Celebrities often slap their name on a brand, give it their blessing, then sit back and rake in the royalties.
But for some, that’s not enough. There are a few famous faces who also have entrepreneurial spirits — they see past the careers that made them famous and decide to venture into the business world.
Being a star is no guarantee for success, of course. Only a few celebrities have really managed to move beyond their original careers and develop some seriously successful business empires.
We compiled a list of 10 celebrities-turned-entrepreneurs who have really succeeded in their business endeavours.
Award-winning actor and director Paul Newman, who died last year, launched an incredibly successful business totally unrelated to his original career in film: a line of food products. Newman's Own, founded in 1982, began with a salad dressing, and expanded into an expansive array of items: popcorn, pasta sauce, even wine.
Newman extended his philanthropic spirit into his business and mandated a company policy that all profits, after taxes, would go to charity. The company has donated over $280 million in total to charities world-wide, according to the Newman's Own Foundation.
The 2000's have been a busy decade for Tyra Banks. In 2005, the supermodel retired from a 20-year modelling career to focus on her growing media endeavours. She currently has three shows to her name, all produced by her company Bankable Productions: The Tyra Banks Show, America's Next Top Model, and Stylista. In 2007, Bankable Productions signed a deal with Warner Brothers and came out with the film 'The Clique.'
According to the New York Times, Banks' estimated net worth, as of 2008, is $75 million.
The Olsen twins have come a long way from Full House. Although launched into the limelight as child acting stars, the twins have actually spent the better part of their lives focusing on business, rather than acting.
They currently preside over Dualstar Entertainment, a retail group established in their names in 1993, which now sells around $1 billion in merchandise (from clothes to accessories to cosmetics) each year, mainly through Wal-Mart. The pair has also branched out into couture fashion with their own label, The Row.
Forbes estimates their combined net worth at $100 million.
Over the past 10 years, Diddy expanded from just making hip-hop music to capitalising on the industry as a whole. After establishing his own record label, Bad Boy Entertainment, the hip-hop icon quickly moved to fashion (clothing line Sean John and multiple fragrances), then television (Making the Band and Run's House), and, most recently, high-end liquor (Ciroc vodka).
According to a profile in Fast Company, Shaun White never wanted to become just another ubiquitous Olympic-athlete endorser. Rather than signing off on cheesy deals to make some easy money, the gold-medal-winning snowboarder chose to be discerning about the products that carried his name.
White selects to work with companies and brands that he really believes in and throws himself into the creative development of anything with his name on it. The growing list includes a collection of snowboarding paraphernalia for Burton, a video game for Ubisoft, and his own clothing line for Target.
His endeavours beyond the slopes have landed him at number two on Forbes' 2009 list of the highest-paid action sports stars, which reports that he earned $9 million in 2008.
When Rachael Ray landed on the Food Network in 2001, she became an instant success. Her initial popularity quickly turned into a media and merchandising empire, consisting of three shows on the Food Network, one syndicated talk show, a brand of pet food, a charity foundation, cookbooks, a magazine, a line of cookware, and even her own olive oil.
This year, Forbes ranked Ray at number 79 in its Celebrity Top 100.
The Oprah Winfrey Show, introduced in 1986, was only the beginning of Oprah's media empire.
She subsequently branched out with her own production company, Harpo, which produces several popular shows hosted by individuals whose careers she has fostered (i.e. Dr. Phil and Rachael Ray), along with a film company, Harpo Films, and a popular magazine, O.
In 2011, Oprah will try yet another new industry: She'll have control over an entire cable channel, the Oprah Winfrey Network, co-owned by The Discovery Channel. Her net worth of $2.3 billion placed her at #141 on the Forbes 400 in 2009.
In 1987, Magic Johnson branched out from basketball to found Magic Johnson Enterprises. According to the company's website, MJE is devoted to using businesses to revitalize urban America, a demographic in which many other corporations are reluctant to invest. Johnson has partnered with chains such as Starbucks and T.G.I Fridays to open businesses and improve the standard of living in 91 cities across 22 states.
MJE also has several subsidiaries, ranging from a chain of movie theatres to a talent agency, Entertainment Weekly reports. Last year, Johnson authored a book entitled 32 Ways to be a Champion in Business, and large corporations, such as Best Buy, are now seeking his advice on how to break into the urban market, according to CNN Money.
Forbes estimates his current net worth at $500 million, placing him in the top five wealthiest black Americans.
In addition to his massive success as a rapper, Jay-Z has developed an entertainment empire that ranks him number one on Forbes' 2009 list of 'Hip-Hop Cash Kings.' He started by founding his own record label, Roc-a-fella Records, then moved on to serve a three-year stint as President and CEO of Def Jam Records. Jay-Z has also moved beyond music, developing a clothing line (Rocawear), his own fragrance, and a sports bar franchise.
Forbes estimates his net worth at $150 million.
Tony Hawk has more than a skateboarding career to his name. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, the pro-skater has built an entire skateboarding empire, starting in 1992 with his first company, Birdhouse, which built innovative skateboards and trendy skater apparel, then expanding into a range of other endeavours: bicycles, shoes, and even a best-selling video game series.
This year, Forbes ranked him as the highest-paid action-sports athlete in the world, earning around $12 million in 2008.
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