Business lessons from the woman behind the Kardashian empires

What do Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS, Khloe Kardashian’s Good American and Kris Jenner’s Safely have in common?

The trio share the same wizard behind the curtain: Emma Grade, a serial entrepreneur who helped turn the Kardashian family’s celebrity into a lucrative business.

Grede began working in fashion show production before founding and selling a talent management and marketing firm, ITB. She spoke to Yahoo Finance at JPMorgan Chase’s Make Your Move Summit in Frisco, Texas, where she revealed the philosophy behind her success.

“There’s no one better than the Kardashians to really connect with popular culture, but when you break it down, what does it mean? It’s an understanding of women, of consumers and what they would like to buy,” Grede told Yahoo Finance.

The secret behind the Kardashians’ hits is simple: Identify a gap in the market, produce quality products that fill that need, and make inclusion a central tenet.

For example, when Good American launched in 2016, no one in the denim industry was making jeans for women of all sizes. The company makes jeans in every size – from 00 to 32 plus – and shoots its campaigns on models of various sizes. The launch generated $1 million in first-day sales — an industry record.

“What was so great was that the mission and our purpose really resonated with customers,” Grede said. “So many women, especially in this plus-size community, are really left out of the fashion conversation… There’s such limited options around clothing for plus-sized women that we were just filling an obvious gap, an obvious white space. “

Co-founders Emma Grede and Khloe Kardashian attend the launch of Good American at Hudson’s Bay in Toronto on September 18, 2019. (George Pimentel/Getty Images) (George Pimentel via Getty Images)

Similarly, Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS, recently valued at $4 billion, is known for its wide range of sizes and high value for money. “You might be driven to buy the product because you’ve seen Kim or Khloe or Kris, but they have to be really, really great products to keep you coming back and buying again and again,” Grede said.

“We’re taking categories that really need innovation … and delivering customers a superior product in that category. And I think that’s the only way to build a business.”

This is a difficult time for the consumer. In an interview this week with Yahoo Finance, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said that while middle- and upper-class consumers are “doing pretty well,” there are “signs of stress” among those on lower incomes.

But customers are still looking for quality and durability, and if you have products that people want to use all the time, then the business will be better positioned for tough times.

“We really want people to feel like these are companies they can come back to again and again to buy things that will last and wear forever,” Grede said.

In her spare time, Grede also invests in startups, especially those founded by women or minorities. She looks for many of the same markers in founders as she did in building her business.

“A founder who’s super passionate about what he’s doing, but someone who solves a problem that fills a void,” Grede said. “For me, it’s not about experience at all, because I’m looking for people who approach things differently.”

Ali Garfinkle is a senior technical reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter, at @agarfinks and on LinkedIn.

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