Letter to the editor:
President Obama famously came under fire for his “If you have a business — you didn’t build that” quip during his 2012 presidential campaign. Opponents were quick denounce his remark as an attack on hardworking, self-made entrepreneurs who — armed with a little luck, a lot of work and an idea for something new — are the engines of American economy. Right or wrong, the belief is a common one: that those who are successful haven’t done it on their own. Is anyone truly self-made?
That debate rages once again, after Kylie Jenner graced the cover of Forbes magazine with the tagline “America’s women billionaires” saying the 21 year old is “set to be the youngest-ever self-made billionaire.” Social media collectively freaked out that it was tone deaf to not acknowledge her massive cushion of resources, incredible name recognition, and the fact that success was all-but-guaranteed for cosmetics magnate. Self-made she is not.
But I posit that the backlash and knee jerk criticism is undeserved. One does not need to look very far for an example of someone with similar name recognition and cushy head start with very different end results: Rob Kardashian. Did you know you can snag some really cool socks under his Arthur George line? It’s the only place I shop to get socks with “Mama/Cita” and “Hot/Tamale” written on the soles.
My point is not to poke fun at Rob’s comparatively lukewarm business venture. My point is that building something successful is remarkable even for someone with incredible resources at the outset. Not every idea is a success, no matter how many flashy consultants or marketing plans you have to put behind it. In fact, most ideas are trash. Jenner has taken the (admittedly enormous) resources at her disposal, leveraged her social media following, and sold the bejeezus out of legitimately great products that she believes in. Which, by the way, sell out within minutes and have a cult following.
Jenner is a force multiplier. Her success was not a guarantee. Is she entirely self-made? Is anyone? It’s a complex question, and I’m not sure of the answer. But I do know that lip kits are here to stay, and Jenner’s success is very much her own. Congrats, girl.
Carli Dimino; Arlington, Va.
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