June 4, 2019
by Yvette Thomas
Forbes has published its 2019 list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women, and what’s notable about this year’s list of 80 women is that several of the new entries on the newly expanded list are entrepreneurs from the fashion and beauty industries: Rihanna, Patricia Miller, Toni Ko and Karissa Bodnar. The women eligible to be on the list are U.S. citizens or U.S. residents who founded a company that is headquartered in the United States. All net-worth figures are estimated by Forbes, as of June 3, 2019.
Here’s a summary of the moguls from the fashion and beauty industries who made it onto the list:
The Billionaire Moguls
Doris Fisher, co-founder of Gap Inc., is ranked at No. 8 (same as in 2018), and has an estimated net worth of $2.7 billion, down from $2.8 billion in 2018. Gap Inc. is the parent company of such fashion retailers as Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Intermix, Weddington Way and Athleta. Although Gap Inc. has been hit hard in recent months with closures of many of its stores, don’t expect Fisher to lose her billionaire status anytime soon.
Tied at No. 14, with an estimated worth of $1.5 billion each, are Forever 21 co-founder Jin Sook Chang and Proactiv co-founders Kathy Fields and Katie Rodan. Chang, Fields and Rodan have the same rankings and net worths as they did in 2018. Forever 21 has successfully extended its youth-oriented fashion brand with the launch of lower-priced retailer F21 Red and the beauty retailer Riley Rose. Proactiv’s winning subscription-based business model, boosted by celebrity endorsements of the company’s skin-care products, has made Proactiv the leading mail-order service for non-prescription acne treatment.
Anastasia Soare, who built a cosmetics empire with her Anastasia Beverly Hills brand, holds on to her No. 21 ranking on the list, but her net worth increased from $1 billion in 2018 to $1.2 billion in 2019. Spanx founder Sara Blakely is No. 23 (down from No. 21 in 2018) on the list, with an estimated net worth of $1 billion (same as in 2018), thanks to her patented invention that changed the way undergarments can shape a body. Kylie Cosmetics founder Kylie Jenner has now entered billionaire status: She’s tied at No. 23, with an estimated net worth of $1 billion. Jenner was No. 27 on the list in 2018, with an estimated net worth of $900 million. With the help of mother/manager Kris Jenner, Kylie Jenner parlayed her reality TV fame and social-media savvy into the Kylie Cosmetics company, which was founded in 2016. At 21 years old, Kylie Jenner is the youngest person on the entire list.
The Veteran Millionaire Moguls
Most of the women on the list have companies that are more than 10 years old. Some have literally made their fortunes by their names, since their names are the same as their companies. They include fashion designer Tory Burch (No. 29 on the list, with an estimated net worth of $850 million, up from $800 million in 2018, where she was also ranked at No. 29); jewelry designer Kendra Scott (No. 40, net worth of $550 million; up from $500 million in 2018, where she was also ranked at No. 40); fashion designer Vera Wang (No. 45, net worth of $460 million); and fashion designer Donna Karan (No. 49, net worth of $430 million).
Alex & Ani founder Carolyn Rafaelian (who has a majority stake in the accessories company) took a steep tumble down the list. In 2018, she was ranked at No. 21, with an estimated net worth of $1 billion. In 2019, Rafaelian is No. 52 on the list, with an estimated net worth of $520 million. Wang’s fortune also took a hit: In 2018, she was at No. 34 on the list, with a net worth of $630 million. Also sliding down the list was Karan: In 2018, she was No. 43 on the list, with a net worth of $470 million.
Paisley designs have off well for Vera Bradley co-founder Patricia Miller (No. 69, net worth of $300 million), who retired from the accessories company in 2012, but still rakes in a fortune as a significant stakeholder. NYX Cosmetics founder Toni Ko (No. 75, net worth of $270 million) sold the company to L’Oréal for $500 million in 2014. In 2016, she launched sunglasses company Thomas James LA. She is also a venture capitalist; her Butter Ventures company invests primarily in female-owned businesses.
The Upstart Millionaire Moguls
Fashion and beauty moguls on the list who have companies that are less than 10 years old owe most of their marketing success to TV and social media.
Rihanna (No. 37, net worth of $600 million) is best known as a Grammy-winning superstar singer, but she’s made much of her fortune through the beauty and fashion industries. Her inclusive cosmetics company Fenty Beauty (launched in 2017) was an immediate hit. She’s also partnered with Puma for a Fenty brand of shoes. In 2019, Rihanna made fashion history by joining forces with fashion giant LVMH (parent company of Louis Vuitton, among numerous other brands) to create her own fashion brand called Fenty. With this partnership deal, Rihanna became the first woman to create an original brand at LVMH and the first woman of color at the top of an LVMH house.
Huda Kuttan (No. 36, net worth of $610 million), who started off as a makeup artist, became a beauty blogger in 2010, and then used that Internet notoriety to launch the Huda Beauty cosmetics company, which she co-founded with her sisters in 2013. Kuttan’s fortunes have increased every year since then. On 2018, she was No. 37 on the Forbes list, with a net worth of $550 million. She is also the star of a Facebook Watch reality show titled “Huda Boss,” which debuted in June 2018, and has been renewed for a second season.
Jamie Kern Lima (No. 47, net worth of $440 million) used to be a TV reporter, but transitioned into the beauty industry by founding It Cosmetics in 2010, when she first began selling the company’s products on QVC. In 2016, she sold the company to L’Oréal for $1.2 billion, while still retaining leadership of It Cosmetics, making her the first female CEO of a L’Oréal-owned company. Kern Lima’s net worth remains the same from 2018, although she was ranked higher on the list (at No. 44) in 2018.
Kylie Jenner’s half-sister and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” co-star Kim Kardashian West (No. 57, net worth of $370 million) has made most of her fortune from reality TV and licensing her name to video games, but Kardashian West’s fashion/beauty ventures (including KKW Beauty, the cosmetics line that Kardashian West launched in 2017) have contributed significantly to her wealth. Although Kardshian West is ranked lower on the list in 2019 (she was No. 54 in 2018), her net worth has increased from $350 million in 2018.
In 2013, makeup artist Karissa Bodnar (No. 74, net worth of $275 million) left her corporate job at L’Oréal and made the leap into entrepreneurship by launching Thrive Causemetics, “a direct-to-consumer makeup brand that sells products that are vegan, cruelty-free and without parabens, latex and sulfates,” according to Forbes. Instagram has been a key factor in Thrive Causemetics’ success.