As Kim Kardashian-West sets herself apart from her family as the most popular Kardashian of the clan, she also aligns herself with other multi-million dollar beauty brands in America. The 37-year-old mother of 3 runs several businesses alongside her husband Rapper/Fashion designer Kanye West and sisters Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian, Kendall and Kylie Jenner. During her transition from “just” a reality TV star into one of the most famous and influential influencers in the world, Kardashian-West taught herself how to grow a business and how to utilize social media for both her businesses and her personal brand.
In a new interview with Business of Fashion, Kardashian-West spoke about being a full-time working mother to her three children (North 4, Saint 2, and baby Chicago 4 months), becoming a reality star, working with her sisters and learning the ropes of the fast-pacing beauty industry.
Here are four things to take away from Kim Kardashian’s BOF Interview:
Kim Kardashian on transitioning from a licensee to a Business Owner:
Being a business owner of a multi-million dollar company does not only take knowledge of running a company but also patience and a lot of hard work. Something that Kardashian-West learned during her time of working for her father, the late Robert Kardashian SR. in his law office. “I had worked in my dad’s office for so many years, but I didn’t have a career and I didn’t love college. I went [for] four years but I didn’t graduate. I just sat there and I was like, ‘What am I going to do?’” It was several years after her father’s passing and under the wing of her momager Kris Jenner that Kardashian-West and her sisters (Kourtney and Khloe) went into business together. The Mogul explains the process of her evolving from a Licensee to a Full-fledge business owner. “I’ve transitioned from having everything in license deals, where you just basically get your list of requirements that have to be fulfilled and you do them — and I’m very happy to do them — but it’s a completely different game when every last detail is yours. I see how much work goes into owning a brand yourself, instead of just being a licensee. There is power in having the evolution of owning my own businesses and starting from the ground up and really figuring it out.” After deciding to launch her own business, Kardashian-West understood that it would also mean that she will be splitting (business-wise) from her sisters, with whom she shared a beauty licensing deal. “We had Kardashian Beauty together, so I said, ‘If you think about it, we’re getting one licensing deal, and we split it three ways. That doesn’t financially make sense. It should be three licensing deals.’ They definitely understood.” However, with the benefits of being her own mogul-in-the-making, the Kardashian Beauty deal was also hit with legal issues, teaching Kardashian-West the hard lessons of licensing deals.“I’m so happy that I did not license my name in like a 10-year deal or something crazy. I never did long term. I know people had wanted to do like 12-year deals, so these crazy deals that people want to do and license your name, and at the time you think there’s nothing on the horizon that’s better, and give in, and a lot of people don’t believe in themselves enough.”
Learning the aspects of a business from (her husband) Kanye West:
Knowing her husband (of four years) many years before their fairytale wedding in 2014, it would only make sense that Kardashian-West would pick up some business tips or two from him. Kanye West has proven himself to be more than just a rapper, more than just a music producer and more than just a fashion designer in the last 15+ years. “He’s always believed in himself so much,” she said about West. “That he’s never given up his name or business”. Kardashian-West revealed that she was still involved in licensing deals when she and Kanye first got together, and how his want of something 100% him, inspired her to want the same for herself. “So many different companies wanted to buy his Yeezy brand, and he always said no. And I thought at the time, ‘Wow, they’re offering you a lot of money, are you sure you don’t want to take that deal?’ And he was like, ‘Absolutely not, it’s not about that, it’s about having something that is 100 percent me. Now I feel like I’m in that position that he’s in, where I like having all of my business, even if it’s 10 times more work. I’d rather put work in, and know that, okay, that’s all mine,” she shared. “Obviously, financially if you own a business 100 percent and you have no one to answer to, creatively you can get exactly what you want,” she adds.
The importance of social media in Business:
It is clear that Kardashian-West and the Kardashian-Jenner family has learned every possible angle on how to profit from social media. With a total of 200 million followers ( a combination of all social media accounts) KW knows and understand fully the importance of social media for a digital influencer like herself in today’s world. Although she is no stranger to a prayer and a plan, hard work is definitely a part of the job if you want her level of success. “In this generation, you could just start right out of the gate with a great social media plan, but it’s a lot of work. I think that having to come up on YouTube and having to put in the work… it is a lot of work what those in influencers and bloggers do, they really take it seriously and spend the time on social media. They’re not just sitting at home and being lazy on a computer. I think sometimes you might not understand how much hard work goes into that.” Kardashian-West reveals that with a social media account and consistency it is possible to start your own online business.
“With social media these days, you can really start your own business, [and] market it and promote it in the way that you want to,” she says. “Obviously, the more you post, the more attention it gets. It’s a fine line of flooding your account, though. When I have a launch coming up that I’m really excited about it, I love my campaign images so I’ll post a lot. Then sometimes I’ll look back at my page and I [be] like, wait, there’s so much content,” she says. “I don’t want people to think I only use it as a marketing tool.”
Kardashian insists that she also use her social channels for feedback on the promoting of her line, like a focus group. “I think I [first] realized that it was going to be really beneficial when I was launching my first fragrance and it was a black bottle,” she remembers. “I couldn’t decide on the color pink [I wanted], so I posted on Twitter a photo of each one: ‘Hey guys, I can’t decide on the color pink. I’m going to let you choose which color, this pink or this pink?’ And it was the best focus group ever,” she says. “But I thought, ‘Wow, I really got such a good response and I’m going to listen to them. This is what they want and I’m going to give it to them.’”
Splitting the KKW Brand into Two Companies:
Between her Ultralight Beams products (December 2017), Concealer kits (March 2018), and the KKW x Mario Collection (March 2018), Kardashian-West has leveled the playing field for other young makeup moguls, including little sister Kylie and R&B songstress Rihanna. But with her consistency in releasing new makeup products, she has also shown a constant appearance in the fragrance business as well. Launching her KKW Fragrance business in November 2017, Kardashian-West has released several different scents for all occasions including, three gardenia-based scents: Crystal Gardenia, Crystal Gardenia Citrus, and Crystal Gardenia Oud, Three scents of her Kimoji Hearts for Valentine’s day and recently KKW Body. The Beauty/Fragrance mogul explains that she keeps the beauty brand and fragrance brand separate and selling products to consumers online without trying them first. “I have a whole KKW Beauty side and a whole KKW Fragrance side. I think people do view it as one big beauty brand. It’s two different companies run by two totally different people, two different warehouses. I am working on trying to get it all in one so that shipping can just be easier,” she explains. “I just think it is fascinating that you can buy a product online without trying it. And how hard it is to test your colors and as much information — it’s just it’s crazy that you can sell fragrance without anyone even smelling it, if you describe it well enough, and if they really believe in you. That’s where the influencers come in because everyone likes to review a product and put different messages out there of what they’re liking and what they don’t like.”
Despite the joy, she receives from being her own entrepreneur and running successful businesses, Kardashian-West states that she does have hopes of one day selling her business. “I just want to grow my business. I am really cutting down on everything else that I’m working on except for beauty and fragrance. If there’s a project that I’m going to work on or endorse something or be a part of it, I’m really going to [have to] like it because of my time management. I see my beauty business building up into a large company that hopefully I can sell one day and just run it, and always be in charge.”
In the end, Kardashian-West wants to see everyone be successful in whatever they aspire to obtain, but if being an online digital influencer like herself is something you want to be, she has some advice specifically for you. “You have to come up with the campaign ideas, packaging, product, formula. I mean every last thing, you cannot forget, and you cannot mess up, or the internet will not let you forget.”