The Business Of
Marilyn Monroe once said, “I’m pretty, but I’m not beautiful. I sin, but I’m not the devil. I’m good, but I’m not an angel.” People criticized her for being who she was but no one can deny that her innate sexual aura, coupled with her girl-like charm, still encapsulates the world today. Present day parallel? In my opinion, Kim Kardashian: bold, beautiful, yet softly spoken and non-aggressive; thus, always a fixation for men, media and the global masses.
We approached Kim while she was in the midst of her divorce battle and entrenched in the residue that seemed to never end. Every now and again, we like to remind our readers that we truly are unique (ANOKHI), as we like to throw an unexpected curveball by celebrating stories of prominent personalities from outside of the global South Asian community as we have done numerous times in the past. Why Kim? Because she exemplifies everything here at ANOKHI that we believe in: the intrigue of the entrepreneurial spirit and the unflinching power of women!
She agreed and this is what was discussed: Plain, simple business with a not-so-plain-and-simple super celebrity who took her ‘it’ factor to full throttle and in warp speed, with a branding cocktail that includes an internationally successful reality TV franchise, mass social media engagement and retail prominence rarely seen in our times. This is the story of ‘The Business of Kim Kardashian,’ one of today’s most prolific fashion and style influencers; a fitting cover personality for our Annual Fashion & Style issue.
By the way, for those of you predicting a juicy exposé, don’t be fooled. This interview will not discuss tabloid hot-button topics. In fact, it won’t even touch on them. Why? Because ANOKHI has been built on my belief of empowerment over embargo. And besides, there’s many a media outlet that tell that story and do it well. I strive to tell you her story in her words: no more, no less; so here goes.
THE AMERICAN DREAM…
Coming from a strong ethnic background, hailing from an entrepreneurial family and being a woman myself, I’m totally psyched at the opportunity of chatting with you, about all that you’ve accomplished – the acquisition of the ‘American Dream,’ no less. Looking back over the years, how does it feel to have been successful in all that you’ve put your mind to and making it all a reality, no pun intended?
Why thank you! I’m excited to chat with you too! I feel like I’m living in a dream. All of my dreams and more have come true. Certain aspects have been difficult, but with hard work, I feel accomplished. It feels good to have set goals and achieved them!
Indeed! In an interview you did with Piers Morgan a while back, you stated that at the beginning of each year, you write a list of all the things you want to accomplish that year, including things that you consider are out of your reach, and each year, you’ve accomplished all the things you’ve listed, including those that you’d felt were out of reach. What do you feel are the reasons you’ve managed not only to accomplish the realistic goals, but to also reach those that seemed out of reach?
A few years ago, having my own fragrance seemed so out of reach, and I thought my mom was a little crazy for adding that to my list. She was determined to make that happen, and when it did, I was stunned, to be honest. I’m so thankful for her believing in me.
Did the merger between reality TV, social media and product manufacturing as a business strategy, which we’re going to talk about throughout this interview, happen organically or was it a part of a grand master plan from the onset?
It all happened organically. It is just the time we live in, partnered with the show airing around the time social media started taking off. Sometimes you can’t be so strategic. Sometimes life just happens in the most pleasant way!
For women out there who aspire to enter the competitive world of entrepreneurship, what would be that one key advice you’d give to them from your experience in having accomplished this to the mass global level that you have?
Nothing comes easy, even if things look that way. Commit to what you want the end result to be and never stop until you get there. But most importantly, don’t take it lightly.
There’s no doubt that you’ve had quite the strategic rise from being a stylist to the stars to becoming an international superstar yourself, with your savvy business acumen and mother’s mentoring. You’ve so brilliantly orchestrated your direct line to the public with a series of internationally successful reality TV shows that have put you in an enviable position as one the most powerful reality TV stars in Hollywood. What do you attribute your shows’ success to, because with all the reality TV shows flooding the market, maintaining your market share is quite the feat?
What’s crazy is it wasn’t really strategic at all – that’s why my family and I pinch ourselves all the time and think, “Wow! Is this really our life?” We can’t even believe the show has had such success! It’s crazy how it all turned out like that. But I think that just the dynamics of the entire family is what makes the show a continued success.
Why choose reality TV in particular as your platform and not acting, which you’ve also dabbled in? What is it about the reality TV genre that made it your focus to reach the public?
When I was in high school, I saw the show The Real World and said to my best friend, “That’s what I want to do!” LOL! It was the reality aspect. It was new. That was the first and only reality show and I found it totally fascinating.
Would you focus at all on an acting career in the future?
In the future I would like to act. I have taken on a few roles here and there, and am so excited for the movie The Marriage Counsellor to come out next year by Tyler Perry that I shot earlier this year.
You’ve amassed an incredibly enviable social media following, giving you another way in which to reach the public, but unlike reality TV, social media, as everyone knows, gives you a direct two-way line of communication to the masses, and them to you. What do you attribute the public’s intrigue to want to communicate with you in this manner, at the mass engagement level that they do?
I love social media. I love communicating with people I typically wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet. I think because I am so active and do communicate so openly on Twitter, Facebook and on my blog, that it consistently engages my fans in a direct manner, which makes them so responsive in return.
The many social media platforms you have, have been carefully positioned to assist your brand to test, launch and market the many offerings you produce, kind of like a global testing ground or targeted focus group that’s absolutely free for you to access. This is absolutely ingenious – a direct line to your public who tell you what they like before you launch and market it so you know exactly what will fly before it’s introduced so there’s no room for error.
Very true! It is a public free focus group and I take advantage of that opportunity. I truly want the public’s opinion on new products I am launching. Sometimes I can’t decide between a colour or a new dress, nail polish or fragrance bottle, so I tweet a picture of a few options and I really use the one that gets the most response.
FASHION & STYLE…
This particular issue of ANOKHI magazine is our Annual Fashion & Style issue: and we thought, “What better cover personality to represent this theme than one of today’s most sought-after fashion and style influencers – Kim Kardashian.” My first question to you about fashion & style: In an industry wrought with celebrity fashion products, what’s the point of difference in the Kardashian Kollection offerings?
Kardashian Kollection offers a smart, youthful line that can be worn to a business meeting then easily transformed to wear to the club. In the line, not only do you get me as a designer, but my sisters as well. The three of us have our own individual style, so you will see each of our personalities reflected in the line, which I think diversifies the line. We also fit for all different body types.
You’ve launched numerous clothing, accessory and beauty products from a jean collection to lingerie, bags and perfume. How do you go about deciding on what you want to produce outside of your public focus group, and what affiliations you’re willing to align with, since, thus far, you’ve partnered with Sears, BeBe and OPI as the most widely known?
Well, each year, I never want to take on more than I can handle so it’s very carefully thought out. Anything beauty and fashion related I’m so passionate about, so it’s super easy to decide on those projects. When we designed for BeBe, it was for a few seasons, which taught us so much. When that was over, we were inspired to do our own line which is now at Sears in the US. So it just keeps evolving.
Your DASH fashion boutiques are your own endeavour along with your sisters. What’s the significance of the boutique’s name?
My dad’s nickname was Dash for KarDASHian. So we liked that and named our store after that.
How is what you offer at DASH different from what you offer with your affiliated partnered products if at all?
DASH isn’t our own products; it’s a clothing boutique with other designers. We do sell our Nicole by OPI nail polish and fragrances there, but the clothes are all different designers.
I read somewhere that you’d stated that your products represent a “bold sense of fashion.” In your words, define what this means.
Be bold, no matter what that is! I have a completely different style than Kourtney and Khloé. Style is such a piece of someone’s personality. You can express that through your wardrobe, so go for it!
I’ve heard you say in interviews that you’re inspired by bygone Hollywood actors like Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren and Ava Gardner. I can see the visual similarities in the choices you make in your red-carpet clothing, hair and makeup. What is it about these particular women that inspires you?
These woman are just fascinating to me. Such classic beauties! I love looking back at their looks and seeing the choices they made, fashion and glam wise. It’s very inspirational.
If you were to choose one attribute from each of them, what would it be and why these in particular as your choices?
– Elizabeth’s giving heart. She was so gracious and always thinking of others.
– Sophia’s sex appeal. In her seventies, she’s still just as gorgeous.
– Ava’s overall presence and attitude. She just seemed so confident and regal.
What interests me most about what you put out there in terms of your message with what you wear and what you design is that you don’t conform to the bone-thin ideology traditionally promoted by the fashion industry. Rather, you and your sisters wear and design clothing that suit your individual shapes and personalities, thus celebrating the many shapes and sizes of womankind, indicative of the very different shapes and sizes you all are. Clearly your target is the mass retail market, both with these choices and the fact that your products are mid-range in price – affordable by most anyone. What I’d like to know is, apart from what I’ve mentioned here, is there another specific brand message that inspires the choices that you make in what the product offerings you and your sisters put out there are going to be?
I know for me, when I look my best, I feel my best. So we just provide cute, affordable, stylish pieces. And of course, my sisters and I just all have different body types as you mentioned, and we love making clothes that fit a healthy body image. A realistic one!
“I Have Cellulite, So What?” was a cover heading on a past issue of Australian Cosmopolitan which had you on their cover before the launch of your bag line ‘Down Under.’ Not that I need my cellulite to be legitimized, but I must admit, when someone like you, who is considered one of the world’s most beautiful women says this, it sure is a “phew” moment for women like me who also live with cellulite. Why make this statement publicly when most celebrities would prefer to keep it to themselves?
It’s the truth! I can’t hide it! I wish I could, trust me. I try to do what I can to look and feel my best but when you can’t change something,embrace it!
Also during your interview with Piers Morgan, he asked you and your sister Kourtney to stand next to life-sized cardboard cutouts and tell everyone what you didn’t like about your physical selves. You said that there wasn’t really anything that you didn’t like about yourself. I have to say, I LOVE your confidence in your body image. For all those of us, who can’t say the same, what would you say to us about gaining the confidence you have, even though you admit to having perceived imperfections like cellulite?
Well I’m not always that confident. Of course I’m not perfect, nowhere near. And I have my bad days of feeling insecure. But the key is to look past it and not be bothered too much by it.
Similar to the South Asian community, your cultural upbringing has been centred around the strong family bond that you have with your family. So much so that you’ve even gone into business with them and in some ways, helped catapult them into being globally recognized personalities in their own right like yourself. This is not common with celebrities working with family to the extent that you do. You’ve spoken publicly about how influential your parents have been, especially your father, although your mother is such a powerhouse when it comes to mentoring you girls. What to you is the importance of the family institution?
As a child, my father always said to us that “blood is thicker than water,” and that phrase always stuck with us. We have always had each other’s backs no matter the situation and always will! It’s how we were raised and how we will raise our children.
RELIGION & CHARITY…
You’ve rarely spoken about this but you’re quite religious. What are the religious beliefs you follow?
I am a Christian.
You’ve admitted to giving 10 percent of your earnings to charity each year. When I heard this, I was pleasantly surprised, because in South Asian religions, we also believe in donating 10 percent of our yearly earnings to charity. In your case, 10 percent of your earnings amounts to millions of dollars. Bearing this in mind, I’m sure you really think about exactly where you decide to donate such large sums of money. What criteria do you base this on?
My father always taught us to give money to the church and that we would always be prosperous if we were generous. So I see that my church, Life Change Community Church (founded by mother, Kris Jenner), is taken care of. I love seeing all the good work my donations can bring.
You’re a dedicated financial supporter of The Dream Foundation also. Tell me what this charity is all about and why you choose to support its mandate(s)?
The Dream Foundation grants wishes to terminally ill adults – adults who have one last wish. Being able to grant those wishes means so much to their families.
Describe a typical day in your life.
I always get up at 6 a.m. and always start my day with a workout; makes me feel good about myself. Then I get ready and usually do a photo shoot or filming for the show. Days are long but productive, and at the end of every day, I test nail polish, skin care or makeup for our own lines. Then I wash it all off and go to bed.
Tell me something most people wouldn’t know about you or expect of you?
I love to cook! I am a pretty good cook!!
Who is ‘Kim Kardashian’ the woman, and is she different from ‘Kim Kardashian’ the celebrity? If so, how?
‘Kim Kardashian’ the woman and the celeb are pretty much the same person – always glam, family-oriented and having fun!
What do you consider to be strong personality traits in yourself?
I hate talking about myself. LOL! But I’d say I’m sweet, smart and stylish.
When you’re faced with challenge, what do you do to overcome it?
I used to be such a pushover because I always wanted to make people happy, but I’ve definitely grown out of that; especially more recently.
Being that you are a publicly known figure and beautiful, the topic of your relationship with men is a constant source of intrigue for the media and the public. Since the subject has been beaten to death already by the tabloids, I’m not going to beat if further in terms of relationships you’ve had in the past or that you have now. What I do want to know, though, is based on your past and who you are today, what do you look for in a relationship with a man?
I want someone who is a friend first and foremost – someone who knows the real Kim before the show, someone who is ambitious yet understanding, smart and funny.
Do you believe you’ve found what you’re looking for?
In romance, are you a dreamer or a realist?
Now, both! But before, I was just a dreamer.
Are you happy with the choices you’ve made in your life?
Yes! I have no regrets. I am who I am today because of the good and the bad.
If there’s one thing you could change in your past, what would it be and why change it?
I would have spent every single day with my dad. I did spend a lot of time with him but knowing he wouldn’t be here now, I would have spent even more time.
What’s next for 2013? What should people know you’ve got coming and when to expect them?
I’m continuing to design for our clothing line, the Kardashian Kollection. We are branching off to different countries and it’s so exciting!
Any chance of an Indian fashion collaboration?
That would be an amazing idea! One of my best friends is Rachel Roy, and I am such a fan of her ambition and creative designs. We should so collaborate!
Motto you live by
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
– Matthew 7:12
First published in the Fall Issue, October 2012, www.AnokhiMagazine.com
Cover photograph by: Pavel Halvicek/Chilli Media
All Photographs by: Keystone Press Agency
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