On the September afternoon that I meet Courteney Cox at the Little Beach House Malibu, the oceanfront restaurant is hardly crowded. The members-only club is known for its exclusivity, perfect for celebrities, but she manages to be dogged by an unexpected fan anyway: a pesky bumblebee.
At first, all seems well. Cox arrives right on time, dressed in what you’d call California casual—a striped button-down, trousers—her hair air drying in the sun. We move past the obligatory hellos and handshakes and settle into our seats on the sunny terrace when the bee begins circling her close and doesn't let up.
The bee is a problem, as is the funky pop music piping through the outdoor speakers. In the middle of telling me something about her father, Cox interrupts herself. She explains that the whole point of meeting here and not at her home, which is just a 10-minute drive away, was to limit her distractions. At home, there’s always something to clean up or her dogs to play with (two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Bear and Lily) or someone who needs her attention. But here, the situation is not exactly free of interruptions.
“I can't even think of the word that I was trying to say,” Cox says, before calmly suggesting we move. She hails a waiter who guides us to a quieter area inside the largely deserted main dining room. To safeguard her focus, she directs me to the seat with a picture-perfect ocean view, while she sits facing the wall.
“I made this term up, but I feel like I suffer from acute awareness,” says Cox. “It's a pro and a con, but I can't help but notice everything.”
Recently, Cox has found an outlet for that acute awareness, a non-acting project compelling enough to command her full attention: a sleek, curated line of household products called Homecourt. After years of endorsing major brands in magazines and commercials, this time, Cox is the founder and a lead investor. She’s tackling what she sees as a whitespace in the market: cleaning and home care products made without harsh chemicals and with luxury-level fragrances typically only found in perfumes. Think Aesop meets Mrs. Meyer’s.
With Homecourt, Cox is joining a long line of celebrity founders who have become synonymous with their product lines: Gwyneth and Goop; Kim and Skims; Rihanna and Fenty Beauty.
Earlier in her life, Cox might have been daunted by the expectations that come from being at the center of a celebrity brand. But she tells me how, in recent years, she’s worked hard to free herself of the thoughts that previously held her back. “I used to do a lot of things out of fear, even making connections with people, checking in with people…not taking a chance, a risk,” she says. “Now, fear doesn't play nearly as big of a part in my life. I push myself more.”
In 2020, Cox was at home spraying Clorox on everything, like most people, when a friend called her with a proposal: Would she want to start a candle line? “I didn't overthink it,” she says. “I just went, ‘Yeah, let's do this.’”
Cox had never seriously considered starting her own brand. There was the fear. But there was also the problem of identifying the right idea. Fashion doesn’t excite her and beauty was a crowded space. But candles made sense. Interior design is one of her passions, as are scents.
The friend on the other end of the line, Bilal Mekkaoui of Jobi Brands, became a co-founder. He connected Cox with Sarah Jahnke, who was working on designer fragrances at L’Oréal before joining Homecourt as its CEO and co-founder in 2021. By then, the business plan had expanded beyond candles to cleaning products, a category Jahnke called “dusty and commoditized.” Plus, Cox could trade on the association with her most famous on-screen character whose love of cleaning was an exaggeration of the actress’s natural inclinations anyway. (Due to the SAG-AFTRA strike, Cox is not discussing or promoting her acting projects.) Maybe you recall Cox going viral on TikTok this spring? In the clip, which has amassed more than 57 million views on the platform, she spoofed her reputation as a neat freak by getting down on her knees and cleaning her new star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (with her own spray, of course).
To Cox’s longtime friend Jennifer Aniston, a project like Homecourt was long overdue. “I’m thinking to myself, Well what on earth took you so long, woman! This is literally your wheelhouse.”
Aniston adds: “The amount of times I've found her on the floor, on all fours, scrubbing something—every time I enter her house.”
One of Cox’s first priorities for the burgeoning line was its smell. It’s kind of her thing. For more than a decade, she was obsessed with a perfume called Jour de Fête from the French line L’Artisan Parfumeur, until it was discontinued. She hadn’t thought of the fragrance in years until our conversation, during which she eagerly looks it up online to see if she could buy an old bottle. Sure enough, one was available for $525 on eBay. “Is it worth it?” Cox asks, somewhat rhetorically. She’s tempted to purchase it but sets her phone down. (When I look again later, the listing is gone.)
Homecourt's scents are formulated by natural fragrance experts, like Robertet, the firm that develops sexy smells for the likes of Byredo, Atelier Cologne, and Harry Styles. But Cox is deeply involved. She makes and wears her own fragrances by layering oils and perfumes, and one of them—a woody, cardamom-infused concoction—is among Homecourt’s main scents (called Cece, after her own nickname). “There’s not one time that I go [in a high-pitch voice], ‘Yeah, it’s good,’” she says. “There’s no high voice. It’s either, ‘It’s great and I’m so fucking proud of this’ or ‘We need to bump up the fragrance’ or ‘It’s too sticky.’”
Cox had a heavy hand in Homecourt’s stark, gender-neutral packaging, too. The square-bottom shape was inspired by an olive oil bottle in her kitchen; the dark, juniper green hue mimics the color of the walls in her living room.
“There are a ton of celebrity brands, but I don't know if all the celebrities that have brands are as involved [as I am],” says Cox. “It's not something that I'm just getting paid to do; I’m not getting paid. I want it to be perfect. I want it to be the best it can be.”
Cox’s dedication is paying off, though. Homecourt debuted online in early 2022 and in a small network of independent specialty stores soon after. The line recently launched on Amazon and there are more than 20 new products under development, including laundry detergent. Cox and Jahnke hope to see Homecourt in specialty home stores and beauty retailers, especially Sephora. A cleaning spray offered at the beauty chain would be a first, but Cox is a big believer that Homecourt can get there.
Before Cox the founder, or Cox the television star, there was Cox the hustler. She grew up the youngest of four siblings in Birmingham, Alabama, and her parents divorced when she was 10. “We lived like we had a lot of money and yet we were always going bankrupt,” says Cox, now 59.
Cox learned the benefits of working a side job from an early age. At 13, she couldn’t wait to start making her own money and landed her first job soliciting donations for a charity foundation by phone. Years later, when Cox moved to L.A. for better acting roles in the mid-‘80s, she bought, renovated, and sold houses in her free time.
As her Hollywood career grew, and Cox no longer needed the financial bump of buying and selling real estate, she kept up the practice. It became a way to explore her love of interior design. One house was an American country dream, the next a gothic masterpiece. “I've gone through so many different styles,” she says, looking around the restaurant. “If you [ask me later], ‘what does this room look like?’ I would almost be able to recite every single color, every single thing that I see.”
Aniston says Cox has always had an eye for design. “If there's a painting hung maybe one inch lower than it needs to be, she will see it and obsess on it—and she’s right.”
Along the way, Cox also became an expert host. She inherited the trait from her grandmother, who invited all 21 of Cox’s cousins over to her home every Sunday for dinner when Cox was growing up.
“When I moved to California, I didn’t have any family out here,” says Cox. “I was like, I need a community. Where's the gathering?” Cox took it upon herself to solve the problem. Almost every Sunday for the last 25 years, she has opened her home to new and old friends for casual dinner parties.
“People will call and say, ‘Hey, is it okay if I bring three friends?’” Cox says. She’s never said no, even if she would sometimes like to (“I’m not great at that,” she says). Plus, she never knows who she might meet. It was at one of these dinner parties that Cox was introduced to her current partner of 10 years, Johnny McDaid, a musician, who tagged along with his friend and musical collaborator, Ed Sheeran. Other guests have included Taylor Swift, Prince Harry, and Brandi Carlile.
A few weeks after we met in Malibu, I give Cox a call. She answers from her home, in the midst of giving her dog Bear a bath—or at least, she’s attempting to; he’s not into it—and tells me how she found her footing in her new venture, by way of a story about the University of Alabama.
Cox grew up going to the school’s football games with her father, a diehard fan who always wore a houndstooth fedora with a red feather in it like the team’s legendary coach Bear Bryant. Football taught her about the risks and rewards of “going long”—when a quarterback attempts a long pass down the field. The concept made Cox think of her mother, after whom she was named. “My mother was a beautiful woman who did not have a lot of drive,” she says. “I always wanted her to go long. Take a chance, take a risk, be bold.”
Cox couldn’t change her mother, but the idea of “going long” became a personal mantra, especially after her mother died in 2020. She knew it was time to take her own advice.
“I would stop myself from doing things, and I would talk myself out of stuff by justifying—oh, you know, that's not really what I want to do,” she says. Or she could be overly critical of herself, worrying about something she said in conversation that might have come across as stupid or repetitive. Through therapy, she began to confront those worries head-on, and neutralize them.
“Now I take these thoughts…I'll just put [each] out as if it's a candle,” she says. “Because I think whenever you give wind or air or attention to things, they do get bigger. Why stay in the past or project into the future?”
Cox commemorated the breakthrough in style—a group tattoo with her daughter Coco, her close friend the actress Laura Dern, and Dern’s children Ellery and Jaya. Their two families have celebrated Christmas Eve together every year for nearly 20 years. “This [last] one, we went, ‘Should we get tattoos together?’” Cox says. She suggested the phrase “go long” and Ellery proposed pairing it with a drawing of a paper plane. A few weeks later, they all got inked.
For Cox, it was a meaningful moment to share with Coco, who is now in her first semester of college, leaving Cox officially an empty nester. “I miss that girl every minute,” she says. They FaceTime often; with the dogs too, though “Bear never looks into the camera.” Cox had just visited Coco the week before. “I found myself expecting [to run] into each other's arms,” she says, laughing. But their reunion wasn’t quite so dramatic. Adds Cox, “I expected her to need more than she does. It’s an adjustment.”
In the meantime, Cox is distracting herself with one of her favorite kinds of projects: a super-deep clean. That includes going through her daughter’s closet and sending her pictures of every item with the request that Coco circle what she wants to keep or draw an ‘X’ over what can be given away or thrown out.
It makes sense, because while cleaning is all business for Cox these days—it’s always been personal.
Photographer: Ramona Rosales | Art Director: Brittany Holloway-Brown | Entertainment & Talent Director: Neha Prakash | Fashion Director: Sara Holzman | Stylist: Maryam Malakpour | Beauty Director: Deena Campbell | Hair Stylist: Ericka Verrett, A-Frame Agency | Makeup Artist: Debra Ferullo using Diorshow Mascara | Manicurist: Kim Truong | Production: Nicholas DeBellis | Cinematography & Edit: Amusement Productions
Ralph Lauren blazer.
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Chantal Fernandez is a fashion writer whose work has appeared in The Financial Times, Elle, New York Magazine’s The Cut and Harper’s Bazaar. She lives in Brooklyn.
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