Kylie Jenner is named youngest self-made billionaire. Self-made? Really?

Jenner has made a fortune through cosmetics. But her family gave her a head start

Kylie Jenner: Forbes says she’s the youngest ever self-made billionaire. Photograph: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty

Kylie Jenner: Forbes says she’s the youngest ever self-made billionaire. Photograph: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty

 

Kylie Jenner is officially the youngest ever self-made billionaire, according to Forbes’ new ranking of the world’s richest people.

The magazine confirmed yesterday that the 21-year-old had reached the milestone at a younger age even than Mark Zuckerberg. The Facebook founder, who is now 34, became a billionaire at a comparatively old 23.

Jenner has made her fortune from her bestselling make-up range, Kylie Cosmetics. She is the first member of her family to become a billionaire. “I didn’t expect anything,” Jenner told the magazine. “I did not foresee the future.” She described the recognition as “a nice pat on the back”.

Part of Kylie Cosmetics’ success can be attributed to its low overheads: everything is outsourced, and the company itself has just seven full-time and five part-time staff

As the youngest member of the Kardashian-Jenner dynasty, Kylie grew up in the glare of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, the reality-TV show starring her family. As a teenager she amassed her own fanbase on social media, first on Snapchat and later on Instagram (on which she currently has 128 million followers – more than Beyoncé, Taylor Swift or Lionel Messi).

In 2015 she decided to leverage her enormous social-media following and partnered with her “momager”, Kris Jenner, to launch the cosmetics company. She began in November 2015 with lip kits. Each contained a liquid lipstick and lipliner that allowed fans to emulate her look. Priced at a relatively inexpensive $29.99, they sold out instantly.

The brand now sells everything from eyeshadow palettes to make-up bags – and is available not only online but also, since striking a deal last summer, at Ulta Beauty, which has more than 1,000 stores in the United States.

Forbes estimates the brand had sales of $360 million, or almost €320 million, last year. Jenner owns 100 per cent of the company, which the magazine says is worth at least $900 million, or €795 million. Add the money Jenner has already taken from the business and it takes her over the $1 billion threshold.

Part of Kylie Cosmetics’ success can be attributed to its low overheads: everything from manufacturing to sales is outsourced, and the company itself has just seven full-time and five part-time staff. Kris Jenner looks after finance and public relations in exchange for what Forbes says is the same 10 per cent management fee that “she siphons from all of her kids”. Marketing is done almost exclusively through Kylie Jenner’s social-media channels.

It’s certainly one way to scrimp and save.

Kylie Jenner’s momager: Kris Jenner looks after finance and PR for a 10 per cent fee. Photograph: Vivien Killilea/Getty
Kylie Jenner’s momager: Kris Jenner looks after finance and PR for a 10 per cent fee. Photograph: Vivien Killilea/Getty

The news that Jenner is the world’s youngest ever self-made billionaire has prompted a mixed response. Some on social media questioned whether a person who converts existing fame and wealth into a billion-dollar fortune can truly be considered self-made.

Dictionary. com, an online dictionary, even took the opportunity to define “self-made” in an apparent dig at Jenner.

Others maintained that she nonetheless deserved credit for building a beauty empire in less than three and a half years.

Forbes says it defines self-made as “someone who built a company or established a fortune on her own, rather than inheriting some or all of it”. It has also devised a 10-point scale to indicate whether people inherited their wealth or were self-made. Jenner scores a seven, meaning she is self-made but had a head start thanks to her wealthy family.

Last month she told Paper magazine that the “the self-made thing is true”, as her parents “cut her off” financially when she was 15 and haven’t given her a cent since then. “My parents told me I needed to make my own money, it’s time to learn how to save and spend your own money, stuff like that,” she said. “What I’m trying to say is I did have a platform, but none of my money is inherited.”

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