Owing to her Fenty Beauty line launched in 2017, Barbados-born Robyn Fenty, known to the world as Rihanna, has now entered one of the world’s most exclusive ranks: Billionaire, Forbes reported on Wednesday.
The announcement was met with celebration from persons in the Caribbean and Guyana as Rihanna’s mother is Guyanese.
Rihanna is now worth $1.7 billion, according to Forbes estimates—making her the wealthiest female musician in the world and second only to Oprah Winfrey as the richest female entertainer. But it’s not her music that’s made her so wealthy. The bulk of her fortune (an estimated $1.4 billion) comes from the value of Fenty Beauty, of which Forbes can now confirm she owns 50%. Much of the rest lies in her stake in her lingerie company, Savage x Fenty, worth an estimated $270 million, and her earnings from her career as a chart-topping musician and actress.
Fenty Beauty is a 50-50 joint venture with French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH (run by Bernard Arnault, the world’s second-richest person). Its products come in a diverse range of colors—foundation is offered in 50 shades, including harder-to-find darker shades for women of color—and are modeled in its advertising by an equally diverse group of people.
Available online and at Sephora stores, which are also owned by LVMH, the products were an instant success. By 2018, its first full calendar year, the line was bringing in more than $550 million in annual revenues, according to LVMH, beating out other celebrity-founded brands like Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics, Kim Kardashian West’s KKW Beauty and Jessica Alba’s Honest Co.
“A lot of women felt there were no lines out there that catered to their skin tone. It was light, medium, medium dark, dark,” says Shannon Coyne, cofounder of consumer products consultancy Bluestock Advisors. “We all know that’s not reality. She was one of the first brands that came out and said, ‘I want to speak to all of those different people.’”
Thanks to the impressive multiples at which beauty companies are trading, Fenty Beauty is worth a conservative $2.8 billion, Forbes estimates. And all signs point to the company continuing to grow.
Fenty Beauty isn’t Rihanna’s only billion-dollar brand. In February her lingerie line Savage x Fenty raised $115 million in funding at a $1 billion valuation. The company, which launched in 2018 as a joint venture with TechStyle Fashion Group, counts blue-chip investors like Jay-Z’s Marcy Venture Partners and private equity firm L. Catterton (in which Bernard Arnault is an investor) as shareholders. Rihanna maintains a 30% ownership stake, Forbes estimates. The latest round of funding will reportedly be used for customer acquisition and retail expansion.
Not that everything Rihanna touches turns to gold. In February, LVMH and Rihanna confirmed in a statement to Forbes that they had shut down their other venture, a high-end fashion and accessories house also called Fenty. Launched in 2019, Fenty sought to extend Rihanna’s brand of inclusivity and offer styles in a range of sizes. But like many luxury fashion brands, the high-priced line suffered during the pandemic, releasing its last collection in November 2020.
The singer, who used to release an album almost every year, hasn’t released a new album since 2016’s Anti.