In the latest list of America’s Women Billionaires, as reported by Forbes magazine, Kylie Jenner, the youngest of Kardashian sisters, a cosmetics mogul, and young mother of Stormi, is set to become the youngest person ever to become a billionaire. As the article highlights, the young billionaire runs Kylie Cosmetics, which famously sells lip kits, modelled after the creator’s personal struggles over the size of her lips. Launched two years prior, the cosmetics company began with its $29 lip kit, followed by more than $630 million worth of makeup products since then. Her company, as according to Forbes, is valued at just nearly $800 million, with Kylie herself owning all of it. As we further analyze the brand, we realize the volatility of it all. With a brand that so heavily relies on her own public image and popularity, it may die out if Kylie goes out of style. The past several years have felt to Kardashian-saturated that it seems unlikely that they would ever fall out of fashion, but the future success of Kylie Cosmetics may just be in danger.
It’s interesting to note the perceived scale of Kylie’s company. With five full-time and seven part-time employees, just two outsourced companies, and Kris Jenner, she manages much of it through her own home and own people. This allows her the freedom to involve herself in the process of the cosmetics company, all the while developing a social media empire to boot. In that sense, Kylie opens the doors to many other young entrepreneurs on Instagram, who may want to extend their talents towards the fashion or beauty industry.
There is no denying her industrious and tenacious nature. At the age of 20 (turning 21 in August), Kylie is worth more than double that of Kim Kardashian, who pioneered the family into fame. Kim’s fame became the catalyst for the success of Kylie. It allowed the success of her lip kits, as well as her social media prowess. However, self-made implies her direct coaction to all parts of the company, rather than being spearheaded by her mother-slash-manager, as well as the rest of the family. It remains doubtful that she would have made it this far, this fast all on her own. The self-made title that Forbes so boldly blazons suggests a misnomer in the definition of the term itself. She used funds already brought by her famous family in order to fulfil this venture and would have been completely fine if Kylie Cosmetics hadn’t succeeded. She had an enormous safety net beneath her and relied heavily upon the family name.
Disregarding the nominal-based advantages Kylie came with, many, including activist Brittany Packnett, believe that she has profited off black culture, through “features, styles and swag”. In a series of tweets, Packnett noted the tendencies of Kylie and Kris Jenner to take advantage of certain styles representative of black culture, demonstrating a clear aim to capitalize on these trends. In the past, the Kardashians as a whole have been implicated in a number of cases where they have appropriated or otherwise stolen from black culture. According to Marie Claire, brands, such as Khloe Kardashian’s Good American jeans and Kylie’s swimwear, steal from black artists, such as Destiny Bleu and Tizita Balemlay. While this obviously doesn’t relate to Kylie’s cosmetics brand, it demonstrates a clear pattern that the family capitalizes upon the ideas of other individuals. They receive a majority of the credit due to their prominent nature in society, which strips other, perhaps more deserving, individuals of success.
The point stands that we shouldn’t ignore Kylie’s obvious successes. Nobody doubts her ability to work passionately towards her goals. However, we must acknowledge that defining her as self-made gives her more credit than she may deserve. There are so many young entrepreneurs out there that do quantify that description, and we must do our best to acknowledge their successes as well.