This story is part of the Behind the Desk series, where CNBC Make It meets with successful executives in person to find out everything from their path to where they are, what makes them get out of bed in the morning, to their daily routines.
Golden Globe-winning actress Kate Hudson, best known for movies like “Almost Famous” and “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” (as well as being the daughter of Goldie Hawn), has made herself into the past decade into a serial entrepreneur.
“If you had told me that 15 years ago, [I would have said], you are crazy. That will never happen, “Hudson told CNBC Make It.
Hudson, 42, is the co-founder of activewear and lifestyle brand Fabletics, which launched in 2013 and now has more than 50 retail stores in the United States. The company reportedly had sales of over $ 500 million in 2020.
Hudson also co-founded King St. Vodka in 2019 and the nutritional supplement brand InBoom in 2020. She co-hosts the Sibling Revelry podcast with her brother, actor Oliver Hudson. (The siblings also grew up with their younger half-brother Wyatt Russell, the son of Hawn and long-time partner, actor Kurt Russell and her step-brother Boston Russell, from Russell’s previous marriage.)
But despite her accomplishments, Hudson had setbacks and controversy as an entrepreneur.
Dozens of mostly female garment workers reported experiencing rampant sexual and physical abuse at a factory in Africa that mainly makes fabletic sportswear, Time reported in May. Hudson says the allegations are “unacceptable and appalling” and are currently being investigated.
And not all of their businesses were successful: Hudson’s eco-friendly clothing brand Happy X Nature by Kate Hudson, which launched in 2019, was closed during the pandemic after its parent company filed for bankruptcy.
“To me, even in Success, I feel like there has been an uphill battle in both business and Hollywood,” says Hudson, but she feels “really lucky” to be in the position she is.
Here Hudson talks about growing up privileged, misunderstandings about her, how she deals with mistakes and much more.
To the privilege: “You didn’t deserve any of it”
My personality profile is perfect for a high-flyer based on my family of origin. We grew up privileged, but our parents did [Hawn and Russell] made sure we got it.
It was like, “Hey kids, none of this is yours. You didn’t deserve any of it. You were just born into it.” So for our parents, at a very young age, it was all about work ethic.
I couldn’t miss a dance class. My mother said, “No, no, it didn’t matter.” I think there was a sense of too [my parents] come out of nowhere and build their success on how they raised us.
We are super family-oriented.
On their trip: “I grew up with a couple of boys and a father who wasn’t there”
I grew up with a couple of guys and a [biological] Papa who wasn’t there. I felt like I had to prove myself or live something for the guys to include me in any trips they went on.
I always felt that I was pushing for it [show] how hard i worked. And then, when you have a dad who’s kind of not around, you become someone who says, “Damn, I’ll do it alone.” I think a lot of people will relate to it no matter where they are from.
The ride and the fire started in me to be a self sustaining woman. I can’t rely on anyone, so I rely on myself. And I’ll be successful and work my ass off. Then, as you get older, you realize that some aspects of that personality need to be calmed down and realigned.
On a more superficial level, to be honest, I don’t like it when people tell me I can’t do something.
Look at the alcohol industry – it’s a “man’s thing”. That the company really believes in women is something completely new. When someone tells you that something is not possible, I always think, “Oh, that feels exciting.”
Entrepreneurship: “I like to roll up my sleeves”
I noticed it very early, before it was so popular [that] When people wanted me to endorse their products, I felt more comfortable building something that felt authentic rather than endorsing it. Endorsement is easy and no need to roll up your sleeves, but I love to roll up my sleeves.
And now we’re here a decade later, and I’m talking to you about business.
About misunderstandings about her: “Nobody will call you but me”
The misunderstanding, for some reason, is that when you are famous, other people do things for you. Because I am successful as an actor and can wear pretty clothes and put on make-up, other people wake me up and stand in front of a camera and I do nothing but smile and wave.
So when I get involved with someone in business, I’m really clear. I say, “Just so you know, I’m a lot. Nobody but me will call you. And I ask a lot of questions.” I hold people accountable for their work and their process, just as responsible as I want someone to be to me.
No part of me thinks I would be here if I didn’t do anything to get here. I am a worker bee. Almost a mistake. Sometimes I have to sit back and realize that I have to take care of myself. I thrive and love being busy and in it.
About the leadership role: “You can’t compromise when you build something”
How we build, what we build and why is very important to me.
I called David once [Kanbar, co-founder of King St.]and I thought, “I don’t know how to tell you. But we have to throw away the bottle design.” We spent a year designing the bottle and [a sample] came and it was like killing myself because it wasn’t right.
I had to call David because of course it costs money, which means all kinds of things. He was so great. He says absolutely, we have to get it 100% right.
Whether it’s harder to be a Hollywood actress or an entrepreneur, “Business is such a different ball game”
It’s like a two hour interview. I always start with the silver lining of everything: if you are able to even answer this question, then it’s really good.
But when you get to a certain level in business or in Hollywood, both of them have extreme challenges, especially when you get in at a disadvantage, which I think women always do.
As an actor, you really are pretending to be part of someone else’s story. You can bring in some of your wisdom and experience, but at the end of the day it is still someone else’s idea and vision. It’s a machine that works without you. You can be blind – actors took the brunt of a bad movie when it was really in the hands of all these other people, and yet they take the hit.
And it’s just a roller coaster ride. Every actor is a little bit crazy to actually get into the industry and love it. You put yourself in a line of fire to be questioned, criticized and accused. You are designed to be shot down.
Building a business is a whole different ball game. It starts with an idea and your mission statement. It’s about how you figured out what your strategies are and who you are working with, who you are partnering with.
People [making films] try to dumb a movie because they are afraid the audience will not understand. As a creator [of a product or business]You say no, we have to drive an audience. It has to be honest. It needs to be attached to your mission.