Reality television star and cosmetics mogul, Kylie Jenner has been named the youngest-ever self-made billionaire by Forbes with an estimated fortune of US$1 billion (A$1.41 billion).
She claims the title at just 21 years old, which is two years younger than Mark Zuckerberg was when he made his first appearance on the list.
“I did not foresee the future,” Jenner told Forbes. “But [the recognition] feels really good. That’s a nice pat on the back.”
So how did she make all her money?
Around US$900 million of her empire is in her cosmetics brand, Kylie Cosmetics, which has seen a runaway success since it launched in 2015.
Most of the brand’s early success was tied to her Lip Kits – a makeup set that came with a lip liner and colour – which Jenner marketed to her 175 million-strong social media fan-base to viral success.
Without a bricks and mortar presence, Kylie Cosmetics essentially went from 0 to US$307 million in sales within one year – but it reached juggernaut status after US cosmetics store Ulta began stocking the product.
“It’s the power of social media,” Jenner said. “I had such a strong reach before I was able to start anything.”
The other US$100 million is in the cash Jenner has pulled from the incredibly lucrative business.
Is she really self-made?
Some don’t think so.
“Haven’t we gone over this? Self-made: Having succeeded in life unaided,” Dictionary.com queried.
Haven't we gone over this?
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) March 5, 2019
Others echoed Dictionary.com’s response.
ah yes self made billionaire kylie jenner, cant believe how far she’s came from that little council estate in the slums of carlisle https://t.co/UO3wDEH9YK
— Callum Markie (@callummarkie) March 5, 2019
Kylie Jenner is not a “self made billionaire” her family was already worth millions and incredibly famous. All she did was leverage her fame, fortune, and family name. https://t.co/jTxoH0LqwE
— Robbedy (@robbedy) March 5, 2019
Stop it!!! There is NOTHING "self-made" about Kylie Jenner. Shame on u 4 making such a ridiculous claim. Not knocking Kylie Jenner, good 4 her; she's not "self-made". Most of us could start pretty great ventures if we had multi-million $ families getting us started. #laughable
— Lindy Good (@G00dGirl57) March 5, 2019
But Forbes defended Jenner’s title.
“Forbes defines “self-made” as someone who built a company or established a fortune on her own, rather than inheriting some or all of it. As long as the list member didn’t inherit a business or money, she is labeled self-made,” Forbes journalist Kerry A. Dolan said.
But, Dolan added, Forbes recognises that this is a broad definition, so includes a scoring system ranking the richest Americans on how self-made they were out of 10.
Someone who inherited all their money will only score a one, while someone like Oprah Winfrey who built an empire after growing up in hardship will score a 10.
“Kylie Jenner, who comes from a wealthy family and who has leveraged her fame to her advantage, ranks a seven.”
However her wealth still pales in comparison to the US$131 billion fortune possessed by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos – the wealthiest person in the world.
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