This week the news cycle was so glutted with the Trump circus I had a difficult time tuning in. So my thoughts drifted to a controversial magazine cover from two weeks ago. On July 11, Forbes Magazine published its annual list of the richest self-made women. They drew ire because Kylie Jenner, "the youngest member of the Kardashian-Jenner industrial complex," was on the cover. Whether she could be considered "self made" given her celebrity status is questionable. Then, to stoke the fire, just a week later Pat McGrath Labs surpassed Jenner and actually hit the billion dollar beauty mark.
I'm sure it's because I'm completely immersed in my newfound entrepreneurship, but I was way more interested in how Kylie Jenner has built and is running her near billion dollar empire than whether she deserves any credit for it. Here are the biggest lessons I'm taking away:
#1 Drive obsession.
I didn't even know Kylie Jenner had a makeup line. Obviously I spend too much time reading books and not enough time on Instagram. But after two weeks of asking nearly every woman I interacted with whether they've bought her lipstick kit, I've discovered I'm on the brink of extinction. "I'm wearing Kylie right now," said my bank manager when I was opening up my new business account, and she is eagerly awaiting the next release. It's not just the quality of the product that is driving Kylie Cosmetic customers, it's the anticipation of it. How can I create sustainable stickiness for my products and services? I've been asking myself this question a lot lately.
#2 Only do what you do best.
Kylie Jenner cosmetics has only seven full-time employees. The packaging, sales, fulfillment, finance, and PR are all outsourced to experts, including her mother. Rather than develop and test new formulas, which can take six months, Kylie defers to her manufacturing partners, so she can get her product to market within weeks after inventing them. With all of her resources Kylie's empire could easily execute some of these functions, but she is crystal clear and relentless about her highest and best use: social media marketing. She pretty much drops the ball on everything else.
#3 Own it.
Despite having outsourced so much of the work required to run Kylie Cosmetics, there is one thing that Kylie Jenner maintains complete control over—the company itself. She insisted on using $250,000 from her own modeling earnings to get it started and owns 100% of the equity.
#4 Fame isn't everything.
One of the facts that got overlooked in the Kylie Jenner "self made" backlash was that out of the 60 women on Forbes' list of the richest self-made women, she was only #27. I had only heard of five of the 26 women above her. Number one, Diane Hendricks, has a net worth of 4.9 billion and owns a roofing company based in Wisconsin. So even if Kylie Jenner only got where she is because the paparazzi started following her when she was 10 years old, there is still hope for the rest of us.