More Celebrity Women Taking on Role of Business Owner
By Joseph Pisani
NEW YORK (AP) - These days, one of the most-coveted roles among A-list actresses is business owner.
Oscar winner Halle Berry is one of the latest female celebrities to start a business. She launched Scandale Paris last year, a line of lingerie sold at Target stores.
For decades, famous faces have been hired by big corporations to sell hair dye, lipstick and high-end fashion. But now, more female celebrities are taking control and starting their own businesses. It's also helping some balance career and motherhood."Having a business like this, I can do more work at home, be with my family," said Berry, who is co-owner and creative director of Scandale Paris. "I have two little kids now. I can't travel around the world and do a movie like I used to."
Wal-Mart shoppers can pick up lip gloss, mascara and perfume made by Flower, a makeup brand co-owned by actress Drew Barrymore. Fitness fanatics can buy a pair of yoga tights from Fabletics, an online seller of workout gear co-founded by actress Kate Hudson.
"It's way more lucrative than making one movie a year," said Jo Piazza, author of "Celebrity, Inc.: How Famous People Make Money."
Berry stumbled upon Scandale Paris during a trip to France. Founded more than 80 years ago, the brand was struggling because the undergarments were too expensive, Berry said. She called her business partner, Erik Ryd, and they bought the company. In October, Scandale's $7 panties and $18 bras began selling at Target. In France, they're sold at Carrefour.
Berry is involved with the design of the lingerie and chooses fabrics, even as she films the second season of CBS show "Extant." In the next few months, Scandale Paris will be sold in Canada, Asia and more European countries. She wants to add bathing suits and nightgowns to the line.
"We are solely focused on getting this business off the ground," said Berry.
Starting a business can be risky, but several star-studded companies have soared. Jessica Alba, who battled evildoers in two "Fantastic Four" movies, co-founded The Honest Company, which sells diapers, baby wipes and laundry detergent, four years ago. It rang up $150 million in sales last year, Alba told business network CNBC.
Singer and actress Jessica Simpson, who famously confused a can of tuna fish for chicken on a reality TV show, started a brand 10 years ago that can be found in Macy's, Nordstrom and other stores. Last month, brand management company Sequential Brands bought a majority stake in the Jessica Simpson Collection, which sells women's clothing, shoes and handbags. Sequential did not say how much it paid, but said the brand brings in nearly $1 billion in sales a year.
"Celebrities are leaving money on the table if they don't do this," said Piazza.
Male stars have always had their hand in business ownership, said Piazza, but more women are getting into the game. Owning a business gives stars the potential to make more money over a longer period of time than with short-term endorsement deals. And they have a better chance of succeeding than an average small business owner, since stars come with built-in customers: their fans. They can get their products in front of millions of people with magazine covers, TV talk show interviews and with their social media accounts. Hudson, for example, was on the cover of the March issue of Shape magazine wearing a $50 vest, a $25 sports bra and $65 leggings, all from Fabletics, of course. Last week, actress and producer Reese Witherspoon launched a brand of clothing, home decorations and stationery called Draper James while simultaneously promoting her new movie "Hot Pursuit." Barrymore's Flower cosmetics company doesn't advertise, instead it relies on her to get the word out about the products.
In most cases, the stars are co-owners along with a business partner or another company that runs the day-to-day operations. Barrymore was approached to start Flower by makeup company Maesa after the actress and producer's five-year endorsement deal with cosmetics company CoverGirl ended.
"There are a lot of Drew fans," said Scott Oshry, president of Maesa. Many have watched Barrymore grow up on screen, from the pig-tailed little girl in 1982's "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" to a butt-kicking hero in the "Charlie's Angels" movies.
"We get notes from 14-year-olds to 55-year-olds," said Oshry.
Having a celebrity co-owner saves money, Oshry said. Instead of spending money on ads, it can use the money to develop products and keep prices low. Many of Flower's mascaras, foundations and nail colors are under $10.
Music and business can mix, too. Rapper Nicki Minaj finds ways to infuse her bubbly wine, Myx Moscato, co-owned by Mona Scott-Young, who produces the "Love & Hip Hop" reality show series on VH1, into her music videos and songs.
Myx, which is sold in single-serve bottles, was one of the fastest-growing wine brands last year, more than quintupling in sales from the year before, according to research company The Beverage Information Group. Minaj's star power is helping to grow the brand.
"She knows how to leverage her celebrity," said Scott-Young.