Rihanna Is the Most Entrepreneurial Musician of 2018

Rihanna’s transformation into a truly enterprising empress has earned her an estimated net worth of $260 million

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When Rihanna debuted her first studio album in 2005, it was impossible to anticipate what a cultural icon she would someday become. Like all legendary pop stars, Rihanna has transcended the role of singer and has since bloomed into a fashion icon, designer and influencer par excellence. Along with the continued success of her critically celebrated collaborations with Puma, Riri has since expanded her Fenty brand into lingerie and makeup, with each branch of her growing empire garnering a massive following. In celebration of Rihanna’s successes, ONE37pm has named Rihanna the most entrepreneurial musician of 2018.

Rihanna’s transformation from a beloved artist (with the third-highest number of​​​​​​ No. 1 singles in Billboard Hot 100 history behind only The Beatles and Mariah Carey) into a truly enterprising empress (with an estimated net worth of roughly $260 million as of September 2018) can be traced back to her first projects with Puma in 2014, when she was named as the brand’s creative director.

Rihanna had successfully dabbled in fragrances before the Puma role, but it was her first product with the sportswear brand, a sensible yet edgy sneaker, that sold out almost immediately. In 2016, Rihanna launched her first official collection with the company: the groundbreaking line, which smartly combined goth aesthetics and streetwear sensibilities, was celebrated across the industry. Rihanna’s direction led the company toward close to $1 billion in profits. “Sometimes when a famous person tries his or her hand at another discipline, the results can be uneven,” wrote Vogue critic Chioma Nnadi. “And yet there are those special cases when making the switch leads to a good surprise. Judging by the collection she showed today, we can add Rihanna to that list."

Rihanna’s efforts with Puma would continue over the next few years with the themes of each collection drawing on unique influences ranging from Marie Antoinette to collegiate, Ivy league couture. Her Spring 2018 collection, which offered a fresh spin on ’90s motocross aesthetics, continued to amass positive reviews and has since sparked a biker chic resurgence and influenced a hyper-fashionable series of underground parties in Brooklyn’s queer nightlife scene.

Rihanna’s efforts didn’t stop with Puma. In a partnership with LVMH's Kendo Brands, Fenty Beauty launched in 2017 and was named as one of Time’s Genius Companies in 2018. The lines of foundations, highlighters, bronzers, blushes, compacts, lip glosses and blotting sheets were hailed by makeup gurus for their diverse color palettes that accommodate a plethora of skin tones for people that are woefully underserved due to the limited scope of products available from more traditional and less inclusive companies.

“Rihanna was inspired to create Fenty Beauty after years of experimenting with the best-of-the-best in beauty—and still seeing a void in the industry for products that performed across all skin types and tones,” reads Fenty Beauty’s mission statement. “She launched a makeup line ‘so that women everywhere would be included,’ focusing on a wide range of traditionally hard-to-match skin tones, creating formulas that work for all skin types, and pinpointing universal shades.”

Diversity again became a huge selling point for Rihanna’s next big collaborations, this time with the lingerie company Savage. At affordable price points, Rihanna’s flirtatious, vaguely BDSM-inspired designs were paired with cheeky novelty sex toys like fur-lined handcuffs and satin restraints in tasteful, feminine color palettes. These delightfully coquettish commodities offered a stark contrast to more prudish and conservative mainstream underwear companies and were so in demand that Savage’s site crashed upon the midnight launch in May.

While the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, for example, faced backlash for presenting limited body types and overtly anti-transgender policies, Rihanna cleverly booked a runway show featuring models of various sizes, ethnicities and gender presentations. The showing, which also featured some pregnant women as models, was widely hailed by feminist critics as a progressive step toward a brighter future. "Savage is really about taking complete ownership of how you feel and the choices you make,” Rihanna told Vogue “Basically making sure everybody knows the ball is in your court."

Amid these money moves, Rihanna still found the time to win the 2018 Met Gala with a divinely papal look from Margiela and star as a highly skilled thieving cyberpunk in Ocean’s 8. In September, Rihanna was appointed as an ambassador at large by the government of Barbados, where she hails from. And while we didn’t get new music from Rihanna in 2018, rumors are swirling about two potential new album releases in the coming year, meaning she had never strayed too far from the studio.

It’s not looking like Rihanna’s entrepreneurial luster is dulling any time soon. In fact, with Rihanna still at the helm, Puma’s sales reportedly continued to grow in Q4 of 2018. Taking note of Fenty Beauty’s explosive success, which is now threatening to topple the Kardashian makeup empire as a top-selling brand, competing beauty companies have been forced to expand their color palettes to keep up.  With more coming soon from across the Fenty supremacy, we don’t see this queen slowing down in 2019. It’s Rihanna’s world—we’re just living in it.

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