Living by your own rules has never been more desirable than in the case of singer, philanthropist, fashion designer, beauty business owner and all-around boss babe Rihanna. The 30-year old mogul known for her DGAF demeanor has strategically built an ever-growing empire fueled by her affinity for breaking the rules and living on her own terms.
A mogul is defined as an important or powerful person, according to Webster. And Rih is, of course, important — she sells out venues in seconds and accrues millions in revenue. However, it’s her power and ability to shift a culture, change beauty narratives, and empower a generation that makes her a true icon.
As Rihanna’s musical popularity rose, her fashion sense began to captivate fans and style connoisseurs alike. Over the years, she donned daring hairstyles like blunt bobs and pink pixie cuts to even more jaw-dropping ensembles like a Swarovski crystal-encrusted fishnet dress and matching du-rag when receiving the CFDA’s 2014 Fashion Icon award. An esteemed honor rightfully earned by the singer who never let the burden of being young, black, and female define who she is, what she does, or what she wears. Moreover, she wouldn’t let the burdens of being “different” disenfranchise her fans either. This rebellious attitude paired with her killer sense of style was bound to become what is now her fashion and beauty empire.
In 2014, Rihanna was named creative director of Puma’s women’s collections. While using an artist to drive sales isn’t new, the sports wear line was banking on her cultural influence to move product. Her penchant for blending the avant-garde with sporty chic skyrocketed Pumas earnings, with Billboard reporting a net income increase of 92% for the quarter as well as Puma’s share price climbing nearly €200 since her role was announced. Bad Gal’s iconic Fenty x Puma creeper would also take FNAA’s Shoe of the Year Award with Rihanna also being the first woman to ever do so. The shoe itself, designed for both men and women, amassed global excitement, huge sales numbers, and broke the internet.
She reiterated that same approach when creating her makeup collection, Fenty Beauty. The line screamed inclusivity, initially launching in 2017 with 40 shades (the line now contains 50 shades) from the palest of whites to the deepest of chocolates. Rihanna defied the odds, if you will.
Make Up For Ever was quick to remind consumers they, too, carried 40 shades well before Fenty. Rih reminded the company where their colors missed the mark; “still ashy” she quipped on Instagram.
In all seriousness, Fenty Beauty was proven to truly fit the varying tones of dark skin women. The Pudding, revealed “Fenty’s Pro Filt’r foundation evenly supports a greater range of skin tones, excelling on both the darkest and lightest ends of the spectrum.” But that is of no surprise to the Bajan beauty whose credo states: “Fenty Beauty was created for everyone: for women of all shades, personalities, attitudes, cultures, and races. I wanted everyone to feel included. That’s the real reason I made this line.”
Her stance on inclusivity followed suit with the launch of her lingerie collection, Savage x Fenty. The Spring-Summer 19 runway show premiered delicates in various shades of nudes, pastels, and bright colors across female models and dancers of all shades, shapes, and sizes (including a very pregnant Slick Woods) across a futuristic Garden of Eden-like runway. The show glorified all women as goddesses without feeling gimmicky or forced because that collection, like her apparel and makeup collections, was on-brand, all-inclusive.
As a black woman, I — as many others do — feel empowered, inspired, and seen time and time again with every one of her new products. Her unabashed commitment to legitimize the uniqueness and differences of her fans, followers, and customers creates a bond and subsequently a loyal community. While a mogul is defined as being a powerful person, it’s important to note where that power stems from — either fear or trust. Rihanna continues to garner the latter and shows no signs of stopping. If there’s one lesson to be learned from the multi-hyphenated superstar, its authenticity yields more than monetary results, but a with legacy and Fenty, she looks to be building just that.