When it comes to entrepreneurship, it seems women need a little encouragement. Enter the female celebrity entrepreneur. According to a study conducted by women entrepreneur network, everywoman, celebrity entrepreneurs are acting as role models for women in business.
These eleven female celebrity entrepreneurs aren’t shy about getting things done; and neither should you be. Get reading their stories, get inspired, and get into business for yourself!
#1: Oprah Winfrey
Big Break: Overcoming impoverished circumstances, Winfrey won a full university scholarship. While at college, she attracted the attention of a local radio station, who hired her as a newsreader. Next, Oprah hosted a regional morning TV talk show. Soon, it was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show and went on to become the number one daytime talk show in America.
The Oprah Winfrey Brand is worth a staggering $13.8 billion. Oprah’s media empire, Harpo Inc., includes Harpo Films; Harpo Radio; Harpo Studios; The Oprah Store and The Oprah Network (OWN). Then, there’s O, The Oprah Magazine in the USA and the Oprah Magazine South Africa.
Oprah’s Catch Phrase: Aha Moment!
#2: JK Rowling
Big Break: After divorcing her Portuguese husband, Rowling returned to her homeland, the UK, penniless and with a small child. Living on state welfare, she penned Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – the manuscript was rejected by 12 publishers before being commissioned by Bloomsbury Publishers. The book spawned six additional Harry Potter novels, all of which are bestsellers, as well as film blockbusters of each book.
The JK Rowling Brand is synonymous with that of her brainchild, Harry Potter, and is estimated at $15 billion. While she doesn’t consider herself a woman entrepreneur, Forbes describes Rowling as the first author billionaire.
Harry Potter Catch Phrase: Let the Magic Begin!
#3: Jillian Michaels
Big Break: Jillian Michaels was the co-owner of an élite gym in Beverly Hills when she was approached to appear as a fitness trainer in a new TV show about weight loss, The Biggest Loser.
The Jillian Michaels Brand is the biggest fitness brand in America. Through her company, the $2 billion dollar Empowered Media, Michaels punts weight loss and fitness books, videos, exercise equipment, footwear, sportswear and Wii games. In addition to her own TV show, Losing it with Jillian, she is also the fitness guru on TV talk shows, The Doctors and The Dr Phil Show, and hosts a radio show, The Jillian Michaels Show.
Jillian Michaels Catch Phrase: Go get it!
Big Break: After school Madonna relocated to New York to further her ballet career. There, she got a gig with dance musician Patrick Hernandez, and subsequently formed a band, The Breakfast Club, with one of Hernandez’s musicians. Her vocals impressed record producer Mark Kamins, who introduced her to Warner Bros Records’ Vice President, Seymour Stein.
The Madonna Brand: The Material Girl is a true celebrity entrepreneur, worth an impressive $650 million. Her business portfolio includes record deals, a record label, merchandising, books, DVDs and a fashion label.
Madonna’s Catch Phrase: It’s my way till payday.
#5: Martha Stewart
Big Break: Martha seemed destined to be a career wife, rather than a woman entrepreneur. But when Martha’s husband, Andrew, an executive at a New York publishing firm, put his wife’s name forward to cater for an upcoming book launch, life changed. Alan Mikin, head of Crown Publishing Group, was suitably impressed with Martha’s efforts and commissioned her to write a cookbook. Titled Entertaining, it was the first of many to come.
The Martha Stewart Brand is housed under a New York Stock Exchange-listed company, Martha Stewart Omnimedia, and is worth an estimated $638 million. The portfolio includes magazines, TV shows and a home furnishing and craft range.
Martha Stewart’s Catch Phrase: It’s a good thing!
#6: Jennifer Lopez
Big Break: Lopez left home at 18 to pursue a dance career and was offered a job as a dancer on a new comedy show, In Living Color, choreographed by Janet Jackson’s choreographer, Rosie Perez. This led to a dancing gig in a Janet Jackson video, and then to a starring role in the movie, Selena.
The Jennifer Lopez Brand is worth some $110 million. Besides being one of the top ten top-paid actresses in Hollywood, Lopez is a successful woman entrepreneur – she manages a singing career, is a judge on American Idol, has several fashion lines, a signature series of perfumes, owns a television and film production company, a restaurant, and endorses several high-profile brands.
Jennifer Lopez Catch Phrase: I love you!
#7: Lady Gaga
Big Break: After dropping out of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Stefani Germanotta (aka Lady Gaga), got an internship at Famous Music Publishing, and then a job as a songwriter at Streamline Records. Here, her vocals drew the attention of hip hop star Akon, who signed her to his record label. Stefani Germanotta became Lady Gaga and a star was born.
The Lady Gaga Brand is worth a cool $90 million. This celebrity entrepreneur is already diversifying from music – income streams include brand endorsements, a fashion and art collection, a social network game and a spot as Fashion & Art columnist for American fashion magazine, V. Coming soon…a Lady Gaga signature perfume.
Lady Gaga’s Catch Phrase: Be Gah Gah for Gaga.
#8: Ellen DeGeneres
Big Break: Back in the day, who would have thought Ellen DeGeneres would go on to become a high-earning woman entrepreneur? While she held down a series of mediocre jobs, Ellen de Generes played amateur stand-up comedy gigs in bars and comedy clubs. But then a Tonight Show talent spotter saw her on the comedy circuit, and DeGeneres became the first comedienne to be interviewed on the show. This led to a TV sitcom, Ellen, but the show was cancelled after Ellen publicly disclosed her sexual orientation.
The Ellen DeGeneres Brand has bounced back and is now valued at around $85 million. DeGeneres’ business interests include The Ellen DeGeneres Show, endorsements for American Express and Cover Girl Cosmetics, and a record label, eleveneleven.
Ellen DeGeneres Catch Phrase: Laugh. Dance. Love.
#9: Paris Hilton
Big Break: Dubious though it may be, Paris’ lucky break into entrepreneurship came in the form of a sex video, leaked via the internet. Sex sells, and Paris – heir to the fabulous Hilton family fortune – has leveraged her internet notoriety to its fullest, launching a massive celebrity entrepreneur business.
The Paris Hilton Brand is huge, worth some $45 million. Money spinners include a record label, several TV shows, a fragrance line collection, a fashion line, a fashion line for pets, books, cell phone games and brand endorsements.
Paris Hilton Catch Phrase: That’s hot!
#10: Nigella Lawson
Big Break: Nigella developed a love for food and cooking at a young age, eventually becoming a freelance food writer. Then, leveraging her connections – her father is Nigel Lawson, Baron Lawson of Blaby and a former Chancellor of the Exchequer – Lawson published her first cookbook, How to Eat in 1998, followed by How to be a Domestic Goddess.
The Nigella Lawson Brand: Earning the title Queen of Food Porn, Nigella is a women entrepreneur valued at $24 million. Besides several bestselling books, she also has several TV shows to her name and a highly successful range of branded kitchenware.
Nigella Lawson Catch Phrase: Yum, yum, yum!
#11: Suzy Orman
Big Break: After a Merrill Lynch financial advisor squandered away $50 000 of her hard-earned cash, Chicago waitress Suzy Orman decided she could do a better job herself. She secured a training position at Merrill Lynch, did her time and then started her own investment company. After complaining about inaccurate financial advice being dispensed on a local radio show, she was asked to be a guest on the show. She came to the attention of Oprah Winfrey, and became financial guru on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
The Suzy Orman Brand is estimated at about $10 million. She hosts The Suzy Orman Show, is the author of nine bestselling books, and is the financial advice columnist for O, The Oprah Magazine.
Suzy Orman’s Catch Phrase: People first, then money, then things.
Need your very own celebrity entrepreneur to inspire you to greater heights? Modern Muse is an everywoman initiative which aims to inspire, inform, invigorate and motivate young women and girls about business and entrepreneurship.