Uncontroversial opinion: billionaires suck. They're overly sensitive, hoard wealth, and enforce inequality. They're also more powerful than ever. So, forgive my apprehension in toasting to anyone's ten-figure bank account.
However, even if the class shouldn't exist, let alone be celebrated, it's worth remarking on Rihanna's entry into the billionaire club. The Barbados-born singer, actress, and entrepreneur is the definition of a self-made mogul and is indicative something a little less stuffy than your average business school grad or silver spoon.
Forbes estimates that Rihanna's holdings in her Rihanna's Savage x Fenty — itself a bonafide billion dollar business — and Fenty Beauty companies, plus wealth derived from the entertainment biz, grants her billion-dollar status: $1.7 billion dollar status, to be exact.
This would make Rihanna the world's foremost beauty entrepreneur, wealthiest woman musician, and second only to Oprah as far as woman entertainers go.
Further, the cheery news is buoyed by circumstance. Rihanna's sky-high net worth being derived from the success of her lingerie and beauty lines only demonstrates the strength of inclusivity — so much for "go woke, go broke."
Both Savage x Fenty and Fenty Beauty cater to a range of skin colors and body types frequently sidelined by much of the respective industries. They also often employ a diverse cast of models for their campaigns and ad imagery, still a relative rarity even four years after Savage x Fenty was founded in 2017.
These progressive ideals have earned both brands — and Rihanna herself — an incredibly devoted following.
LVMH — overseen by the insanely wealthy Arnault family — has its fingerprints all over Rihanna's endeavors, to be sure. The conglomerate owns half of Fenty Beauty, for instance, and is expanding the line to include scents and skincare in light of year-over-year growth (Forbes estimates that Fenty Beauty alone is worth at least $2.8 billion). It also recently invested in Savage x Fenty.
So, some of Rihanna's wealth is LVMH's wealth. The thing is, her success is hers alone. LVMH's failure to roll out the Fenty luxury house came from clumsy management that didn't distinguish the expensive product from competitors or justify the garments' prices to Rihanna's fans. Rihanna was involved only from a creative standpoint — the Fenty brand imagery was, again, diverse — and likely had little to do with the production, design, sales, or operations.
Rihanna's wins with Savage x Fenty and Fenty Beauty come from, among other things, brand positioning. These companies sell to everyone, including underserved communities, and thus fill niches that competitors turn a blind eye to.
Again, it's nothing if not gauche to fawn over someone's deep pockets, but at least Rihanna is coming from a better place than wealthy peers who have a penchant for putting their foot in their mouths. If someone's gonna get rich off something, it might as well be for making room for people ignored by the hegemonies that came before them.