Uyen Cao for Forbes
How Kim Kardashian West Bounced Back To $45.5 Million–And A New Cosmetics Company – Forbes
It’s been quite a year for Kim Kardashian West. From gracing the cover of FORBES to surviving an armed robbery, the reality TV star-turned-tech entrepreneur has weathered a career low to surge back with a new business: Makeup.
Announced today, KKW Beauty will launch next week with a line of contour kits for sale exclusively on its website. Made in Oxnard, California, by Seed Beauty — the same manufacturer behind her half-sister Kylie Jenner’s fast-selling Kylie Cosmetics — it looks set to become a huge moneymaker for Kardashian, who banked $45.5 million pretax in the last 12 months to rank at No. 47 on our Celebrity 100 ranking of highest-paid entertainers.
“This year has been really exciting for me because it’s the first time I’ve moved away from having licensing deals and transitioned into being an owner,” said Kardashian, speaking backstage at the Forbes Women’s Summit, a gathering of hundreds of women entrepreneurs and leaders in New York with the aim of changing the power imbalance in the business world.
Kardashian promises expansion into additional makeup products and revealed plans to premiere a fragrance later in the year. It will be her first solo foray into cosmetics since licensing her name to Boldface for an ill-fated line of makeup with her sisters, Khloe and Kourtney. This time, though, Kim will be in control.
“After 10 years of getting my makeup done every single day, I’ve really put that knowledge into action and production,” said Kardashian.
It’s a remarkable resurgence for the social media star. In October, she was robbed at gunpoint in her hotel room during Paris Fashion Week. The event was traumatic, says Kardashian, but taught her how to choose what to share with her 184 million-plus cross-platform followers.
“I took that experience and turned it into a growth process for me,” said Kardashian, in conversation with Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Forbes Media, in front of a packed house at Manhattan’s Spring Studios.
She decided to take a three month break from social media–a major moneymaker for her, where she can earn upwards of an estimated $300,000 per sponsored post on Instagram.
“I think people don’t realize no matter who you are or what you do, you have to take time off for yourself,” said Kardashian. “I think it was really beneficial to not worry about social media and not worry about comments and figure out, ‘What do I love?'”
The answer: Businesses she owns. She doubled down on her apps, expanding her $2.99 Kimoji app of Kim-based emojis into a line of merchandise, including a $98 pool float in the design of Kardashian’s derriere. With husband Kanye West, she launched a clothing line for kids, after years spent making outfits for their two young children.
She continues to push videos and articles to her over-the-top subscription app, made by Whalerock Industries, which is free to download but costs $2.99 a month for exclusive content. And, of course, she promotes Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, her blockbuster cell phone game with Glu Mobile, which has generated nearly $200 million in revenue since June 2014.
It was the phenomenal business of that money-minting mobile game, which counted for 40% of Kardashian’s $51 million paycheck last year, that landed her on the cover of FORBES. Though game revenue from its in-app purchases and advertising has dipped 50% year over year, its staying power remains impressive, considering the often-brief life cycle of free mobile games.
“I think we really did create a reality video game,” said Kardashian, of the game player’s ability to travel to countries Kardashian and her family visit in real life.
Coupled with Instagram endorsements, Kardashian has made more money in the last few years from mobile endeavors than anything else. Her new ventures should offset the lull in her mobile game: Kardashian’s 2017 earnings dropped only $5.5 million from 2016’s total, even with three months off. Considering gross margins in beauty can be upwards of 60%, makeup could be the next goldmine for Kardashian.
And though some may still question her business acumen, she draws motivation from their doubt: “I do feel like success is the best revenge.”
You’ve been warned.
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