Kim Kardashian Says Her 20-Year Reign of Relevance Is Thanks to This One Personality Trait The SKIMS founder knows exactly what sets her apart.
This story is part of Entrepreneur's 100 Women of Influence issue. Find the rest of the list here.
"I always say calmness is my superpower," says Kim Kardashian.
This may come as a surprise, because Kardashian, one of the most famous women in the world, appears in a state of perpetual motion: jet-setting to exotic locales, wrangling four children, enjoying high-profile romances, shooting a 20-season reality TV show, and running a multibillion-dollar business. But the fact that Kardashian has stayed squarely in the public eye for nearly two decades — withstanding the frenetic, fruit fly attention span of the internet age — has everything to do with this very quality. As a businesswoman, in the business of relevance, her composure has been her edge.
And when it comes to her businesses, she's found success by centering her own expertise. "Everything I do is a solutions-based product and that's always worked for me," Kardashian says. She developed SKIMS, her ultra-inclusive and comfy shapewear line, as a solution to a problem she dealt with herself: "I cut up my shapewear back in the day because the seams were always wrong and didn't fit me right. I'd put coffee grinds and tea bags in my bathtub to dye them to a more natural tan color." Consumers must have experienced a similar plight, since SKIMS sold $2 million worth of garments in the first minutes it launched and was valued at $3.2 billion less than three years later.
Her latest venture, SKKN BY KIM, offers a fix to a perennial problem: how to maintain a glowing visage. "I wanted to bring consumers my knowledge and access to so many amazing dermatologists," she says. "I've been able to learn from the best people, and bottling that up is my goal." Consulting with her personal esthetician, Joanna Czech (whose fee is $1,250 per "Ultimate Facial"), she's developed nine products to bring her wisdom to the masses.
Kardashian describes the development process as "thrilling," and revels in perfecting the details. "I wanted to be really still and make sure I got it right and not let anyone try to tell me differently. [My team] would be like, 'OK, this is the 25th trial, we're running out of time!' It was really important to me that we took our time," she says.
Kardashian has proven she can influence what customers will buy in the pursuit of beauty — but before that, she influenced how the mainstream viewed beauty. The body standard has become markedly curvier since she debuted alongside early-aughts skeletons. "It's tricky to stay relevant for decades," she says. "There's this pressure people put on themselves to try and be this influencer." To Kardashian, that all comes down to finding oneself in quiet amidst the noise: "You have to do what feels good for you, even if other people don't understand it. You have to tune everything out and figure out what you want to portray."
In recent years, Kardashian has turned the floodlight of her influence on heavier issues, becoming a vocal advocate for prison reform. But like everything else, she took her time landing on that cause. "When I first got into the business, I remember publicists saying to me, 'You have to pick a cause, it will make you look good.' But I didn't know what that was yet. Then I picked one that doesn't look good. Prison reform isn't the most popular field to go into, but I always felt people deserve a second chance in life." She also realized that keeping people's attention meant keeping them on their toes. "People like the mix of things [I post]. If I were just posting about prison reform, I don't think people would care as much."
Anyone who has watched Kardashian for five minutes knows she's not a blabbermouth. She's aware that her audience is hanging on every syllable, and she speaks in deliberate, measured sentences. "I stay really calm, and that is what gets me through so many situations," she says. "Especially in work emergencies. They come up, and you've got to deal. Whether it's supply chain or the cost of goods going up, things will always happen. You have to be prepared and move with the times." Spoken like a true influencer.