How Kim Kardashian West built her R5 billion empire
- Kim Kardashian West's net worth is reportedly $350 million (R5 billion), according to Forbes.
- You may have seen her on TV during an episode of E!'s "Keeping Up With The Kardashians," making a cameo during sitcoms like "Last Man Standing" and "30 Rock," or in movies like "Ocean's Eight."
- She told Oprah in an interview that she admits a sex tape "introduced" her to the entertainment world, but she's become known for a lot more since then.
- From founding beauty companies - both failed and successful - and clothing lines to pursuing a career as a lawyer, here's a look at the career of Kim Kardashian West.
- For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.
The Kardashian family's first moments in the spotlight were when the patriarch of the family, Robert Kardashian Sr., was in the public eye as O.J. Simpson's lawyer ...
... but Kim Kardashian's first solo appearance in the world of entertainment came as a stylist for singer and actress Brandy Norwood in 2004.
Her skills as a stylist also landed her a spot on TV's "The Simple Life" with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie from 2003 to 2006.
Kim told Variety that her career as a businesswoman actually dates back to before she appeared on TV. She said it started in high school when she was working at a boutique and in her dad's office. She said she discovered eBay while she was working at Robert Sr.'s office and loved shopping.
Robert Sr. reportedly told her she could buy five pairs of Manolo Blahnik shoes as long as she paid him back plus interest.
The shoes were $700 heels in a style worn by Jennifer Lopez in one of her early music videos. "Everyone had to have them," Kim told Variety.
She told Variety that she saw the opportunity to make money and capitalized on it. Kim said she called up a store, bought five pairs of the Manolos for $700 each, and resold them on eBay for $2,500! She said she became so "obsessed" with the return that she began to sell off her own clothes that she no longer wore.
In 2006, Kim and her sisters, Kourtney and Khloe, opened their first DASH store in their hometown of Calabasas, California. The concept behind the store — a sort of consignment shop — was pretty similar to Kim's love for reselling.
In the following decade they opened more locations, including one in Miami and one in the Soho neighborhood of New York City. Kim announced they'd be shutting DASH doors in April 2018 as the sisters continue to work on their own brands and families.
Kim said her original idea for the reality show, "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," was to bring attention to the DASH brand.
"I was thinking, this might not last very long, but we'll grow a great business and expand online," she told Variety. "I thought it would be great press. I didn't think it would turn into what it turned into."
And it turned into something huge. In 2018, Complex ranked "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" one of the best reality TV shows of all time, behind only MTV's "The Real World."
Shortly before the first episode of the family's reality show, "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," aired in October 2007, Kim became the center of a scandal that some say catapulted her career.
In February 2007, a sex tape with Kim and Ray J — Brandy Norwood's brother whom Kim dated from 2003 to 2006 — surfaced and made its way into the news. Kim sued the entertainment company distributing the tape at the time.
She reportedly settled the case for $5 million.
While the tape wasn't technically part of her career path, she did tell Oprah she's "not naive to the fact" that it helped launch her into fame.
Source: Oprah's Next Chapter
"I think that's how I was definitely introduced to the world," she said.
Source: Oprah's Next Chapter
At the end of 2007, Kim posed for Playboy, and the shoot was captured on the first season of "Keeping Up With The Kardashians." She said she was so nervous that she had to sit down with the magazine's founder and then-editor-in-chief, Hugh Hefner, who she credited with helping convince her to pose.
In 2008, E! gave fans of the reality show a second season. It's now on its 16th season.
In 2009, Kim released a three-DVD workout plan called "Fit in Your Jeans by Friday."
In a promotional video, she calls it "so high-fashion and so stylised, it's very me." Most of the outfits have an "'80s, futuristic" look, as described by Kim herself.
Source: "Fit in Your Jeans by Friday"
She said she developed it because people were continually asking her how she kept her curves in shape. She said that while working with a few trainers, she found a routine that worked for her, and built the videos around the method.
Source: "Fit in Your Jeans by Friday"
The DVDs are split up by physical focus — there's "Ultimate Butt Body Sculpt," "Amazing Abs Body Sculpt," and "Butt Blasting Cardio Step," which she says was inspired by her love for doing workout videos with her sisters in their teenage years.
Source: "Fit in Your Jeans by Friday"
The opening of DASH Miami in 2009 brought about a new reality spinoff: "Kourtney and Kim Take Miami."
The series lasted for three seasons — but Khloe headlined season two instead of Kim, although Kim did appear in the season.
Also in 2009, Kim appeared in "Deep in the Valley," a romantic comedy that has a 26% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, produced by Persistent Entertainment.
Source: Rotten Tomatoes
Kardashian Glamour Tan was released onto the beauty market in April 2010. It's a self-tanning gel created by the three sisters and was — at the time — exclusive to Sephora and cost $34. Now, there's a tube going for $79 (R1,100) on Amazon.
Six months later, Kim made her debut in the perfume world with her eponymous scent.
In 2011 reality TV viewers got to watch what happened as Kourtney and Kim opened their third DASH retail store in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood.
At the time, Kim was newly married to NBA player, Kris Humphries. The pair lived in a suite at the Gansevoort Hotel with Kourtney, her then-boyfriend Scott Disick, and their son Mason Disick.
Their wedding was broadcast into the homes of people all over the US as "Kim's Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event." The event reportedly brought in $18 million in licensing fees, endorsement deals, and broadcast deals for Kim.
But 72 days later they were divorced.
Kim debuted a music video at the TAO nightclub New Years party in 2011 for her song "Jam (Turn it Up)." It was commercially released in March. A New York Daily News headline following the song debut called Kim "the worst singer in the reality TV universe."
A portion of the proceeds reportedly went to St Judes Children's Research Hospital.
She told Andy Cohen she gave herself a hard time about the decision to do a music video for a long time. "I can't believe I did that," she said. But, she had fun!
In 2011, the sisters released a clothing line with retailer Sears aptly dubbed Kardashian Kollection.
They came under fire with the line when they were accused of working with abusive employers to make their clothes.
And in 2013, the brand was said to be "flopping big-time" as Sears dropped prices to less than $10. It officially folded in 2015.
But of course, that wasn't the only thing Kim had going on at the time. In April 2011 she launched Gold, her second fragrance.
And her third fragrance, "Kim Kardashian Love," was released for her wedding to Kris Humphries in 2011.
There were only 979 bottles sold — 1,000 were made, but 20 were reserved for her bridal party and one for herself on her wedding day.
In the summer of 2012 Kim launched her fourth fragrance, "True Reflection."
The launch party in Hollywood benefitted Dress for Success, a charity organisation.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
In November 2012, Kim and her sisters launched Khroma Beauty — a full range of cosmetics products.
The name was changed to Kardashian Beauty after another established makeup company called Kroma Beauty took the sisters and their lawyers to court. This came after Khroma was threatened with a different lawsuit from LA-based company Chroma Beauty.
Source: Teen Vogue
The line didn't last, and a former employee of the family said the real problem was likely the lack of involvement. While Kim and Kylie are now heavily involved in their beauty brands, Khroma was a licensing deal.
In 2014, Kim released her iPhone and Android game "Kim Kardashian: Hollywood."
Just in the first five days, the game reportedly grossed $1.6 million.
As of August 2018, the game was bringing in around $8 million in a quarter for the Glu Mobile company.
Kim covered Paper Magazine in November 2014. She posed naked for a cover story called "Break the Internet: Kim Kardashian." While the story didn't literally break the Internet, Kim did end up winning the first ever Webby award named after the achievement: The Break The Internet Award.
In 2015 Kim published "Selfish" — a small coffee table book filled with 448 pages of selfies she had taken between 2006 and 2014.
The book landed on the New York Times Bestseller list.
The launch of Kimojis for iOS in December 2015 was huge for Apple's App Store. She reportedly told Rolling Stone that she'd only work with Kanye-approved graphic designers to develop the emoji.
On the day of the launch, Apple's App Store reportedly crashed. Kim tweeted, "Apple, I'm so sorry I broke your App Store!!!"
In May Kim tweeted about her new children's clothing line with husband Kanye West called TheKidsSupply. She wrote, "For the past few years Kanye and I have made almost all of our kids clothes and we have collaborated on a new kids line !"
The entire first collection was reportedly inspired by Calabasas and included dresses, chokers, hats, sweatpants, and more. Later seasons included itty-bitty Yeezys, the luxury lifestyle sneakers developed by Kanye West and Adidas.
Also in 2015, Kim made $500,000 for one sponsored Instagram post about a morning sickness pill.
Kim got back into the beauty business with KKW Beauty in 2017. The first product: a $48 contour kit that sold out in minutes and raked up more than $13 million in sales.
She went on to produce more products for the line, including a fragrance that made $10 million in one day.
Her minimalist approach to the marketing process worked in her favour. She didn't spend money on traditional advertising — instead, she turned to her devoted social media following. And it worked!
People bought her perfume without even smelling it first.
For the past few years, Kim has also been speaking at and even headlining conferences like Glamour's Women of the Year Summit, Create & Cultivate, the #BlogHer16 Conference, Re/Code, and more.
She's had a hand in a wide variety of businesses and continues to build out her brands — both personal and professional. Although, the line between the two is a bit smudged.
Most recently, Kim announced that she's studying up for the 2022 bar exam. "It's never too late to follow your dreams," she wrote on Instagram.
Kardashian told Vogue that she was inspired to study law after she helped Alice Marie Johnson get released from prison in 2018.
Kardashian publicly championed Johnson's case and met with President Donald Trump in 2018 to seek clemency for Johnson, a 63-year-old grandmother who was serving a life sentence for non-violent drug offenses.
Kardashian has reportedly been apprenticing at a San Francisco law firm. Robert Shapiro — a lawyer who worked with Kim's father on the O.J. Simpson murder trials — told TMZ that he thinks Kim has skills that will help her as a lawyer, and that she'll have a job offer from his firm if she passes the bar.
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