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How Rihanna Created A $600 Million Fortune—And Became The World’s Richest Female Musician

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“Work, work, work, work, work, work.” That’s the opening line of Rihanna’s 2016 dancehall anthem titled, appropriately, “Work.” It could also serve as her personal motto.

Famous first as a singer, Robyn Rihanna Fenty, age 31, has since evolved into a style icon and makeup entrepreneur—and soon she’ll be the first black woman in charge of a major luxury fashion house. All those efforts add up to a $600 million fortune, making her the wealthiest female musician in the world, ahead of the likes of Madonna ($570 million), Céline Dion ($450 million) and Beyoncé ($400 million).

Most of that comes not from music but from her partnership with LVMH, the French luxury goods giant run by billionaire Bernard Arnault. Rihanna (pronounced Ri-Ann-ah, not Ri-Ah-nah as she recently clarified) and LVMH co-own the makeup brand Fenty Beauty.

READ MORE | Artist, Icon, Billionaire: How Jay-Z Created His $1 Billion Fortune

It launched in September 2017 at Sephora, another LVMH brand, and online at FentyBeauty.com, quickly becoming a viral success. Fenty Beauty racked up a reported $100 million in sales in its first few weeks, propelled by Rihanna’s fame and 71 million Instagram followers.

The entire personal care industry in America has grown huge in recent years. According to Grand View Research, it could swell to more than $200 billion in sales by 2025, up from closer to $130 billion in 2016. The market saw a record 134 M&A deals last year, including P&G’s $250 million purchase of 10-year-old First Aid Beauty.

Perhaps the most telling data point: 11 of the 80 women on Forbes‘ list of the Richest Self-Made Women made their money in beauty or skincare products. Many did what Rihanna did, turn to the low-cost marketing opportunity presented by social media. That works best for existing celebrities, as Kylie Jenner and her Kylie Cosmetics proved out, who can push their new products at their existing followers.

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

Fenty Beauty has differentiated itself in another way, releasing 40 shades of foundation, far more than the handful of hues sold by other brands. “It challenged the standard convention that you only needed a very defined set of shades to satisfy a market,” says Stephanie Wissink, a research analyst at Jefferies. “Not only did [Fenty Beauty] achieve meaningful sales, but it potentially changed the industry permanently.” 

Sales continue to soar. Fenty Beauty generated an estimated $570 million in revenue last year, after only 15 months in business. The entire operation is worth, conservatively, more than $3 billion. Forbes estimates thatLVMH owns an estimated 50% of it, while Rihanna has about 15%, a figure a spokesperson for the artist disputed but wouldn’t clarify further.

The Barbados native, who overcame hardships including an abusive addict father and a well-publicized assault by then-boyfriend Chris Brown in 2009, also co-owns the Savage X Fenty lingerie line with Los Angeles-based online fashion firm TechStyle Fashion Group and has millions in earnings from her career touring and releasing as a singer, which make up the rest of her fortune.

READ MORE | The World’s Most Valuable Brands 2019: Apple On Top At $206 Billion

Her empire continues to grow. In May, LVMH and Rihanna announced Fenty, a new clothing house that will make high-end clothes, shoes, accessories and jewelry.

“They extended the offer to me and it was a no-brainer because LVMH is a machine,” Rihanna told The New York Times Style Magazine. “Bernard Arnault was so enthusiastic; he trusted me and my vision.”

The fashion line, which launched online in May, includes sizes up to U.S. 14, embodying the same inclusive ideal of Fenty Beauty. It will exist under the same umbrella as famous brands such as Dior and Givenchy, marking LVMH’s first new house in more than 30 years.

“What Fenty Beauty did to beauty, Fenty lifestyle is going to do to fashion,” says Wissink. “It’s going to raise the bar for what it looks like to build a brand that’s inclusive, game changing, global and iconic.”

-Natalie Robehmed; Forbes Staff

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Wealth

Private Wealth: Banking On Climate Change In Africa

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Patrick Odier of Swiss wealth management firm Lombard Odier on why Africa offers immeasurable possibilities for investors, particularly those not risk-averse.


Climate change events such as floods, drought and cyclones have had a cataclysmic effect on the lives of Africans and their economies, with many having to rebuild with little to no resources, placing more strain on economies that are already over-burdened.

But are there ways to forecast these events so people are better able to weather the storm? Wealth management firm Lombard Odier thinks it has what it takes to minimize risk on the continent, and they have the years of experience to back it up.

“We are a 223-year-old company. In the financial industry, it means we have probably learned how to weather turbulences and financial market crises – we’ve survived 40 already,” Patrick Odier, chair of the board of directors at Lombard Odier, says.

“We have made South Africa central to our strategy. I think South Africa has a long history with entrepreneurship. This idea of organizing wealth, planning and optimizing the responsibilities between the members of the families – all that belongs to it.”

With that said, the bank still holds firm to its roots of running a lean organization where the idea is not to grow in quantity, but rather in quality.

“We cannot be everywhere. We don’t want to be, we’re not a giant. We are private. It makes it a bit different from other organizations where the concerns are more operational… we are purely a service-oriented company,” Odier says.

With a client-based outlook where the bank focuses on investment advisory, execution and fiduciary services, each client is handled based on their unique circumstances, but what does this mean for Africa?

“We are trying to look at the African continent with a very open eye, to look at how we can add value to those potential clients or families who may want to organize their estates and perhaps, diversify their risks. I think agriculture, together with new technologies, will represent new opportunities.”

READ MORE | The Big Bank Theory: South Africa’s Banks Of The Future

Odier says the interests of the firm are based on enhancing and not disrupting banking ecosystems that exist in the African environment.

“While Lombard Odier occupies over 2,500 people, we are still of a modest size as a financial institution. So we really want to focus on our existing client base and not disperse ourselves too much. We are not in the business of buying infrastructure banks and trying to take over. We are not in the business of competing with the local banks. We believe in teaming up, or perhaps diversifying the offering. I think when it comes to investing, we can be very useful to this market

“We believe the best institutions to serve the local market are the local ones. We are here to bring something else, which is basically, what is not offered here,” he says.

However, the continent, like any other, has challenges unique to it and thus, require nuances in resolving. It should not be discounted that, although Africa has made gains in catching up to the rest of the globe, a vast majority of its nations are still developing. 

READ MORE | Explainer: South Africa’s Central Bank – Ownership, Mandate and Independence

“The world in general is changing. You see it in everything in your life. You see it in the way you consume, the way you expect your employers to treat you and the way you think of prices. Unfortunately, you’ve seen it the way water becomes scarcer in some periods, you see also how difficult it is to produce electricity correctly, in some respects, and you see it in how climate change is affecting your life.

“All those elements are part of mega-trends we believe as a firm we could try to interpret quicker and better than some. We are transforming the way we invest to invest more sustainably. In South Africa, we want to be a leader in bringing this approach to investing in resources.

“Some say you have to have luxury to think this way, I say not doing it will create much bigger risks than doing it,” Odier says. 

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The World’s 100 Highest-Paid Celebrities

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The pop singer Taylor Swift lands the number 1 spot on the Forbes 2019 Celebrity 100 list, her highest earnings year yet.


RankNameAgeEarningsCategory
#1Taylor Swift29$185 MMusicians
#2Kylie Jenner21$170 MPersonalities
#3Kanye West42$150 MMusicians
#4Lionel Messi32$127 MAthletes
#5Ed Sheeran28$110 MMusicians
#6Cristiano Ronaldo34$109 MAthletes
#7Neymar27$105 MAthletes
#8The Eagles$100 MMusicians
#9Dr. Phil McGraw68$95 MPersonalities
#10Canelo Alvarez28$94 MAthletes
#11Roger Federer37$93.4 MAthletes
#12Howard Stern65$93 MPersonalities
#13J.K. Rowling53$92 MAuthors
#14Russell Wilson30$89.5 MAthletes
#15Dwayne Johnson47$89.4 MActors
#16Aaron Rodgers35$89.3 MAthletes
#17LeBron James34$89 MAthletes
#18Rush Limbaugh68$87 MPersonalities
#19Elton John72$84 MMusicians
#20Jay-Z49$81 MMusicians
#20Beyoncé Knowles37$81 MMusicians
#22Ellen DeGeneres61$80.5 MPersonalities
#23Stephen Curry31$79.8 MAthletes
#24Chris Hemsworth$76.4 MActors
#25Drake32$75 MMusicians
#26Kim Kardashian West38$72 MPersonalities
#27Ryan Seacrest44$71.5 MPersonalities
#28Sean Combs49$70 MMusicians
#28James Patterson72$70 MAuthors
#30Metallica$68.5 MMusicians
#31Robert Downey Jr.54$66 MActors
#32Kevin Durant30$65.4 MAthletes
#33Akshay Kumar51$65 MActors
#34Tiger Woods43$63.9 MAthletes
#35Gordon Ramsay52$63 MPersonalities
#36Rihanna31$62 MMusicians
#37David Copperfield62$60 MMagicians
#38Kevin Hart40$59 MComedians
#39Jackie Chan65$58 MActors
#39Travis Scott28$58 MMusicians
#41Katy Perry34$57.5 MMusicians
#41Justin Timberlake38$57.5 MMusicians
#43BTS$57 MMusicians
#43Bradley Cooper44$57 MActors
#43Pink39$57 MMusicians
#43Adam Sandler52$57 MActors
#47Scarlett Johansson34$56 MActresses
#48Ben Roethlisberger37$55.5 MAthletes
#49Lewis Hamilton34$55 MAthletes
#49Anthony Joshua$55 MAthletes
#49Khalil Mack28$55 MAthletes
#52Russell Westbrook30$53.7 MAthletes
#53Billy Joel70$52 MMusicians
#54Bruno Mars33$51.5 MMusicians
#55Novak Djokovic32$50.6 MAthletes
#55Mike Trout27$50.6 MAthletes
#57Jimmy Buffett72$50 MMusicians
#57Eminem46$50 MMusicians
#59Fleetwood Mac$49 MMusicians
#59Judy Sheindlin76$49 MPersonalities
#61Phil Mickelson49$48.4 MAthletes
#62Ariana Grande26$48 MMusicians
#62Paul McCartney77$48 MMusicians
#64James Harden29$47.7 MAthletes
#65Conor McGregor30$47 MAthletes
#66DeMarcus Lawrence27$46.9 MAthletes
#67Sean Hannity57$46 MPersonalities
#67The Chainsmokers$46 MMusicians
#69Steve Harvey62$45 MPersonalities
#70Bryce Harper26$44.5 MAthletes
#71Guns N’ Roses$44 MMusicians
#72Chris Paul34$43.8 MAthletes
#73Chris Evans$43.5 MActors
#74Kyrie Irving27$43.3 MAthletes
#75Giannis Antetokounmpo24$43.2 MAthletes
#76Jennifer Lopez49$43 MMusicians
#76Sofía Vergara47$43 MTelevision actresses
#78Luke Bryan42$42.5 MMusicians
#79Drew Brees40$42.4 MAthletes
#80Simon Cowell59$42 MPersonalities
#81Aaron Donald28$41.4 MAthletes
#82Damian Lillard28$41.1 MAthletes
#83Paul Rudd$41 MActors
#83Jerry Seinfeld65$41 MComedians
#83Rolling Stones$41 MMusicians
#86Sebastian Vettel32$40.3 MAthletes
#87DJ Khaled43$40 MMusicians
#87Marshmello27$40 MMusicians
#87The Weeknd29$40 MMusicians
#90Lady Gaga33$39.5 MMusicians
#91Blake Griffin30$39.1 MAthletes
#92Dave Matthews Band$39 MMusicians
#92Rory McIlroy30$39 MAthletes
#94Paul George29$38.6 MAthletes
#95Zac Brown Band$38.5 MMusicians
#95Calvin Harris35$38.5 MMusicians
#95Kendrick Lamar$38.5 MMusicians
#98Brandin Cooks25$38 MAthletes
#98Shawn Mendes20$38 MMusicians
#100Celine Dion51$37.5 MMusicians

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Wealth

Making Up For Millions

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While a growing number of influencers are dictating what brands sell, beauty entrepreneur Jackie Aina is of the view they have the duty to use their platforms responsibly.  


Mixing up the inspirational with informative, the thought-provoking with tongue-in-cheek, and sarcasm with calling out brands for not being inclusive, Jackie Aina is influencing the beauty industry one product at a time.

With over three million YouTube followers and 1.2 million on Instagram, Aina is one of the stand-out digital influencers cashing in on online followings to broadcast messages to millennials, lifestyle brands and billion-dollar cosmetic conglomerates.

Although Aina does all of this with a dose of humor, the journey to YouTube stardom started some 10 years ago for the 31-year-old beauty entrepreneur, when she was desperately searching for a way to escape loneliness and unfulfillment.

READ MORE | Her Brush With Business

“I had gone on to marry the guy who inspired me to join the military. We were stationed in Hawaii and we were very unhappily married. I didn’t have a job and YouTube was buzzing in 2009. We had a lot of Asian faces who were really the faces of beauty on YouTube and I didn’t really see anyone like me. So, my best friend, literally every day, said ‘why don’t you put your makeup looks on YouTube’ and I always said no.”

Her friend’s unrelenting pursuit finally paid off. 

“So, one day, I decided I wasn’t doing anything, and being bored and not being fulfilled emotionally and I didn’t have a lot of positive things going on for me at the time, so that left me a lot of time to consume content and then I started creating it.

 “I truly tapped into something that I needed at the time mentally and that was great. People didn’t know me but they would just gas me up; they were so nice and would always give me positive encouragement which I really needed at the time,” Aina says.

That was a lifetime ago. These days, the Los Angeles-born influencer, who was called  ‘beauty influencer of the year’ by Women’s Wear Daily last year, is short-listed among the top beauty influencers in the United States, with lucrative brand collaborations behind her.

Most notably is her collaboration with the Estée Lauder-owned brand, Too Faced, as part of the Born This Way foundation range, which she helped to create.

Celebrities and influencers are increasingly being paid several thousands of dollars per tweet or Instagram post to promote products, services and even social causes.

With most millennials avoiding posts that look like sponsored ads, brands are now increasingly interested in ads that appear organic. And that is where influencers come in.

Remuneration for such posts is usually decided after considering factors like number of followers, popularity, engagement, frequency of posts, as well as the format of the post.

Furthermore, influencer accounts with  massive follower counts can leverage their social media clout to showcase brands to their followers and perhaps, most importantly, use their brand voice to fight against injustice in the industry, something Aina is passionate about.

“A lot of years on YouTube were spent seeing comments from people who say things. It is easy to sit and complain but what are you doing to change the industry?”

In response, Aina decided to use her platform to fight for the change she wanted to see in the industry. She holds other influencers accountable for offensive remarks and joins controversial and tough discussions about issues like colorism in the beauty industry. And brands are starting to listen.

It was her outspoken voice in the beauty space that caught the attention of the beauty conglomerate, Too Faced, which short-listed Aina to help expand its foundation range and ensure the makeup undertones would also compliment women of color.

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

“That was a testament to brands actually listening. Just because you think someone is not watching, doesn’t mean they are not watching. They are definitely watching. Sometimes all you really need is that one opportunity and that can be leveraged over and over again,” Aina says.

As brands increasingly turn away from traditional marketing, towards social influencers, young, connected digital natives like Aina, will continue to play an important role in the success of beauty brands for the foreseeable trend-obsessed digital future.

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