31-year-old international pop music singer, Robyn Rihanna Fenty, 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 Madonna ($570 million), Céline Dion ($450 million) and Beyoncé ($400 million).
Most of which comes not from music but from her partnership with LVMH, a French luxury goods giant, run by billionaire, Bernard Arnault. Rihanna and LVMH co-own the makeup brand Fenty Beauty.
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.
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 much-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.”
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 that LVMH 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 ex-boyfriend, Chris Brown, 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 as a singer, which make up the rest of her fortune.
Just last month, 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. Bernard Arnault was so enthusiastic; he trusted me and my vision”, Rihanna told The New York Times Style Magazine. (Culled from Forbes Africa)