Social media has completely revolutionized what it means to be a celebrity today. With the simple click of a button, these stars have the power to influence millions through their incredibly loyal fanbases.
Celebrities have the power to give a brand instant visibility and access to a larger audience. And thanks to platforms like YouTube, Vine, and Twitch, it’s not just celebrities who are getting involved in these highly lucrative endorsements; reality stars and other famous influencers are getting involved as well. From makeup artists to fashion bloggers, it’s not uncommon to scroll through Instagram and see the words, “paid partnership” at the top of many of these influencers’ photos.
Recently, more and more celebrities and influencers seem to be launching their own brands instead of promoting others. From Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty to Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics to Dr. Dre’s Beats by Dre, the celebrity-turned-entrepreneur trend is definitely on the rise.
From a business standpoint, what these celebrities and influencers are doing makes complete sense. They’re capitalizing on the power of their names, their incredible reach, and turning their hobbies and side hustles into full-fledged businesses. With the financial security of their primary careers, it’s a lot easier to make these kinds of moves, as they face a different set of issues than a traditional entrepreneur or average person would.
Here’s a shortlist of some of the most famous and successful celebrity-founded companies:
Jay-Z purchased Swedish music service Aspiro for $56 million in March 2015 and relaunched it as Tidal that same year as a way to enter the music-streaming business and compete against brands like Spotify and Apple. Regardless of the controversies that have surrounded the beleaguered brand, the company is currently valued at $600 million.
Founder: Tony Hawk
Launched in 1992, Birdhouse was successfully able to compete against other mainstream skateboarding brands, even during a time when the sport was believed to be on the decline, all thanks to Tony Hawk’s status as one of the world’s most popular professional skaters.
Founder: George Clooney
Announced in 2017, the sale of Casamigos Tequila to Diageo for $1 billion made Clooney the highest-paid actor in the world according to Forbes. The idea for the tequila brand came to Clooney and his business partner, Rande Gerber, while in Mexico. Founded in 2013, the goal of Casamigos was to develop a tequila that they could drink all day without getting a hangover.
Founder: Gwyneth Paltrow
Goop began as a weekly newsletter that came out of Gwyneth Paltrow’s kitchen in 2008. The company has faced considerable backlash for the kinds of wellness advice it promotes and the products it sells. But through it all, Paltrow remained focused and her fame has contributed to Goop’s success, and the brand is now recognized as a powerhouse in the growing health and wellness space.
Founder: Jessica Alba
The Honest Company was founded in 2008, selling non-toxic baby and household products. The concept was originally met with a lot of skepticism, but Alba kept pushing the platform forward. Today, the company is valued at around $1 billion.
Founder: Reese Witherspoon
Hello Sunshine is an American media company started by Reese Witherspoon and Seth Rodsky in 2016 and focuses on “storytelling, creating, and discovering content that celebrates women and puts them at the center of the story.” In addition to publishing books, the company is involved in one of the most buzzed-about new series of the current streaming era, a drama set in the world of morning TV shows starring Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, which will be a focal point of Apple’s planned push to play in the same streaming-media sandbox as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Disney, and others.
Founders: Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen
The famous former child stars started their couture fashion line, The Row, in 2006. After conquering Hollywood, the world of fashion was where they felt like they had the most control over their careers. The brand has since won multiple CFDA Awards and solidified the Olsens’ place as affluent designers.
It’s worth mentioning that not every product launched by a celebrity is destined to succeed. For every billion-dollar tequila brand sold, there’s a Kardashian Kard (the prepaid credit card was pulled from the market mere weeks after launch in 2010). Like any entrepreneur, celebrities are still susceptible to failure. To be a truly great business tycoon, they must possess traits like persistence, resilience, grit, and determination – qualities that, even with the advantage of fame and wealth, can’t be bought.
Rhea Braganza | Contributing Writer