Rihanna: From bad gyal to billionaire boss

Take an island girl, pair her up with a music mogul from NYC, mix in a series of chart-topping hits and garnish with sharp business acumen—you’ve got the music industry’s first female billionaire: Rihanna.

As a kid, Robyn Rihanna Fenty had a stage presence, winning her high school talent show in Barbados and joining a girls singing group before being discovered and signed to Def Jam Records with Jay-Z as a vocalist in 2005. 

  • She signed a six-album deal that would produce an endless stream of pop and R&B chart toppers that would cement the Bajan songstress as one of the most influential artists of her generation.

$1,000,000: In 2007, at the age of 19, Rihanna’s album Umbrella (ella, ella) made over US$50 million in album sales, touring and endorsements—but in 2009, due to bad money management by her accountant, the singer was nearly bankrupt.

  • She learned her lesson and developed a tour model to put more profit in her hardworking pockets. Her subsequent two tours would gross over US$130 million, and she signed a US$25 million deal with Samsung to promote the brand throughout her Anti World Tour. 

  • She also retained the rights to all her music after parting ways with Def Jam in 2014, which allowed her to maximize her streaming and royalty earnings—she made over US$7 million off of streaming for her last album in 2016. 

$1,000,000,000: Now that she had conquered the music industry, she turned her attention to fashion and beauty. While other celebs simply slap their name on a product, Rihanna wanted to shake up the entire industry and create products for consumers who weren’t targetted by major fashion labels and beauty brands.

  • In 2018 he partnered with TechStyle Fashion Group to create her online underwear collection SavageXFenty of which she owns 30%. 

  • In partnership with luxury fashion house LVHM, she launched Fenty Beauty, the first major brand to offer makeup to match every skin tone. In 2022 the company made more than US$1.1 billion—and RiRi owns half. 

Today, Rihanna is worth US$1.4 billion, but her “self-made” score is 10, making her billionaire status even more impressive—she didn’t inherit or marry her money. She work work work work worked for it.

So what does Rihanna teach us? When you possess enough talent to dominate one industry, spread your wings and go for world domination—especially when you can fill a gap in the market. Rihanna found success by targeting customers long ignored by traditional fashion and beauty brands and cemented herself as a mainstay in the game.