The story of Kylie Jenner on Forbes front cover two weeks ago was discussed on numerous talk shows throughout the US, made headlines in the tabloids and was trending on twitter. Not just because the reality star from one of America’s most well known families became the youngest billionaire ever (male or female) at the age of just 20, but because Forbes labeled her ‘self-made’.
The majority of the stars success has come from her beauty company, Kylie Cosmetics of which she owns 100% and has made her approximately $800 million dollars, whilst other endorsements as well as the money she receives from the Kardashian TV show takes her earnings up an additional $100 million.
Mother and manager, Kris Jenner discussed on TV shows and interviews after the Forbes cover was released that Kylie Jenner was passionate about makeup, knew she wanted to start the company and invested her own money. So why the controversy? People are questioning whether the 20 year old can truly be named, 'self-made', when she has been on a famous TV show since she was only just in double digits. She’s got a slew of famous friends and had a huge following on social media, therefore can we really call her 'self-made'?
However people on the side of Jenner, including Whoopi Goldberg, have said that they believe she achived the success by herself. That we’ve all been handed opportunities and it’s what we choose to do with them that counts. Insiders have also stated that Jenner is extremely hands on with her company, and isn't simply using her name, but works daily on running the business from her home as well as at her ‘momager’s', Kris Jenner's mansion in Calabasas.
Jenner has very little overhead for her company and her team is relatively small, with just seven people who are full time with an additional 5 who are part time. Products are outsourced to other companies and manufactured in both China and California. Laura Nelson and her brother John Nelson (of Seed Beauty) run the company that produces the products, which certainly comes in handy, with Laura Nelson having been in the beauty industry for over 17 years. As a result she’s played an important role in helping Jenner in creating products and advising her along the way.
Jenner was quoted as saying in the Forbes America’s richest self-made women “It’s incredible to be recognized for something I’m so passionate about, and I’m really grateful for that. I’ve always loved makeup and worked really hard to bring the first launching product of the lip kit to market. Connecting with my fans and creating product that excites them has been an incredible process. I’ve learned so much along the way and I hope to inspire others to follow their dreams.”
Despite what you think about Kylie Jenner and whether she is self-made or not, there's no denying the reality star was making ample money from both endorsements and the family show, yet took that money, and invested it in creating her first product, the now famous lip kit and the result is an almost billion dollar business. Even Kim Kardashian, previously the most famous and successful sister, was listed at no 54 on the Forbes list, sitting 27 positions lower than her younger sister, with a net worth of $350 million. Incredible to think that Kylie Jenner even comes in ahead of superstar Beyoncé who is listed as having $355 million net worth.
The reality star was certainly on the money with her company, tapping into her fans interest in her heavily made-up look, and creating a company out of her own personal brand, known for her (albeit surgically enhanced) plump lips and love of makeup.
However some are arguing it was Kris Jenner who was truly the only self-made family member and who has really helped navigate the family in business and made them the successful business women they are. Perhaps Will.i.am said it best when he commented on the story in the Daily Telegraph saying, "I think Kylie in a way is self-made. But her mum is really self-made. Kris, yeah, she is safe-made. You can't mess with her."
It's almost hard to imagine a time when Kris Jenner didn't have the wealth that she does today, however she recently told Fox New’s channel host, Harvey Levin on Fox's OBJECTified, after famous Attorney and businessman Robert Kardashian filed for divorce from her after Jenner cheated that, "I went to the market one day and my credit card didn't work. I had a market credit card and I'm like, 'I can't even buy a tomato.'"
After marrying Bruce Jenner, Kris turned things around and the family business began, as she set about turning Bruce Jenner into a star. Featured in Lenny letter this month Jenner recalls turning her business ideas into reality when it came to launching Bruce Jenner's stardom, “I think I spent my last dime, I’m not even kidding, making these beautiful, glossy press-kit folders and took every great article that had ever been in Sports Illustrated (of Bruce Jenner) and any really beautiful magazine and I started making copies. We put together 7,000 press kits, and we mailed them to every speakers’ bureau in the United States. Then we sat back, and we waited for the phone to ring.” Ring it did, with endorcements from Coca-Cola and Visa wanting to book him. Jenner recalls, "I remember sitting with Doug Ivester, the head of Coca-Cola, at the Olympics and thinking, 'Wow, we've really come a long way."
Whatever your view point, it seems the Kardashian / Jenner brand is showing now signs of waning, as the youngest of the sisters has now become the most successful and Kris shows no sign of slowing down in ensuring the families success and brand continues.