Kylie Jenner is making headlines once again, and the theme of her most recent spotlight is painted all over her Twitter account. Her mega beauty brand, Kylie Cosmetics, is poised to make the 21-year-old a billionaire in just months. Not only does this mean that Kylie is (by far) the wealthiest of her ultra-famous family – even half-sister Kim Kardashian West and her husband Kanye West – but also set to become the “youngest-ever self-made billionaire”, beating out Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft), Mark Zuckerberg (cofounder of Facebook), and Evan Spiegel (cofounder of Snapchat).1
While the Kardashian-Jenner family is no stranger to extreme wealth and luxury, many wonder what has allowed Kylie to catapult herself into such financial success. At first glance, it seems that she is simply following the path of her older relatives.2 Her sister, Kendall Jenner, is a wildly successful supermodel – she recently beat out Gisele Bündchen as the highest-earning model from June 2016 to June 20173 – and Kim Kardashian West is no stranger to clothing and beauty collaborations.
What makes Kylie different?
The secret is, unsurprisingly, a combination of factors that have allowed Kylie to maximize her earning potential and spotlight longevity.
First and foremost, her social media presence has made all the difference4. At the time this article was published, Kylie boasts 113 million followers on Instagram. In a recent article on her massive success, Forbes reported on her social media presence, including the following statement from Kylie:
“‘Social media is an amazing platform…. I have such easy access to my fans and my customers.’”5
Indeed, her enormous online popularity doesn’t stop at Instagram. Forbes also stated her other followings:
“… she has over 110 million followers on Instagram and millions more on Snapchat, and many of them are young women and girls – an audience at once massive and targeted, at least if you’re selling lip products. And that’s before the 16.4 million who follow her company directly, or the 25.6 million who follow her on Twitter, or the occasional social media assists from her siblings and friends.”6
Converting her fans into devoted customers?
Followers of the Kardashian-Jenner’s are constantly on the lookout for the newest stories. In addition to Kylie’s immense social media influence, a specific phenomenon multiplied her potential for a successful brand. Her iconic moment occurred around 2014, when fans started noticing her larger lips. They even attempted to imitate her look through the “Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge”, the often-problematic practice of temporarily enlarging one’s lips using a shot glass. Then, “in May 2015, she admitted to having temporary lip fillers – and with Kris Jenner dusting off her Kim Kardashian playbook, she almost immediately cashed in on it.”7
Fans went wild for the very first round of her “Kylie Lip Kits”, which each contained lipstick and lip liner. They sold out almost immediately, and Kylie and her mother, Kris Jenner, knew that this was a powerful moment for the brand.8
The brand became “Kylie Cosmetics”, and its success multiplied. Despite enormous profits, Kylie maintains a small team of 12 employees. “Today, Jenner is not only the founder and CEO of Kylie Cosmetics, but she also holds the titles ‘chief marketing officer’ and ‘chief creative officer’…. Meanwhile, Kris Jenner is the company’s chief financial officer.”9 Forbes also reported the following groups, which all add to developing and selling the final product in a way which minimizes extra costs:10
Lean Operations, $230 Million in Net Profit
“Manufacturing and packaging? Outsourced to Seed Beauty, a private-label producer in nearby Oxnard, California. Sales and fulfillment? Outsourced to the online outlet Shopify. Finance and PR? Her shrewd mother, Kris, handles the actual business stuff, in exchange for the 10% management cut she takes from all her children. As ultralight startups go, Jenner’s operation is essentially air. And because of those miniscule overhead and marketing costs, the profits are outside and go right into Jenner’s pocket.”11
Despite slowing down since its launch, Kylie Cosmetics remains strong and “has already generated an estimated $230 million in net profit.”12 For comparison amongst other mega brands, CNBC offered the following facts:
“For perspective, WWD reported that it took Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.-owned Tom Ford Beauty 10 years to earn $500 million, it took 25 years for Bobbi Brown to hit $1 billion in earnings in 2016 and it took L’Oréal’s Lancôme 80 years to reach the $1 billion mark in 2015.”13
Additionally, CNBC highlighted the fact that, aside from pop-up stores, Kylie doesn’t have to expend extra money on physical stores.14
Despite this quick success, Kylie shows no signs of stopping; both she and her mother have stated their interest in developing Kylie Cosmetics for many years to come.15
According to the Kylie Cosmetics website, “Kylie CosmeticsSM by Kylie Jenner is Kylie Jenner’s new Launchpad for sharing her best kept beauty secrets to her fans. Kylie is currently working in the Kylie CosmeticsSM by Kylie Jenner Lab on a handful of new, top secret products she’s creating to help give you that perfect ‘Kylie look’. Stay tuned for more products coming soon!”16
A glance at this description seems to prove the effect that Kylie and her public persona have on those who follow her. Not only do fans wish to learn more about her beauty products and practices, they also want to emulate her entire look. This fascination drives Kylie Cosmetics’ popularity. As with the Kardashian-Jenner family in general (through their mega-popular reality television show Keeping Up With the Kardashians), Kylie maintains her fans’ fixation on her looks and lifestyle.
This kind of devotion has allowed Kylie to take on many different kinds of business and promotion. She maintains a website filled with eye-catchingly colorful photographs. Articles and quizzes abound, with titles including “Which Kardashian/Jenner sister are you?”, “My Secrets to Taking the Perfect Selfie”, “Have You Tried Frito Pie?”, and, of course, “Which of My New Lip Kits Should You Get?”17
“Aside from Kylie Cosmetics, Jenner also earns money from her [subscription-based] app, merchandise sold exclusively through her online store ‘The Kylie Shop’, two apparel lines with sister Kendall Jenner, a book series and partnerships with retail brands like Puma and Quay Australia.”18
After her Forbes spotlight, a celebrity started a GoFundMe page to aid Jenner in reaching $1 billion, an act that garnered both comedic enjoyment and intense frustration.19
Regardless of any donations made to her, Kylie has made a point of giving significant amounts of money to charity. Kylie Cosmetics generated almost $500,000 for Smile Train, an organization that aids children born with cleft lip and palate. Additionally, she has donated Kylie Cosmetics profits to Teen Cancer America, an organization whose cause she holds close to her heart; “her friend Harry Hudson, himself a cancer survivor, … stated in a video for the organization that Jenner was by his side during his chemo treatments.”20
In the end, Kylie insists that her success stems from an organic desire to spread what she loves with others, as opposed to being a simple way to gain more financial success.21 It seems that she is well-poised for continued development of her brand and future endeavors.
- Robehmed, Natalie. “How 20-Year-Old Kylie Jenner Built A $900 Million Fortune In Less Than 3 Years.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 11 July 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/forbesdigitalcovers/2018/07/11/how-20-year-old-kylie-jenner-built-a-900-million-fortune-in-less-than-3-years/. (“How 20-Year-Old Kylie”)
- Calfas, Jennifer. “Kendall Jenner Tops Gisele Bundchen as Highest Paid Model.” Time, Time, 21 Nov. 2017, time.com/money/5033357/kendall-jenner-makes-more-than-gisele-bundchen/.
- Supra, How 20-Year-Old Kylie
- Mejia, Zameena. “How Kylie Jenner Turned Her $29 Lipstick Business into a $420 Million Empire in 18 Months.” CNBC, CNBC, 14 Sept. 2017, www.cnbc.com/2017/09/14/how-kylie-jenner-turned-kylie-cosmetics-into-a-420-million-empire.html.
- Supra, How 20-Year-Old Kylie
- Supra, How Kylie Jenner
- “About.” Kylie Cosmetics℠ by Kylie Jenner, KYLIE COSMETICS BY KYLIE JENNER, www.kyliecosmetics.com/pages/about.
- Kylie, www.thekyliejenner.com/.
- Supra, How Kylie Jenner
- Adebowale, Temi. “There’s Now a GoFundMe Page Dedicated to Making Kylie Jenner a Billionaire.” Harper’s BAZAAR, Harper’s BAZAAR, 12 July 2018, www.harpersbazaar.com/celebrity/latest/a22024423/kylie-jenner-gofundme-billionaire/.
- Reilly, Kaitlin. “Don’t Forget This Fact About Kylie Jenner.” Refinery29, Refinery29, 7 Aug. 2018, www.refinery29.com/2018/08/206359/kylie-jenner-birthday-charity.
- Weiner, Zoë. “Kylie Jenner Says This Is the Reason Kylie Cosmetics Is So Successful.” Teen Vogue, TeenVogue.com, 29 Jan. 2018, www.teenvogue.com/story/kylie-jenner-key-to-kylie-cosmetics-success.