas, parents are willing to try. "My generation craves efficiency," says Chelsea Hirschhorn, 31, who last year became president and CEO of FridaBaby (fridababy.com), which makes these hit products.
That these items have mass appeal is thanks to Hirschhorn's vision for their potential. Her friend Kaisa Levine, a native Swede, brought her country's baby nasal aspirator to America and gave it its memorable new name. Hirschhorn helped the company's founders increase exposure and distribution, doubling sales. After her son's birth, Hirschhorn knew what to launch next: a perineal irrigation bottle in a travel bag, The Momwasher.
And as her son, Hunter, toddles toward potty training, Hirschhorn's ready to talk Fridet: The Buttwasher. (It does what you think.) All items are about $15, and are explained with simple, graphic instructions. "Innovation," says Hirschhorn, "is clearing the fuss."
-- Written by Jessica Hartshorn
Rosie Pope Gets Personal
The Pregnant in Heels star gives you the inside scoop on parenting.
The Military Mom on a Mission: Lisa Hallet
Hometown DuPont, Washington Her kids Jackson, 9, Bryce, 7, and Heidi, 5
Each Saturday at 9 a.m., Lisa Hallett, 34, arrives at DuPont PowderWorks Park. She joins a circle of 100 to 200 runners for a moment of silence. Each person then calls out the name of a military-service member who was killed during the 13-year War on Terror. Then, the person names the loved one in whose honor he or she is running. In Hallett's case, it's Army Captain John L. Hallett III, her husband who was killed in action in Afghanistan on August 25, 2009. After a short prayer, the runners push off.
This is the weekly ritual of Wear Blue: Run to Remember (wearblueruntoremember.org), the national nonprofit Hallett cofounded with fellow Army wife Erin O'Connor in 2010 that aims to honor the American military through running. "When life throws us tragedy, we want to quit," Hallett says. "When John died, I had a 3-year-old, a 1-year-old, and a 3-week-old. I remember a day when Jackson and Bryce were screaming in the tub, Heidi was screaming in her bouncy seat, and I was crying, thinking, 'How the hell am I going to do this?' But you push through it. Even now, when moments are terrible, I think, 'We are so going to survive this.'"
-- Written by Kara Corridan
The Fund-Raising Pioneer: Desiree Vargas Wrigley
Hometown Chicago Her kids Aedan, 11 months, Griffin, 3; stepmom of Danielle, 9
Shortly after Hurricane Katrina left thousands of families homeless, Desiree Vargas Wrigley received an e-mail asking for participation in a charity drive. "I felt that I needed to do more," recalls the Yale graduate. That's why, seven years ago, Vargas Wrigley and new friend Ethan Austin created GiveForward.com, a website that allows individuals to raise money to rebuild after a natural disaster, cover medical expenses, or even grant the wishes of sick children. It's now helped more than 100,000 families raise $123 million -- with 2.3 million unique visitors and 3.7 million visits per month.
Of the donations, GiveForward takes 5 percent for operating expenses and another roughly 3 percent goes to the online-payment provider (donors can opt to cover those fees). "It's important to me that as much of the donations as possible stays with families who are in need," says Vargas Wrigley, 33.
In 2014, about $6,000 went to 11-year-old Isaac Garcia, of Salt Lake City. He has a rare form of macular degeneration that will make him legally blind, probably by high school. Upon hearing his diagnosis, he asked his mom, Kelli Lucas, if he could see Niagara Falls. To fund the trip, Lucas's husband, Rick, set up a GiveForward account. "I was blown away by the donations from strangers," says Lucas. They not only fulfilled Isaac's wish to visit Niagara Falls, but he was also able to go to Italy in February.
-- Written by Karen Cicero
The Ultimate Soccer Mom: Amy Rodriguez
Hometown Lake Forest, California Her kid Ryan, 1
Most world-class female athletes forgo parenthood until they finish their athletic career. Not Amy Rodriguez. The 28-year-old forward for the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team became pregnant in her prime, forcing her to miss the entire 2013 season.
Had she chosen to retire right then, Rodriguez would have already amassed a remarkable résumé: She won her second Olympic Gold Medal with the U.S. team (ussoccer.com) in 2012 and a silver at the 2011 World Cup. She once scored five goals in a single qualifying match, appeared in more than 100 contests for the U.S. team, and led USC's team to its thus far only championship.
But Rodriguez wasn't ready to hang up her cleats. With the help of a physical therapist, a trainer, and a strength-and-fitness coach, she was back on the pitch in just four months. "I was super-committed, but I also had a ton of help," she says.
Rodriguez has arguably been even better since her return. Last season, playing for FC Kansas City, she notched 13 goals in 22 games. Her heightened conditioning helps her make endless runs toward the goal, but she also credits becoming a mom: "It's helped me be more composed and relaxed on the field," she says. She'll need all the serenity she can muster in Canada this June, where the No. 2-ranked U.S. team hopes to win its first World Cup since 1999.
Raising a toddler while trotting the globe is a constant challenge -- she alternates caring for Ryan with her husband, Adam, a physical therapist -- but Rodriguez embraces her status as a role model to women and girls. "I'm proof that if you're devoted and put your mind to it, you can do anything," she says. "We all have the inner strength to be supermoms."
-- Written by David Sparrow
The Start-Up Queen: Jenny Fleiss
Hometown New York CityHer kids Daniella, 3, and Jake, 3 months
Jenny Fleiss was in her second year at Harvard Business School. A classmate's sister was shopping for a designer dress and this sparked an idea: What if women could rent designer dresses online? Along with classmate Jennifer Hyman, she ran a trial to see if women would actually pay for the service. "When we saw them twirling around in dresses with an extra bounce of confidence in their step, we realized how powerful this could be," Fleiss says.
Fleiss, now 31, and Hyman, now 34, wasted no time starting Rent the Runway. Since launching in 2009, RTR (renttherunway.com) has grown to more than 5 million members and offers more than 270 designer brands. They're adding brick-and-mortar shops, and a new subscription service that allows members to rent unlimited dresses and accessories. "It's important for us moms to have moments where we get to dress up and feel glamorous," Fleiss says. "Every woman is her own celebrity."
-- Written by Chrisanne Grise