Kim Kardashian is taking control.
The reality star and social media phenomenon spoke out about her business, the “secret” to her social media success and future brand strategy with Forbes editor in chief Steve Forbes, at the Forbes Women’s Summit in New York on Tuesday afternoon.
This story first appeared in the June 14, 2017 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Kardashian — who earlier in the day had announced the launch of her own makeup line, KKW, on Instagram — said that after 10 years, it’s time to pull back on licensing deals and create a product on her own terms.
“There’s nothing I would do now if I don’t have creative control,” she said. “In the past, I found power in saying yes to so many things, whether it was tanning, shoes, cupcakes or fitness videos.
“If I break it all down, I mean the percentage you would get from a licensing deal. I split everything with my two sisters, so that’s three ways and I just thought, ‘We work so hard to be getting so little,'” she explained, dressed in a businesslike black pantsuit. “And it might seem…and there’s all this false information out there and numbers and I really wanted to create a business on my own and I know that was a lot of hard work.”
But this year, Kardashian explained, she was forced to take some time off to reevaluate everything, including her licensing deals. Like her sister Kylie Jenner, Kardashian said she is going to focus only on her new makeup line, an upcoming fragrance coming out later this year, Kimoji — her mega-successful app — and the Kimoji Merch.
Kardashian, who was on the cover of Forbes last July with the cover line “The New Mobile Moguls,” spoke about turning fame into a larger-than-life brand.
“If people think you post and it’s so easy, it’s really not,” she said, explaining importance of authenticity on social media — “especially if you’re a brand.”
Forbes enthusiastically recapped the final episode of the previous season. “See, this stuff captures everyone,” he said, and wondered how the family has kept it going all these years.
“Right when we think we’ve run out of gas, someone will get pregnant or married or divorced,” Kardashian said.
“I’m really proud to be on a reality show,” she said.
As a parting gift, Forbes, a rare books collector, gave Kardashian a book on the Armenian Genocide, and a contract signed by a 13-year-old Elizabeth Taylor.
When asked about where her business sense came from, Kardashian credited her parents’ example — in particular her mother’s hustle.
On Monday, Forbes released its 2017 list ranking the world’s highest-paid celebrities. Kardashian came in at number 47 with $45.5 million — just $5.5 million less than Forbes reported she made in 2016.