The end of the decade is upon us, and so too is the anxiety over the imminent question inside our heads: What have I done in 10 years? Well, this story about Rihanna building her empire will either make you feel motivated to get into gear in 2020 – or completely terrible! However, perhaps you didn’t realise that Rihanna started the decade with as much money in the bank as the price of a Sydney home.
According to legal documents obtained by TMZ in 2014, Rihanna was nearly left bankrupt in 2009. At the beginning of that year, the singer reportedly had US $11 million (AUD $16 million) in cash but by December, that figure had dwindled to just US $2 million (AUD $2.9 million) after she bought a house for US $7.5 million (a decision her accountant at the time approved).
Rihanna also claimed her 2009 Last Girl On Earth concert tour was losing money. Three years later, the popstar packaged up all these figures and filed a lawsuit against her accounting firm, Berdon LLP, claiming gross mismanagement.
Today, according to Forbes, Rihanna is the wealthiest female musician in the world with a US $600 million (AUD $878 million) fortune. But how did she turn it around in ten years? Surprisingly, most of her wealth doesn’t come from record sales but her relationship with LVMH – and most specifically its billionaire CEO Bernard Arnault. Forbes estimates LVMH own an estimated 50 percent of Fenty Beauty, Rihanna’s beauty line she launched into Sephora stores worldwide in September 2017. In its first few weeks, the brand reported US $100 million (AUD $140 million) in sales, propelled by Rihanna’s huge Instagram following. It’s key difference was having 40 different foundation shades in the line – every colour available in every Sephora store worldwide.
“Fenty Beauty was created for everyone: for women of all shades, personalities, attitudes, cultures and races,” Rihanna told GRAZIA at the global launch of Fenty Beauty in Brooklyn, New York in 2017. “I wanted everyone to feel included. That’s the real reason I made the line. Beauty for all, that’s what I believe in.”
In May this year, LVMH announced Fenty, a new clothing house by Rihanna, will also extend to shoes, accessories and jewellery. It would be the luxury goods giant’s first new fashion house in 30 years. “They extended the offer to me and it was a no-brainer because LVMH is a machine,” Rihanna told The New York Times Style Magazine. “Bernard Arnault was so enthusiastic; he trusted me and my vision.”
While Rihanna’s success is not comparable to the average woman with 2000 followers, her work ethic is one to be inspired by. Now play that “Work” on repeat come midnight on December 31.