n mid-November,Kylie Jennermarked a milestone moment with a visit to a strip mall. For the past three years, her Kylie Cosmetics had only sold its makeup online and briefly in pop up shops. But after signing anexclusive distribution deal with Ulta, the beauty retailer, Kylie Cosmetics was rolling its $29 lip kits—a matte liquid lipstick and matching lip liner—into Ulta’s 1,000-plus stores. And Jenner showed upto the Richmond Avenue Ultain Houston to greet customers, sign autographs on lip kits and, of course,pose for selfies with her fans.
Over the next six weeks, Kylie Cosmetics sold $54.5 million worth of products in Ulta, according to estimates from Oppenheimer. “I popped up at a few stores, I did my usual social media—I did what I usually do, and it just worked,” she says.
Fueled in part by the Ulta expansion, Kylie Cosmetics’ revenue climbed 9% last year to an estimated $360 million. With that kind of growth, and even using a conservative multiple from the booming makeup industry,Forbesestimates Jenner’s company is worth at least $900 million. She owns all of it. Add in the cash Jenner has already pulled from the profitable business, and the 21-year-old is now a billionaire, with an estimated fortune of $1 billion. She’s the youngest-ever self-made billionaire, reaching a ten-figure fortune at a younger age than even Mark Zuckerberg (who was 23 when he hit that mark).
“I didn’t expect anything. I did not foresee the future,” says Jenner, who is the youngest billionaire in the world. “But [the recognition] feels really good. That’s a nice pat on the back.”
The beauty of Kylie Cosmetics, which Jenner started in 2015,is its minuscule overhead—and the outsize profits that go straight into Jenner’s pocket. Her empire consists of just seven full-time and five part-time employees. Manufacturing and packaging is outsourced to Seed Beauty, a private-label producer in nearby Oxnard, California. Sales and fulfillment are handled by online merchant Shopify. Her shrewd mother, Kris, takes care of finance and PR in exchange for the 10% management fee she siphons from all of her kids. Marketing is done mostly through social media, where Jenner has a massive following. She announces product launches, previews new items and announces the Kylie Cosmetics shades she’s wearing directly to the 175 million-plus who follow her across Snapchat,Instagram,FacebookandTwitter.
“It’s the power of social media,” Jenner says. “I had such a strong reach before I was able to start anything.”
When Kylie Cosmetics launched in Ulta in 50 states, the reaction was a real-life version of the online rush Jenner created years earlier, when her initial kits sold out online in less than a minute. Ulta shoppers went wild. In some stores inventory was gone in hours. “It sold out faster than we planned,” admits Tara Simon, Ulta’s senior vice president of merchandising.
Ulta and Jenner are a sensible pairing. With Ulta’s mix of pricier prestige brands, like MAC Cosmetics, and cheaper selections, such as Nyx Professional Makeup, it has a larger footprint than that of its closest competitor, the more expensive Sephora. Analysts say Kylie Cosmetics is drawing younger customers through Ulta’s doors—teens who might not have a credit card to shop online. Plus, selling in physical stores gives Jenner a chance to reach “people that would never buy my products online,” she says. The ones who want to “see, touch and feel before they buy.”
Ulta provides access to a wide swath of America—more than just kids on the coasts—with stores across middle America. (It also has 714 more standalone stores than Sephora.) Ulta, meanwhile, gets a brand that requires no marketing push. So far, the retailer hasn’t spent a dime on traditional marketing to launch the brand in stores, which is “unheard of,” Simon says: “[Jenner’s] ability to communicate with well over 120 million people in a snap has a lot of power.”
“She did well online, but there’s only so far that that can take her,” says Shannon Coyne, an equity research analyst at BMO Capital Markets. “She probably realized: ‘If I want to get big, I’ve got to scale, and to do that, I need a partner.’ Ultimately, she wants to grow her brand, and she needs this store presence to do that.”
Indeed, Kylie Cosmetics has seen its growth slow rapidly lately. It went from essentially zero to $307 million in sales within a year of launching but managed only single-digit growth in 2017 and 2018,Forbesestimates. That’s despite adding 30 new products in 2017, including concealer and makeup brushes, and many more color combinations in 2018.
It’s not the first time Ulta’s breadth has helped propel a makeup entrepreneur. IT Cosmetics,cofounded in 2010 by Jamie Kern Lima, entered Ulta in 2012 and promptly grew to sales of $117 million by 2014. In August 2016, L’Oréal paid $1.2 billion in cash for it.
Would Jenner ever follow a similar route? She firmly dismisses the idea of a sale. But her mother is interested. “It’s always something that we’re willing to explore,” Kris toldForbeslast year.
For now, Jenner is focused on expanding her product range to include a setting powder, and bringing eyeshadows, powders and bronzers to Ulta. “I see [Kylie Cosmetics] going very far,” Jenner says. “I work really hard.”
Whatever happens next, one thing is certain. Jenner will share it all on social media, much to the delight of her tens of millions of fans.
She is, after all, the first selfie-made billionaire.
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This week at SXSW EDU 2019, innovation in education, student supports, and workforce development take center stage, shaping the national conversation around issues of student engagement, K-12 education reform, and higher education policy. The innovation and success of the College Promise movement, and the emergence of high-quality College Promise programs in Texas, are the focus of one of the panels introducing practitioners and policymakers to the next big thing in education.
“One hundred years ago our country decided to make high school free and accessible for students,” remarked Rosye Cloud, Vice President of the College Promise Campaign. “The College Promise Campaign is an update, an example of modern innovation transforming access to higher education to make sure that our schools and students are keeping pace with the changing 21st century economy.”
Across the state of Texas, young adults are struggling with these same barriers as they graduate high school and consider their college and career options. In theDallas-Fort Worth area, 30 percent of jobsare considered “middle-skill” jobs, meaning they require an Associate’s degree or industry certificate.According to Dr. Joe May, Chancellor of Dallas County Community College District and member of the College Promise Campaign National Advisory Board, “In spite of a booming economy, Dallas County faces an increase in poverty as well… While not everyone needs a four-year degree to find a job that pays a living wage, they do need some college, especially as technology changes the face of the job market. That’s where Dallas County Promise comes in: college completion represents economic opportunity for everyone.”
Recognizing the growing financial burden of college attendance, and the increasing necessity of a college degree or certificate for advancement in the workforce and social mobility, the Dallas County Promise seeks to build a college to career pipeline for graduating high school seniors.
Dallas County Promise works as part of a larger Promise Network to transform high schools, ease the transition from high school to college, provide wrap-around student services such as success and career coaching, and improve the use of technology for a Career Pathways system to track student progress through higher education and towards the workforce.
By removing the financial barrier to higher education, providing student supports and success coaching, and connecting students with in-demand career pathways, the Dallas County Promise has succeeded in increasing the number of students entering and completing college, in order to secure rewarding jobs and meet Dallas-area employers’ hiring needs. With a focus on equity and workforce engagement, the Dallas County Promise serves as an example of one of the over 300 innovative College Promise programs nationwide that is transforming the college-to-career pipeline and ultimately shaping their community for the better. Learn more about the Dallas County Promise and other College Promise programs by visitingwww.collegepromise.org/.
Elias Medina remembers how he used to weigh down job fair attendees with paper brochures and application packets. Now, every time recruiters from Arizona Federal Credit Union set up a booth at local job fairs, they always pull in a crowd of hopeful applicants. Medina, the credit union’s director of recruitment and training—and his mobile recruitment capabilities—are now the big attraction. He and his colleagues enthusiastically talk up the advantages of working for the credit union, then help interested job seekers fill out, sign, and submit employment applications electronically—on the spot.
These “instant applications” are possible because of the credit union’s adoption two years ago ofOracle Human Capital Management Cloud, with its easy-to-use recruiting module and an app that allows applicants to apply using mobile devices. Other than the enthusiasm of credit union representatives, “there was nothing that made us stand out” in the sea of employers, Medina recalls. “Now we do stand out. The candidate leaves the job fair thinking, ‘Wow, I got to speak to someone from the credit union face to face, they took my application, and I received a notification that they’ll follow up.’ Our approach tells applicants ‘we’re interested in talking to you and, yes, we are a great place to work,’” he says.
Helping Federal Workers
When the possibility arose of a federal government shutdown, credit union officers immediately arranged to offer affected members easy-to-obtain, short-term loans at low interest rates to tide them over until the government reopened. Customers who took advantage of the offer flooded the credit union with thank-you messages and some mentioned that their other financial institutions did not offer comparable assistance.
On the Cutting Edge
The credit union markets itself on the basis of its technology-based features and was one of the first financial institutions in the area to offer a mobile app, deposit-ready ATMs, and a feature that allows members to control their debit cards from their phones, set spending limits and alerts, and cancel them if stolen.
With the focus on providing members with the latest banking technology, it’s a bit surprising that up until recently, employees were saddled with an HR platform that was 14 years old and showing its age.
“I really can’t give an exact answer as to why we kept it for as long as we did,” says Patrick Smith, payroll, benefits, and HR systems specialist. “It was just one of those things where it was comfortable, we knew how to use it, and it still worked.”
Until it didn’t.
Once the old system began to fail, it did so dramatically. It was not compatible with newer browsers, the connections to the database were unreliable, and it was so old, there was only one person left at the vendor company who knew how to fix it. The data in the analytical reports for credit union managers became suspect.
“The age of the system and the multiple upgrades and updates along the way started deteriorating the data. We were at the point of wondering, ‘Where do we go from here?’” Smith says.
Open Enrollment Nightmare
The final straw for the old HR system came with the next open enrollment period, when employees tried to select health and other programs for their families but could not accurately compare features or figure out the costs of various options. And, once open enrollment closed, HR administrators had to manually check whether employees had successfully signed up for the benefits they thought they did, and then had to pass those individual selections to the benefits providers.
“From November to mid-December, we were locked down to our computers,” Smith remembers.
The HR team started to evaluate new information systems and began using Oracle HCM Cloud with its benefits module in time for the next open enrollment period. Medina, the long-time employee who is not a benefits expert, acted as a kind of canary in the coal mine to evaluate the new system.
“When open enrollment started, I logged in from my desk, answered the questions, made my selections, and the system calculated my monthly benefits payments as I went along,” Medina said. “It was really just a matter of next screen, next screen, next screen, and I got my enrollment done in 5 or 10 minutes.”
The Payoff of Progress
The credit union calculates that since the adoption of Oracle HCM Cloud, its operational efficiency is up and human error is down. Specific improvements include:
The credit union has cut benefit administration expenses through automation and, with regular HCM Cloud updates, reduced the time and effort spent on fixes and patching by 80%.
Automation cut 15 to 20 hours per month for benefits administration and 115 hours during the open enrollment period.
Automated onboarding processes save 60 hours per month, an 18% improvement in time spent on hiring and onboarding.
Ad hoc reports are produced 95% faster and compensation reports 80% faster, boosting productivity and accelerating insight.
New employees fill out required employment forms from home before they begin work, saving 180 hours annually and guaranteeing new hires have a more productive first day in the office.
But perhaps the greatest benefit of providing the latest technology is “right from when they apply, our employees get the same experience and tech ease in the branches, the call center, and the operations center as our members get. The improved employee experience keeps our attrition numbers down,” Medina says. More money saved.