LIFE OF KY
Mother, influencer and almost-billionaire, Kylie Jenner talks to her sister Kendall about work, motherhood and what matters to her the most.
Mother, influencer and almost-billionaire, Kylie Jenner talks to her sister Kendall about work, motherhood and what matters to her the most. By Remy Rippon. Styled by Christine Centenera. Photographed by Jackie Nickerson.
Kylie Jenner could click her fingers and have just about anything she wanted in the world – but on a Friday afternoon in one of the many cellular dead zones of Los Angeles, mobile phone reception doesn’t fall into that category. The 21-year-old is genuinely apologetic when she eventually connects with her older sister and today’s interviewer, Kendall, five and a half hours later than the scheduled interview time.
Jenner is phoning from the bedroom of the LA home she shares with her boyfriend, 26-year-old rapper Travis Scott, whom she met at last year’s Coachella music festival (which Scott was headlining), and their seven-month-old daughter, Stormi Webster. The last time she went off the grid – posting sporadically to her social channels and sidestepping public appearances – was during her pregnancy. No Demi-Moore-on- Vanity-Fair- style pregnancy shoots, and remarkably, not even a cryptic drip-feeding of pregnancy-related vox pops via Keeping Up With The Kardashians. She did what many in her position would have thought unthinkable, if not impossible – Jenner simply shut out fame for a while.
Days after the arrival of her healthy baby girl on the first day of February, she reconnected with her 112 million Instagram followers explaining her brief hiatus: “I understand you’re used to me bringing you along on all my journeys. My pregnancy was one I chose not to do in front of the world. I knew for myself I needed to prepare for this role of a lifetime in the most positive, stress-free and healthy way I knew how.”
Whether intentionally or not, it marked a pivot point: a time-stamped divide between Kylie, the youngest of one of the world’s most recognisable families, and a sort of coming-of-age Kylie: mother, tastemaker and, thanks to the runaway success of Kylie Cosmetics, one hell of a beauty pioneer. In under three years, her make-up line has raked in sales of more than $630 million (she owns it outright, too), and according to Forbes, she’s positioned to knock Mark Zuckerberg off the perch of youngest self-made billionaire. Not bad for someone who has only just reached the legal drinking age in her home state and is often unceremoniously anointed with the ‘famous for being famous’ tagline. Jenner is a force, whichever way you dice it.
Indeed, Jenner’s success paints a compelling picture of the beauty industry in 2018. Right now there are likely boardrooms of beauty executives strategising and decoding sales figures in an effort to recreate even a fraction of the magic dust they’re sprinkling over there at Kylie Cosmetics. But Jenner (and, of course, her beyond-savvy mother, Kris) knows that the most successful businesses set out to solve a problem. By her own account, Jenner’s insecurity has long been her lips. In an effort to make them appear plumper, she began overdrawing them, caricaturestyle and filling them in with lipsticks so punchy it was as if they were tattooed in place. Jenner then began filling them with heartier stuff, actual filler, in fact, which only inflated the obsession (though not long after our shoot, she replied to an Instagram comment, explaining she had removed the fillers). Her lips became as synonymous with brand Kylie as her sister Kim Kardashian West’s derrière has been to her own image, and the impetus for Kylie Cosmetics.
In the time it took Jenner to refresh her website’s browser – mere seconds – she had entirely sold out of the brand’s first product, the now legendary Lip Kit. The beginnings of her brand may not have been entirely strategic, but there’s no denying it was authentic.
All of this – the highs (and lows) of the spotlight, the unparalleled business success and, of course, motherhood – has distilled a maturity and self-assuredness in Jenner that’s well beyond her years. Like the now old-fashioned bricks-and-mortar store fronts (which are also in the pipeline for Kylie Cosmetics), the self-confident selfies and provocative Snapchats she fires off daily are merely the glossy frontage for an incredibly determined young woman who is building – so far, extremely well – a multimillion-dollar empire. Although she may be the closest thing to a poster girl for an entire generation – a cohort largely focused on the now – Jenner has her eyes firmly concentrated on the future. And from here, it looks bright.
KENDALL: “Hi, sister.”
KENDALL: “So, this is so funny, because I feel like I already know a lot of the answers, but Ky, how has your life changed since you became a mum? And you don’t have to say that we became closer, because that was my answer.”
KYLIE: “I don’t think my life has changed since becoming a mum: I think the way I look at life has changed since becoming a mum. I think more of the future. I used to live each day as it came, and now I look at the future more. I actually feel like I love myself more after I had Stormi. And I’m trying to be … I mean, I’m already a positive person, but just having fun, being positive.”
KENDALL: “Yeah, I can feel that. I feel you’re a lot nicer to me, now that you have a kid.”
KENDALL: “Do you feel you have more of a responsibility on social media, and the influence that comes with it, now that you have a baby?”
KYLIE: “No, I never really felt a responsibility online. I always felt like being myself was the best.”
KENDALL: “Yeah. Feel. You. Going into being a kid, sticking with that theme, what’s your most memorable moment from being young?”
KYLIE: “I think the most memorable moments from being young are the memories that we shared together, and just like, our family, like holidays. They used to be so much fun for us. I mean, they still are, but like just so much fun back then, even playing with Barbies, or the fights we would get in, like we really were.”
KENDALL: “The Barbie sitches. I feel like the Barbies were one of my strongest memories and just us being stupid and like getting into trouble.”
KYLIE: “Yeah, they were.”
KENDALL: “And when I would steal Mum and Dad’s car so I could drive you places. So, how did your brand come about? Your Lip Kits?”
KYLIE: “My Lip Kits started with number one, my obsession with make-up and lips specifically and just how I took my insecurity with my lips and turned it into my business model. Something I just became obsessed with was lips and lipstick, and how wearing lipstick made me feel. I just loved bigger lips, and I just got obsessed. To this day, I can’t leave the house without lipstick. So, I just think I’m obsessed with doing my make-up and watching tutorials and that’s kind of how Kylie Cosmetics started.”
KENDALL: “Nice. What’s been the biggest learning experience during the whole thing?”
KYLIE: “I think I’ve learnt a lot about the beauty world that I never knew about. Honestly, I never knew about the difference between top
glass and shiny, and I just learnt a lot about that whole world. But for my business, just accepting that mistakes are going to happen, and to just do your best. They’re mostly out of your control with creating a new business, so just do your best and have great customer service.”
KENDALL: “Yeah, I feel like it’s also finding a balance between what you like and what your buyer likes. I feel like that is something you have to adapt to.”
KYLIE: “No, I agree with you, that’s been a challenge.”
KENDALL: “Sticking to the lip sich, you’ve spoken about how they might have been an insecurity for you when you were younger, but do you think that has anything to do with people looking at you so intensely or do you think that would have been something you would have done even if people weren’t looking at you, like they are?”
KYLIE: “I think I would’ve done the same thing, because my insecurity with my lips didn’t stem from people saying anything. I don’t even think anyone commented on my lips. We all have insecurities, right? Nobody’s perfect, and that’s my thing.”
KENDALL: “Totally. Who’s been the most influential person to you?” KYLIE: “Probably our mum is the most influential person to me. I spend a lot of time with her. We do a lot of business stuff together. She’s just super-smart and I feel like I have a lot to learn from her.”
KENDALL: “Mum and I had a long talk today about business and personal stuff, too.”
KYLIE: “She’s a smart lady.”
KENDALL: “She sure is.”
KENDALL: “So I feel like you’ve really hit the nail on the head with this one. But what do you think your ‘special sauce’ is for catering to young people? What do you think connected you with them?”
KYLIE: “I have a really good relationship with my fans, and I just feel like I was super-personal with them, and I let them in to everything. I think they saw that lipstick, for me, was really genuine. So it just worked.”
KENDALL: “What’s your goal with Kylie Cosmetics?”
KYLIE: “My goal with Kylie Cosmetics is to eventually be worldwide and have stores.”
KENDALL: “Do you feel as though you’ve made it in the beauty industry, Ky? Would you say you’re completely satisfied? Or are there things you want to work on?”
KYLIE: “No, there are definitely some things and some goals I have left to achieve and I never get too comfortable. I never think: ‘Oh, I made it.’ There’s definitely a lot of stuff that I have yet to do.”
KENDALL: “What does the future of beauty look like to you? And how has having a daughter impacted you?”
KYLIE: “I feel like having a daughter, and thinking about beauty in the future, has definitely changed me, and I feel like it has made me love myself more and accept everything about me. Even my ears, I always felt like they stuck out too far, and she [Stormi] has the same ears as me and so now I love my ears. It’s just having a different outlook on life so I can pass that on to her. I want to be an example for her. What kind of example would I be if she said she didn’t like her ears, and then I didn’t like them either? I just want to teach her that. I’m trying to love myself more.”
KENDALL: “I think that goes along with my next question, because in this world we live in, you kind of have to have that own self-love to be able to navigate the ups and the downs. So, how have you learnt to deal with the highs and lows of the spotlight?”
KYLIE: “I feel like we never – I never – fully have like been okay with the ups and downs of, you know.”
KENDALL: “This life …”
KYLIE: “I feel like you just kind of have to accept it.”
KENDALL: “One of my favourite things you did during your pregnancy – and I know I was talking to you about it a lot, so I hope that I was maybe a part of this decision – was that you stayed really low-key during your pregnancy. I think that it was kind of beautiful. You really took that time to just appreciate having a baby inside of you, rather than flaunting it everywhere. You just took in that magical experience. What were you thinking when you did that and what was your whole process behind that?”
KYLIE: “I knew that it would be better for us, if me and Stormi just stayed kind of low-key. Your hormones are going crazy and your emotions are more heightened, and I just felt like I wasn’t prepared to … I just knew that it would be better for me, and I could enjoy the whole experience if I did it privately. I just felt like it was a sacred special moment and I wasn’t ready to share it with everybody. I just wanted to keep that to myself.”
KENDALL: “I love that.”
KYLIE: “I had a really good time, and I feel like that’s why Stormi is so calm and so happy, because I was so calm and so happy.”
KENDALL: “We’ve been in the spotlight for a really long time. How do you think that’s impacted your adult life and the person you’ve grown into?”
KYLIE: “I feel like it has made me grow up a lot faster than usual. I think I’ve been exposed to a lot of things that people my age maybe have not seen.”
KENDALL: “I think we kind of got the best-case scenario. We still went to a normal school and did all our normal stuff and kind of like this happens in the process. But I think you always did a really good job. We went to school, we did our homework, we weren’t trying to be on the show all the time. I don’t know if it was like us, ourselves, or our family was guiding us in the right direction, but I think we kind of got the best-case scenario with that. What’s the best part about watching Travis become a father?”
KYLIE: “We both experienced this for the first time, so I love learning together and just watching him with her. He’s so good with her and she’s really obsessed with him.”
KENDALL: “What role do you think you play in our family? Do you think you’re the funny one, the cool one, the serious one?”
KYLIE: “I feel like I’m the troublemaker or the funny one.”
KENDALL: “Yeah, I agree with that. Okay, I really actually need to know this answer. What do you want in life that money can’t buy?”
KYLIE: “I bought myself my dream car, the LaFerrari, and the excitement and the happiness lasted not that long. I have my dream house and the car I want, and I just realised early that those aren’t the things that make me happy. It’s a different kind of happiness. I just feel like some people get lost, and strive their whole life for materialistic things and then you realise that it’s not everything. I want to appreciate and be comfortable in the place that I am, and just find happiness in my friends and my family.”
KENDALL: “Good answer, kid. I taught you well. Love you, sweetheart. Is there anything else you want to talk about?”
KYLIE: “I’m actually scrolling through Instagram right now, and it says that me and Travis don’t live together, and so I just want to say that we never miss a night with each other, we go back and forth from my Calabasas house and the city home that we actually got together. So just if you wanted to add that in.”