Female Entrepreneurs Who Built Empires

For decades, women have been paving pathways for health, wellness, and opportunities for entrepreneurship. Those in Hollywood have primarily used their platforms to provide options in every major industry. From hair and skin care to baby products and nutritional supplement products, Hollywood’s brightest female stars are changing how women do business.

#1. Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba
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As a first-time mom, actress Jessica Alba found securing non-toxic, environmentally friendly products for her new daughter challenging.

Since co-founding Honest, which specializes in life-centered products like diapers, cleaning products, and makeup, Alba has added two more children to her brood.

Thankfully, revenues for her company are up 8% from the second quarter of 2022, despite having to settle two class-action lawsuits in 2017 over allegations that her products contained synthetic materials.

#2. Drew Barrymore

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Having been in the acting business from early childhood, Barrymore knows all the ups and downs of Hollywood. Having co-founded a production company, Flower Films, in 1995, she expanded that brand with Flower Beauty, a cosmetics line for CVS and Ulta. Barrymore also launched a kitchenware line, Beautiful, in 2021.

Obsessed with making products designed to fit women and be digitally innovative, Barrymore said, “Make everyday beautiful, make life beautiful, have it surround you… That’s a bit about how Beautiful was born.”

Featuring all-digital interfaces and bold color choices that are warm and contrasting, Barrymore wanted to make a line that “looked good sitting on your counter.”

#3. Bethenny Frankel

Bethenny Frankel
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While she might best be known as an original cast member of Real Housewives of New York, Frankel is a successful businesswoman. 2009, she founded Skinnygirl Cocktails, a low-calorie line of cocktail mixes and salad dressings.

Frankel eventually sold the brand to Jim Beam, only keeping the Skinnygirl name. By 2019, she’d founded Bstrong, a disaster relief organization, and in 2021, she launched Forever Young, a wine company you can find at wine.com and Drizly.

#4. Jennifer Garner

Jennifer Garner
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2015 was a busy year for Jennifer Garner. Deciding to dissolve her marriage to Ben Affleck, she dealt with that all while co-founding Once Upon a Farm. Known for organic cold-pressed smoothies, they’ve added baby meals and snack bars to their product line, available in 13,000 stores nationwide.

One of Garner’s goals with her baby food line was to get WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) approved. They’re WIC-approved in Florida, Texas, New York, Michigan, Connecticut, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Garner’s home state of West Virginia.

#5. Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez
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Advocating for mental health and access to care, Gomez created Rare Beauty in 2020, looking to launch a makeup line that went beyond “unrealistic standards of perfection.”

The executive producer and Only Murders in the Building actress found a diamond in the ruff with her liquid blush. In 2022, her line sold $70 million worth of that blush, and she wants to triple that number.

She also puts her money where her mouth is, contributing 1% of total sales from her Rare Beauty line to her Rare Impact Fund to access mental health services and education.

#6. Kate Hudson

Kate Hudson
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Co-founding Fabletics in 2013, Hudson became the company’s public face that created premium athleisure products. Expanding into menswear, Fabletics launched their men’s line of active sportswear with Kevin Hart in 2020.

In 2021, they expanded again to offer a line of medical scrubs and Lizzo’s shapewear line Yitty.

Hudson isn’t just about great activewear, however. In 2019, she launched a liquor company, King St. Vodka, and in 2020, she added a supplement company, InBloom.

She’s also the co-host of the Sibling Revelry podcast alongside her older brother, Oliver Hudson.

#7. Kylie Jenner

Kylie Jenner
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At 18, Kylie Jenner made a name for herself in the beauty industry by launching Kylie Cosmetics with a ‘lip kit.’

The kits, which contain a liquid lipstick and lip liner, were a massive success and allowed Jenner to quickly add an eyeshadow palette and highlighter kit in the following years.

In 2019, she launched Kylie Skin, and in 2021, she launched Kylie Baby.

Khy, her signature clothing line, launched on October 24, 2023. Forbes’ list of Richest Self-Made Women has included Jenner for amassing a massive $900 million net worth.

#8. Kim Kardashian

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Unlike her half-sister, Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian’s entrepreneurial success journey took time. She tried her hand at several industries before co-founding the shapewear line Skims in 2019.

Its rapid success allowed Kardashian to focus on where she wanted her business to go.

She made a name for herself by creating shapewear that women could bear that matched their given skin shade.

Kardashian has since launched her skincare line SKKN and now offers cosmetics from KKW Beauty and perfume from KKW Fragrance.

#9. Patti LaBelle

Patti LaBelle
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She might be the “Godmother of Soul,” but for Patti LaBelle, age is just a number. In 2018, at 79, she launched Patti’s Good Life, a line of pre-packaged treats like peach cobbler, macaroni and cheese, and other comfort foods.

She’s also written several cookbooks for anyone wanting to recreate her dishes from scratch as she said, “People think of me as a cook, someone who’s going to give them quality food. I don’t put my name on anything unless it’s 110% perfect.”

#10. Lady Gaga

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Known for her bold makeup statements, Gaga launched Haus Laboratories in 2019. in 2022, the brand became Haus Labs, offering a line of bright multi-use pigment paints and medium coverage foundations.

Looking to be carbon-neutral by 2027, Gaga touts her brand as “clean,” saying they only use glass, aluminum, cellulose, and post-consumer recycled materials in their packaging.

#11. Eva Longoria

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Having had time in the acting game, Longoria created UnbeliEVAble Entertainment, her production company, in 2005. She also tried her hand at restauranteering before shuttering Beso and SHe Steakhouse.

In 2018, she launched her clothing line, but for Longoria, it is her foray into women’s soccer that pleases her most. “This is the DNA of who I am. This is my activism and my philanthropy and my joy all mixed into one.”

In 2021, Longoria started her luxury Tequila brand, Casa Del Sol, and in 2022, she created Risa, a non-toxic cookware brand.

#12. Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez closeup image
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Needing no introduction, JLo has fingers in several entrepreneurial pies. As early as 2001, Lopez created Nuyorican Productions and acted as CEO.

Feeling the need to share her success, JLo started JLo Beauty in 2021, saying, “For me, it’s all about feeling confident in your skin, no matter what.”

While she turned down offers to create her line of Vodka or Tequila, Lopez did start an alcohol-based business, Delola. They specialize in ready-to-drink cocktails and are available at Whole Foods, BevMo, and other liquor outlets.

Lopez hopes to capitalize on her success in business, saying, “It’s about being the scarce asset,” potentially referring to her Puerto Rican heritage. Lopez has a philanthropic arm called Limitless Labs that supports Latinx entrepreneurs to enhance that image.

#13. Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow
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No stranger to controversy, Paltrow started Goop in 2008 to promote mindfulness and holistic living. 2012, she started selling adult toys, supplements, and even interesting-smelling candles.

She also encouraged female genitalia steaming and got hit with a $145,000 fine for promoting that Jade yoni eggs could help with hormonal imbalance and improve uterine health.

However, Paltrow’s company “…operates from a place of curiosity and nonjudgment, and we start hard conversations, crack open taboos, and look for connection and resonance everywhere we can find it.”

#14. Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker
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In 2014, Sarah Jessica Parker turned her laser focus toward shoes, creating SJP, a line of “handmade kicks crafted in Italy by third and fourth-generation Tuscan shoemakers.”

Favoring stiletto heels, SJP branched out, offering a collection of block heel booties and pointy flats.

Expanding on her love of fabulous shoes, SJP also delivers signature fragrances and Sauvignon Blanc and French Rosé bottles of wine under her brand. In 2020, sales for her endeavors were reportedly $25 million.

#15. Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton
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Wanting to have more to her name than just music, Dolly Parton opened her eponymous amusement park in 1986, settling it right in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.

Her theme park features carnival rides, a water park, and two resorts. In 2021, her 50% stake was reportedly worth $165 million.

Her Imagination Library is also expanding its efforts to help children learn to read by providing children under age 5 in California with a steady stream of new books.

#16. Rihanna

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If for nothing other than Savage X Fenty, Rihanna would be a household name. However, she has created a luxury lingerie line that has evolved into an empire for the “Diamonds” singer.

Expanding her Fenty Beauty brand that launched in 2017 and 2021, Forbes estimated that her Fenty brand was worth an estimated $2.8 billion.

In 2022, her 30% stake in Savage X Fenty was worth around $270 million.

#17. Jessica Simpson

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Singing and acting are part and parcel of who Jessica Simpson is, and so is her Jessica Simpson Collection. Launching in 2005, the collaboration with Nine West creator Vince Camuto started with footwear and a signature clothing line.

By 2015, she’d added denim, handbags, and turquoise jewelry. She also reached a reported $1 billion in sales that same year. She also partnered with Sequential Brands, which came back to bite her in 2021 when the company filed for bankruptcy.

She told Forbes in 2022, “It was a journey, but I never lost faith in myself. Without the consumer, I am nothing. I’m just a mom and like a wife, which is fine, but everybody has given me a reason to stay, and everybody has given me a reason to work harder; whether it’s negativity or positive, everything is a driving force.”

#18. Reese Witherspoon

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Being a producer, actor, and even book club founder hasn’t stopped Reese Witherspoon from becoming an entrepreneur and starting her fashion line, Draper James.

With a name that’s dear to her heart, her brand, named after her grandparents Dorothea Draper and William James Witherspoon, creates classic and chic women’s clothing and shoes. Her line is available at Nordstrom and Kohl’s.

For Witherspoon, “Draper James is inspired by my romance, my love of the South combined with the modern woman I am today.”

That said, Witherspoon sold a 70% stake in her company to Consortium Brand Partners for an unrevealed amount. In 2021, she sold her production company, Hello Sunshine, to private equity company Blackstone for $900 million.

#19. Blake Lively

Blake Lively
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Already accomplished as an actress and sitting pretty from husband Ryan Reynold’s Aviation Gin, Lively stepped into the ring with her Betty Buzz brand of juice-based mixers.

By the end of 2022, the brand was on track to sell some 6 million bottles and was responsible for 24% growth of the entire mixer category of alcoholic beverages. For Lively, the benchmark is personal.

“So many parts of myself haven’t been able to be fully realized, welcomed, or seen given the nature of the job. It’s only been in recent years that I’ve seen what I really want. What and where my value is.”

#20. Katy Perry

Katy Perry
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After acquiring Bragg Live Food Products in 2019, she co-founded De Soi, a non-alcoholic wine-inspired sparkling drink company. Of ered in three flavors, the bubbly beverages are in 41 states.

In 2022, Perry relaunched her Katy Perry Collection (KPC) of footwear, including the popular Laterr heel, her exclusive take on the kitten heel.

Perry spoke on her ten-year goals: “For KPC, I hope to increase sustainability in my product mix and be a trusted source for affordable personality pieces. For De Soi, I want to be a top-five leader in the non-alcoholic space.

#21. Shay Mitchell

Shay Mitchell
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Starting a business is sometimes more about what you feel in your soul. For Shay Mitchell, it was undeniable. “I wouldn’t have launched a business if it weren’t for…The gaping white space and the incessant itch that told me I could do it better.”

So, in 2018, Mitchell formed BÉIS, a luxury travel accessories company available at Nordstrom and has seen explosive growth in the travel luggage category.

Wanting to uplift and empower women, Mitchell also formed Onda in 2019 to create a line of sparkling tequila.

The line includes a blanco tequila produced at an all-women facility in Jalisco, Mexico. The company’s series B fundraising garnered $12.5 million to expand Onda’s offerings further.

#22. Jennifer Aniston

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No novice to creating business partnerships, Aniston has worked with Smartwater and Living Proof, inking deals that lasted lucratively for her through 2019 and 2016, respectively.

In 2020, she became the Chief Creative Officer of the Vital Proteins brand, and in 2022, the Friends actress and producer started her hair care brand, Lola Vie. Concerned with all aspects of her business, she only releases a product once she feels it’s ready.

Her company has produced a glossing detangler, lightweight hair oil, perfecting leave-in and restorative shampoo, and conditioner, with more on the horizon.

Aniston said about her business, “I love the research and development phase of creating a product and testing it with people for feedback.”

#23. Issa Rae

Issa Rae
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Multi-talented creator Issa Rae loves involvement with great products. She founded the media production company Hoorae and co-owns Hilltop Coffee and Kitchen in Inglewood and Windsor Hills, California.

Issa focuses here on great coffee and fun, bistro-style restaurant fare.

Another endeavor for this business dynamo is Sienna Naturals, which she co-owns. It’s a vegan haircare product line for textured hair that you can find at Target and Nordstrom.

She says, “I’ve gotten so much better about managing my time because it’s so precious. And one unproductive meeting or event or task can literally take time away from the business — so I choose a lot more wisely how and where I spend my time.”

#24. Tracee Ellis Ross

Tracee Ellis Ross
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Committed to championing Black hair, Ross founded Pattern Beauty in 2019 to cater to curly, coily, and tight textured hair. Creating a product line with shampoos, gels, styling tools, and everything in between.

Ross says, “I have a particular mission towards Black women and girls — it is so important to me that [Pattern] is an active space centered around the celebration of Black beauty.”

Hosting Hulu’s The Hair Tales, Ross distributed her brand to Sephora and Ulta Beauty, where she became an adviser on DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) and expanded to the United Kingdom this year.

#25. Kristen Bell

Kristen Bell
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For Kristen Bell, creating and investing in sustainable products is essential to her business model. She likes to “Be weird. Be quicky,” but also understands that wanting to do something isn’t worth it unless you’re going to do it right, and for her, it means getting an alternate point of view. “Run your idea by someone who will challenge you or give you an opposing view. For me, this is my husband. And every time I run things by him, I’m able to see my blind spots, and the idea becomes better because of it.”

Bell has two businesses and a philanthropic arm that bears her influence. Her production company, Dushire Productions, has greatly inspired the actress lately. “Being in front of the camera hasn’t interested me much this past year. I’m finding the creativity behind the scenes much more inspiring. That may change, but for now, I’m content.” She co-founded Hello Bello, the diaper brand, in 2019 with her husband and fellow actor Dax Shepard. They’ve since expanded to offer apparel, vitamins, and personal care products.

At the beginning of the Ukraine conflict, her company donated 200,000 diapers to Poland to help refugees flooding into NATO from Ukraine. They’ve contributed more than one million diapers to various outlets since the company’s inception. Her snack brand, This Saves Lives, which Bell created to address and work to end child hunger, was sold to GOOD Worldwide for just under $5 million. Lastly, Bell invested in a sustainable cottage cheese brand, Good Cultures.

Business of Beautiful

Beauty tips young woman in white dress, shiny hair
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One area these entrepreneurial women have in common is their focus and attention on their brands and putting out products that excel in their respective spaces. Whether it is health and wellness, baby care, or great-tasting alcohol, these ladies are creating beautiful products that show up for women worldwide and inspire us to find within ourselves a particular value and worth in being beautiful on the inside.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.