Kylie Jenner was just 10 years old when her big sister’s backside became a global phenomenon. It was 2007 and TV viewers in 160 countries had just started Keeping Up With The Kardashians and their extended clan.
The youngest member, a schoolgirl who didn’t like her thin lips, watched in awe as Kim K’s unusually curvy bum “broke the internet” and amassed her a fortune now sitting at £265million.
But, seven years later, Kylie hit on a barmy business idea of her own – cosmetic kits for “the perfect pout”.
And her newly luscious lips were soon leaving Kim’s golden buttocks way behind in the money-making stakes.
Because Kylie, 20, mum to five-month-old daughter Stormi and partner of rapper Travis Scott, is on the brink of becoming the youngest self-made billionaire.
According to business magazine Forbes, she has built up a fortune of £680million ($900million) in less than three years, making her the youngest person on its list of America’s 60 richest self-made women.
She is number 27 – ahead of Barbra Streisand (£302million), Beyonce Knowles (£253million) and Taylor Swift (£240million).
But Kylie can’t toast herself with a glass of bubbly as she’s too young to drink legally in the States. She turns 21 next month.
Another few months of success could make her the world’s youngest self-made billionaire of either sex, trumping Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (at age 23) and Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel (early 20s).
And if Kylie’s fortunes continue to flourish she will be wealthier than the rest of her sisters combined by 2025.
“What her half-sister Kim Kardashian West did for booty, Jenner has done for full lips,” Forbes wrote.
And it all came a-pout thanks to social media. Reality TV fame helped Kylie build up 110 million Instagram followers and 25.6 million on Twitter.
Guided by manager mum Kris Jenner, 62, she cashed in on that profile to sell Kylie Cosmetics online, with minimal overheads and marketing costs.
To plug her range (and other products she endorses) she simply posts pouting selfies every few hours, and it has netted her a big slice of the global £402billion beauty industry. She launched her £22 Kylie Lip Kits in February 2016 and by the end of that year had made £232million.
“Social media is an amazing platform,” Kylie says. “I have such easy access to my fans and my customers.”
Forbes has even compared her rise and influence to that of US President Donald Trump. It says: “Products of reality television, both Trump and Jenner understood how fame can be leveraged – that they are as much brands as people and that fame is just another word for free marketing.
“Social media has weaponised fame to the point that a real estate mogul can be President and a 20-year-old from a family ‘famous for being famous’ can approach billionaire status.”
She also makes money from the Kendall and Kylie clothing brand started with her model sister, 22.
Their father is transgender former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, 68, Kris’s second husband. Kris was previously married to lawyer Robert Kardashian, a key figure in the OJ Simpson trial and they had Kourtney, 39, Kim, 37, Khloe, 33, and son Rob, 31. Kylie’s TV work pays handsomely too. She is featured in around 140 episodes of Keeping Up – earning £3,780 a pop – and has starred in other shows.
But her wealth all stems from being a social media “influencer”. Anything she “likes” sells out fast and endorsing products adds to her fortune.
A tweet or post is valued at £38,000 and she does around 60 of these plugs every year.
Her influence is such that in February she wiped £980million off the value of Snapchat after saying she didn’t like the redesigned app and had stopped using it.
She caused a US-wide shortage of MAC lip-liner by mentioning it in a post, she boosted Puma clothing sales by 11.8% and a video of her puppy in a Fendi tote last year led to 12,000 stores selling out of the bags.
Kylie even boosted pomegranate sales in the UK by 69% after telling followers she eats three packets of the seeds every day.
The Kylie Effect is so massive that when she revealed she was pregnant, and single, some feared a baby boom among teenagers.
In May 2015, Kylie admitted having temporary lip fillers, after her pout sparked a worrying viral fad. The Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge led fans to put their lips into shot glasses and suck the air out. Her admission sparked a 70% rise in inquiries from British teenagers to cosmetic surgeons. This week she revealed she has gone au naturel, so docs are eagerly plugging their filler-dissolving procedures.
Kylie was delighted to have made the front cover of Forbes. She wrote on Instagram: “wow. i can’t believe I’m posting my very own @forbes cover. thank you for this article and the recognition. I’m so blessed to do what i
But the decision to list her as “self-made” has sparked a backlash. US comedian Franchesca Ramsey, 34, said: “Being born into extreme wealth & instant fame is the exact opposite of ‘self made.’” A Twitter user wrote: “Try Oprah Winfrey, who was raised on a small Mississippi farm by her grandmother, for self-made.”
Dictionary.com even tweeted: “Self-made means having succeeded in life unaided.”
But Forbes said: “We consider any person who built her own fortune, and didn’t inherit the money, to be self-made.”
Yet many think Kylie Jenner has made her billion dollars off the backs, and behinds, of her reality TV siblings.
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