10 Things I Learned From Forbes’ Richest Self-Made Women List

The annual Forbes list of richest self-made women has been released, and I studied up so that I can make the cut next year. You may know some of these ballin’ ladies — Jessica Alba, Taylor Swift, and Oprah all made the cut — but there’s a lot you might not know about the business of getting rich. Check out what I learned about the women who are running the world, one million at a time.

1. Rags to Riches Is A Real Thing

Sara Blakely founded Spanx when she was 29 years old, while working as a door-to-door fax salesperson. She invested $5,000 of her own savings into a company that she planned to create in order to have something to wear under white slacks. Now, Blakely is worth $1 billion, and is part-owner of the Atlanta Hawks basketball team. That is a badass story.


2. Working with Your Friends Pays Off

Patricia Miller and her homie Barbara Bradley Baekgaard were waiting for their flight at an airport in Atlanta in the 80s, when they noted how boring everyone’s travel bags were. This sounds like something I’d spend time doing with my friends, except Patty and Barb took their idea one step further. They each borrowed $250 from their husbands and started making floral quilted bags out of Baekgaard’s basement in Indiana. Now, their business, Vera Bradley, sells half a billion dollars worth of bags and suitcases a year.

3. Beyoncé Is Worth Much Less Than Jay Z is

Beyoncé’s net worth is $265 as a result of her earnings as a solo artist, endorsement deals with Pepsi and H&M, and investments in companies like Tidal, which she owns with her husband Jay Z. Forbes also mentioned that Jay Z’s net worth is $610 million, which just feels wrong, considering Lemonade and all.

4. The Gap Would Have Been Named “Pants and Discs” if Not For Doris Fisher

Doris Fisher and her husband Donald were planning on calling the iconic retail brand “Pants and Discs,” until Doris came up with “Gap,” which is short for “generation gap.” Thank God for Doris.

5. Nora Roberts is a Machine

America’s most popular romance writer, Nora Roberts is some sort of writing machine who averages 5 manuscripts a year. She’s published 219 books, which have spent collectively 1,100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Damn.

6. Even Millionaires Are Shy

The founder of American Girl dolls is a woman named Pleasant Rowland who created her business after a failed search to buy her niece a doll for a present during a trip to Colonial Williamsburg. Pleasant is an ex-elementary school teacher, TV reporter, and textbook author, but Forbes reported that Pleasant is “publicity-shy” and refused to speak with them. That’s extra adorable, because she’s a woman named Pleasant who makes dolls.

7. Never Give Up, ‘Cause Judge Judy Got Rich At Age 52

Judge Judy first appeared on camera at age 52, and since then, her daytime television show has been on air for 20 seasons, and is watched by roughly 10 million viewers daily. Judy, who grew up in Brooklyn, was also the only woman to graduate with her law school class at American University.

8. Charlize Theron Is Producing A Sophia Amoruso Netflix Comedy Show

Sophia Amoruso, the well-known #Girlboss and founder of e-commerce retail brand Nasty Gal, is worth $280 million, and is getting a Netflix show. Forbes announced Charlize Theron is producing an upcoming Netflix comedy based on Amoruso’s life. Amoruso will stay behind the scenes for this one.

9. Working For Your Parents Can Also Pay Off

Toni Ko grew up working for her parents’ beauty supply business, until 1999, when at the age of 25, she decided to create department-store quality makeup to be sold at a drugstore price. With her parents connections, she founded NYX Cosmetics. Her first year of retail made over $4 millon in sales. Since then, she sold the brand to L’Oreal for $500 million.

10. Forever 21 Has Been Sued Over 50 Times, But Is Still Very Lucrative

South-Korean born Jin Sook Chang and her husband Don founded Forever 21 — originally named “Fashion 21” — at a 900-square-foot space in LA, and made $700,000 in their first year of sales. This year, Forever 21 has made $4.4 billion in sales, and despite being sued over more than 50 times for copyright infringement, remains a balling family business.

I took all this info from the Forbes article, which is all really interesting. Read the full article here. 

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