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At 21, Kylie Jenner Becomes The Youngest Self-Made Billionaire Ever

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Her shrewd 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, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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

When Kylie Cosmetics launched in Ulta in 50 states, the reaction was a real-life version of the online rush Jenner created years earlier, when her initial kits sold out online in less than a minute. Ulta shoppers went wild. In some stores inventory was gone in hours. “It sold out faster than we planned,” admits Tara Simon, Ulta’s senior vice president of merchandising.

Ulta and Jenner are a sensible pairing. With Ulta’s mix of pricier prestige brands, like MAC Cosmetics, and cheaper selections, such as Nyx Professional Makeup, it has a larger footprint than that of its closest competitor, the more expensive Sephora. Analysts say Kylie Cosmetics is drawing younger customers through Ulta’s doors—teens who might not have a credit card to shop online. Plus, selling in physical stores gives Jenner a chance to reach “people that would never buy my products online,” she says. The ones who want to “see, touch and feel before they buy.”

Ulta provides access to a wide swath of America—more than just kids on the coasts—with stores across middle America. (It also has 714 more standalone stores than Sephora.) Ulta, meanwhile, gets a brand that requires no marketing push. So far, the retailer hasn’t spent a dime on traditional marketing to launch the brand in stores, which is “unheard of,” Simon says: “[Jenner’s] ability to communicate with well over 120 million people in a snap has a lot of power.”

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“She did well online, but there’s only so far that that can take her,” says Shannon Coyne, an equity research analyst at BMO Capital Markets. “She probably realized: ‘If I want to get big, I’ve got to scale, and to do that, I need a partner.’ Ultimately, she wants to grow her brand, and she needs this store presence to do that.”

Indeed, Kylie Cosmetics has seen its growth slow rapidly lately. It went from essentially zero to $307 million in sales within a year of launching but managed only single-digit growth in 2017 and 2018, Forbes estimates. That’s despite adding 30 new products in 2017, including concealer and makeup brushes, and many more color combinations in 2018.

It’s not the first time Ulta’s breadth has helped propel a makeup entrepreneur. IT Cosmetics, cofounded in 2010 by Jamie Kern Lima, entered Ulta in 2012 and promptly grew to sales of $117 million by 2014. In August 2016, L’Oréal paid $1.2 billion in cash for it.

Would Jenner ever follow a similar route? She firmly dismisses the idea of a sale. But her mother is interested. “It’s always something that we’re willing to explore,” Kris told Forbes last year.

For now, Jenner is focused on expanding her product range to include a setting powder, and bringing eyeshadows, powders and bronzers to Ulta. “I see [Kylie Cosmetics] going very far,” Jenner says. “I work really hard.”

Whatever happens next, one thing is certain. Jenner will share it all on social media, much to the delight of her tens of millions of fans.

She is, after all, the first selfie-made billionaire.

-Natalie Robehmed, Forbes Staff

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Quote Of The Day

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We have grown past the stage of fairy-tale. As women, we have one common front and that is to succeed. We have to take the bull by the horn and make the change happen by ourselves.

– Folorunso Alakija, Billionaire Businesswoman

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MacKenzie Bezos And Melinda Gates Team Up On $30 Million Gender Equity Contest

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One of the most powerful women in the world is teaming up with one of the richest women in the world—Melinda Gates and MacKenzie Bezos, respectively—to host a competition with one goal in mind: gender equality.

Gates and Bezos announced the competition, called the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge, through Pivotal Ventures, Gates’ investment and incubation company. The challenge will be managed by Lever For Change, a MacArthur Foundation affiliate, and will grant $30 million to the organizations (or the coalitions of organizations) with the best ideas for helping to expand women’s power and influence in the United States by 2030.

“Closing the gap on gender equality will benefit everyone. History keeps teaching us that when a diversity of voices is represented in decisions, the outcome is better for all,” MacKenzie Bezos said in a statement Tuesday. “I’m excited that the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge will focus energy and innovation on this vital catalyst for positive change.” 

“The entrenched inequalities that divide America—race, gender, class—will not go away without systems-wide change,” added Melinda Gates in a statement of her own. “This challenge is seeking bold ideas to dismantle the status quo and expand power and influence for women of all backgrounds.” 

While Melinda Gates has long been an outspoken advocate for women’s health and gender equality, Bezos has been quieter with her philanthropy and influence. Since finalizing her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos last year, Bezos has indicated her philanthropic intentions by signing the Giving Pledge (thereby committing at least half of her now-$51 billion fortune to charity) and joining the board of Blue Meridian, an organization dedicated to helping children and families in poverty. Her contribution to the Equality Can’t Wait initiative marks her biggest public gift to date.

A spokesperson for Lever for Change said that the competition had been in the works for the past six months, and that the timing of its announcement—just weeks after massive protests against systemic racial inequities started spreading across the nation—is not meant to be a reaction to the current reality, but a continuation of serious conversations.

Broadly, the challenge will look for ideas that help dismantle barriers that hold women back (including but not limited to sexual harassment and discrimination, racial inequity, and inadequate federal policies around caregiving); fast-track female participation in sectors like technology, government and entrepreneurship; and change outdated systems and beliefs around gender. Specifically, according to the challenge’s website, successful proposals should create real, measurable change for women in at least one of the following areas: wages and wealth, unpaid care, share of leadership roles, content creation (in other words, increasing the percentage of cultural and intellectual content created by women), and public perception.

“When I taught my first course on women in the U.S. economy back in 1985, a female full-time, year-round worker made 65 cents for every dollar earned by a man. In 2018, she earned 82 cents. That’s a raise of less than a penny a year,” noted Cecilia Conrad, the CEO of Lever for Change. She’s hopeful that the Equality Can’t Wait competition will accelerate parity in wages and societal treatment.

To participate in the challenge, organizations must register online by September 1, 2020; fuller applications are due by September 22. Finalists will be announced in early 2021, and winners will be chosen next summer. The $30 million in prize money will be divided among the two most compelling ideas (each will receive a minimum of $10 million) and the remaining finalists.

Maggie McGrath, Forbes Staff, ForbesWomen

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Chinese Billionaire Held Hostage With Explosives As Son Swims Across Lake To Raise The Alarm

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Chinese billionaire He Xiangjian survived an abduction plot this weekend after kidnappers carrying explosives forced entry into his home at Guangdong province.

He Xiangjian, one of the richest men in China with an estimated net worth of $24.8 billion, was rescued on Sunday after his son, 55-year-old He Jianfeng, sneaked out of the family home and swum across a river to raise the alarm, according to local news.

According to a statement posted on Weibo, a Chinese equivalent to Twitter, police responded on Sunday night to a break-in at an 18-hole golf course and sports center owned by He Xiangjian’s Midea Group.

Although police have not named He Xiangjian in their statement, a spokesperson for the local Foshan Public Security Bureau wrote on Weibo, “The victim is safe!” with the police statement attached. Midea Group confirmed the incident on Weibo, and thanked the “media and all sectors of society for their concern.” 

Who is He Xiangjian?

Entrepreneur He Xiangjian is the founder of home appliance giant Midea Group, which took shape in 1968 after He led a group of 23  residents from Guangdong Province to form a lid production workshop.

Today Midea Group trades on the Shenzhen stock exchange and has more than 200 subsidiaries, including Germany-based robotics firm Kuka. Xiangjian stepped down from its operations in 2012. His son He Jianfeng is now a director of Midea Group and Midea Real Estate Holding.

In January, Midea Group donated products like air conditioners, water heaters and washers and dryers to Wuhan hospitals battling coronavirus.

He Xiangjian is currently the 7th richest billionaire in China, according to Forbes’ Real Time Rankings.

David Dawkins, Forbes Staff, Billionaires

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