Business lessons from the woman behind the Kardashian empire

What do Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS, Khloe Kardashian’s Good American and Kris Jenner’s Safely all have in common?

The three reporters share the same wizard behind the scenes: Emma Grade, a serial entrepreneur who helped launch the Kardashian celebrity into profitable businesses.

Grad began working in fashion show production before founding and selling ITB, a talent management and marketing firm. She spoke to Yahoo Finance at JPMorgan Chase’s Make Your Move Summit in Frisco, Texas, and explained the philosophy behind her success.

“Nobody connects with celebrity culture better than the Kardashian family, but what does it mean when you break it down? It’s about understanding women, consumers and what they want to buy,” Grede told Yahoo Finance. .

The secret behind Kardashian’s successes is simple: identifying gaps in the market, producing quality products that fill a need, and making inclusion a central principle.

For example, when Good American launched in 2016, no one in the denim industry made jeans for women in all sizes. The company produced jeans in every size – from 00 to 32 plus – and shot its campaigns with models of different sizes. The launch generated $1 million in sales on its first day – a record for the industry.

“What was really interesting was the mission and our purpose was to engage with customers,” Grede said. “So many women, especially in that plus-size community, have been left out of the fashion conversation … there are such limited options around clothing for plus-size women, we were filling a clear void, a clear white space.”

TORONTO, ONTARIO - SEPTEMBER 18: Co-founders Emma Grade and Khloe Kardashian attend the Good American launch at Hudson's Bay on September 18, 2019 in Toronto (Photo by Jorge Pimentel/Getty Images)

Co-founders Emma Grade and Khloe Kardashian attend Hodson’s Bay Good American in Toronto on September 18, 2019. (Jorge Pimentel/Getty Images) (Jorge Pimentel via Getty Images)

Similarly, Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS, recently valued at $4 billion, are known for their multiple sizes and high quality-price ratio. “You might be driven to buy the product because you’ve seen Kim or Khloe or Kris, but they have to be really great products to keep them coming back and buying time and time again,” Grade said.

“We’re taking categories that really need innovation … and providing customers with superior products in that category. And I think that’s the only way you can build a business.”

It’s a tough time for the consumer. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said in an interview with Yahoo Finance this week that while middle- and upper-income consumers are “doing well,” there are “signs of distress” among those in the lower income brackets.

But customers are still looking for quality and durability, and if you have products that people want to use all the time, the business will be better prepared for tough times.

“We really want people to feel like these are companies and come back again and again to buy things that last and wear forever,” Grede said.

In her spare time, Grade invests in startups, especially women- or minority-based ones. In Founders, she looks for many of the same signs as she builds her businesses.

“A founder who is passionate about what they do, but also a problem solver, is filling a white space,” Grede said. “It’s never about experience for me, because I’m looking for people who approach things differently.”

Ali Garfinkle He is a senior tech reporter at Yahoo Finance. Find her on X, ex-Twitter, at @agarfinks And on LinkedIn.

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