By Alicia Brown
We have seen many young entrepreneurs make the Forbes 30 Under 30 list or the Young Entrepreneur Council, an invitation-only, fee-based organization comprised of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs 45 and younger.
In July 2018, Forbes Magazine announced reality star Kylie Jenner as the youngest self-made billionaire with a net worth of $900 million at 20 years old. This incited public backlash with the public asking itself in what way Jenner could be considered self-made.
The youngest of the Kardashian clan started selling her own cosmetics three years ago. After her infamous lip fillers popularized trends such as the “Kylie Jenner lip challenge,” she capitalized on the attention by starting off with her own lip kits. According to Forbes, the company’s revenues were $330 million in 2017. Based on conservative valuations, today Kylie Cosmetics is worth nearly $800 million. Jenner says she owns 100 percent of the company, so with all of her previous earnings as a model, Forbes estimate she’s worth at least $900 million.
It is one thing to note that she is a near-billionaire; however, it is more than a stretch to title Jenner as self-made. Forbes has created this image of a hardworking, coin scraping individual who came from nothing, while we all know the famed reality show “Keeping up with the Kardashians” created a pedestal for young Jenner to start building her platform.
The entire Kardashian-Jenner clan is a business. Jenner is an inheritor of generational wealth and all the privileges that it entails. “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” premiered less than a decade after Kylie was born. At 20, she’s been famous for longer than she wasn’t. Jenner’s mother Kris has always been there for her, pulling strings both on-camera and behind-the-scenes as her momager (mother-manager).
For Forbes to declare Jenner as “self made” undermines all of the hard working, truly self-made entrepreneurs.
Plenty of makeup companies and businesses in general have come from the true heart of America. Take Josephine Esther Mentzer, most famous for the cosmetics line Estee Lauder. Born in 1908 of Hungarian-Jewish immigrants, she worked her young life to make ends meet with her family of ten. She received her first taste of entrepreneurship working at her family hardware store. Along with her retail experience and marrying her husband Joseph Lauder, they launched a perfume empire which is worth over $3.7 billion today.
Blood, sweat and tears have poured into her brands and manifested in economic success. So to claim a woman born into the upper class with a famous last name, an endless family network, and all the money in the world as “self-made” is a slap in the face to Americans everywhere.
Living in Los Angeles, there is an ever-present competition to become the next famed success story, to embody the American dream. However any rags to riches story requires rags, and with Jenner you only find red carpets. Forbes made a grave mistake in supporting and publishing Jenner as self-made. There are millions of Americans working hard to make a life for themselves and to accomplish great things. It is important to realize who is truly self made.