Kylie Jenner, 20, is the youngest person on the Forbes list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women, released Wednesday, with an estimated net worth of $900 million. Over the next year, Jenner is expected to become the youngest self-made billionaire ever. That’s a title previously held by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in 1987 at age 31 and by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg in 2008 at age 23.
“Wow. I can’t believe I’m posting my very own Forbes cover,” Jenner writes in an Instagram post. “Thank you for this article and the recognition. I’m so blessed to do what I love every day. I couldn’t have dreamt this up!” (She did, however, tell Complex Magazine in 2016, “It’s my dream to be on Forbes.”)
Her latest boost in wealth comes primarily from Kylie Cosmetics, her makeup company, valued at nearly $800 million. Kylie Cosmetics is projected to rake in $1 billion in lifetime sales by 2022, WWD reports. Jenner says that she plans to work on the company “forever” and then pass it down to her daughter, Stormi, who’s currently five months old.
Some critics on social media have taken issue with the description of Jenner as self-made because she was born into wealth and fame. (Details about Forbes’ methodology and criteria can be found here.) Either way, Jenner’s entrepreneurial efforts are impressive. She’s the most financially successful member of the Jenner-Kardashian family: Her older half-sister Kim Kardashian West, who just made the list for the first time, has an estimated net worth of $350 million.
Aside from Kylie Cosmetics, Jenner earns money from her paid app, the “Kylie Jenner Official App,” as well as sales of merchandise from “The Kylie Shop,” two apparel lines with sister Kendall Jenner, a book series, TV programs indulging “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and “Life of Kylie,” and partnerships with retail brands like Puma, Topshop and Quay Australia.
Jenner launched her beauty brand on November 30, 2015, with the $29 Kylie Lip Kit, a liquid lipstick with a matching lip pencil, which sold out in just minutes. Within 18 months, the company had made $420 million in sales. Her most successful launch to date was her 2016 holiday collection release, when the company made nearly $19 million in one day. For comparison, Kardashian West’s first product launch from her new makeup brand KKW Beauty earned an estimated $14.4 million in sales. To date, KKW Beauty has made about $100 million in sales.
In any event, Jenner says she isn’t too concerned about competition with Kardashian West, with whom she initially collaborated for Kylie Cosmetics, because they each reach a different demographic, she tells WWD. “She’s, like, almost 20 years older than me. I feel like my makeup is definitely more young, fun. And it’s just different,” Jenner says.
Jenner’s inspiration for her makeup brand came from her obsession with YouTube tutorials as a tween: “I turned to makeup to help me feel more confident,” she tells Forbes. At 17, two years before it officially launched, Jenner trademarked “Kylie Lip Kit.” Within six weeks of her first makeup release, her mom and manager Kris Jenner decided to partner with their current manufacturer, Seed Beauty.
The popularity of Jenner’s products also stems from the limited number of products she makes available for each launch, which usually sell out. There’s no truth to rumors that Seed Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics deliberately create the illusion of scarcity, Seed Beauty co-founder Laura Nelson told Vanity Fair, adding, “We are running the factory 24-7 to meet demand. It’s truly as much as we can make.”
Jenner told Complex Magazine in 2016, “I want to be as big as the other [cosmetic] brands.” And she has made great strides. Since 2015, Kylie Cosmetics has sold more than $630 million worth of makeup, including an estimated $330 million in 2017, according to Forbes. For perspective, it took Estée Lauder-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.
Jenner, who sells her cosmetics largely online, has 110 million followers on Instagram, 25.6 million followers on Twitter and had, as of August 2016, the most viewed account on Snapchat. “Social media is an amazing platform,” Jenner tells Forbes. “I have such easy access to my fans and my customers.”
In 2017, Jenner was the youngest celebrity on the Forbes 100 — a list of the 100 top-paid celebrities in the world, including Chance The Rapper, Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift — having earned $41 million the year before.
She remains very connected to her family. As CEO, chief marketing officer and chief creative officer, Jenner owns 100 percent of Kylie Cosmetics, while Kris Jenner serves as the company’s chief financial officer. And, when Jenner was named one of Time Magazine’s most influential teens of 2016, she told the publication that she has been most inspired by her older sister. Kardashian West is “so dedicated, she’s so smart, she’s such a businesswoman and she’s always doing something and thinking of new ideas,” Jenner said. “She has inspired me to have a great work ethic.”
The entrepreneur also hopes her legacy will be broad: Not “just getting my lips done and having good hair, but being a good person and inspiring other people to not bully other people and do good things and be nice to everybody,” she told Time. Last year, Jenner donated $459,000 to Smile Train and $500,000 to Teen Cancer America.
“I really do feel like people don’t take me seriously as a business woman because of my age and my reputation,” Jenner said last year on “Life of Kylie.” “But I feel like they’re starting to. I like to prove people wrong.”
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