How Kylie Jenner Became the Youngest Self-Made Billionaire (Ever)

Forbes list of Billionaires for 2019 is out and at just 21 years old, Kylie was named as youngest self-made Billionaire ever, surpassing Mark Zuckerberg who became a billionaire at 23.

How it all started?

This insecurity led Kylie to get lip-augmentation. She used lip-fillers to make her lips look plumper. Her now ample lips created speculation and gained her publicity. Her full, pouty lips became a large part of her image. Her signature pout became an Instagram sensation with over tens of millions of followers increasing every day.

Soon after, in 2015, Kylie launched ‘Kylie Lip Kits’ to help her fans achieve her look. Her company which is now renamed to Kylie Cosmetics, sold matching lipsticks and lipliners. She took $250k she made by modelling in cosmetic line and bought 15,000 lip kits. As the legend has it, it sold out in the matter of minutes! Historically speaking one of the most successful product launches after the original iPhone launch in 2007.

To do the maths, the lip kits costed her on an average $16 per kit and sold for $29 a pop netting a hefty margin of 40%! In the first 18 months Kylie generated 420 million dollars revenue.

How did she built the company?

Manufacturing & Packaging is outsourced to Seed Beauty, a private-label producer in Oxnard, California. Sales and fulfilment is handled by online merchant Shopify. Finance and PR is looked after by her mother Kris Jenner in exchange for the 10% management fee she siphons from all of her kids. Marketing & Product Launches is done via her social media where she has collective fan following of 175 million people across Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

In 2017, she added 30 new products including concealer and makeup brushes, and many more colour combinations in 2018.

In 2018, she signed an exclusive distribution deal with Ulta, rolling its $29 lip kits — a matte liquid lipstick and matching lip liner — into Ulta’s 1,000-plus stores. Jenner showed up to the Ulta stores to greet customers, sign autographs on lip kits and, of course, pose for selfies with her fans. Over the next six weeks she $54.5 million worth of products in Ulta Stores.

Is she ‘Self-Made’?

The argument people make here is that she received an upper hand being born in a celebrity family and featured in the reality TV shows at an early age of just 10 years. So I agree that it was definitely easier for her to achieve success than an average person, however being celebrity doesn’t guarantee a business success. From Hulk Hogan’s Pasta joint, to Paris Hilton’s clothing line, celebrity business failure is more common than you would think.

She had to build her own social media following, find her niche, build a product lineup, and successfully convert all of it into business which was profitable since day one. FYI, it took 9 years for Amazon to make profits; while after 13 years, Spotify is yet to make profit. To give a perspective among other celebrities, she is less than half of age of Tom Cruise or Shah Rukh Khan and (almost) twice as rich.

Why is her success remarkable?

“I didn’t expect anything. I did not foresee the future. But [the recognition] feels really good. That’s a nice pat on the back.”

- Kylie Jenner

Authors Note: Hi there! Thanks for reading through the end. I’m Sangram Kakad, an Investment Banking professional, Start-up enthusiast and a small time entrepreneur. I created an app that helps users to secretly find out if their friend has feelings for them. We call it MTJF: More Than Just Friends.

If you find this article interesting, feel free to check my other articles:

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Founder, MTJF - More Than Just Friends