Kylie Jenner becomes youngest self-made billionaire at 21

Much of Jenner’s wealth has been generated by Kylie Cosmetics, which saw a 9% spike in revenue last year, up to US$360 million.

Forbes has estimated the company, of which Kylie Jenner is the sole owner, is worth some US$900 million. Combined with cash she has already taken out of the wildly successful business, she has reached the billionaire mark, outpacing even Mark Zuckerberg, who reached a ten-figure wealth tally at age 23.

Kylie Cosmetics has fuelled Jenner’s meteoric rise

The company’s revenue is mostly derived from e-commerce but it also struck a deal with makeup retailer Ulta to sell its product lines in its 1,163 US outlets.

While some critics have recoiled at Forbes’ description of Kylie Jenner as ‘self-made’ given she was born into an extremely wealthy family, there is no doubting the runaway success of her Kylie Cosmetics. She is also easily outstripping other family members in terms of wealth; the next wealthiest is her half-sister Kim Kardashian-West, who has a net worth of US$350 million.

Kylie Cosmetics, then known as Kylie Lip Kits, only launched back in November 2015. It initially offered a Lip Kit priced at US$29 which included a liquid lipstick and lip pencil. Demand was overwhelming and the first run sold out in minutes.

Within just 18 months, it had recorded US$420 million in sales and her 2016 holiday collection tallied almost US$19 million in a single day.

Jenner said she never thought her cosmetics business would prove so successful.

“I didn’t expect anything. I did not foresee the future,” she said, adding that the billionaire mark had been a “nice pat on the back”.

Jenner also makes money from her official app, partnerships with brands like Topshop and Adidas, two apparel lines with sister Kendall Jenner, sales of clothes and accessories at’The Kylie Shop’, a book series and reality TV show Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Jenner had previously been ranked the third highest earning celebrity, behind Floyd Mayweather and George Clooney.

Her cosmetics company was inspired by a love of YouTube beauty tutorials in her early teens. The product lines often sell out quickly, which has prompted some observers that the company to speculate that it strategically produces fewer lip kits than it can sell to give the products the veneer of scarcity. Seed Beauty, the manufacturing partner of Kylie Cosmetics, denies this claim and says it runs its factory constantly to make as many products as possible.

Billionaires generally saw their wealth decline in 2018

While Jenner’s personal wealth soared, the billionaire class as a whole saw their wealth decline. The most recent survey marked only the second time in a decade that both the number of billionaires and their collective wealth was lower than the year before. Forbes counted 2,153 billionaires.

The trend of billionaires’ fortunes declining meant US President Donald Trump rose 51 spots in the list despite his wealth remaining stable at US$3.1 billion.

The US had the most billionaires with 607, ahead of China with 324, including 44 newcomers.

The list continued to be male-dominated, with only 252 of the 2,153 billionaires being women. The US had the most women billionaires, with 87.

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