Say what you will about Kim Kardashian, but there’s no denying the reality TV star is also a savvy businesswoman.
“Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” currently in its tenth season, and the family recently signed a reportedly $100 million deal to stay with the E! network for the next four years.
Kim boasts an executive producer credit on the show, not to mention her hit video game app, product endorsement deals, a selfie book, and nearly 31 million Instagram followers tracking her every move.
According to Forbes, Kardashian earned $28 million in 2014 alone and earlier this month she was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2015.
But Kardashian, 34, has been working toward this her entire life.
As a teenager, Kardashian always had a job, despite her cushy upbringing in Calabasas, California.
In a new interview with Variety, Kardashian explains that it was her late father, powerhouse attorney Robert Kardashian, who taught her to be financially savvy by having her “sign contracts for everything.” She explains:
I worked at a clothing store for four years. I loved it. When I turned 16, my dad made me sign a contract — he made us sign contracts for everything — that if I hit my car, I would be responsible for paying for it. I was in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and I tapped someone. It was so not a big deal, but I had to pay for it. It was during the O.J. trial. They saw my last name and said, “Kardashian, your dad’s that lawyer?!” They sued me for a lot of money. After I paid them back, I kept on working to buy myself some clothes.
When Kim was growing up, she would spend time working for her father at his law firm. It was there, she explains to Variety, that she found a passion that led to her first financial success — selling clothes on eBay.
When I was younger, I worked in my dad’s office. When I was there, I discovered eBay and I loved shopping. I had to be on a budget. I didn’t have credit cards. How do I figure out how to make this a business? I remember I bought these Manolo Blahnik shoes that were $700. He let me buy five pairs. I had to pay him back plus interest. I sold every pair on eBay for $2,500. I became so obsessed with seeing that return, I would sell off the things I wouldn’t be wearing.
Kardashian explains that she made such a profit off of the shoes because she had a good eye for trends and what people would want to buy.
“They were these Manolo Blahniks that Jennifer Lopez had worn in her first or second video,” Kardashian explains. “Everyone had to have them. I called at the right time and the girl at the store had five pairs and I took them.”
From there, Kardashian created a business of cleaning out her celebrity friends’ closets and selling the goods on eBay, while taking a cut of the profit.
In 2006, a then unknown Kardashian was even featured on pal Paris Hilton’s reality show “The Simple Life” as the heiress’ closet organizer.
“My closet business came about when I was at my godparents’ house, Sugar Ray Leonard and his wife Bernadette,” Kardashian explained to Player Magazine in 2006. “Bernadette’s closet was massive and had so much stuff in it. I said to her, ‘You really need to clean out your closet.’ Well, we spent the whole night doing that.”
“Kim convinced Bernadette to sell the designer clothing on eBay rather than throw it away,” explained Player magazine. “She was so successful at it that Bernadette started recommending Kim to her friends. Soon, celebrities like Kenny G, and Rob Lowe and his wife, started hiring her. Before long, Kim was organizing and cleaning out closets for everyone from Cindy Crawford to Serena Williams, as well as friends like Nicky Hilton and Nicole Richie. Her clients jokingly tagged her with the moniker, ‘Queen of the Closet Scene.'”
Kardashian even spun that infamous 2007 sex tape into a reported $5 million deal that still swells her bank account to this day. After Kardashian’s nude Paper magazine cover piqued interest in November, Vivid Entertainment president Steve Hirsch told TMZ the reality star would rake in $55,000 for that week alone.
Kardashian says she has always considered herself a businesswoman.
“When the opportunity for our TV show came about, I wanted to do it to bring attention to our stores [DASH, which she’d opened with her sisters],” Kardashian told Variety. “I was thinking this might not last very long, but we’ll grow a great business and expand online. I thought it would be great press. I didn’t think it would turn into what it turned into.”
Author: Aly Weisman
Aly Weisman is Senior Editor of Business Insider’s entertainment vertical, The Wire. Aly previously worked as a reporter, writer and producer for E! News and E! Online in Los Angeles after graduating with a degree in journalism from USC. Aly has written for numerous entertainment and lifestyle publications and hosted many TV and web segments of similar content.