THE INCREDIBLE EVOLUTION OF KRIS JENNER: From stay at home mum to mega-millionaire manager

Kris Jenner is a total boss.

The 59-year-old runs the Kardashian-Jenner empire and manages the careers of all six of her successful children.

In a recent New York Times magazine profile on Jenner, Taffy Brodesser-Akner writes: 

Without Kris, Kim might not have pulled in a reported $US28 million in 2014. Kendall wouldn’t necessarily be an in-demand model … Kourtney and Khloé and Kim might not have three retail stores, a hair-and-makeup line, bronzer line, and a children’s clothing line … Kendall and Kylie might not have licensing deals with PacSun, Steve Madden, Topshop and Sugar Factory. Rob, the lone brother, would probably not have a sock company that features socks that say things like “LOVE HURTS” and “YOLO” or sell adult onesies at places like Macy’s… There would be no endorsement deals, either… 

The thing is, no one in her family knew what they were doing until Kris took charge.

In February, Jenner — an executive producer of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and its spinoff shows —  reportedlysigned a $US100 million dealto continue showcasing her famous family’s antics on the E! network for yet another four years.

Thanks to the spinoff shows, product endorsement deals, lucrative video games, books, and millions of followers on social media tracking their every move, the family is now worth millions  — much of which is due to Jenner’s business savvy and guidance.

But Jenner didn’t enter the business world until later in life. It is her second chapter.

Kristen Mary Jenner was born in San Diego in 1955, with the maiden name Houghton.

“She was 17 when she met Robert Kardashian, a lawyer 11 years her senior, at the Del Mar racetrack,” the NYT magazine profile states. “He pursued her, but she wanted to discover the world. She became a flight attendant for American Airlines. She accepted his second proposal, and they married when she was 22.” 

By the time she was 30, Kris had four children —  Kourtney, Kimberly, Khloe, and Robert Jr.

A photo posted by @krisjenner on

The family lived a lavish lifestyle in Beverly Hills, Calif., where they hobnobbed with celebrity friends like Sugar Ray Leonard, the Hilton family, and O.J. Simpson (whom Robert would later defend during Simpson’s 1995 murder trial).

For her 30th birthday, Kris put together a must-see video titled “I Love My Friends.”

But Jenner was restless.

“She loved Robert and the life he gave her, but she still felt young and vital,” writes NYT magazine. Kris had a short lived affair with a 23-year-old soccer player, and Robert found out. He retaliated by cancelling her credit cards and she was shunned by friends.

The marriage was destroyed, and Kris was devastated. 

In 1990, while the couple was separated but not yet divorced, Kris was set up on a blind date with Bruce Jenner and it was essentially love at first sight.

Jenner, a former Olympic athlete, had four kids from two previous marriages.

Happy Mother's Day to all of the beautiful mothers out there!

A photo posted by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

Kris, too, had four children. [Son Rob not pictured below.]

Both wanted to start another family and have more children together.

“Bruce went to Robert and asked him to finalise the divorce so that he could marry Kris, telling Robert that they didn’t want any of his money,” explains the NYT. “Robert agreed, and Kris and Bruce were married a month after the divorce papers were signed. (She and Robert were on good terms when he died in 2003.)”

The only downside of the new union? The couple didn’t have the money to lead the lifestyle to which each had become accustomed.

But Kris saw an opportunity for her new husband, who at the time was making a small amount doing motivational speeches.

She became his manager and publicist, sending out press kits and contacting speakers’ bureaus. Soon, she lined up high-paying clients like Coca-Cola and Visa.


Kris helped Bruce market his motivational speeches to a broader audience. The two also created a workout video series, called “Super Fit With Bruce and Kris Jenner,” which they sold on infomercials. 

Slowly, Kris helped the family’s financial situation and began to realise their earning potential.

“It was a mix of blood, sweat and tears, enthusiasm, determination and just never sleeping and getting the word out there,” she told NYT magazine.

In 1995, the couple welcomed daughter Kendall. Then in 1997, another daughter, Kylie.

Now a blended family with 10 kids in total, Jenner realised she may even have some earning potential under her own roof.

In 2007, Kim rose to fame thanks to a sex tape with singer Ray-J and BFFs like the Hilton sisters.

Kris capitalised on the opportunity.

In 2007, Kris scheduled a meeting with Ryan Seacrest to talk about her idea of doing a reality show about her family. Jenner believed that her six children, who ranged in age from 7 to 26 at the time, could be reality TV gold.

Seacrest liked the idea but decided to shoot a short reel at a family barbecue to help him decide if it could be turned into a series.

“On the way home, the producer called and said: ‘We have a show. This is going to be amazing.’ Watch the tape, and you know, you see the craziness that is their family,” Seacrest recalled to NYT magazine.

In 2007, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” premiered on E! to about 898,000 viewers. By the season’s final episode, the show attracted 1.9 million viewers.

Today, “Keeping up with the Kardashians” is in its 10th season.

With Kris as “Mumager” —  a term she trademarked in 2012  —  she used the show’s success to forge new deals for each of her children.

In 2009, the sisters hawked QuickTrim diet pills, only to have the deal result in a lawsuit over allegedly misleading claims about the diet pills’ effectiveness. 

In 2010, there was a partnership with Skechers.

And The Sugar Factory’s $US25 Kardashian-endorsed lollipops.

In 2011, there were Silly Bandz bracelets.

That same year, the family launched the Kardashian Kollection for Sears.

There have been hosting gigs.

Commercials.

Countless magazine covers.

And a deal with Midori liqueur, despite the fact that Kim doesn’t drink.

There have been books.

Beauty lines.

And now, lucrative video game deals, which could rake in as much as $US200 million annually, according to one analyst.

Along with many, many other endorsement deals

Today, each of Kris’ children are millionaires: Kim Kardashian raked in $US28 million in 2014 alone and is estimated to be worth north of $US85 million, Khloé $US25 million, Kourtney is worth a reported $US20 million, Kendall $US6 million, Kylie $US5 million, and Rob $US2.75 million

One of the only things that hasn’t worked is Kris Jenner’s 2013 talk show, which took place on a set that replicated the Kardashian home’s grand entrance. It ultimately wasn’t picked up beyond its six-week order.

But it hasn’t slowed down Jenner.

She can still be found promoting her new cook book, “In The Kitchen With Kris.

Sitting front row at fashion shows all over the world alongside Kim and Kanye West.

Attending this month’s Met Ball.

Standing by her former husband of 24 years, Bruce Jenner, as he transitions into a woman. On Sunday, E! will air “Keeping Up with the Kardashians: About Bruce,” featuring his ex-wife and children.

And doing what she does best– promoting and supporting her children.

To read the NYT magazine’s full profile on Kris Jenner, click here.

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