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Kylie Jenner is NOT a 'self-made' billionaire - here's why

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On 5th of March, Forbes magazine officially crowned Kylie Jenner ‘The Youngest Self-Made Billionaire Ever’. This comes following Jenner’s signing of a deal with the beauty retailer Ulta, leading to the distribution of Jenner’s $29 lip kits, part of her range of Kylie Cosmetics, in Ulta stores all round America.

Following the implementation of Jenner’s cosmetics in Ulta stores, within six weeks the company had sold $54.5 million worth of products. Partly because of this partnership, Kylie Cosmetics’ revenue has grown by 9% within the last year and is now estimated at $360 million, thus leading to Jenner’s newly appointed billionaire status.

Image credit: Marc Zapanta ThePrinceOfVanity

While it is a non-disputed fact that Kylie Jenner is the youngest billionaire in the world, achieving the title at just 21 years of age, her ‘self-made’ status has come under intense criticism since the announcement.

The dictionary definition of ‘self-made’ denotes such a person as ‘having achieved success or prominence by one’s own efforts’. While Jenner has built her cosmetics line singlehandedly, reportedly owning 100% of the company and achieving prominence through her television and social media presence, it is reasonable to suggest that Jenner’s billionaire status is not ‘self-made’.

As the youngest member of the Kardashian family, Kylie Jenner was born into a family that was already in possession of both wealth and fame. The Kardashian family rose to notoriety following the trial of O J Simpson in 1995, where patriarch Robert Kardashian acted as O J Simpson’s lawyer. The family launched their own reality television show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, in 2007, and it has now run for 15 seasons. As a result, Jenner has grown up in the public eye, and consequently has been awarded numerous opportunities, such as modelling contracts and clothing collaborations, from a very young age. 

Jenner launched her Kylie Cosmetics company (formerly named Kylie Lip Kits) in 2015, and within the first 18 months she had single-handedly generated a profit of $4.2 million. While this is no doubt an impressive achievement, the popularity of Jenner’s product was largely aided by her large pre-existing social media presence, which she was able to use as a platform by which to advertise her developing company.

Although she has grown in followers since the conception of Kylie Cosmetics, now boasting a total of 129 million Instagram followers, her pre-established social media presence resulting from her status within the Kardashian family no doubt fuelled this almost instantaneous success. 

Therefore, is it a fair assessment to name Kylie Jenner as a ‘self-made’ billionaire? Yes, she may have created her own company, but Kylie Cosmetics was not built from nothing. Jenner’s previous opportunities in modelling, clothing collaborations and, of course, television, enabled her to create a name for herself previous to launching her company. This therefore granted her a platform from which to launch her company, giving her a ‘head-start’ over the average person looking to build a business.

Kylie Jenner has been undoubtedly helped by the fortunate circumstances she was born into, and the consequential opportunities she was subject to as a member of the Kardashian clan. Although Jenner is in complete possession of her company, I believe that it is highly unlikely that it would have the status it has today if not for her family’s pre-existing wealth and social stature. Therefore, while Kylie Jenner is officially the youngest billionaire ever, to call her self-made is a completely unreasonable statement - particularly when considering the fortunate position which was handed to her in the first place, and from which she built her billionaire fortune.

Lead Image Credit: Marc Zapanta ThePrinceOfVanity

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