The Giants: The brains behind the brands that boomed
Founder and CEO, SKKN By Kim
Co-founder and co-managing partner, SKKY Partners
Co-founder and creative director, Skims
Kim Kardashian is an inspiration to herself.
“There are a lot of brands that I admire, but I do think that it’s a new time for people to be really authentic and true to themselves,” said Kardashian. “A lot of people can come to me and say, ‘Well, this worked for this brand and this works for this other brand,’ but if you know what you want and know your own vision, that’s enough.”
While other entrepreneurs may name-check founders like Estée Lauder or Steve Jobs as people they would like to model their careers after, Kardashian is in a place where she is wholly content with who she is, where she is and what she is building.
And there is no denying that Kardashian has been successful at charting her own course. In 2019, when she launched Skims, her body-positive intimates, shapewear and loungewear brand, the designs were entirely based on her own preferences. In particular, Kardashian focused on a wide array of sizes, shades that matched real skin tones and details like the way a thong sat on the body. Never mind that the intimates market was already crowded and largely controlled by a select few like Victoria’s Secret, Spanx and La Perla. Less than three years after launch, Skims was valued at $3.2 billion in January.
Kardashian once again looked inward when rethinking her beauty businesses. After successfully launching KKW Beauty, a line best known for its color cosmetics and fragrances, in 2017, Kardashian made the decision to shut it down in its prime.
“From a business perspective, I had a lot of business partners and different websites, whether it was for my fragrance deal or my color cosmetics deal. I wanted to do skin care, and then it would have been three different sites with three different names and three different Instagram accounts, and three different brands that I had to run with my in-house team. I wanted them all together under one umbrella,” Kardashian said.
The result of recentering was SKKN by Kim, a nine-step luxury skin-care line that launched in June. In 2020, Coty announced it would take a 20% stake in the business in a $200 million deal. Further adding credibility to the brand, celebrity facialist and aesthetician Joanna Czech developed the product formulas.
“There was a time when I so heavily focused on my makeup and all my different looks; now I am at a place where I’m comfortable in my own skin and being a little bit more natural,” Kardashian said. She emphasized that SKKN by Kim, which consists of a cleanser, a vitamin C serum and a face cream, among other products, is what she uses day in and day out.
Despite being in a skin-care-centric chapter of her life, Kardashian insisted that, eventually, SKKN will encompass every beauty category. After all, Kardashian is essentially credited with trademarking contouring and amplifying the careers of every artist in her orbit, including Mario Dedivanovic.
“A lot of people keep writing to us saying that they miss KKW Beauty so much,” she said. “Our color is all going to come back and be better than ever. We’re going to branch out into every category, from color to fragrance to hair care. Anything that touches your skin, that’s where we will be.”
In many ways, SKKN by Kim runs counter to current trends in beauty. As brands rush to retail partnerships post-Covid, Kardashian sells her line entirely direct-to-consumer. Though the global makeup market has made a comeback, Kardashian is focused on skin care. And while fewer, better products is the sales pitch du jour by brands, SKKN is all about a rigorous, multi-step routine.
“People might have advised me against a larger step system; I think that that works in my favor. The entire step system and larger bundles sell out first,” she said. The full SKKN collection retails for $673.
Owned retail shops are on Kardashian’s mind, too, with the brand launching its first pop-up in Westfield Century City this week. SKKN’s complete skin-care and home line are available for purchase. “Our pop-up will show people a glimpse of what our stores will look like, and stores are the goal.”
And yet, 2022 wasn’t all about SKKN for Kardashian. In September, she announced SKKY Partners, a consumer-focused private equity firm co-founded by former Carlyle executive Jay Sammons.
With two businesses capturing the collective consciousness and her global influence knowing no bounds, Kardashian sees her future as an investor as a compelling next act.
“I’ve learned so much along the way, and I know how to build companies; it is something I know how to do well,” she said. “I can contribute, offer advice and help shape or change whatever a founder wants. But it’s important to sit down with founders, find out what their dreams are, find out why they’re doing what they’re doing, and amplify that.”
And if there’s anyone who knows how to amplify the next big thing, it’s Kardashian.
Click here to see all 2022 Glossy 50 honorees.