Another Kardashian-Jenner member has angered the masses yet again. And not with booty shots and sex tapes. This time it's the emergence of lip kits and eyeshadows. And it's taking over the way we all look at the massive amount of student loan debt that we've incurred.
The ‘American Dream’ is not just a pithy saying to generalize the hopes and dreams of entrepreneurs. Many of us are taught that the path to financial greatness and a spot on the Forbes list is rigid and cookie cutter. We're also taught that it almost always requires a college degree. But in the digital age, the power of creativity coupled with social media allows us to create our own lane from anywhere we please. Just ask Kylie Jenner. The 20 year old saw a crack in the door opened by her well off family and busted the entire thing down. All by appealing to the vanity and inquisitive nature of women who want to look like today's social media and television rock stars.
As a member of the Kardashian-Jenner clan, Kylie is the youngest of the bunch. Much like her older sisters, Kylie always had an affinity for beauty and glamour. But instead of doing like most young, rich, and some might even say “entitled” kids and simply relaxing and enjoying the fruits of her family's labor, Jenner decided that she wanted to take charge and create something of her own. So she went with what she knew best - makeup. Having used makeup to increase her confidence level, Jenner knew that she could leverage the popularity of her well known family to drive traffic to her business. The problem is that she is being branded as “self-made”, according to her recent Forbes magazine cover.
Kylie Cosmetics launched two years ago with a $29 “lip kit” that consisted of a matching set of lipstick and lip liner. Since it's launch, Kylie Cosmetics has sold more than $630 million worth of makeup, including an estimated $330 million in 2017. The company now has additional products like eye-shadow and concealer. Forbes recently valued her company at nearly $800 million.An even more shocking fact about Kylie Cosmetics - 20 year old Jenner owns 100% of it. This is not necessarily the norm among reality stars with their own product lines. But when you come from reality star royalty, you do things a little differently. Jenner didn’t need a team of investors to own 65% of her company while she sat by praying for a large percentage of the fortune. Mom Kris made sure that her baby girl was the sole owner, and could cash in her own dividends at the end of the day.
But this is where the Forbes article feature gets a little sticky for some. The title of “self made” being appropriated to Jenner has angered quite a few people. Now, by Forbes’ definition their annual list of women who are “self made” billionaires usually pertains to women who have earned their fortune, as opposed to women who married into money or inherited money. Although Kylie Jenner didn’t marry into money, nor inherit her fortune, she was born into money. And for this, the internet is a little ticked off at Forbes for giving her that title.
Although most millennials today born into a family where EVERYONE is cashing in on their 15 minutes of fame aren’t necessarily interested in doing actual “work”, Jenner decided to jump to the front of the line on the money train. Sure, they consider getting paid for their Instagram posts or showing up at Tao in Vegas to be “work”. But Jenner decided to actually go hands on with creating and running a company with tons of moving parts. Obviously her road to entrepreneurship was a little easier than most, but it’s what she did when she got to the table. But the problem with branding Kylie Jenner as “self-made” is that it is a slap in the face for everyone who has bootstrapped their way to success, researched their product offerings for years, and struggled just to get a meeting with the top executives in their industry. It also leads people to think that there aren’t any other brands who are out there killing it just as much as Kylie. Black-owned Cosmetics line Pat McGrath is set to surpass Jenner’s company after inking $60M deal with Eurazeo Brands, a NY-based investment company. And unlike Jenner, Pat McGrath has spent years in the industry working with celebrity clientele and major brands. The difference? Business owners like McGrath don’t have the power of a millennial driven social media disruption, cross-promotion on her siblings’ multi-million follower accounts, and connections with all of the top business gurus in Hollywood. People like Pat McGrath take years just to get a meeting to seek out a permanent seat at the table.
Big sister Kim Kardashian quickly came to Jenner’s defense, insisting that she and the rest of her siblings are all self-made. She insists that the only thing that her parents have ever given them is “advice”. While that may be true (or not), that “advice” (and string of unbelievably stellar business connections) is akin to the 4 years of college and 10+ years of work that many of us put into building a business. For this, Jenner’s success is relative, and should be measured on a different scale than others. I applaud the women in this family for taking charge of their own finances, but Kim’s snippy comeback defending her little sister is evidence that their address on 'What Most People Actually Deal With Rd'. is nonexistent. Sort of ironic considering that the entire Kardashian-Jenner clan has built their empire with “Regular People” consistently purchasing from them. Wonder if those customers still feel connected and valued by the brand they are patronizing.
At 20 years old, Kylie Jenner is doing what has taken many college grads decades to achieve. This is a gift and a curse to the American public. The gift is that it shows that not all rich kids are just sitting around waiting for their trust funds to triple. The curse is that more millennials look at people like Kylie and think that the formula can be easily duplicated. Those of us who are entrepreneurs that started out without a safety net or a trust fund know how long it takes to get your products out there to the masses. We know how long it takes to prove that we even deserve a seat at the table to prove our worth. We know how difficult it is to have to balance student loans with investing in new software and managing payroll. But it’s hard to convey that message to a millennial who is only looking at the finished product. They don’t see all of the moving parts that are required to create a business.
Sometimes growth comes overnight. But for most, it takes years of trial and error before we can consider it smooth sailing. The beauty in taking the long way around the block is that we get to learn so much more along the way. And what’s in our heads and hearts can never be taken away from us. Not even by a Jenner.
What do you think of Kylie Jenner’s rise to entrepreneurial fame? Do you think she deserves the accolades she’s received across the web?