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Op-Ed: Is Kylie Jenner a Self-Made Billionaire?

April 23, 2019

In 2018, Forbes listed Kylie Jenner the youngest self-made billionaire and the debate as to what qualifies “self-made” began. In a statement, Forbes defines self- made as “someone who built a company or established a fortune on his/her own, rather than inheriting some or all of it. Does self-made really describe Jenner and others like her?

Twenty-one year old Jenner currently owns 100% of her company, Kylie Cosmetics. The foundation of her company, Kylie Lip Kits, first launched  in fall of 2015. Since then, Jenner’s brand has skyrocketed – amounting to a total value of over $800 million, with most of the revenue generated from the online shop and occasional pop-up shops around the United States.

Many would argue Jenner was already an established icon in pop culture, which put her on the fast-track to the Billionaire’s club. From the age of ten, Jenner was in the center of spotlight along with the rest of her family (the Kardashain empire), who’s fame and financial success spawned the highly-rated show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Kylie also has other connections, such as modeling alongside her sister, Kendall Jenner; collaborating with major fashion companies; and exposure to several industries thanks to mother, Kris Jenner. Arguably, Kylie had very little trouble in establishing her makeup empire. She has over a hundred-million followers across social media (i.e. Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.) which doesn’t hurt when she’s promoting her own products.

As social media continues to grow and expand, we have to wonder whether or not others like Jenner will be described as self-made. “Beauty gurus” such as Jeffree Star and Huda Kattan, have created a mass following for themselves on various social platforms and like Jenner, have used this influence to support their privately owned companies. They each have generated millions of dollars in revenue. Does this make Star and Kattan “self-made” by way of social influence?

The truth of the matter is, as a society, what we consider to be “self-made” affects consumers and can send a potentially dangerous message.  

Hear our opinions on the topic in the podcast down below: