Business of Celebrity Top Image
Victoria Beckham, Mary-Kate Olsen, Ashley Olsen, Jessica Alba

Getty Images

When we hear of a brand with a celebrity's name attached to it, we often wonder just how involved they are in catering to the business. After all, juggling a full-time job in the industry while running a company has to be nearly impossible, right?

Wrong!

In fact, several leading ladies—many who can also add "mom" to their list of careers—have proven that it's not only possible, it's also quite lucrative! From Jessica Alba's Honest Co. to Victoria Beckham's fashion line, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's Elizabeth & James to Gwyneth Paltrow's GOOP, there are several women in Hollywood who are successful in both their famous careers as well as their businesses.

But the question remains: just how involved are they in that success? Here's a breakdown of some of the top Hollywood businesswomen and their strong contributions to their companies:

Jessica Alba, The Honest Co.

Melissa Hebeler

Jessica Alba

This entrepreneur set the bar high for the other celebs who followed in her footsteps! Not only did she create the Honest Company, she turned it into one of the most successful brands in the industry—it was recently valued at $1.7 million!

With her own space right in the Honest offices and a one-on-one connection to her employees and investors, Alba is completely dedicated in being hands-on in overseeing the company. In fact, her husband, Cash Warren, told Vanity Fair, "This is the first time she knows she's smart. She wakes up thinking about Honest; she goes to bed thinking about it."

As for Alba's take on overseeing the successful business, she said, "If it was easy, everyone would do it. You have to be a little bit crazy; you have to have gumption and tenacity."

She not only says this, but she stands by it, being involved in every part of the business, from the biggest meetings with investors to cleaning display cases and fixing signs at events.  "A lot of people give up at the first roadblock," she added. "But, for entrepreneurs, if there isn't another road, we create it. We break concrete; we throw dynamite; we figure it out."

Victoria Beckham

AP Photo/Wong Maye-E

Victoria Beckham

As the founder, designer and head of her Victoria Beckham fashion line, the former Spice Girl deserves a huge amount of respect and credit for helping her company reach $50 million in sales last year.

As a former designer for brands like Rocawear and Robert Cavalli, Rock & Republic and Dolce & Gabbana, Beckham decided to take her fashion career in her own hands in 2008, which was a very risky move at first.

"For a long time there, I was a bit of a laughingstock," she admitted to the Business of Fashion. "And while everybody was busy laughing, what was I doing? I was laying the foundation to what I have in place now."

She debuted her first collection that year, and while everyone assumed she had tons of help to create the 10 pieces for the line, they were mistaken. "It makes me laugh even to this day the fact that people used to think I had this little stash of design elves, beavering away," she explained. "There was no secret design team."

In fact, at that point, it was just her, Melanie Clark—who was her right hand in design at the time—and Tracy Lowe, a production and development manager.But even now with a slightly larger team, Victoria is still just as involved and still viewed as an equal.

"I've only actually just had an office that has windows," she told BOF. "I was downstairs in the cupboard! There are no airs and graces here. Nobody treats me as if I'm a famous person. It is what it is."

Now that is what defines a real boss.

Ashley Olsen, Mary-Kate Olsen, CFDA 2015

David X Prutting/BFA/Sipa via AP Images

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

The twins may have gotten their start as child stars in some of our favorite '90s flicks, but they've completely transformed their career into full-time fashion moguls.

Their companies, The Row (which is more high-end, luxury) and Elizabeth & James (adorably named after their siblings) consists of a small team with whom they've worked hand-in-hand in creating well over a $70 million revenue, according to WWD.

"We've been doing The Row in-house for the past 10 years, and it's been a slow, steady growth and very strategic," the twins told the publication earlier this year, right before taking New York and Paris Fashion Weeks. "It was just the right time. We're very involved with product and very involved with make and quality. It was really important to tell the same story. When you have a brand, it's important that the message is the same."

Thus, they have their hands in almost every aspect of the companies. When asked if they even sketch the designs, they explained, "We drape."

Only recently did they hire a couple designers for Elizabeth & James, which adds to the team of 12 that they hope to grow to 20 or 30 over the next 6 months. "Everything is starting from scratch," Ashley said. "We're building a sales team, a merchandising team and we're going to have stores."

For now, though, the twins are fully invested in doing everything they can do—including marketing, social media, design, hiring and ordering product—to make sure their brands succeed in making their vision a reality.

Nicole Richie

John Sciulli/Getty Images

Nicole Richie

If you follow this fashionista on social media, her quirky personality and hilarious posts would probably make you question her abilities to be able to run anything, let alone a company...but sometimes the funniest people are also the most successful!

Case in point: House of Harlow 1960. 

The reality-star-turned-businesswoman launched the brand in 2009 with spring 2010 as its debut season. Now, six years later, it's offering full-fledged collections, including ready-to-wear, jewelry, eye-wear, footwear, handbags and even candles...and Nicole is the major driving force behind it.

As the main designer for the brand, it's become her full-time, day-to-day career. Just like any job, she told Life + Times, "I have to keep showing up and designing for my customer. My work ethic stays true to who I am."

And it's obvious that House of Harlow is Nicole's vision, to a T. When explaining how she created the "look" of the brand, she told ELLE, "It's about freedom and labels not really being part of your wardrobe. It's about layering lots and lots of jewelry, and having everything transition from day to night. It's really about that free-spirited energy and excitement that you can see in those periods, not a definite or defined year."

But aside from designing, she's also in on big meetings, especially when it comes to collaborations. In fact, she has a collection with Revolve this summer.  "They're based out of L.A., so they called me, and I went and spent some time with them; I got to tour their offices and just understand their business model," she told Nylon recently. "Right away, they were just somebody that I wanted to collaborate with."

How did she know? She's in-touch with her own customers, which helped her realize Revolve was a great match. "They're young and innovative thinkers and just had so many new and fresh ideas as far as ways to present apparel to customers," she added.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Kamil Krzaczynski/Startraksphoto.com

Gwyneth Paltrow

People might give her a hard time for the luxurious, over-the-top lifestyle brand she's created with GOOP, but you have to hand it to her: Gwyneth Paltrow has found some serious success!

After originally creating the newsletter as a creative outlet for Paltrow's favorite things to eat and do, GOOP now has close to a million subscribers and was the launching point for many other celebrity e-commerce websites.

"I never thought it would be a commercial venture," she told the New York Times. "It was a place to have some freedom." 

So what is her exact title now that the company has soared beyond expectations and consists of a full team of writers and fashionistas? She calls herself a "generator of creative content."

Elise Loehnen, GOOP's editorial director, further explains, "Everything is pretty much signed off by GP. She's not repackaging stories or doing any heavy lifting, but we're recipe-testing in her kitchen, going over the issue on Tuesdays."

Paltrow also gives her final approval before the newsletter is sent out each week. "The brand is inextricably tied to her, but I think that she can't wait for the day when people will associate [it] with other people."

Ivanka Trump

Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc

Ivanka Trump

Yes, she's Donald Trump's daughter, but no, the beauty and mother-of-three doesn't ride her daddy's coattail. In fact, Ivanka has made a huge name for herself, not only within the Trump company but on her own as well.

She is the Executive Vice President of Business and Acquisitions for Trump's real estate empire, spearheading top projects like the highly competitive $200 million deal with the U.S. government to redevelop the Old Post Office in Washington D.C. Meanwhile, she also oversees her fashion brand under her own name.

In both situations, she's a good boss with a good perspective on how to treat her employees. In fact, that's one thing she's been applauded for over her years in business.

"I don't penalize highly efficient people because they got what they need to get done and leave to go on a date with their husbands," she recently told Fortune, admitting that she thinks executives that don't hold this same perspective are afraid of losing power. "People are so afraid of losing control if they can't manage everyone and see everyone, but I think it really boils down to the people you hire," she said, which is why she's heavily involved in that process, too.

Models, Then and Now, Tyra Banks, 2015

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Tyra Banks

Not only did Tyra see huge success as a supermodel, a talk show host and the leading lady on America's Next Top Model, but she also launched a cosmetics company that is making waves, too.

In fact, the beauty stepped away from television in order to focus on her company, Tyra Beauty, which she oversees entirely in order to create the best brand possible.

While she was given several offers to put her name on different products, she told FastCompany, "If you just point to anything on my body, I can tell you. 'Ooh, Tyra, put your name on this hair-weave track, put your name on this fragrance, put your name on this jewelry, put your name on these body contours.' I've been saying no. I know that I could have done those deals and probably could be sitting back and just chilling on some island and never have to work again. But that doesn't drive me."

So what does drive the superstar? "Brand, brand, brand, and legacy," she said.

For this reason, Tyra went through Harvard Business School's Owner/President Management program in 2012 in order to learn how to grow and build her company with great employees. While it was hard for her to step away from work, she's happy to have built a team that was able to continue growing the business while she took maternity leave after welcoming her son earlier this year.

"I really now am empowering my team. I'm understanding delegation, understanding that I don't have to do everything to make something successful," she told E! News in March. "I'm on maternity leave and Tyra Beauty is kickin' butt!"

In fact, Tyra explained that her team recently exceeded many of their goals, which she believes is due to everyone's ability to get involved. "It just got to show, empower and empower others and you can grow," she added.

Reese Witherspoon, Draper James

Instagram

Reese Witherspoon

Other than an impressive Oscar-winning acting career as well as being a full-time mommy, Reese Witherspoon—overachiever—is also overseeing her lifestyle e-commerce website Draper James.

Exhibiting her typical hands-on approach, the actress is not only a major shareholder in the business, but she's also the vision behind the company overall. In fact, the name is dedicated to her grandparents and their southern influence on her style.

"I have to be involved. I just can't not be involved," she told WWD in 2015. "The idea of turning something over to a group of people who don't know where I'm from and who don't understand that the picture of my grandmother is important…There's a heart and soul to things. Otherwise, what's the point? My heart and soul is in how I feel about the South. It's what inspires me. It's what makes me want to go back home."

This is why she was all-in when it came to everything from the site's design to each individual product. "When things came back and they weren't good enough, I was like, 'Not good enough. Not good enough,'" she explained. "It's a big deal that my name is on something. It's not just my name. It's my grandparents' name, which is a big, big deal. And you know I feel very emotional about it."

And this is exactly why Reese's business has seen massive publicity and success!

Gwen Stefani

JUSTIN CAMPBELL/startraksphoto.com

Gwen Stefani

Between mothering three kids, keeping the romance alive with Blake Shelton, judging on The Voice and maintaining an incredibly successful music career, you wouldn't imagine that Gwen Stefani would have any more time to work on anything else...but au contraire!

The singer also oversees design for her L.A.M.B.—which stands for Love. Angel. Music. Baby., her first record—clothing line. While she may have reached rockstar status now, Gwen comes from a long history of seamstresses in her family and started out in fashion while making her own clothes with her mother at a young age. Most of her costumes with No Doubt were outfits she had designed and made herself!

Later, stylist Andrea Lieberman introduced her to haute couture and the pair started creating a line together, launching L.A.M.B. in 2003 and making its runway debut in 2004.

To this day, Gwen oversees everything, often catering her design to the different periods of her life.

Most recently, she told Who What Wear of the new line of L.A.M.B. eyewear, "I designed the glasses using myself as the model. I would fix them to make everything perfect—little details like a grommet on the side or where the logo goes. It's a lot of options and a lot of work."

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share