Just when you think you can’t get any more jealous of celebrities, their luscious lifestyle and, most importantly, their sometimes 10-figure bank account, the bomb drops. You discover that they found even more success beyond their TV, movie, music, and sports careers.
While most of them have used their fame and own resources to start their own business, some have built their multimillion-dollar empires.
One thing they all have in common, however, is the passion, hard work, and dedication they put into founding their own companies. Check out these 10 celebrity-owned companies, which could be just the entrepreneurial inspiration you need to start your own business.
See Also: 6 Worst Celebrity Bosses
1. Oprah Winfrey – Harpo Productions and Oprah Winfrey Network
There’s no way on Earth you’re not familiar with Oprah Winfrey’s name – unless, of course, you’ve been living under a rock for the past 40 years. Okay, so you probably weren’t born then (I wasn’t even born then), but that’s beside the point.
Winfrey started her career as the first female black news anchor on WLAC-TV in the early 1970s, and started hosting her own half-hour talk show called A.M. Chicago in 1984. Two years later, it was picked up nationally, extended to one hour, renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show, and eventually went on to become the United States’ number one daytime talk show.
The show was produced by Winfrey’s own company, Harpo Productions (Harpo is Oprah spelled backwards) up until its finale in 2011. That same year, she launched her own television channel – yes, television channel – called the Oprah Winfrey Network which broadcasts a number of shows including Dr. Phil, Rachael Ray, The Rosie Show, and even the soap opera All My Children.
The Queen of All Media has also enjoyed a successful acting career and was even nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in The Color Purple. Is it any wonder this woman is worth $3 billion?
2. Kevin Costner – Ocean Therapy Solutions
He’s known for his starring roles in movies like Dances with Wolves, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and The Bodyguard, but there’s more to Kevin Costner than meets the eye. Beyond his two Academy Awards and fronting his own country rock band, Costner has delved into the oil separation industry.
In 1995, he acquired Ocean Therapy Solutions from the US government for a reported $24 million, after he felt compelled to find a new way to separate oil from water following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. The company managed to develop centrifugal oil-water separators that can clean up to 200 gallons a minute. While the company initially struggled to promote its products, BP placed an order for six of Ocean Therapy Solutions’ devices (and later increased to 32) following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
3. Dr. Dre – Beats Electronics
Dr. Dre’s is considered one of the most influential artists and record producers in hip hop history. Born Andre Romelle Young, Dr. Dre started his career as a member of the World Class Wreckin’ Cru and later found fame with N.W.A., but it wasn’t until 1993 that he shot to fame after winning a Grammy Award for “Let Me Ride”. He went on to win another five during his career and has produced albums for big names like 50 Cent, Eminem, The Game, and Snoop Dogg.
While his name is synonymous with hip hop music, he’s also quite the entrepreneur.
Together with Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre founded Beats Electronics in 2006, which specializes in the production of headphones and speakers, and released their first product in 2008 – the now famous Beats by Dr. Dre headphones – followed by Heartbeats by Lady Gaga and Diddy Beats. The company was acquired by Apple in 2014 for $3 billion, making Dr. Dre the highest paid musician that year with a net worth of $640 million.
4. Justin Timberlake – Myspace
Not many people are aware that the former NSYNC member owns the social networking site Myspace, and yet it’s completely true. Together with Specific Media, Justin Timberlake bought the site for $35 million in 2011 – just six years after Rupert Murdoch had purchased it for a staggering $580 million.
However, the “Mirrors” singer may have regretted his business venture as traffic and revenue continue to decrease despite several redesigns, resulting in multiple mass layoffs of over three-quarters of the site’s entire workforce. To put that in numbers, Myspace employed some 1,600 workers when Timberlake acquired the social networking site back in 2011 – it now employs just 200 people.
5. Jessica Alba – The Honest Company
Jessica Alba started her acting career at the tender age of 13, and went on to star in big-budget movies like Honey, Fantastic Four plus its sequel, and Good Luck Chuck. Hailed as one of the sexiest women alive by nearly almost every men’s magazine, Alba is part of the four-member founding team of The Honest Company.
Serving the States and neighboring Canada, and with plans for expansion in the UK and Australia, The Honest Company came into existence when the Sin City star and cofounder Christopher Gavigan conceived the concept of a consumer goods company that would put out safe, eco-friendly, and affordable home and baby products. Within just two years of its launch in 2011, the company was valued at nearly $1 billion.
6. Jay-Z – Roc-A-Fella Records, Roc Nation, and Rocawear
Another rapper and record producer on the list, Jay-Z is one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time and has won 21 Grammy Awards throughout his career.
Born Shawn Corey Carter, Jay-Z began selling his CDs out of his car. In 1995, he cofounded Roc-A-Fella Records with Kareem Biggs, an independent record label which would release his debut album, Reasonable Doubt, a year later and eventually sign artists such as Cam’ron and Kanye West. Meanwhile, Rita Ora, Willow Smith, Calvin Harris, and Rihanna are all signed to Roc Nation, an entertainment company he founded in 2008.
Jay-Z is valued at $56 million, while his clothing company Rocawear, launched in 1999, made about $700 million in annual sales in 2007.
7. Venus Williams – V*Starr Interiors
Venus Williams became the first black American woman to be ranked the World No. 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association in 2002, and is regarded as one of the world’s best female tennis players of all time. That same year, she became a Licensed Interior Decorator, and went on to found V*Starr Interiors.
8. Gwyneth Paltrow – Goop
Perhaps better known for her portrayal of Pepper Potts in the Iron Man movies, Gwyneth Paltrow first came to Hollywood’s attention in the 1995 film Seven and would go on to win the 1998 Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Shakespeare in Love.
Paltrow is also a successful singer (her song “Country Strong” was nominated for a Satellite Award in 2010) and a published food writer.
In 2008, she launched Goop, originally an online weekly newsletter, “to answer my own questions about health, wellness, fashion, food, and travel. I was looking for a trusted source to point me in the right direction and couldn’t find one, so I created it.”
9. Will Smith – Overbrook Entertainment
One thing you might remember from your childhood is rushing home after school to watch The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, a show about a streetwise teenager who goes to live with his higher class aunt and her family after getting into a fight. Will Smith went on to enjoy an internationally successful acting career, having appeared in big-budget movies like Bad Boys, Independence Day, Men in Black, and The Pursuit of Happyness.
The Fresh Prince cofounded Overbrook Entertainment with James Lassiter in 1997, an entertainment company that has produced most of Smith’s own movies and has generated over $3 billion in worldwide box office sales.
10. Gwen Stefani – L.A.M.B.
Singer Gwen Stefani is predominantly known as the front woman to ska/rock band No Doubt, who rose to fame in the 1990s with hits like “Just a Girl”, “Don’t Speak” and “Hey Baby”. Stefani went on to pursue a solo career in 2004 with the album Love. Angel. Music. Baby., which was nominated for six Grammy Awards.
In 2003, Stefani launched her own fashion line called L.A.M.B. – an acronym of the name of her debut album. Mostly influenced by Japanese and Jamaican styles, L.A.M.B. clothes are sold in almost 300 stores around the world and have been worn by stars like Teri Hatcher, Paris Hilton, and Nicole Kidman.
See Also: 6 Worst Celebrity Failures in Business
Can you think of any other celebrities who own their own company? Let us know in the comments section below!