Using the power of their own personal brands, many A-List actors and actresses choose to invest in their own small and medium-sized business opportunities.
Starting a business is never as easy as it sounds, however, and perseverance is just as important for the actor-entrepreneur as it is for any other business owner. All of the actor-owned businesses listed below faced challenges at different points in time, testing the resilience of their famous investors.
Mark Wahlburg: Wahlburger’s
Mark Wahlberg, the A-list star of films such as “Ted” and “The Departed”, has business interests that are just as versatile as his film roles. Wahlberg first gained commercial experience in his role as Executive Producer on a number of hit TV shows including “Entourage” and “Boardwalk Empire”, and in late 2011, Mark and his family opened “Wahlburgers”, a gourmet burger restaurant in the Boston suburb of Hingham.
It hasn’t been plain sailing for the family business. Mark and his brothers Donnie and Paul, a full-time chef, first had to secure the rights to the name “Wahlburgers”, as the trademark was already owned by a restaurateur in New York named Paul Wahl. During the first summer of trading, the CEO of their business was arrested, and almost exactly one year after opening their doors, in the autumn of 2012, the Wahlberg brothers sued their former business partner.
A popular restaurant that has retained its customers over the past few years, the business was so popular that it had its own reality TV show, which started in early 2014.
Gwyneth Paltrow: Goop.com
The star of Iron Man and Shakespeare in Love may have raised eyebrows with her choice of baby names in the past, but few can question her business savvy.
In 2008 Paltrow founded Goop.com, a high-end ecommerce & digital media business where Paltrow shares health and success tips with thousands of subscribers, as well as selling carefully curated fashion, cookery and other lifestyle products directly from the platform.
Using Goop.com as an earning platform, Paltrow and her team have been able to help thousands of individuals through charitable donations. A key objective of Goop.com is that a portion of the business’ profits go to a range of hand-picked charities every year.
Kevin Costner: Ocean Therapy Solutions
Famous for his roles in award-winning films such as “Dances With Wolves”, “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” and “The Bodyguard”, Kevin Costner appeared in the news in 2010 for a totally different reason: his eco-tech business.
As an owner of Ocean Therapy Solutions, an enterprise that builds centrifugal technology to filter oil out of seawater, Kevin Costner’s fortunes took a turn for the better when BP purchased Ocean Therapy Solutions’ equipment to help in the cleanup efforts that followed the Deepwater Horizon spill in the gulf of Mexico in April 2010.
It wasn’t plain sailing for the Waterworld star, however. Costner set up Ocean Therapy Solutions following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, and early investors included Stephen Baldwin, who sold his shares in the company before BP’s equipment purchase. Baldwin tried to sue Costner for more than $10 million, claiming that Costner had lied to him about the possibility of an order from BP. Following an expensive court case, in June 2012 a jury exonerated Costner, and Baldwin was awarded nothing.
Jessica Alba: The Honest Company
Shortly after the star of “Fantastic Four” and “Dark Angel” became a mother, Jessica Alba founded a business called “The Honest Company”, dedicated to selling toxin-free baby products.
Starting with a mission statement of “savvy style, sustainability, and extraordinary service & convenience”, Alba and her business partner Christopher Gavigan now make and sell ethical products ranging from strollers to bubble bath.
Alba has dedicated a significant amount of time to the business, drumming up interest on a variety of television appearances over the past few years. Now in its third year, the business has recently hit a number of key milestones: The Honest Company has now shipped over 250,000 units and employs more than 100 members of staff.
Sam Neill –Two Paddocks
Famed for playing Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park, Sam Neill has been quoted as being “not fond of champagne”. Luckily, he’s fond of Pinot Noir, and has been successfully making and selling his own New Zealand vintages for over 20 years.
In the heart of the South Island in his adopted home of New Zealand, Sam Neill’s Two Paddocks winery continues to expand, most recently with the purchase of a new vineyard in Bannockburn earlier this year.
The 66-year-old actor, originally from Northern Ireland, has slowly cultivated this niche wine business into a thriving enterprise, diversifying into lavender oils and Riesling vintages.