Standing on the shoulders of Kardashians: Is Kylie Jenner really a ‘self-made’ billionaire?

By

It would be ridiculous to deny that Kylie Jenner is an incredibly savvy businesswoman, whose clever use of social media has skyrocketed her business to success. Equally ridiculous, however, is the claim that Jenner – who earlier this month became the youngest person in the world to reach billionaire status – is ‘self-made’, when the business which made her so rich was launched from the rocket pad of the Kardashian empire.

The business which made her so rich was launched from the rocket pad of the Kardashian empire.

On one hand, Jenner clearly works hard and cares about her business. She trademarked the phrase ‘Kylie Lip Kits… for the perfect pout’ two years before setting up her company and has done far more, business-wise, than any of her equally famous sisters – Kim, comparatively, has a net worth of $350 million. Jenner’s $29 lip kits first went on sale in 2015 and sold out in a day. A year later, her business was worth $307 million, according to Forbes, so the fact that it is now worth nearly a billion dollars speaks volumes about Jenner’s business mindset. 

Arguably, it was partnering with Ulta that pushed Kylie Cosmetics into the billions, with revenue climbing 9% after products were sold in shops as well as online. You don’t get business deals like that without the kind of drive needed to become a ‘self-made’ billionaire. Similarly, Jenner has been a master manipulator of social media, constantly pushing her products onto her 128 million-strong following, which consists primarily of young women. The impressionability of her audience, when combined with her extensive use of FOMO tactics (such as extensive limited-edition deals) has allowed Jenner to develop her business whilst spending next to nothing on marketing. Her billionaire status certainly isn’t unearned– clearly, she’s worked incredibly hard.

Her billionaire status certainly isn’t unearned– clearly, she’s worked incredibly hard.

However, even if Jenner has worked hard, it doesn’t mean she deserves to be known as ‘self-made’. Upon the release of the Forbes article, Dictionary.com tweeted ‘Self-made means having succeeded in life unaided’. Truthfully, describing Jenner this way connotes a rags-to-riches story, whilst her status as a Kardashian (one of the most famous families in the world) gave her a leg-up, to say the least. 

Though she may have started her entire business from money that she made herself when modelling, she was able to do so because of her family’s influence. And though she told Paper that she was cut off by her parents at 15 and told to ‘make her own way’, it’s not exactly like they left her with nothing – though she may not have inherited lots of money, she did inherit a significant platform. This, combined with the support of her ‘momager’ Kris (who she employs), means that the success of her business was always pretty much a guarantee. Without her audience and already extensive influence, there is obviously no way that her products would have sold as well as they did. Calling her ‘self-made’ then seems unfair to successful people who truly made something from nothing. Take Oprah Winfrey, who after a very rocky start in life, worked her way through regional media channels before negotiating ownership of her own show, getting her where she is now. Jenner, however, started far further up the metaphorical ladder, and had many others holding it steady for her – grouping the two together seems unfair.

Calling Kylie Jenner self-made is about as accurate as claiming you made a ready-meal from scratch

Sure, it’s important to acknowledge the impressive growth of Kylie Cosmetics, and the smart business strategy behind it. And who knows, maybe I’m just bitter because at 21, Kylie Jenner is living her billionaire lifestyle whilst I’m living in the Bill Bryson. But what is far more important to acknowledge is that calling Kylie Jenner self-made is about as accurate as claiming you made a ready-meal from scratch: sure, you added some extra cheese and put it in the oven, but we all know you’d never have made a dinner that good on your own. 

Photo by Disney ABC Television Group via Flickr Creative Commons

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.