Since Kylie Jenner, 21, was named the world’s youngest “self-made” billionaire by Forbes last August, people have criticized her less than humble beginnings. The young makeup mogul, however, insists that she has never gotten a free ride in a new interview for Paper magazine’s “Transformation” issue.
The youngest member of the Kardashian/Jenner clan says she “really spent every last dime that I had starting” Kylie Cosmetics ― which is now worth an estimated $900 million ― after her parents “cut her off at the age of 15.”
“My parents told me I needed to make my own money, it’s time to learn how to save and spend your own money, stuff like that,” Jenner said. “What I’m trying to say is I did have a platform, but none of my money is inherited.”
Forbes defines being a “self-made” billionaire as someone who has not inherited their wealth.
“We consider any person who built her own fortune, and didn’t inherit the money, to be self-made,” Luisa Kroll of Forbes said. “So top executives at tech firms who are compensated for helping significantly grow companies make the ranks but not second generation women running family businesses.”
Jenner's money, though not inherited, is also not simply the result of hard work. She has had many breaks in her life as a result of her family’s ’s wealth and connections, which created a platform for her to make and invest her money. In addition to appearing on “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” which first aired when Jenner was just 10 years old, she was also tapped to endorse products like Puma shoes and PacSun clothing.
In 2014, Jenner signed on with Seed Beauty, a company founded by Laura Thomas that helped her build her brand from the ground up. The first 15,000 lip kits Jenner produced were funded by her with $250,000 she had earned from modelling for such brands as Topshop and Sinful Colors nail polish.
After Kylie Lip Kits debuted in 2015, the lip kits sold out within a minute. Jenner's mother, Kris Jenner, outsourced sales to Shopify later that year. In 2016, the company was renamed Kylie Cosmetics and production increased to 500,000 kits. By the end of the year, total revenues were $307 million.
Kylie Cosmetics has benefitted from Jenner’s established social media presence for its marketing. Some have to referred to the entrepreneur as a "marketing genius." Jenner has the most followed Snapchat account and 127 million Instagram followers, all of whom see her product teases and launches.
Jenner certainly started from a position of privilege and may have had help along the way, but there is no doubt that she’s business savvy. As for whether she’s self-made or not, that seems to be a bit irrelevant since her success is hers and hers alone.