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Celebrity entrepreneurs

It’s no secret that we live in a celebrity obsessed world – just the notion that Sarah Jessica Parker favours a certain make of jeans or Elizabeth Hurley uses a specific brand of eye cream is enough to send us scuttling to the high street in pursuit of said items.

Retailers and advertisers have long realised the power of celebrity endorsement, but now it seems celebs themselves are waking up to the power of their names and moving from backing other people’s products to establishing their own lines. Think Kate Moss’s lucrative Topshop venture, Gwen Stefani’s LAMB clothing line or the perfume counter of any department store, where traditional scents are being forced off the shelves by Britney, J-Lo and even Celine Dion.
It makes perfect sense, a famous name and celebrity profile mean a ready-made brand established in the public’s mind and a market as keen to buy into a star’s fashion and beauty ranges as their latest album or DVD. And the really business savvy stars are buying into the media itself – setting up their own production companies and controlling their own mini media-empires.

Jennifer Lopez
She might not have starred in any major films recently, and it may be difficult to remember her last chart hit, but this singer and actress is raking in over £125 million a year, thanks in no small way to her business interests. The shrewd star founded Sweetface Fashion in 2001 with Andy Hilfiger (brother of designer Tommy), and now has retail boutiques across the States and the world, including Russia and Central America. Plus JLo’s also moved into accessories – notably sunglasses, perfume – her scents Glow and Still are some of the world’s biggest sellers, and launched her own dedicated teen clothing line – an astute means of tapping into her core market.

David and Victoria Beckham
Worth an estimated £125 million, Britain’s most famous couple are notoriously astute when it comes to marketing themselves, earning them the title Brand Beckham. David is the richest footballer in the world, thanks not only to his five-year deal with LA Galaxy thought to be worth up to £128 million, but his company Footwork Productions, which brings in over £11 million each year – mainly from advertising deals and product endorsements. Then there’s the couple’s clothing line, DVB which has recently moved into the lucrative American market, and of course their hugely popular fragrances, which it’s thought will generate up to £50 million in sales this year. 

P Diddy
This hip-hop superstar has his head screwed on when it comes to business, owning enterprises which span the world of music and fashion, and boast annual sales of around $500 million. Diddy started Bad Boy World Wide Entertainment Group in 1994 as both a platform for promoting his own music and videos and signing new and up and coming artists. Four years later, cashing in on the huge popularity of hip-hop style, he launched his own  fashion line – Sean John Clothing.
The label can be found in department stores in cities across the world, and Diddy even has speciality stores including the Fifth Avenue flagship in New York. And Diddy’s now jumped on the celebrity fragrance bandwagon to tremendous profit with his Unforgivable cologne launched in 2006.

Oprah Winfrey

This talk-show mega-star and household name was quick to capitalise on her fame, setting up her own production company, Harpo Entertainment Group in 1988, a mere two years after the Oprah Winfrey Show became must-watch television. Today her media empire, which includes O – the Oprah magazine, numerous books, movies, TV and radio productions and Oxygen, a cable television network targeted specifically at women, is worth over £145 million. Her own show, still watched by millions and the benchmark of daytime television across the world, earns her a comfortable nine-figure salary, and Harpo also owns the hugely popular Dr Phil spin-off show which rakes in the cash as well.

Bono

Not only does Bono’s band U2 own the rights to its own music, not common in the music industry, the singer also has numerous lucrative business interests that span the globe. In 2004 he entered the private equity market, helping to found Elevation Partners, a company now worth over £500 which makes large-scale investments in select media and entertainment companies. To date, Elevation has partnered with video game maker BioWare/Pandemic Studios, the property website Move, and Forbes. Furthermore, in 2005 Bono founded Edun Clothing, a fair trade group specializing in selling clothing made in the developing world. Plus he has extensive interests in property, restaurants, hotels and recording studios around the globe.

Simon Cowell
In a recent interview Simon Cowell revealed that he sees himself first and foremost as an entrepreneur, having always treated the music business as a business. One of the most powerful celebrities in the world today, he has all the hallmarks of a real self-made man – having worked his way up from humble post boy at EMI to reach the top of the music industry, owning his own record company Fanfare by the age of 30. While this business went bust in 1989 leaving Simon bankrupt and forced to move in with his parents, he successfully managed to rebuild his fortune all over again and is now worth an estimated £112 million. The media mogul has recently signed massively lucrative deals with Sony, and has numerous music and TV productions in the pipeline, both here in the UK and the States.

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