From turning a $6,000 loan into a $1.2B company to running a bikini-body training company worth $500M – Here are 9 of the most successful influencers who converted their followers into multi-billion-dollar businesses.
Alex Cannon, co-founder of Craftd London jewelry brand, $2 million
While working as an influencer gave him a lot of popularity and was a great stepping stone in his path, and it wasn’t his endgame. In 2018, he launched his jewelry brand, Craftd. The launch of the first product proved to be a huge success selling thousands of units.
In 2021 the brand is experiencing 400% growth on last year. It is being touted as one of the fastest-growing jewelry brands globally, with supporters from over 100 different countries worldwide.
Freddie Harrel, founder of afro-hair extension brand, RadSwan, $2 million
In Spring 2017, Harrel founded Big Hair No Care. The ethical and realistic synthetic extensions and wigs line began with a pop-up salon in Brixton, UK.
It transformed into RadSwan, by 2019 becoming the first beauty brand that centered on innovation and co-creation with the global African Diaspora in mind.
Harrel studied the Afro hair extension market worth $7 billion and raised $2 million in funding from all-female investors BBG Ventures.
Marianna Hewitt, co-founder of skincare label Summer Fridays, $4.8 million
Beauty bloggers Marianna Hewitt and Lauren Gore together created a cult skincare label. In a Vogue interview, Marianna Hewitt shares the idea behind the brand, “Summer Fridays was really built out of a love for wanting clean and effective skincare, with a deep sense of community around it.
Our products are created for those on the go — juggling busy schedules, traveling, and multiple roles at home and at work. We want your experience with Summer Fridays to feel like your own mini-vacation, if even from your own home bathroom.”
The brand launched with just one Jet Lag Mask product, which became their most popular offering. It is known to be easy to use on the go, ultra-hydrating, and one of their most successful formulas.
Summer Fridays now employ 24 people, and while they haven’t disclosed their sales results, industry sources say the company has turned over $4.8 million. That’s quite a feat considering the brand launched around two years ago.
Zoe Sugg, Zoella Beauty, and homeware products, $8 million
“A lot of people get the assumption that because someone is able to [broadcast to] people on the internet that must mean that they are 100% confident…There are a lot more things to people than you might first realize.”
From being a successful Vlogger on YouTube to being a successful author. Girl Online, her first novel, became the fastest-selling book of the year selling over 78,109 copies in its debut week in 2014. The same year she began her line of beauty products under the brand name Zoella Beauty.
2016 saw her expanding into neighboring territories as the director of ZS Beauty Ltd, a wholesaler of perfume and cosmetics. A collection of homeware products, including stationery, candles and reed diffusers, exclusive to Boots, was released. By the end of 2019, it was reported that the two businesses had earned yearly revenue of $5.17 million.
Chiara, Founder of The Blonde Salad blog and Chiara Ferragni Collection, $11 million
In two years of starting her fashion blog “The Blonde Salad” in 2009, by March 2011, New York introduced her as “One of the biggest breakout street-style stars of the year.
After collaborating with Steve Madden to design a 9-shoe collection for Spring 2014. The turnover of the Chiara Ferragni collection was around $25 million in 2018, in line with the previous year.
It made a global presence, launching pop-up stores around the world in boutiques and department stores like Le Bon Marché in Paris, LuisaViaRoma in Florence, Apropos in Cologne, Breeze Center in Taiwan, Selfridges in London, Level Shoe District in Dubai, and The Grove in Los Angeles.
Kayla Itsines, Co-owner of Bikini-body training company Sweat, $486 million
Kayla Itsines launched Sweat in 2015. In an emotional Instagram post, Kayla wrote, “The next new chapter for Sweat starts today! It has been an incredible journey so far. I remember running one-on-one sessions in my parents’ backyard and them growing into bigger group sessions in the local park here in Adelaide.
we now have 13 personal trainers training you all, hundreds of thousands of women using Sweat every single week across 26 programs! It is just crazy to think how far we have come and how big the Sweat family is now.”
By 2020, Sweat, the bikini-body training company, made nearly $100 million. Along with Tobi Pearce, she sold their popular workout platform to fitness-tech company iFit for a reported $400 million.
Michelle Phan, founder of beauty subscription box Ipsy, $500 Million
The girl who started a personal blog in which she discussed different makeup tutorials in 2005 was the co-founder of the monthly beauty product subscription service MyGlam by 2011. It was known as Ipsy. in only a few years, Ipsy made $100 million in 2015. Michelle Phan’s company then enjoyed a company valuation of $500 million.
Her makeup prowess was not limited to her empire. In fact, in 2013, Loreal signed her up for her own makeup line called EM cosmetics by Michlle Phan, which failed due to sky-high prices, and Phan’s target group is relatively young.
Not one to give up, she revived the brand in 2017 and resigned from Ipsy to focus on EM Cosmetics. Other than makeup, Phan found the start-up Thematic, a company specializing in licensing music. The young entrepreneur aims to create a generation of what she calls “self-producers.”
Huda Kattan, Founder Huda Beauty, worth $1.2 billion
The world clearly cannot get enough of makeup and is still hungry for more which makeup and beauty influencers have made thriving entrepreneurs. Kattan started Huda Beauty with her two sisters in 2013. She took a loan of $6,000 from her sister when she couldn’t find false eyelashes to buy.
Huda Beauty has a wide assortment of products ranging from eyeshadow pallets to lip gloss, bringing about $200 million in annual sales. Private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners acquired a small minority stake in 2017 in a deal that valued the company at $1.2 billion.
What will stun fans is that she claims to have never spent a penny on advertising in the entirety of Kattan’s career and owes it all to her 50 million Instagram followers. Her company has over 140 products, including several ‘inclusive’ products like foundations in 30 shades, contouring products, and many more.
In an interview with CNBC, Katta shared, “There’s no reason why I should be where I am. But that perspective of thinking — that I shouldn’t be here — is what was keeping me back years ago. I remember being about 26 years old and thinking that, and I was putting these limits on myself. That was probably the biggest lesson I learned, that I should never put limits on myself.
Jeffree Star, CEO Jeffree Star Cosmetics. $1.5 billion
It’s funny how YouTube can turn you into an overnight sensation. What you do with that popularity is entirely up to you. Take a cue from YouTube makeup guru Jeffree Star who may not be a billionaire himself, but his company, Jeffree Star Cosmetics, is worth $1.5 billion.
He started his YouTube journey after dabbling in a musical career and working as a makeup artist. The YouTube channel was an instant hit and his eponymous makeup line, Jeffree Star Cosmetics, took off instantly too.
About his many enterprises, Star said, “I own an entire shipment and fulfillment center, I own a merchandise company, I print and manufacture everything myself. So I have about 10 businesses that I’m currently running besides my brand, which is the giant cosmetics company.”
The makeup moguls eye palettes and their unique packaging helped catapult the sales at top speed. It’s only a matter of time that the boy who grew up in Southern California, toying with his model mother’s makeup collection, becomes a billionaire himself.