30 celebrities who have built massive businesses

Written by:
October 10, 2018
Matt Winkelmeyer // Getty

30 celebrities who have built massive businesses

Paul Newman is famously one of the first actors-turned-businessmen. In his prime, the movie star won numerous Oscars, Golden Globes, and an Emmy.

But from the 1980s until his death in 2008, the celebrity focused on Newman's Own, a food products venture that became one of the nation's largest charitable organizations. The company is known for its all-natural salad dressings, and also makes popcorn, sauces, and lemonade. It has given away more than $250 million in after-tax profits to hundreds of groups.

In recent years, many famous individuals have followed Newman’s footsteps and turned their profits into businesses. But not all these business ventures have been successful. For example, Natalie Portman created a vegan-friendly footwear company in 2008, which closed down later that year due to the shoes' high price tag.

So which celebrities succeeded in their companies? Stacker combed through news articles and other websites to find out. From a burger chain to an interior design company, read on to find out which icons are actually business savvy—it might not be who you’d expect.

Dr. Dre

Business: Beats by Dr. Dre

Rapper Dr. Dre created audio brand Beats by Dr. Dre along with music producer Jimmy Iovine in 2006. After rapidly gaining popularity, Beats Music and Beats Electronics were purchased by Apple in 2014 for $3 billion.

George Clooney

Business: Casamigos Tequila

George Clooney used to make tequila for friends and family during his many trips to Mexico. He and two friends created their own company after creating the perfect recipe. In 2013, Casamigos tequila hit liquor stores, and in 2017, beverage company Diageo purchased it for about $1 billion.

Jessica Alba

Business: The Honest Company

After having an allergic reaction to laundry detergent in 2012, Jessica Alba started The Honest Company to provide consumers with safe, non-toxic household and baby products. In 2016, the company reported $250 million in revenue and is valued at slightly less than $1 billion as of October 2017.

Jessica Simpson

Business: Jessica Simpson Collection

The singer established her brand in 2005, designing and selling shoes, women’s and girls’ clothing, and home décor. It was valued at $1 billion in 2015.

Magic Johnson

Business: Magic Johnson Enterprises

The basketball star created his investment company in 1987 with a mission to strengthen urban and underserved communities. He’s struck deals with companies like Pepsi-Cola, T.G.I. Friday's, and Best Buy, among others. Between his sports career and business ventures, Johnson is reportedly worth $1 billion.


Business: Elevation Partners

Elevation Partners, named after the U2 song "Elevation,” is a private equity firm that invests in new media and technology. According to Bloomberg, Elevation Partners has invested $1.76 billion in companies like Facebook, Forbes, and Yelp, with a 12% net rate of return. The firm received $1.4 billion from its investment in Facebook alone.

Kate Hudson

Business: Fabletics

The actress co-founded Fabletics athletic wear line from JustFab in 2013. A company spokeswoman told CNBC it had "rapidly surpassed $300 million in annual revenue." Hudson wants to spread the company’s body-positive message to women around the world. Fabletics is planning to open 75 new stores across the country as well as overseas, bringing its total locations to 100.

Kevin Costner

Business: Ocean Therapy Solutions

After learning about the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 and filming "Waterworld" in 1995, actor Kevin Costner set out to create a device that would separate water from oil. The devices can separate 200 gallons of oil from water per minute. In 2010, BP bought 32 of Costner's OTS machines for $15 million to help clean the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Ashton Kutcher

Business: A-Grade Investments

Ashton Kutcher co-founded the venture capital fund A-Grade Investments in 2010, and has used it to invest in Uber, Airbnb, and Spotify. By 2013, it was valued at more than $100 million.


Business: Parkwood Entertainment

Beyoncé's management company has investments of at least $150,000 in Sidestep, an app that offers access to concerts and merchandise. In 2016, The app made more than $2 million in sales: ten times more than the previous year. Beyoncé also owns activewear fashion brand Ivy Park.

Robert DeNiro

Business: Nobu

Robert DeNiro and Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa created Nobu, a Japanese restaurant brand with outlets in a number of international cities. Matsuhisa restaurants were recently added to a cruise and Las Vegas hotel. In 2015, the company was valued at $500 million.

Sammy Hagar

Business: Cabo Wabo tequila

Sammy Hagar isn’t just a musician, he's also a businessman. While Hagar owns several restaurants, his biggest success has been Cabo Wabo tequila. He sold the brand for $91 million over a period of three years.

Will Ferrell

Business: Funny Or Die

Will Ferrell created the website Funny Or Die in 2007, which has been producing comedy videos and featuring actors like Judd Apatow and James Franco ever since. Some of its shows, like as "Drunk History" and "@midnight," have become full TV series. Funny or Die was valued at around $200 million in 2015, but recently went through a round of layoffs.


Business: Fenty Beauty

Rihanna launched a line of beauty products in 2017, which received praise for its inclusive range of colors that Rihanna had spent two years developing. The company made $72 million in its first month, mirroring the success the singer saw when she first entered the fashion industry in 2016 as a designer alongside streetwear company Puma. Fenty Beauty is currently poised to outsell other celebrity makeup brands, including Kylie Jenner's and Kim Kardashian West's.

Reese Witherspoon

Business: Draper James and Pacific Standard

Draper James is a clothing line created by Reese Witherspoon to honor her Southern roots. She also owns the production company Pacific Standard, responsible for “Gone Girl,” “Wild,” and “Big Little Lies.” As of 2017, Witherspoon is reported to be worth $80 million.

Drew Barrymore

Business: Barrymore Wines and Flower Beauty

During its first year, Barrymore Wines and the actress' cosmetic line, Flower Beauty, made approximately $50 million in sales. "I know when people hear my Valley Girl accent, they probably cringe. But when they speak to me at length, they find I’m someone who is really passionate. There is a lot of joy in [wine] for me,” Barrymore told Glamour Magazine.

Venus Williams

Business: V Starr Interiors

Venus Williams is known for her championship-level tennis skills, but few people know about her passion for interior design. That's the reason she created V Starr Interiors: a residential and commercial interior design company presumed to be worth about $60 million

Gywneth Paltrow

Business: Goop

Goop is a health, wellness and lifestyle website with a thriving e-commerce section. "It's a blessing to be liberated from the chains of other people's perceptions of you," Paltrow told Glamour Magazine

Gwen Stefani

Business: L. A. M. B.

In 2003, Singer Gwen Stefani created her fashion line L.A.M.B, which sells accessories from shoes to handbags. The company pulls in about $100 million in sales each year.


Business: Rocawear

Jay-Z is worth a grand total of $460 million. He earned some of this fortune by selling 50 million albums throughout his career. He also started his own record label, Roc-A-Fella Records. Jay also launched his own clothing line, Rocawear, which sold for $204 million in 2007.

Victoria Beckham

Business: Beckham Brand Holdings

Victoria Beckham started her career as an entrepreneur when she opened her London fashion boutique in 2009. In its first five years, the small business earned $30 million. Her fashion line has grown exponentially—as of September 2018, her brand is stocked in more than 400 stores and shipped to more than 100 countries. All of her fashion endeavors are part of Beckham Brand Holdings, which also includes husband David Beckham’s entrepreneurial undertakings.

Jennifer Aniston

Business: Living Proof

In 2012, Jennifer Aniston became the co-owner of Living Proof: a hair care company that fights frizz with science. The actress brought new marketing and design strategies to the company, which helped it gross $30 million in investments in 2013.

Kathy Ireland

Business: Kathy Ireland Worldwide

The former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model invested $50,000 in stocks in 1993, which helped launch her business. Now her design and marketing company, Kathy Ireland Worldwide, grosses more than $1 billion annually.

Tony Hawk

Business: “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” video game franchise

Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk owns various business ventures, one being the "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater" video game franchise. The games have generated an estimated $1.4 billion in sales since Activision launched the first one in 1999. He also owns Birdhouse Skateboards, which sells boards and other equipment.

Alyssa Milano

Business: Touch by Alyssa Milano

Alyssa Milano wanted to wear fan gear to support her sports teams, but found a lack of stylish options for women. She created a fashion line in 2007, including t-shirts and denim that isn’t all pink. In 2011, sports gear giant Fanatics sold approximately 50,000 units of Touch by Alyssa Milano—an estimated $1.5 to $2 million in sales.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

Business: Seven Bucks Productions

Dwayne Johnson was on a path to the NFL until a back injury halted his football career. Johnson, flat-broke, took a plane from Canada to Miami. On the ride home, he emptied his pockets and found seven dollars, which is where he got the name for his production company, created in 2012. The company produced “Ballers” and “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” which have grossed millions in profit.  

Kylie Jenner

Business: Kylie Cosmetics

Believe it or not, Kylie Jenner’s business idea came from a lack of confidence. Two years ago, as half-sisters Kim and Khloé started their own ventures, Jenner was at a loss for what to do. In the summer of 2014, she patented and trademarked the phrase "Kylie Lip Kits." Jenner put $250,000 of her modeling earnings toward producing a limited-edition line, which sold out immediately. By the end of 2016—her first year in business—the company had reportedly generated around $307 million.

Kim Kardashian

Business: KKW Fragrance

Kim Kardashian West has stakes in several businesses, including a mobile game featuring herself. One of her newest ventures is fragrances—her Crystal Gardenia, Crystal Gardenia Citrus, and Crystal Gardenia Oud perfumes sold out online within a week of the company’s launch in November of 2017. 300,000 units were produced for the initial launch, and at $35 per 30-ml bottle and $60 per 75-ml bottle, Kardashian West saw $14 million in sales in under a week.

Mark Wahlberg

Business: Wahlburgers

The burger chain was founded by the three Wahlberg brothers, and as of 2017, has 14 locations with plans to expand to 118. Paul Wahlberg is a professionally trained chef, one reason the trio decided to go into the food business together. The original location in Hingham, Massachusetts, pulls in $5 million per year.

Justin Timberlake

Business: William Rast

Former singer Justin Timberlake co-founded clothing line William Rast with friend Trace Ayala in 2006. The company is known for its “All American” jeans—a throwback to Timberlake and Ayala growing up in Memphis—and generates about $50 million per year in sales.

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