Diamond Mines And Stripper Poles: 17 Weird Celebrity Side-Businesses

Jessica Alba, Akon and Kathy Ireland all make bank off-camera.

Photo: Screenshot, shutterstock.com

Celebrities often licence their names for fragrances and clothing lines—Jessica Simpson has built a nearly billion dollar brand with her various fashion lines and the Kardashians will slap their faces on anything from cupcakes to adult diapers.But these 17 stars have exciting, offbeat side-businesses that get much less press. Diamond mines, stripper poles and oil-spill cleanup are just the tip of their entrepreneurial icebergs.

Carmen Electra and Kendra Wilkinson both sell stripper poles.

Post-Playboy careers, both Carmen Electra and Kendra Wilkinson have launched side businesses selling what they know best--stripper poles.

Electra also has her 'Striptease' naughty aerobic DVD collection.

Elizabeth Hurley has a line of organic snacks and beachwear.

Talk about a change of scenery. After modelling and acting in several films such as 'Austin Powers,' Elizabeth Hurley packed up and moved to a 400-acre organic farm in Gloucestershire, England. Then she teamed up with upscale United Kingdom department store Harrod's to launch a new line of organic snacks from food produced on her farm.

Harrod's also sells Hurley's line of beach products called Elizabeth Hurley Beach. The line includes swimwear for adults and kids.

In 2009, Hurley repeated the success of her snack line with Harrod's by joining forces with Prince Charles and his organic farming/food company Duchy Originals. She now provides meat and vegetables from her own farm.

And apparently, she does a lot of the farming herself.

Venus Williams has an interior design company.

Tennis champ Venus Williams started her own commercial and residential interior design company called V Starr in 2002. Williams said the company, is based in Florida, 'one of the best-kept secrets.'

It has decorated for everyone from NFL players and athletic facilities to production studios. Check out some of its designs here.

Kevin Costner's company helped clean up the BP oil spill. And he has a casino.

Kevin Costner is serious about the environment. In 1995, the actor/director began developing oil separation machines from a patent he purchased from the government. He also purchased the company Ocean Therapy Solutions for $24 million, which specialises in centrifugal oil-water separations.

The company and the machines didn't get much attention until the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill from 2010. The government used six of Costner's oil-water separation machines to test their effects and after seeing results, BP leased 32 machines.

But it's not all serious all the time. Costner also owns a casino in South Dakota.

The pop singer-turned actor can now add technology entrepreneur to his list of jobs.

Justin Timberlake has a large investment in the cloud-like photo tagging service Stipple and he created the company Miso Media in Venice Beach, CA that creates music and education apps.

Miso Media raises millions of dollars each year for music education in schools.

Recently, Timberlake and the venture capital firm Specific Media bought the sinking ship MySpace with the promise to turn it into MySpace TV which will be much more focused on channels for clips in news, music, sports, reality and more.

Ever wonder where Akon's one-of-a-kind bling comes from?

In 2005, the rapper behind such hits as 'Smack That' and 'I Wanna Love You' bought a diamond mine in South Africa.

Really.

When asked how he acquired the land, Akon replied, ''It's real complicated. You can just know that I own it.'

Complicated for us or him?

Akon wears diamonds that only come from his mine. In 2007, when people found out about his purchase, Akon got into some hot water by claiming that he 'didn't believe in conflict diamonds.'

'That's just a movie,' he said. 'Think about it. Ain't nobody thought about nothing about no conflict diamonds until the movie came out.'

Rush Limbaugh owns a tea company.

In 2011, Rush Limbaugh introduced a brand new tea drink called Two if by Tea. And yes, that is a reference to Paul Revere. Check out Rush's introduction to the brand here. The Liberals are coming, folks.

Sandra Bullock owns two food-related businesses in Austin, Texas.

Oscar-winner and America's sweetheart Sandra Bullock is one of the many celebrities who has opened their own restaurant.

In addition to owning Bess Bistro in Austin, Bullock also renovated and re-opened the beloved Walton's Fancy and Staple in 2006.

The business serves as a bakery, deli and flower shop--but it is also a stop for event planning services.

Bullock also got her sister Gesine, a baker, involved in Walton's by having her create some of the shop's signature sweets.

In an interview with People Magazine, the actress said 'Everything we seem to do at Walton's and Bess Bistro stems from family recipes.'

Will Ferrell is one of the masterminds behind Funny or Die.

Created by Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay through their company Gary Sanchez Productions, Funny or Die has quickly become the hub for short comedy videos and parodies.

The first Funny or Die short, 'The Landlord', was seen by 70 million viewers (and counting) and in 2007, the site received venture capital funding from Sequoia Capital.

Another piece of good news came in 2008 when HBO announced a partnership with the site. One thing is clear: Funny or Die's popularity won't be slowing down anytime soon.

Kathy Ireland isn't just a pretty face—she's a billion dollar product-licensing business.

After getting a clothing line from K-Mart in 1993 because of her best-selling socks, supermodel Kathy Ireland launched a product licensing company called Kathy Ireland Worldwide.

The company has made its mark in fashion, home and outdoor products as well as real estate and weddings. Ireland is said to have a 10 per cent stake in her company which annually brings in close to $1.5 billion a year in 20 countries. Kathy Ireland Worldwide's motto is 'Finding solutions for families, especially busy mums.'

Check out more about Ireland's life from model to mogul.

Jessica Alba does baby clothing.

The actress behind such films and shows as 'Fantastic Four' and 'Dark Angel' created the baby and family products company The Honest Company with author Christopher Gavigan.

Alba and Gavigan set up their site so that families could choose what kinds of non-toxic, all natural products they'd like to use and get them in a bundle. Families can choose all kinds of products from food, to hygiene necessities and cleaning supplies.

The company was so impressive that recently, it secured $27 million in financing from General Catalyst, Lightspeed Venture Partners and IVP.

Sammy Hagar has a bicycle shop and the Cabo Wabo restaurant chain.

In the 1990s, Van Halen's sometimes frontman Sammy Hagar bought a bicycle shop called Sausalito Cyclery that quickly became one of the most popular California independent bicycle shops. He created a signature bicycle called The Red Rocker as well.

Hagar also opened a Cantina/nightclub in Cabo San Lucas called Cabo Wabo. The Cantina became so successful that it led to another location being open in Hollywood. Hagar also owned stake in a 'Cabo Wabo' tequila which he has now sold.

Clint Eastwood has a golf club and a dairy farm.

Iconic film actor and director Clint Eastwood owns several different businesses.

Eastwood bought the Mission Ranch Resort in Carmel, California (where he was once the mayor) which used to be a dairy farm. He restored it from almost bankruptcy and now it's a tourist haven.

The director also owns the Tehama Golf Club, again in Carmel, and has a large stake in the Pebble Beach Golf Links chain.

Looks like you know where to visit while it's halftime in America.

Kevin Smith owns a comic book store.

The director behind such cult hits as 'Clerks' and 'Dogma' has never been shy about his love for all things comic book.

For years, Smith has been writing comics of his own creation and ones from popular comic book companies. 'Bluntman and Chronic' and the 'Clerks' comics are popular in the comic book crowd and in 1999, Smith was also asked to write an eight-issue arc for the 'Daredevil' comic book by Marvel.

In 1997, Smith bought a small comic book store called Comicology. When more and more people flocked to visit, Smith moved the store to a new and bigger location in Red Bank, New Jersey, and renamed it Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash after the infamous characters on 'Clerks.'

'Secret Stash' has become so popular that Smith was able to sell a pilot about the shop and its workers on AMC called 'Comic Book Men'.

Raquel Welch has a line of wigs.

The actress/sex-symbol from 'One Million Years B.C.' and the original 'Bedazzled' created a brand called 'HairUWear' which is exactly what it sounds like: wigs.

You've probably used Paul Newman's salad dressings.

Actor Paul Newman's Newman's Own food company was founded in 1982, and Newman gives all of the profits to different educational institutions or charities.

As of July 2011, Newman's Own has donated more than $300 million to thousands of charitable organisations across the globe.

Armie Hammer (aka the Winklevoss twins from 'The Social Network') is opening a baked good shop in San Antonio called Bird Bakery. His wife Elizabeth Chambers is his co-creator and most of the recipes are adaptations of her grandmother's original desserts and breads.

So while Elizabeth is creating all these delicious dessert, what will the actor's official job be? Taste tester.

Lots of celebrities are in the restaurant, production company and clothing businesses.

Every celebrity has their hands in the fashion industry but most are not successful. Gwen Stefani's L.A.M.B. and Jessica Simpson's The Jessica Simpson Collection, however, are two big exceptions to the rule. Both are extremely popular, in fact, Simpson's line topped $1 billion in sales in 2011.

Justin Timberlake's Southern Hospitality restaurants and bars are huge hits as well.

And don't forget production companies. Ashton Kutcher and Drew Barrymore are just two of the many stars who make their name as producers as well as actors. Barrymore's Flower Films and Kutcher's Katalyst Films have produced movies and shows such as 'Charlie's Angels,' 'Donnie Darko,' and 'Punk'd.'

Want to know more about celebrities outside of their Hollywood lives?

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