Kylie Jenner recently became the youngest self-made billionaire in the world, breaking a record previously held by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and joining a very short list of powerhouse women.
Jenner’s new milestone is a win for women. The already short list of self-made billionaires under the age of 35 has been made up of all men for years. And not only is she the youngest self-made woman billionaire, but at 21, she is the youngest self-made billionaire in general — ousting Mark Zuckerberg, who launched Facebook at 23, from the top spot.
A brief history of how she did it: In 2015, at 18 years old, Jenner broke into the cosmetic industry. She launched her first “Lip Kit” collection in a small pop-up shop in San Francisco — only to sell out in minutes. That pop-up shop became a full-fledged cosmetics company in 2016. Kylie Cosmetics is now one of the fastest-growing cosmetic brands in the world. The company is fully owned by Jenner herself and is the reason for her exponential net worth — which broke $1 billion on March 5.
Much like other headlines generated by the Kardashian/Jenner family, controversy abounds over her billionaire status. Specifically, some question whether her net worth is being calculated correctly while others wonder if she can truly be considered to be “self-made,” considering her family connections. At the young age of 9, Jenner was already in “famous for being famous” territory, making her debut on her family’s reality television series, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
What cannot be denied, however, is that Jenner launched a company that is raking in money — sales reached $360 million last year, according to Forbes, and are expected to rise further thanks to a new partnership with Ulta Beauty Inc. Very few entrepreneurs — men or women — reach that level of success so quickly.
We tried to find a few female peers that come close to matching Jenner’s accomplishment….and were hard-pressed. If you raise the age limit to 50, though, you do find other women who have made themselves into billionaires.[Related: Inside Gisele Bundchen’s Billion-Dollar Empire]
Here are a few of our favorites (not accounting for inflation):
1. Oprah Winfrey
In 2003 at the age of 49, Oprah became the first black female billionaire. She is famous for her television talk show, books, magazine, television network and acting appearances. Oprah grew up poor in a small Mississippi farm town and worked her way up to become the media empress she is today.
2. J.K. Rowling
Rowling was the youngest woman billionaire in 2004 at the age of 38. She was also the first author to have a net worth over $1 billion. Her career began as a school teacher until she started writing the Harry Potter series. Currently, Rowling’s net worth fluxuates around the $1 billion line as she is continuously giving large amounts of her wealth to charities around the world.
3. Sara Blakely
At the age of 41, Blakely became a billionaire in 2012 from her company, Spanx. After failing the LSAT twice, she struggled to make ends meet, and eventually had to move back in with her mom until she had her billion-dollar idea. The now-CEO cut the feet out of her panty hose to use the slimming waist as underwear during the hot summer months. From there, she launched Spanx — and in doing so, became an example to all women to never give up on their ideas.
4. Sheryl Sandberg
Sandberg became a billionaire in 2015 at the age of 45. She is the COO of Facebook and the first woman to serve on its board. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Harvard University, then went to Harvard Business School for her MBA. As soon as she was hired by Facebook in 2007, she immediately looked for ways to make Facebook more profitable. At that time, Zuckerberg was more focused on making Facebook cool, and assumed profits would follow. The more experienced Sandberg understood profits didn’t work that way and instead chased after sponsors. The economic success of the social media site is credited to Sandberg.
[Related: 6 Major Money Moves Made by Women in 2018]
Posted: March 13, 2019