Think about the stars of Hollywood’s red carpets and you probably have in mind a certain sort of person. Someone who embodies the glamour of the silver screen, effortlessly suave, confident and full of panache… Or maybe you just see someone who’s made it lucky and never done a proper day’s work in their life.
Point is, however cynical a view you take, your first instinct probably isn’t to think of these leading ladies and gents as small business owners. But you’d be surprised.
There’s a vast number of A-List stars who own and run small businesses just like us in the real world, from community-run restaurants to ecosystem-saving oil technologies, and pretty much everything in between.
Read on for a quick look at a few of the most interesting examples.
1. Jon Bon Jovi – Soul Kitchen
Bon Jovi’s ‘Soul Kitchen’ restaurant is probably one of the most widely known celebrity-fronted businesses – and, justifiably, one of the most admired too. The New Jersey eatery is famed for its ‘pay what you can’ policy, allowing those who can’t afford to foot the bill to simply volunteer in the restaurant as payment. Soul Kitchen has made a name for itself as a business which really gives back to the community – something that’s refreshing to see from an A-list rockstar like Jon Bon Jovi himself.
He’s done good – now he’s just gotta hold on to what he’s got.
2. Ed Norton – CrowdRise
Norton is one of the big names behind CrowdRise, a (for-profit) crowdfunding site that’s dedicated to raising money for charitable and personal causes. The site uses a points system to encourage users to raise and give more, and an informal brand image sets it apart from similar services. Its a company which is proud of its association with celebrities, something that’s mentioned frequently across their website.
Tapping into celebrity culture is clearly something that’s played a role in CrowdRise’s success, and why shouldn’t it be? Having a famous name a the helm makes publicity a breeze.
3. Mark Wahlberg – Wahlburgers
Action star and Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg is just one of three Wahlberg brothers behind this US casual dining chain. Wahlburgers restaurants aim to be laid-back, simple and family-friendly, inspired by the Wahlbergs’ personal memories of childhood barbecues.
The business has also capitalised on its celebrity background with its own reality TV series, which documents the running of the business and has run for 6 seasons, and even has its own spin-off series following the relationship of Donnie Wahlberg and his wife.
4. Jessica Alba – The Honest Company
Actress Jessica Alba cites her difficult childhood, and concern for that of her own children, as her motivation to found this company which is built on environmentally friendly, child friendly products. Honest produces consumer goods which are free of the harsh chemicals often found in commercial products, with a focus on an eco-friendly image and a strong charitable reputation.
Reportedly worth just under a billion US dollars, The Honest Co. uses QuickBooks as their accounting software and is clear proof that Alba is just as much a business star as she is in the movies.
5. Kevin Costner- Oil-Water Separators
This company owned by Kevin Costner is a small business that’s made a huge impact on the environment. Perhaps it was Costner’s starring role in 1995 film Waterworld which inspired him to invest in Ocean Therapy Solutions, a company that leads the field in centrifugal oil-water separators. The devices OTS develops use the principle of centrifugal force to pull heavy oil out of water, something that’s notoriously tricky to do. Their biggest machine can clean up almost 800 thousand litres of water a day – so it’s no wonder that BP took on 32 of them in 2010 after the infamous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Costner himself describes OTS’ technology as ‘the most effective and efficient tool for cleaning up oil spills that you’ve probably never heard of.’
6. Steve Carell – Marshfield Hills General Store
Acclaimed funnyman Steve Carell refers to this quaint general store as something that’s more an investment in nostalgia than a financial one. He bought the business in 2009, and brother Greg has been responsible for restoring and preserving its architecture – it’s something of a local historical landmark. Providing everything you’d expect of a general store in a small country town, Marshfield Hills has been lauded as a cornerstone of the local community.
Seems like a pretty great place – we just hope that Steve’s management style is a little more refined than that of his character Michael in ‘The Office’!