Thursday, March 4

Celeb CEOs: Stars Who Run Their Own Businesses

Who’s the boss? From models and TV personalities to movie stars and talk show hosts, many celebrities have branched out from the medium that made them famous and started their own successful companies.

Kylie Jenner was only 21 when she became the youngest-ever self-made billionaire, according to Forbes’ 2019 list. The makeup mogul was criticized for the title, as she was born into a famous family, but she ultimately stood by it.

“There’s really no other word to use other than ‘self-made’ because that is the truth,” the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star said in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Interview Germany. “That is the category that I fall under.”

At the time, Jenner did admit that she “had a huge platform and lots of fans” before she became a businesswoman, which helped her become successful.

The Life of Kylie alum topped Forbes‘ list once again in 2020 but the outlet later revoked her title, alleging in a lengthy exposé that Jenner’s publicists started “a campaign to ‘get a Forbes cover for Kylie’” and that her business earnings were fabricated to make the brand seem more successful. In May 2020, Jenner clapped back at the claims via Twitter.

“What am I even waking up to. I thought this was a reputable site,” she wrote at the time. “All I see are a number of inaccurate statements and unproven assumptions lol. I’ve never asked for any title or tried to lie my way there EVER. period.”

Her attorney, Michael Kump, further slammed the Forbes article titled “Inside Kylie Jenner’s Web of Lies — and Why She’s No Longer a Billionaire.” In a statement to Us Weekly, the lawyer claimed that the tell-all was “unequivocally false” and demanded “that Forbes immediately and publicly retract” their story.

Despite facings criticism, the E! personality turned her love for beauty into a billion-dollar empire. Likewise, Dr. Dre and Jay-Z took their knowledge and passion for music and made it into something huge. Dre, for his part, cofounded Beats Electronics a.k.a Beats by Dre, in 2006. Apple bought the electronics company in May 2014 for $3 billion and was the largest acquisition in the tech company’s history.

For his part, the “Empire State of Mind” rapper founded the record label Roc Nation in 2008. The label, which has a multi-year partnership with Live Nation, currently represents artists including Big Sean, Jaden Smith, Rihanna and Shakira.

Keep scrolling to read more about stars who are also CEOs of successful business ventures!

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Kim Kardashian

The reality star’s first foray into the business world was in 2014 with her mobile game Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, which raked in $1.6 million in its first five days of release. Three years later, she launched both KKW Beauty — now valued at $1 billion — and KKW Fragrance. In 2019, she faced backlash for naming her shapewear line Kimono and responded to the criticism by changing the company’s name to Skims. After officially launching in September 2019, the brand reportedly earned $2 million within minutes.

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Kate Hudson

The Almost Famous actress cofounded the activewear line Fabletics in 2013. While it was initially launched as an online-only brand, they opened more than 25 retail storefronts by 2018. Hudson later stepped into the liquor space, launching King St. Vodka in 2019. In honor of Valentine’s Day 2021, the craft vodka released a special “Love Fern” collaboration with Urban Stems, paying homage to Hudson’s How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days character.

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Forbes ranked the Grammy winner among the top ten highest-paid celebrities in 2012 and 2014. In 2020, the publication placed her on their list of richest self-made women, clocking her net worth at an estimated $600 million. Rihanna launched her Fenty fashion line in May 2019, two years after founding Fenty Beauty. She followed up her two massively successful businesses with Savage X Fenty lingerie in 2018 and Fenty Skin, a skin care brand, in 2020.

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Sarah Jessica Parker

The Sex and the City alum launched SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker — inspired by her shoe-obsessed character Carrie Bradshaw — in 2014. The footwear brand has since opened boutiques in Las Vegas, New York City and Dubai. Thanks to her successful off-screen ventures, the Footloose star is worth an estimated $150 million.

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Oprah Winfrey

The media mogul founded Harpo Productions, Inc. in 1986, and went on to create her own television network, OWN. According to Forbes, Winfrey’s net worth is $3 billion, making her the first African-American woman billionaire. “On my own I will just create, and if it works, it works, and if it doesn’t, I’ll create something else,” Winfrey told Forbes in October 1995. “I don’t have any limitations on what I think I could do or be.”

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Gisele Bundchen

Geez, Gisele! The Brazilian supermodel has pocketed more than $386 million throughout her career, raking in $47 million alone in 2014, according to Forbes. Tom Brady’s wife has not only acquired her fortune from endorsement deals, but she’s also used her business acumen and star power to generate more income. Bundchen has her own namesake lines under brands like Grendene and Hope, along with her very own skincare company, Sejaa Pure Skincare.

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Dr. Dre

Sounds like success! The rapper hit it big when he cofounded his audio product line, Beats Electronics, known to most as Beats by Dr. Dre. “The good keeps you going,” the successful star told Esquire in December 2013. “The bad motivates you, too.” He added of his talent — in music and business: “You can learn it. But in order to be good at it, to be really great at it, it has to be in you.”

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Jerry Seinfeld

Bringing laughs to the web! The comedian founded a web show called Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee in 2012. Since then, the show has grown into a beloved Internet series, running for more than 3 seasons. “[The web] seemed like a fun place to play,” Seinfeld told Fast Company in an interview. “I like taking videos of coffee and cars and comedians. Maybe I could weave them into something. It’s not really a show. I used to say it’s an anti-show about a nonevent.”

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His kingdom waits, indeed! The music mogul, who first built his wealth off production company Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment Group, reached an estimated $700 million net worth in 2014. According to Forbes, Combs could become hip-hop’s first billionaire after recently launching his endeavor, Revolt TV. “My number one personal quality I admire [in business] is following through,” Combs told CNBC. “I’m living my dream, you know? I think we’re watching my dream happen.”

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From rags to (extreme) riches! Beyonce’s husband has an estimated $520 million in net worth according to Forbes, thanks to Jay’s numerous business ventures. Most profitable of all recently has been his label, Roc Nation, and its newest component Roc Nation Sports.

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Simon Cowell

The X Factor creator used his production company, Syco Entertainment, to produce the smash competition series. Both Cowell and Sony Music Entertainment own 50 percent of the company, which later produced another successful franchise: America’s Got Talent.

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Jessica Alba

Honesty rules! The Sin City star cofounded The Honest Company, her eco-friendly baby product brand, to counter the use of harsh chemicals and toxic cleaning supplies offered by other makers. The mother of two told Us in the 2014 Hot Bodies issue that her inspiration came with years of experience. “After I turned 30, I felt like I had turned a corner,” Alba said of herself. “I definitely started to feel more connected to myself.”

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Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen

From Full House to full bank account! The former child stars own three successful clothing lines: The Row, Elizabeth and James, Olsenboye, and a Stylemint venture. “There’s a lot of compromise in the entertainment industry,” Ashley told Allure of her career change from acting to business. She added of their work ethic: “It’s not like you wake up one day and have a huge company with four or five different companies within the companies.”

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Gloria Estefan

Gloria and Emilio! The singer-songwriter and her husband have a minor ownership stake in the Miami Dolphins, but a large chunk of their wealth comes from running businesses! The saucy couple own several successful restaurants in Miami, as well as two hotels in their beloved state of Florida.

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Justin Timberlake

Tequila, jeans, basketball. The pop star has acquired his wealth not only from his music career, but largely from his business investments, including his fashion line William Rast. Timberlake also holds ownership stakes in two of his passions: the Memphis Grizzlies and his co-branded tequila, Sauza 901. “I believe in it because I made it,” Timberlake told the Wall Street Journal in May 2014.

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Jessica Simpson

“My business is the heart of who I am,” Simpson told Fortune about her retail company, Jessica Simpson Collection, which generates an estimated $1 billion a year. “I want to make every woman feel confident in what they’re wearing… I have been every size on the planet and I understand women.”

John Shearer/Getty Images for Jessica Simpson Collection

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Ashton Kutcher

Mila Kunis’ significant other is not only a talented actor — he’s also business savvy. Kutcher is a big investor in the tech world, running A-Grade Investments. His outlook is simple: “I don’t believe that old cliché that good things come to those who wait,” Kutcher told Hello! magazine. “I think good things come to those who want something so bad they can’t sit still.”

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Celine Dion

The singer used her name to market fragrances that became wildly popular and contributed to her empire.

Jason Merritt/Getty Images; PR NEWSWIRE

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Gwyneth Paltrow

The ultimate curator! Gwyneth Paltrow founded her lifestyle website, Goop, in 2008. “I think when you are a working mother it is always very difficult,” she told Viva magazine in its October 2014 issue. “In fact, it’s difficult if you are a mother anyway even if you are not working. It’s the demand, the responsibility and the love — it’s a lot and trying to balance a career with it makes it hard…I have a lot of respect for women who try to do both things, because I really struggle.”

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Flossy flossy! The Black Eyed Peas frontwoman has used her name to take on business ventures, including Voli Vodka, which she cofounded in 2012. “I’m loving the businesswoman role,” the singer told Business Insider. “It’s empowering.”

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Will Smith

The Fresh Prince founded his production company, Overbrook Entertainment, in 1997. “Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity,” the optimist told CBS News in a classic interview. “Why would you be realistic? What’s the point of bein’ realistic? I’m gonna do it. It’s done. It’s already done. The second I decide it’s done, it’s already done. It’s just now we just gotta wait for y’all to see.”

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Gwen Stefani

Bananas for business! The No Doubt lead singer founded her fashion line, L.A.M.B. — named after her debut solo album, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. — in 2004. “L.A.M.B. is a line that I want to wear every day,” Stefani said about her brand. Since its debut, the entrepreneur added two additional lines to her fashion empire, Harajuku Lovers and Harajuku Mini.

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Drew Barrymore

The former child star cofounded her production company, Flower Films, in 1995. It has since produced major films like 2000’s Charlie’s Angels and the 2009 film adaptation of He’s Just Not That Into You. In 2014, she founded her own beauty company, Flower Beauty.

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Sandra Bullock

Sweet and savvy! The Oscar winner founded her own production company Fortis Films, which has Bullock’s successful movie ventures including Miss Congeniality. “I never did anything according to what anyone else wanted,” Bullock told Parade magazine about her success. “That’s why I think I am happy. I do everything 100 percent — even my stupidest missteps. I know when I’m getting ready to mess up, I’m going to do it full-on.”

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Bethenny Frankel

Skinny Girl to the top! The Apprentice alum created the Skinnygirl cocktail company in 2011, following her successful Skinnygirl books, which were released in 2009.

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Lauren Conrad

From everybody’s best friend to business mogul! The Hills alum used her celebrity to establish her empire, which consists of her namesake website and numerous clothing brands including an exclusive Kohl’s collection and a contemporary line called Paper Crown.

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Tyra Banks

The Harvard Business School grad proved that she’s not just another former Victoria’s Secret model. Banks is the founder of very own production company, Bankable Productions, and an investment firm, Fierce Capital.


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Kylie Jenner

The youngest member of the Kardashian-Jenner family was named the youngest-ever self-made billionaire by Forbes in March 2019. The former Life of Kylie star’s fortune is due largely to her successful makeup brand, Kylie Cosmetics, which she started in 2015 and is now available at Ulta stores across the United States. “It’s the power of social media,” Jenner told the publication. “I had such a strong reach before I was able to start anything. … I see [Kylie Cosmetics] going very far. I work really hard.”

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Reese Witherspoon

In addition to being an award-winning actress, Witherspoon is also the founder of the lifestyle and clothing brand Draper James, which is inspired by the Louisiana native’s southern roots. Witherspoon also cofounded Pacific Standard, the company that produced Gone Girl and her hit HBO series, Big Little Lies. In 2016, the Legally Blonde star and Stand Equity founder Seth Rodsky started Hello Sunshine, a media company that focuses on women-led business ventures including movies, books and podcasts.

Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Turner

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