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Kim Kardashian reveals the secret behind her massive success: Two decades of haters

Kim Kardasian—the consummate multihyphenate—has no shortage of accolades and cultural savvy defining her success. The “famous for being famous” moniker is apt for Kardashian, who first rose to fame in the mid-2000s alongside her eponymous family on E!’s Keeping Up with the Kardashians. But that’s mostly because her influence cannot be distilled into one category. 

At one point or another, she’s made a dent in retail, gaming, books, television acting, makeup, and fragrance. Most notably, her shapewear brand Skims became a $4 billion brand in fewer than four years. Despite her deep well of cross-industry experience, many suits in the business world still look at her askance. They may not for long. 

Kardashian, 42, is entering the world of private equity, opening the doors of a PE firm of her own, SKKY Partners, with former Carlyle Group manager Jay Sammons. Kardashian and Sammons haven’t yet closed a deal, but they told reporter Emma Hinchliffe in an exclusive interview for Fortune’s Most Powerful Women issue that they aim to make a dozen investments in the coming years. The pair is particularly focused on North American consumer businesses that align with Kardashian’s areas of interest—and expertise: fashion and beauty, with potential forays into hospitality and media.  

It might seem like a surprising move to the number of people who have lambasted Kardashian (and her family) for riding coattails to fame, but she doesn’t mind being underestimated—and it’s these haters she credits for her success. “Maybe that’s part of my drive, always feeling like people have underestimated me,” she told Hinchliffe. “Maybe that’s what keeps me going.” 

After all, this is the same woman who, in 2018, included a list of “haters” among the celebrities she’d be sending her KKW KIMOJI Heart Fragrances to for Valentine’s Day. “It was my way of saying they can talk sh** about me if they want, but I’m going to keep doing me,” she later explained.

She’s taken that same unflappable approach to her business acumen. Unlike the reality TV or high fashion worlds where Kardashian made her name, the next chapter will not be all glitz and glam. Behind Kardashian’s sparkling persona, Sammons explained to Hinchliffe, is a shrewd businesswoman with an eye for detail and a remarkable instinct.

“The world often tries to invite her into dialogue about things that are either controversial or that she doesn’t really feel the need to weigh in to,” he said. “She has a great deal of discipline in managing that.” 

Kardashian remains undaunted by her past stumbles, less-than-flattering moments, or erstwhile businesses that never quite panned out. Rather, she told Hinchliffe, she’s taking these lessons in stride and using them. “Everything that I’ve done along the way is going to be beneficial to SKKY,” she says. 

Sammons echoed that. “She feels a responsibility to use [her] history and everything that she’s learned to help this next generation be as successful as they can be,” he said. 

Once SKKY makes its first investment, “people will really understand that this is a serious fund,” Kardashian said, which is why the pair are taking their time to decide just what it will be. 

As she begins investing in earnest, she may even become a lawyer. She has been steadily completing law school courses with private tutors since 2019 and expects to take the bar in early 2025, she told Hong Kong Vogue last year: “I’m very passionate about criminal justice reform and I want to advocate for those who I feel were wrongfully convicted. I dream of one day creating a successful law firm.”

It remains to be seen how she would juggle law and private equity (and her Skims business, which is on track to go public, its CEO Jens Grede told Hinchliffe). But Kardashian has never shied away from keeping many irons on the fire. As she told Hinchliffe, she’s cleared the path for her new era through over two decades of underestimation: “I’ve been through it all.”

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