- Very few influencers have managed to transition their social-media fame into standalone businesses.
- But some who have succeeded have built businesses worth over $1 billion.
- These are the 5 most valuable and successful influencer-founded companies.
Some dance, some pull pranks, some give career advice. But at the end of the day, influencers are called influencers for a reason: They hold a sway over their audience, particularly when it comes to purchasing goods and services.
While sponsored brand deals or short-term licensing agreements are popular for creators, few have managed to utilize their followings to create something bigger: a valuable, independent brand that can outlast their virality.
It’s not a surprise that most creators don’t start their own businesses. It can be expensive and risky. Meanwhile, slapping a name on products, from lipsticks to housewares, guarantees a paycheck with little legwork.
For those who do start their own businesses, lasting success is often elusive. Companies can be driven by fads or taken out by scandals.
“It’s all personality driven,” said Shannon Coyne, the founder of consumer products consulting firm Bluestock Advisor. “It is easy to fall out of favor.”
It’s also significantly more work. Influencers often have to raise money, build out a team, and balance their job as a creator with their job as a business owner.
“The biggest challenge was working all day on the actual business and still having to do my partnerships as an everyday lifestyle influencer,” Something Navy founder Arielle Charnas told Insider. “It’s still my number one challenge to this day.”
But those that build lasting companies can see a major payout. A select few influencers have managed to take advantage of the boom in ecommerce to build multimillion-dollar brands that rival industry giants. Insider has put together a list of the five most valuable brands founded by influencers.
These companies span many industries, from clothing to fitness to beauty. While they all got started thanks to their founder’s popularity on social media, they are now brands all their own.
Glossier, for example, was founded by online beauty blogger Emily Weiss in 2010. It is now a brand worth $1.8 billion, and many fans of the brand’s cult-favorite products don’t even know who Weiss is.
Other brands, like Something Navy, are newer, but show promise. The company, which is part-owned by Arielle Charnas, launched last year and said it made over $30 million in revenue in its first year in business. That’s expected to grow this year, as the company continues to expand to brick and mortar.
One commonality? All of the brands are founded by women, which, some say, only made the process of founding a business harder.
“One of the most challenging periods of my entire life, honestly, was trying to convince a male dominated industry that bloggers were going to be important and going to be the next thing,” Amber Venz Box, CEO and cofounder of LTK (formerly Reward Style) told Insider, referring to raising money from investors. “An investor told me years later, when I got there with Baxter [her husband] that the front desk said, ‘Oh, the guy you’re meeting with brought his wife.’ And it was true, I was his wife, but I was leading the company.”
To form this power list, Business Insider relied on a mix of our own reporting and data from sites like Pitchbook, with industry experts narrowing down the finalists. For all brands on the list, numbers were available either from the companies themselves or various data sources. We chose the companies based on factors like revenue, funding, social reach, growth and longevity, and didn’t include merch brands or licensing deals.