How Social Media Transformed Kylie Jenner To Become The World’s Youngest Self-Made Billionaire

Forbes' official youngest billionaire in historyPhoto By: rowandapig/Flickr

The selfie-made billionaire, Kylie Jenner, just hit a significant milestone as Forbes announced March 5 in its annual billionaires’ list, that she is officially the youngest billionaire in history.

Kylie Jenner, the youngest of the Kar-Jenner clan, just hit the 10-digit fortune mark at the age of 21 surpassing Mark Zuckerberg, who reached his first billion at the age of 23.

The Kylie Cosmetics founder ranks No. 2,057 on the list of 2,153. Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates still hold the top two spots.

For an in-depth understanding of how the cosmetics mogul amassed her first billion in the span of a little over three years, you need to remember the phenomenon revolving her lips.

Growing up, Kylie Jenner along with the rest of the family aired in the hit reality tv show Keeping Up With The Kardashians on E! network. Jenner started appearing on the show ever since she was a teen. Avid viewers would tell you that they saw how Jenner grew up.

Being blasted on media since she was young, people quickly noticed how her lips had suddenly changed in 2014. It became plumper and fuller, enabling her to create the perfect pout. She told media, good make up and over lining her lips using a lip pencil was the trick, but people refused to believe.

The Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge was invented. It involved putting your lips in a glass and sucking all the air and waited until your lips looked swollen–this was not a good idea! Thus, more attention surrounded the cosmetics mogul’s lips.

In May 2015, Jenner admitted to having temporary lip fillers to address her insecurity.

She used the attention from media and the people to fuel her soon-to-be billion dollar empire, Kylie Cosmetics.

Jenner paid for the first 15,000 lip kits (a lip liner-lipstick combo) with her own money from modeling, advertisements and partnerships, teased them on social media and put them up for sale for $29 a pop in November.

Her lipstick sold out in a matter of minutes!

“It’s the power of social media,” Jenner says. “I had such a strong reach before I was able to start anything.”

With Instagram and SnapChat on the rise, Kylie, Kendall and the rest of her sisters started capitalizing on the social media platforms. Kylie is one of the most followed accounts on both Instagram and SnapChat.

Kylie Cosmetics made a whopping $307 million in its first year.

Jenner is not a titan of industry. Forbes reports she has fewer than 15 employees and outsources her manufacturing, packaging, sales, and fulfillment.

But a titan of social media? You can bet her more than 128 million followers on Instagram she is.

Her empire consists of just seven full-time and five part-time employees. Manufacturing and packaging are outsourced to Seed Beauty, a private-label producer in nearby Oxnard, California. Online merchant, Shopify, handles all sales and fulfillment. Her mother, Kris, takes care of finance and PR in exchange for the 10% management fee she siphons from all of her kids.

Marketing is done mostly through social media, where Jenner has a massive following. She announces product launches, previews new items and announces the Kylie Cosmetics shades she’s wearing directly to the 175 million-plus who follow her across Snapchat, InstagramFacebookand  Twitter.

In 2018, Jenner made the move to sell her products in-store, allowing her to reach “people that would never buy my products online,” she says. The ones who want to “see, touch and feel before they buy.”

Thanks to Ulta Beauty, Kylie Cosmetics made roughly $360 million last year. (She also attracted quite a bit more attention than usual thanks to a secret pregnancy and high-profile romance with rapper Travis Scott.)

“I popped up at a few stores, I did my usual social media—I did what I usually do, and it just worked,” she says.

So far, she hasn’t spent a dime on traditional marketing to launch the brand in stores, which is “unheard of,” Tara Simon, Ulta’s senior vice president of merchandising, says: “[Jenner’s] ability to communicate with well over 120 million people in a snap has a lot of power.”

Over the next six weeks, Kylie Cosmetics sold $54.5 million worth of products in Ulta, according to estimates from Oppenheimer.

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