How Kylie Jenner Made Her Millions Through Social Media

Kylie Jenner is one of the most wealthy and famous makeup moguls in the world. She’s also one of the youngest. Her journey began with the public’s fixation on her famous family, the Kardashian-Jenners. However, Kylie has gone on to make a name for herself in her own right, and in her own way.

Here’s what you need to know about how Kylie Jenner made her record-breaking fortune–and whether she’s actually a billionaire after all.

Growing Up On Reality TV

Kylie has been living her life in the public eye for most of her life. Keeping Up With The Kardashians began filming when Kylie was just nine years old. The hit E! series would go on to have a 20-season run.

Initially, the series focused its primary attention on Kim Kardashian’s story. She’d recently achieved socialite status palling around with Paris Hilton; following a highly publicized scandal, people were growing more interested in Kim. In what would become a Kardashian-Jenner trademark move, the family parlayed Kim’s 15 minutes of fame into a much bigger opportunity.

Growing up in an environment where your family’s every move, for better or worse, is documented, might make some people (like Kourtney Kardashian) long to get out of the spotlight. But by 20, Kylie’s fame and name were only beginning to grow. She went on to bank off the mega-success of their breakout reality series, but she’d do so strategically and pursue her own interests. And she’d do most of it with the help of Momager Kris, of course.

Fully embracing the family business, Kylie starred in her own reality spin-off, Life of Kylie, in 2017. After a life’s worth of on-camera practice and lessons in what not to do, Kylie would soon prove she knew how to keep the spotlight on her in the most marketable of ways.

Becoming Instagram’s Most Powerful Influencer

Kylie had an entrepreneurial spirit early on, and she never shied away from the limelight or an opportunity. Kylie and Kendall began a clothing line as preteens. They also penned a YA novel together in 2014, Rebels: City of Indra: The Story of Lex and Livia. As the sisters grew up, their paths diverged. Kendall focused on modeling, and Kylie began building her social media presence.

Kylie Lip Kits would go viral in 2014, building the foundation for her company yet to come, which she’d construct primarily through social media. The future makeup mogul was dubbed the “Queen of Snapchat” for several years and remains one of the most followed celebrities on the app today. And she wasn’t just becoming popular on social media; she was becoming powerful. When the budding influencer tweeted about how she no longer used the platform, Snapchat shares dropped 6% that same day, which was an estimated loss somewhere between $1.3 billion and $1.6 billion. And soon, she’d take over Instagram while the business of influencers was steadily on the rise.

When Kylie reached 215 million followers on Instagram, she became the fourth person to ever exceed 200 million followers. She continues to be the fifth most followed person on the planet. When Instagram debuted its top 20 “most liked” photos from 2020, six of those photos belonged to Kylie. Unsurprisingly, she continues to be one of the highest-paid social media influencers. Reportedly, she gets paid around $1.2 million for a single Instagram post.

Kylie might’ve been the youngest member of her family, but thanks to her prowess on social media, she was also the richest for a while. In fact, she built her most lucrative businesses on Instagram.

Launching Kylie Cosmetics

Kylie Cosmetics

Following the success of Kylie Lip Kits in 2014, Kylie Cosmetics was launched in 2015. There had been an all-out frenzy for her $29 lip kits on social media, and Jenner saw and seized the opportunity. Seemingly overnight, her lip kits evolved into a full-blown brand.

Reportedly, Jenner used $250,000 of her modeling earnings to pay for her first 15,000 lip kits, all of which sold out in a matter of minutes in 2015. Inevitably, her greatest claim to fame would be her cosmetics line, and it would also be her most profitable.

In 2019, Kylie Cosmetics’ revenue reached $200 million. Her sales were mostly thanks to her online following. For a company that spent its first three years selling makeup online and in just a few pop-up shops, her sales were more than impressive–they were record-breaking. According to Forbes, Kylie Cosmetics sold $54.5 million worth of products in Ulta when she partnered with the retailer. Her revenue then climbed by 9%.

When asked about how she pulled that off, Kylie explained, “I popped up at a few stores, I did my usual social media—I did what I usually do, and it just worked.”

Jenner is reportedly still in charge of all creative efforts and marketing for Kylie Cosmetics.

Being Dubbed World’s Youngest “Self-Made” Billionaire

In 2019, Forbes crowned 21-year-old Kylie Jenner the world’s youngest self-made billionaire. When she earned her Forbes title, it was estimated that Kylie Cosmetics was worth upward of $900 million. Most notably, she owned all of it herself. 

At the time, her fortune was estimated at $1 billion. In turn, she was considered the youngest self-made billionaire in the world, having taken the title from Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The primary difference, of course, came down to Kylie’s massive platform and status thanks to her family’s reality show. Questions would soon arise about how “self-made” of a billionaire she really was.

Critics pointed out that Kylie didn’t start her business as an unknown entrepreneur from the ground up. Instead, she came from one of the most wealthy and famous families on the planet. While credit must be given to Kylie where credit is due, many could not overlook the fact that she not only had the money to launch her line but the necessary help to reach the top of her game.

That criticism was not lost on Kylie. In an interview with the New York Times, Kylie admitted, “I can’t say I’ve done it by myself.” She went on to say, “If they’re just talking finances, technically, yes, I don’t have any inherited money. But I have had a lot of help and a huge platform.”

Selling Kylie Cosmetics To Coty

In 2019, 22-year-old Jenner announced she planned to sell a majority stake in her makeup company to publicly traded Coty Inc. The company, owned and ran by JAB Ltd, bought a 51% stake in her company for $600 million, bringing the brand’s value to $1.2 billion. Reportedly, she pocketed about $540 million from the purchase.

The beauty brand’s sell-off was considered one of the biggest celebrity cashouts in history. While there was no doubt Kylie Jenner was now a very wealthy woman, there were some questions about her finances. According to an analysis by Forbes, Jenner’s billion-dollar brands were actually worth “significantly less” than intially thought.

In 2018, Kylie Cosmetics’ revenue had been reported to Forbes as more than $360 million, but later financial reports revealed that her company actually made about $125 million in sales. Reportedly, the numbers were passed along to Forbes by Jenner’s publicist.

Many believe she was still following her family’s golden rule: All press is good press. As for the accusation she had lied about her earnings, it was not a very good look for Kylie. And there would be consequences.

“King Ky” Gets Stripped of Her Forbes Crown

Two years after being declared the world’s ‘youngest self-made billionaire’ by Forbes, Kylie was stripped of her title. But she wasn’t the only one who dropped off the billionaire list. When Forbes reevaluated figures more closely, 60 other people were removed from the billionaire roundup. Due to the mega-media attention that Jenner garnered for her top spot, her removal was the most highly publicized–and, to many, the most controversial.

Adding it all up, Cosmetics Business stated, “Based on this new information – plus the impact of Covid-19 on beauty stocks and consumer spending – Forbes now thinks that Kylie Jenner, even after pocketing an estimated $340m after taxes from the sale, is not a billionaire.”

Kylie and her team were accused of “inflating” her earnings, and therefore, inflating her level of overall success along with it. She’d find herself back on a Forbes list soon enough. She was named the highest-paid celebrity of 2020, earning a reported $600 million. Per Forbes, one of the “greatest assets” of Kylie’s business is her online presence. With social media “at the heart of her marketing strategy,” Kylie’s company has very few expenses.

Kylie Jenner’s Net Worth

Kylie Jenner

Kylie Jenner’s net worth is currently estimated to be about $700 million. Her skincare line, Kylie Skin, launched in 2019 and secured more than $100 million in revenue in just two months, only adding to Kylie’s fortune. She’s currently promoting the line on her Instagram account.

In recent years, Jenner has become a brand ambassador for various companies on Instagram, including Adidas. Reportedly, most of the brands Kylie promotes are paying her upwards of seven figures. She’s still an incredibly wealthy woman–but is she a billionaire? Kylie won’t say for sure, and the mom of one has more important things to worry about.

In 2020, Jenner responded to the backlash surrounding her murky net worth and faux billionaire status on social media. On Twitter, she called the claims she’d lied about being a billionaire “inaccurate statements and unproven assumptions.” In her final tweet on the matter, she wrote, “I can name a list of 100 things more important right now than fixating on how much money I have.”

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