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From Beyoncé Knowles-Carter to Kim Kardashian West, America’s Richest Self-Made Women Under 40

Published 2 years ago
By Forbes

Taylor Swift was only 18 when she scored her first No. 1 album, the aptly named Fearless, in 2008. After a decade defined by bestselling albums and worldwide tours, the pop star is one of America’s Richest Self-Made Women, with a net worth that Forbes estimates is $360 million.

When Swift first made our list in 2016 with a fortune of $250 million, she was the youngest member by far, at 26, and one of only four women under 40. This year, Forbes expanded the ranks of America’s Richest Self-Made Women to 80 members, four of whom are in their 20s, including Swift, now 29. Another seven are in their 30s.

Pop star Taylor Swift is worth an estimated $360 million. GETTY IMAGES FOR DCP

The youngest is 21-year-old Kylie Jenner, whose three-year-old beauty brand, Kylie Cosmetics, is worth at least $900 million by Forbes’ estimate. The rest of her fortune comes from her earnings from the profitable business. “I didn’t expect anything,” said Jenner of becoming the world’s youngest self-made billionaire in March. “I did not foresee the future. But the recognition feels really good. That’s a nice pat on the back.”

Some internet readers didn’t think she deserved the accolades and questioned Forbes’ decision to call her self-made, given her family’s fame and the help she received from her mom, Kris Jenner, in building her cosmetics firm. By Forbes’ definition, the term self-made describes anyone who did not inherit his or her fortune; our methodology is explained further here. The makeup mogul is America’s only female self-made billionaire under the age of 40.

Whitney Wolfe Herd is the Queen Bee of dating apps.JAMEL TOPPIN FOR FORBES

Two other entrepreneurs in their twentiesare newcomers to the self-made women ranks but are well known for founding successful startups. Whitney Wolfe Herd, 29, is worth $290 million thanks to her stake in Bumble, the dating app that lets women make the first move.

Bumble, which boasts 47 million users and topped $175 million in revenue last year, has expanded into friend-finding and networking. Wolfe has also launched a venture capital fund—with tennis champ Serena Williams as a coinvestor—that is focused on early-stage investments in businesses founded and led by women of color and underrepresented groups. “The power lunch is no longer just for men,” Herd told Forbes in 2017. “We all deserve a seat at the table.”

Karissa Bodnar, also 29, started her vegan cosmetics line Thrive Causemetics in 2015 after a close friend passed away from cancer at age 24. Bodnar is worth an estimated $275 million thanks to the success of Thrive Causemetics, which sells one mascara every eight seconds, according to the company. “My advice for young women who want to start their own business is to know your ‘why’ from day one,” Bodnar says.

“There’s nobody that’s going to work as hard as you, and if you don’t know your ‘why’—why you’re starting this business—it’s going to be really tough when you’re up at 4 a.m, printing labels and packing orders for customers.”

Rihanna is the richest newcomer to the list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women.AFP/GETTY IMAGES

America’s richest female musician, Rihanna, debuts at age 31, not because of the money she’s made from singing but mostly thanks to her lucrative partnership with LVMH. Fenty Beauty, the cosmetics brand she co-owns with the luxury goods giant, generated approximately $570 million in revenue last year. With LVMH’s announcement of luxury clothing label Fenty, Rihanna will become the first black woman to run a major fashion house in Paris.

Serena Williams, another newcomer, is famous for her athletic prowess, but off the court she too is venturing into diverse fields, from fashion to venture capital, amassing a fortune estimated at $225 million. Williams, 37, launched a self-funded, direct-to-consumer clothing line, S by Serena, last year, and also owns stakes in the Miami Dolphins and mixed martial arts promoter UFC. The 23-time Grand Slam winner has invested in 34 startups over the past five years through Serena Ventures, targeting companies founded by women and minorities. “I want to be the brand instead of being the face,” Williams told Forbes.

Katrina Lake is the youngest female founder to ever take a company public.© 2018 BLOOMBERG FINANCE LP

Some of these women are hesitant to identify as female leaders. “I didn’t want to just be a female CEO,” says Katrina Lake, the 36-year-old founder of online personal styling firm Stitch Fix. “I wanted to be a successful CEO, regardless of gender.”

Still, Lake, worth an estimated $380 million, understands the example she is setting. When she took Stitch Fix public in November 2017, Lake made headlines for becoming the youngest female founder to take a company public—and for holding her young son while ringing the Nasdaq opening bell. She didn’t plan the moment, but she realizes why it was a significant statement. “There just aren’t enough great examples of different types of people that are at the top,” Lake says. “I feel a lot of responsibility in making sure that others can see themselves there, and not just a lot of men in suits.”

America’s Richest Self-Made Women Under 40

Kylie Jenner is America’s only self-made female billionaire under 30.JAMEL TOPPIN FOR FORBES

Kylie Jenner

Net Worth: $1 billion

Age: 21

Residence: Hidden Hills, California

Self-Made Score: 7

Taylor Swift

Net Worth: $360 million

Age: 29

Residence: Nashville

Self-Made Score: 8

Karissa Bodnar is a newcomer to the rankings of America’s Richest Self-Made Women.2018 GETTY IMAGES

Karissa Bodnar

Net Worth: $275 million

Age: 29

Residence: Los Angeles

Self-Made Score: 9

Whitney Wolfe Herd

Net Worth: $290 million

Age: 29

Residence: Austin, Texas

Self-Made Score: 8


Net Worth: $600 million

Age: 31

Residence: Los Angeles

Self-Made Score: 10

Neha Narkhede is a cofounder of open-source software unicorn Confluent.COURTESY OF CONFLUENT

Neha Narkhede

Net Worth: $360 million

Age: 34

Residence: Palo Alto, California

Self-Made Score: 8

Huda Kattan built her billion-dollar makeup brand off the beauty blog she started in 2010.MATT LICARI/INVISION/AP

Huda Kattan

Net Worth: $610 million

Age: 35

Residence: Dubai

Self-Made Score: 9

Katrina Lake

Net Worth: $380 million

Age: 36

Residence: San Francisco

Self-Made Score: 8

Beyoncé first made America’s Richest Self-Made Women’s list in 2015.GETTY IMAGES FOR GLOBAL CITIZEN FESTIVAL: MANDELA 100

Beyoncé Knowles

Net Worth: $400 million

Age: 37

Residence: Los Angeles

Self-Made Score: 8

Serena Williams graces the cover of our June 2019 issue.COPYRIGHT LEVON BISS 2018

Serena Williams

Net Worth: $225 million

Age: 37

Residence: San Francisco Bay Area

Self-Made Score: 9

Kim Kardashian West has parlayed her fame into a nine-figure fortune.JAMEL TOPPIN FOR FORBES

Kim Kardashian West

Net Worth: $360 million

Age: 38

Residence: Hidden Hills, California

Self-Made Score: 7

Hayley C. Cuccinello; Forbes Staff

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