It's impossible not to recognize Kylie Jenner. She's the youngest member in the famed Kardashian-Jenner family. She almost failed out of home schooling. She did, however, pass and had a graduation ceremony officiated by Ryan Seacrest. Her mother is Kris Jenner and her other mom is Caitlin (formerly Bruce.) She has a 27 year old boyfriend (8 years her senior) who regularly gifts her with Ferraris. She got lip injections, lied about them, and then fessed up after her fans tried everything (often to disastrous results--[read]: the Youtube Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge) to replicate them.
She has a Tumblr that even Kim Kardashian is jealous of. She modeled in Kanye's NYFW line. She has two houses in Calabasas that are right next to one another- and they both cost millions of dollars. (I'm 30, have a small apartment, and have had to ask my dad to help me with my rent.)
She has 84.8 million followers on Instagram. She's a verified Snapchat superstar. She's the kind of social media icon who gets paid thousands to sell slim fit tea on Instagram, yet I literally have no idea what her personality is like. Think about it: what IS Kylie Jenner's personality?
She also made this amazing video about her 2016 New Year's Resolutions.
It is irrefutable: Kylie Jenner is not just a 19 year old social media obsessed nothing. She is a multi million dollar business woman. She turned her appearance into a corporation- a successful one. She knows her fan base like the back of her hand, and she capitalizes off it. She is the anti-Taylor Swift (she's dirty, sexual, public) but they both hold true to the same fundamental principle: make money off of your drama.
Kylie knows one thing to be true: if people are going to be talking about you, you better make money off of it. Don't let 'em drag you for free. While full grown adults were speculating whether or not Kylie had received plastic surgery to alter her appearance, teenage Jenner was busy creating a business.
Is Kylie a Gen Y feminist icon when it comes to owning who you are and making $$ off your haters? Or is she the personification of everything that's wrong with the world?
To be honest, I'm not sure. Maybe a little bit of both.
This year, at 19 years old, she made Forbes 30 Under 30 list as the only teenage Retail & E-commerce entrepreneur. (FYI, I have been trying to be on this list as a writer my entire life, and have finally aged out of it. Bummer.) Past notables in this category include the CEO of Casper mattresses-- those ones that show up to your house in a box, and expand before your eyes. One of the judges of 30 under 30 is Jessica Alba of the billion dollar Honest Company.
The list isn't limited to entrepreneurs in this field-- "Elle Fanning, Hilary Duff, Margot Robbie, Evan Rachel Wood, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, YouTube star Tyler Oakley, and soon-to-be young Han Solo: Alden Ehrenreich" could also be found on it this year as well. She's in good company.
So, while many might consider Kylie, and her family for that matter, to be a joke- in the business world they most certainly are not. Just FYI- Kim Kardashian's "Kimoji" app has made 100 million dollars in the past 2 years alone.
Here's what you need to know about the Kylie Lip Kit. They cost $29. The first installment sold out in 30 seconds. All subsequent installments have also sold out in 7 minutes or less. It comes with a lip liner and matte gloss. They are being re-sold (scalped, like Britney concert tickets, or the Princess Diana Beanie Baby) for up to $3,000 on ebay.
The line has now grown to eyeshadows and eyeliners (Kyshadows and Kyliners, of course.)
The lip kits are not devoid of controversy. Chemically, it's the same formula as a million other things out there, it can be duped for a lower price easily. The only thing you're paying for is the Kardashian name-- and boy, are people willing to pay for it. Due to the recognizable packaging, Kylie lip kits were at a time being stolen during transit, and showing up empty at their final destination. Kyle then pledged to make the packaging more "low key."
Files have also been claimed with the Better Business Bureau, because, according to Radar Online, some packages arrived having been used. One girl angrily explained, “The matte gloss part looked like it had been used. When I pulled it out lip gloss was all over the edges. It had been opened and pulled out.”
While pulling out is usually a good thing, in this case...no.
Kylie's net worth in 2016 (from the lip kit and other ventures) was reportedly $11,903,713. LITERALLY IMAGINE HAVING THAT KIND OF MONEY AT 19 YEARS OLD. Four million of that comes from Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook posts. When you see Kylie promoting slim fit tea, coconut oil, or teeth whitening, girl is getting paiiiiiid, and handsomely. Nearly 8.7 million comes from the Lip Kits. There are millions from other ventures too, but when you take out taxes, expenses, investments, etc, you're left with that measly 11 million.
Vanity Fair says that Kylie built an empire out of fan worship. Girls buy Kylie Jenner lip kits because they want to look like Kylie Jenner. They buy a lip kit because they want the Kardashian lifestyle. They want a rapper boyfriend who will buy them a Ferrari, they want to be paid to sell things on Instagram, they want a reality show. They want a million likes on one selfie. Adam Petrick, Puma global director of brand and marketing--who did work with Kylie- explained that a younger demographic most likely aspire to be Kylie because she is "stylish, active, dynamic, creative, entrepreneurial, [and] media-savvy." But do they buy a lip kit because they want to be an entrepreneur? Probably not.
So while I think of feminist icons- they are usually women who inspire others to greatness. They challenge us to be our best, to educate ourselves, to reach our potential.
You have to wonder: what exactly is Kylie Jenner doing for her fan base, other than beautifying them?
Is she a marketing genius, an entrepreneur, or is she taking advantage of her fans? Is she advocating for doing whatever you want to your appearance, and telling the world to F-off, or is she encouraging a generation of women to change themselves?
Petrick of Puma summed up, ""Kylie is a lens on the culture and a reflection of what is now, what is relevant at the moment.""
We'll see how long lip kits can keep selling out for. And what comes next.
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