Singer, songwriter, actress, and business mogul Rihanna is now the wealthiest female musician in the world, and only media powerhouse Oprah Winfrey tops her as the richest female entertainer. According to estimates of her wealth by Forbes, Rihanna is currently worth $1.7 billion. Her wealth does not derive from her music, however; most of her riches – some $1.4 billion – stem from the value of Fenty Beauty, the cosmetics company she started in 2017 to make “women everywhere (feel) included. Rihanna owns 50 percent of Fenty Beauty, and she also owns an interest in her lingerie firm Savage x Fenty, which is worth an estimated $270 million. Rihanna also enjoys earnings from her highly successful music and acting careers.
Rihanna capitalizes on her presence on social media, using her 101 million Instagram followers and her 102.5 followers on Twitter to create her beauty brand. She is arguably the most successful beauty entrepreneur to use social media so successfully. Fenty Beauty is a joint venture with LVMH, a French luxury goods enterprise run by Bernard Arnault, the second-richest person in the world. The company launched in 2017 with products designed to appeal to everyone. Its foundation products are offered in 50 shades, including the darker shades desired by women of color, which are difficult to find. Its advertising makes a point of displaying a very diverse group of people as well.
The products are available for purchase online and at Sephora stores, which are also part of the LVMH conglomerate. By 2018, the Fenty line was providing over $550 million in yearly revenues, more than other brands founded by celebrities, including Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics and Kim Kardashian West’s KKW Beauty. According to Shannon Coyne, the cofounder of Bluestock Advisors, a consumer products consultancy, noted that many women had felt that there were no beauty lines that catered to their particular skin tones, and Rihanna’s brand was one of the first to speak to all of those diverse people.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused cosmetics sales to drop, but beauty firms continue to be worth as much as they ever were. Stocks at big companies like Estée Lauder and L’Oréal rebounded to reach historically high revenues and trading at 7.5 times their annual totals. Independent brands have made deals with investment firms at billion-dollar valuations as well.
The post-COVID boom is good for Rihanna, and Fenty Beauty now has an estimated worth of $2.8 billion, with signs indicating the firm will continue to grow. And Fenty Beauty is not the artist’s only billion-dollar brand, with her lingerie line raising $115 million in funding in February 2021 and counting top investors like Jay’ Z’s Marcy Venture Partners as shareholders. Rihanna retains a 30 percent ownership stake. However, LVMH and Rihanna did announce in February 2021 that their other venture, a luxury fashion and accessories brand called Fenty would shut down due to negative impacts from the pandemic.
Fans sometimes complain that Rihanna’s success as a beauty entrepreneur keeps her from her singing/songwriting career. While she had previously released a new album almost every year, she has not recorded anything new since Anti in 2016.
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