20 Celebrity Entrepreneurs

After succeeding in show biz, each of these business savvy superstars parlayed her celebrity into a lucrative brand

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Tyra Banks

The first African-American woman to grace the covers of GQ, Sports Illustrated andVictoria’s Secret, Banks retired from modeling in 2005 to find even greater success as a businesswoman. She founded Bankable Productions and produced and hosted the popular reality show, America’s Next Top Model, as well as her Emmy award-winning talk show, Tyra Show. In 2011, Banks enrolled at Harvard Business School and wrote a novel Modelland, scheduled to be released September 2011.

Andrew Evans / PR Photos

Sarah Jessica Parker

The Sex and the City actress has been the face of many brands, even making history in 2004 with a $38 million contract with the Gap. She started a popular line of fragrances and an affordable line of clothing. In addition to her on-screen work, Parker now produces the Bravo reality show Work of Art.

M Van Niedek / PR Photos

Cindy Crawford

One of the biggest faces of the 90s, Crawford made the transition from supermodel to super-entrepreneur after she quit modeling in 2000. She launched a home furnishings line and a skincare brand while also working as a spokesperson for Omega Watches. In 2009 she partnered with JC Penney on a successful home décor and jewelry collection.


Kate Moss

This Brit is strongly associated with couture, but it was her collaboration with fast-fashion megastore Topshop in 2007 that put her on the map as an entrepreneurial heavyweight. Moss’ 14 fashion lines for the company sold out within hours. Most recently, she designed a line of bags for Longchamp.

Solarpix / PR Photos


She earned $87 million last year—enough to make this  Grammy award-winning superstar the top female artist on the Forbes 2010 Music Earners list. What did she do to make so much money? She went on a 93-date world tour and signed lucrative endorsement deals with Nintendo and L'Oréal. She also earned a bundle from her House of Dereon fashion line—a collection she created with her mother.

Andrew Evans / PR Photos

Victoria Beckham

Now that she’s an international style icon, it’s easy to forget that Beckham got her start as a member of the 90s British girl-pop group The Spice Girls. In 2008, she started a sophisticated fashion line that earned praise from celebrities and industry bigwigs alike. Next comes a more affordable clothing line, set to premiere in stores in Spring 2012.

Andrew Evans / PR Photos

Gwen Stefani

As both the lead singer of No Doubt and a solo artist, Stefani has topped the music charts, selling more than 40 million albums worldwide. But she didn’t stop there. She debuted her high fashion line L.A.M.B in 2003, and the less expensive Harajuku Lovers line of clothing, fragrance and accessories in 2005. In November, Stefani’s clothing line for kids, a collaboration with Target, will hit stores.

Pixplanete / PR Photos

Kathy Ireland

This former Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model tried her hand at acting before discovering a knack for business. She started with a line of socks for Kmart in 1993—and when they turned into a bestseller she founded a product marketing company, Kathy Ireland Worldwide. Today, the company designs and markets more than 45,000 products—in the categories of home, garden, clothing and, most recently, bridal—and brings in an estimated $1.5 billion annually.


Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

The Olsen twins started off sharing the role of the baby sister on 90s sitcom Full House. Next they turned their popularity among preteens into a merchandising empire by forming Dualstar, which made straight-to-video movies, clothes, and toys. In recent years, their fashion lines—The Row, Elizabeth and James, and Olsenboye—have earned both industry respect and $1 billion in retail sales. Last month, the Olsens introduced their subscription-based shopping site, StyleMint.

Janet Mayer / PR Photos

Jessica Simpson

The pop star found moderate success on the Billboard charts and major success as a reality star on The Newlyweds in the early 2000s. As her personal life and music stalled, the clothing and accessories line she founded only sped up. Now, the Jessica Simpson Collection is expected to be worth $1 billion by the end of 2011.  The latest addition to her empire—a teen clothing line she’s launched with her sister Ashlee—arrives in stores this fall.

Andrew Evans / PR Photos

Jillian Michaels

The fitness guru, known for her role as a personal trainer on 11 seasons of The Biggest Loser, launched her own media company in 2008. Michaels’ business now extends to workout DVDs, exercise equipment, videogames and more and raked in over $200 million in 2010. Her website receives 100 million visitors each year.

Andrew Evans / PR Photos

Rachael Ray

This cheerful TV cook is smiling her way to the bank. She had no formal training, but her every-girl appeal made her popular on the Food Network; she now has more than 20 cookbooks and a line of kitchen products. She hosts her own daytime chat show and runs a lifestyle magazine, Everyday with Rachel Ray.

Bob Charlotte / PR Photos

Jaclyn Smith

She became a star on Charlie’s Angels, but this 70s bombshell is now one of the greatest celebrity brands in history. Her fashion collection has been a bestseller at Kmart for more than 25 years. In addition, Smith has a line of wigs and, last winter, Smith expanded into the beauty business with a skincare line. 

Claudio Uema / PR Photos


The Somali-born supermodel (and Mrs. David Bowie) slowed down her fashion career in the mid-90s to launch a cosmetics company for ethnic women. The line is now a $25-million-a-year business and a top-selling brand for Walgreens. In 2007, Iman started a clothing and accessories brand for HSN.

Janet Mayer / PR Photos

Jennifer Aniston

Aniston’s appeal as America’s girl next door has earned her many lucrative deals as a spokesperson for such brands as L’Oreal and SmartWater. In 2008, Aniston formed the production company Echo Films, and her debut perfume was released last year. What’s next? A possible fragrance for men.

Carlos Alvarez

Heidi Klum

Klum’s a former Victoria’s Secret Angel, host and producer of Project Runway and wife of musician Seal. She has designed jewelry for QVC, clothing for Jordache and Victoria’s Secret, sunglasses, and, most recently, active wear and shoes for New Balance and Amazon. She’ll be seen next as the host of Lifetime’s new show Seriously Funny Kids.

Janet Mayer / PR Photos

Nicole Richie

When she transitioned from the ditzy sidekick on The Simple Life to an established entrepreneur, Richie zoomed past many of her former peers. She now has under her belt: two successful novels, a jewelry line, a maternity collection with A Pea in the Pod, and a woman’s clothing and handbag line. Next, Richie will join Elle Macpherson and Jessica Simpson as a judge on the upcoming show, Fashion Star.

Emiley Schweich / PR Photos

Kate Walsh

Known for her role on Grey’s Anatomy as McDreamy’s ex, and now as the lead on ABC’s Private Practice, this TV actress recently broke into the perfume industry with her own scent, Boyfriend. She developed the fragrance herself, even hawking it on the Home Shopping Network where it soon sold out.


Reese Witherspoon

After winning an Academy Award, many actresses might slow down. Not Witherspoon. She owns her own production company, Type A Films, supports children and women’s charities, and serves as the global ambassador for Avon. Her latest collection of perfumes for the company was released this year.

Landmark / PR Photos

Christy Turlington Burns

After more than 25 years in the fashion industry, Turlington Burns—still a prominent model and spokeswoman—is now an active philanthropist and businesswoman. She has launched a skincare line and a line of yoga-inspired apparel and accessories; she has also written a book on yoga and lifestyle. In May, her documentary about maternal health care challenges worldwide premiered on OWN.

Koi Sojer / PR Photos

First Published August 12, 2011

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