The “Keeping up with the Kardashians” star turned CEO of Kylie Cosmetics talks illegal counterfeiting, working with friends and advertising on social media.
Keeping up with this “Kardashian” star could make you a better boss.
Kylie Jenner, the 20-year-old reality star of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” fame turned CEO with her namesake cosmetics line, teaches some surprisingly relevant business lessons on her spinoff show “Life of Kylie,” which airs Sunday.
The young makeup mogul started selling her coveted Lip Kits – a liquid lipstick and lip liner duo for $29 a pop – in 2015. She sold $420 million in retail sales in just 18 months and the brand is on its way to becoming a billion dollar enterprise, according to Women’s Wear Daily. The beauty company, Kylie Cosmetics, is slated to see a 25% increase in sales this year alone with sales projected at a whopping $386 million this year — keeping the brand on track to make a billion by 2022, the magazine reports. In comparison, Estee Lauder Cos. Inc.-owned Tom Ford Beauty was said to have reached $500 million after a decade.
“The thing with Kylie is she grew up in the entrepreneurial family. Even though she’s young, she has grown up around people who are demonstrating what it takes to create a brand and lead a company and make lots of money,” New York City-based career consultant John Kalinowski tells Moneyish.“And of course having money gives her a leg up in business at such a young age,” he adds.
Jenner was the youngest person ever to make the Forbes Celebrity 100 list raking in an estimated $41 million in 2017 from her endorsements, reality TV show, the cosmetics company and her clothing line with big sister Kendall Jenner.
While the drama of the show can seem contrived, it’s hard to argue that the youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner clan knows how to build her brand. Here are a few things young entrepreneurs could learn from Jenner:
Be friendly, but firm
Jenner is friendly with her glam team — a group of easy-going millennial hair and makeup artists she often jokes informally with throughout the reality show — but not too friendly. While Jenner admits she hates confrontation, when her makeup artist, Ariel Tejada, continues to bring his boyfriend to work, she lets him know this won’t fly.
“I definitely had to learn how to balance between friendship and business, just trying to take on the boss role and standing up for myself, because people do take advantage of you,” she said on the show. “We keep it professional. We understand our positions,” she added.
Kalinowski agrees that it’s important to set a professional rapport, no matter how friendly you may be with your employee. “In order to function best on a professional level it’s important to set up boundaries up front and have regular check-ins with people to see what’s working and what’s not,” he says.
In a recent episode, Jenner ventured to downtown Los Angeles with her friend Jordyn Woods to check out the fake Kylie Cosmetics products being sold on the street. After examining the ingredients – some contained harmful products that can cause acne, infections or skin rashes – Jenner put out a PSA to her followers warning them to not buy from other sites or retailers who are knocking off her cosmetics as unsafe alternatives.
“I just don’t want people to think this is a representation of my product and who I am,” she said.
Counterfeit goods are a massive business in the world. In 2013, the Department of Homeland Security seized more than $1.7 billion in knock offs at the U.S. borders, according to Darin Klemchuk, managing partner at intellectual property law firm Klemchuk LLP, who says there are steps young entrepreneurs can take early on to avoid losing money later.
“It depends on the product or service. You want to register whatever intellectual property the product or service is most associated with early. If it’s a brand get a trademark in all countries you do business — both manufacturing and sales. If it’s a creative work get a copyright,” he adds.
Use social media as free advertising
Jenner admits that she’s spent practically no money on advertising, and instead markets her product on her social channels like Instagram and Snapchat where she’ll test her lip colors and eye shadows on herself giving mini tutorials to her 96.7 million followers.
Other brands are increasingly using social platforms to engage with consumers versus traditional advertising. Netflix has used memes to advertise the “Netflix and chill” concept; Starbucks advertises its coveted pumpkin spice latte launch date via Twitter; and Ben & Jerry’s has used videos on Instagram to promote new flavors.
Earn respect in the workplace
At just 20-years-old, Jenner realizes that not everyone thinks of her as a CEO.
“I do feel like people don’t take me seriously as a businesswoman because of my age and my reputation,” she revealed. “But I do think they’re starting to. I like to prove people wrong.”
Kalinowski says it’s important to lead by example, and seek advice from well-placed mentors when you don’t know all the answers.
“Make sure you’re modeling an example for what you’re expecting other people to do. If you’re showing up late or not focused then that’s not going to work,” he says.
“If there are things you’re unsure of, it’s really important that you have a board of advisers if not a board of directors around you that you trust who have different perspectives or skills that you don’t — maybe they’ve been in business longer or have a finance background. You need a strong team of people at the top so that you’re being advised and challenged to perform and excel.”
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