Today, Kim Kardashian runs an empire.
The 34-year-old is an executive producer on her family’s hit, long-running reality show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” which was recently renewed at E! for a reported $US100 million for the next four years.
According to Forbes, Kardashian earned $US28 million in 2014 alone and was recently named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2015.
But Kardashian, 34, has been working toward this her entire life.
Despite her cushy upbringing in Calabasas, California, Kardashian says she always had a job throughout her teenage years.
Kardashian began her career in retail, telling Variety in a new interview:
I worked at a clothing store for four years. I loved it. When I turned 16, my dad made me sign a contract — he made us sign contracts for everything — that if I hit my car, I would be responsible for paying for it. I was in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and I tapped someone. It was so not a big deal, but I had to pay for it. It was during the O.J. trial. They saw my last name and said, “Kardashian, your dad’s that lawyer?!” They sued me for a lot of money. After I paid them back, I kept on working to buy myself some clothes.
After working in stores, Kim soon discovered a whole new world of online shopping — and selling.
I discovered eBay and I loved shopping. I had to be on a budget. I didn’t have credit cards. How do I figure out how to make this a business? I remember I bought these Manolo Blahnik shoes that were $US700. He [Kim’s late father, Robert] let me buy five pairs. I had to pay him back plus interest. I sold every pair on eBay for $US2,500. I became so obsessed with seeing that return, I would sell off the things I wouldn’t be wearing.
Kardashian explains that she made such a profit off the shoes because she had a good eye for trends and what people would want to buy.
“They were these Manolo Blahniks that Jennifer Lopez had worn in her first or second video,” Kardashian explains. “Everyone had to have them. I called at the right time and the girl at the store had five pairs and I took them.”
From there, Kardashian created a business of cleaning out her celebrity friends’ closets and selling the goods on eBay, while taking a cut of the profit. Kardashian went by the eBay username “kimsaprincess,” an account she started all the way back in 2002.
Feedback provided on her second and third sales ever note she offered “exquisite Dior boots” and “authentic Louis Vuitton.”
In 2006, a then unknown Kardashian was even featured on pal Paris Hilton’s reality show “The Simple Life” as the heiress’ closet organiser.
“My closet business came about when I was at my godparents’ house, Sugar Ray Leonard and his wife Bernadette,” Kardashian explained to Player Magazine in 2006. “Bernadette’s closet was massive and had so much stuff in it. I said to her, ‘You really need to clean out your closet.’ Well, we spent the whole night doing that.”
“Kim convinced Bernadette to sell the designer clothing on eBay rather than throw it away,” explained Player magazine. “She was so successful at it that Bernadette started recommending Kim to her friends. Soon, celebrities like Kenny G, and Rob Lowe and his wife, started hiring her. Before long, Kim was organising and cleaning out closets for everyone from Cindy Crawford to Serena Williams, as well as friends like Nicky Hilton and Nicole Richie. Her clients jokingly tagged her with the moniker, ‘Queen of the Closet Scene.'”
Today, Kardashian still uses eBay to sell her castoffs and donates a portion of proceeds to various charities, mainly the Kardashian’s family church in Agoura Hills. Many of Kim’s family members have jumped on the bandwagon, too.
Between February 2013 and February 2014, the Kardashian clan sold just under 2,000 pieces successfully on eBay — raking in $US277,469.60 from auction items, Cosmopolitan reported at the time.
The family uses an “auction management service” called Auction Cause, which basically does the dirty work of re-selling for them.
Below is a breakdown of the Kardashian’s 2013 through 2014 eBay sales, from most profitable family member to the least:
Kim, by far the most profitable of the bunch, sold a lot of designer duds between 2013 and 2014.
At Cosmpolitan’s count, most-often sold designers include: “Christian Louboutin (15 listings), Givenchy (9 listings), Balenciaga (7 listings), and Alexander McQueen (6 listings). She also sold 16 pairs of 7 for all Mankind jeans, maternity clothing, and a shit-ton of K Dash/Kardashian Kollection merchandise.”
Cosmopolitan further broke down each family member’s best and worst selling items below:
Despite her big eBay sales, Kim was criticised in December 2013 for holding a charitable auction fordisaster relief in the Phillipines following Typhoon Haiyan — butonly donating 10% of the profits.
Kardashian addressed the issue on her blog, saying “I don’t publicize everything I do to help charities and people all over the world.”
“My dad always taught me the importance of giving back. I don’t publicize everything I do to help charities and people all over the world. I do it because I want to. I do it because my dad taught me to. I do it because it’s the right thing to do. So for people to attack me for giving 10% of my eBay auction sales to the people of the Philippines, that hurts.
She also explained how eBay breaks down auction profits:
In regards to these eBay auctions, when the eBay numbers get broken down, the auction management agency that posts for me gets a percentage for all of their hard work, then eBay listing fees, end of auction fees, eBay Store fees, Paypal fees, etc., all add up to about half of the sale. Then I give 10% to a charity. Over the last 5+ years, I have listed thousands of items on eBay Giving Works for various causes. I will continue to do what is in my heart and am happy to know many others have enjoyed purchasing from me, as they too are giving with me.
When not selling their used goods online, the Kardashian sisters also have clothing store Dash, which sells trendy, new womenswear.
Founded in 2006 by Kim, Kourtney and Khloe, there are currently three Dash boutiques across the U.S. including Miami Beach, New York City, and Los Angeles.
Kim says that when she was first approached about a reality show, she looked at it as a way to promote the stores.
“When the opportunity for our TV show came about, I wanted to do it to bring attention to our stores,” Kardashian told Variety. “I was thinking this might not last very long, but we’ll grow a great business and expand online. I thought it would be great press. I didn’t think it would turn into what it turned into.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.