Kim Kardashian Says Kanye West Inspired Her KKW Beauty and Fragrance Business

Kim Kardashian West attends KKWxMario Dinner at Jean-Georges Beverly Hills on March 31, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. Stefanie Keenan/WireImage

As the founder of KKW Beauty and KKW Fragrance, Kim Kardashian is at the helm of a beauty business that has been years in the making. After spending much of her twenties and early thirties licensing her name and likeness to various brands and products, the KUTK star decided to take back control of her name and launch two distinct beauty brands — a makeup line and fragrance collection — in January 2017, and she hasn’t looked back since. In a new interview with the Business of Fashion, KKW shared how KKW Beauty and KKW Fragrance came to be and how it was husband Kanye West who inspired her to strike out on her own.

After rising to reality TV (which Kim admits in the interview had long been a dream of hers), she and her sisters began promoting products on social media (reportedly for upwards of $500,000 a post) and lending their names to other people’s products. But in the last 18 months or so, the mom of three has scaled back on that approach in favor of focusing on her burgeoning brands.

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“I’ve transitioned from having everything in license deals, where you just basically get your list of requirements that have to be fulfilled and you do them — and I’m very happy to do them — but it’s a completely different game when every last detail is yours,” she told BoF.

Kim said it was West and his self-promoting business model that inspired her to re-evaluate her own tactics. She told the mag that “so many different companies wanted to buy his Yeezy brand” for “a lot of money,” but he wants a brand that is “100 percent me.”

Introducing ‘The Business of Beauty,’ our first special report on the $500 billion global beauty industry with cover star @kimkardashian. According to market reports, KKW sells an estimated 350,000 units per product launch, which could result in an estimated turnover of more than $100 million in revenue in the first year for @kkwbeauty and @kkwfragrance. Learn more about the report, which accompanies our latest special print edition. [Link in bio] To get your copy, become an annual #BoFProfessional member or pre-order your copy now on #kkw #kimkardashian #fashion #beauty #style Photographer: @benhassett Stylist: @georgecortina Makeup Artist: #KanakoTakase Hair Stylist: @chrisappleton1

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With that in mind, Kim turned to sister Kylie Jenner, who is successfully running a beauty business that is reportedly on its way to being worth $1 billion, as a model for which to structure her own fledgling beauty empire. Where Kylie Cosmetics launched with one product — the infamous Lip Kit — in November 2015, Kim decided to take a slightly different approach and launch a three-piece contour kit in June 2017 that was designed with her own famous look in mind. The $48 sets, which were available in four shades, sold out immediately, and BoF estimates that KKW Beauty has sold about 350,000 units per product launch totaling more than $100 million in revenue in its first year.

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Despite the perceived similarities between KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, Kim maintained that the companies are “very separate.” What is the same, however, is both sisters’ reliance on social media to spread the word about their brands. “Snapchat has the best filters … With Instagram, it’s this, like, mood for me … With Twitter I really communicate with people the most,” she explained. “I look at that as the most interactive, but a great focus group too. I really do respect and value their opinions and I’m asking questions and love conversation back and forth.”

She even used her channels to help design her first fragrance bottle. Last November, KKW launched an entirely separate business — KKW Fragrance — with three gardenia-based scents. Come May, she will have a new scent to the collection called “KKW Body” which will come in a bottle shaped like her own famous figure and smells “luminous.”

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While she certainly seems focused on the day-to-day operations of building her own empire now, interestingly, she told the mag she sees herself selling her beauty brands one day — but staying on as CEO. “I just want to grow my business,” she said. “I see my beauty business building up into a large company that hopefully I can sell one day and just run it, and always be in charge.”

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