There’s a new girl squad Taylor Swift belongs to, and it doesn’t include any Victoria’s Secret models. Swift, who has received 10 Grammy awards and is the only artist to have an album hit the 1 million first-week sales figure three times, is the youngest member of Forbes’ second annual ranking of America’s richest self-made women. Just 26, Swift grabbed the last spot at number 60 with a net worth of $250 million. Flagged as an up and comer a year ago, Swift added an estimated $50 million to her net worth, thanks to her 1989 tour last year, which grossed a quarter of a billion dollars.
Swift is the only self-made female in her 20s to make the cut but the ranking does include three thirty-somethings, including two other newcomers. Fellow pop star Beyonce Knowles, last year’s youngest list member, makes the ranks again with a net worth of $265 million, up slightly from a year ago. The 34-year-old gets most of her wealth from music sales and touring. Her On The Run tour with husband Jay Z in 2014, for example, grossed over $100 million from 19 North American shows. Her headline-grabbing visual album Lemonade, which came out too late for Forbes to include in her net worth estimate, could boost her bottom-line next year. Regardless, Beyonce isn’t relying solely on her music; she launched an athleisure line this year. Dubbed Ivy Park, it was co-produced with British retailer Topshop and is also sold online and in Nordstrom JWN +1.15% and Zalando stores.
Another young celebrity to make the cut is Jessica Alba. She is known to many as a movie star who has appeared in such films as Fantastic Four and Valentine’s Day, both of which grossed more than $100 million. Her fortune comes not from movies but from consumer products. Alba, 35, cofounded The Honest Company, which sells all-natural, chemical- and hormone-free household products like dish soap, cleaning spray and diapers with a transparent ingredient list. Her net worth is estimated at $340 million thanks to a new $100 million funding round in August 2015, which valued the business at $1.7 billion, despite critics saying some of the products aren’t as chemical-free as advertised.
Rounding out the thirty somethings is Sophia Amoruso, the founder of Rock ‘n’ Roll e-commerce company Nasty Gal. Amoruso started the business at age 22. Back then it was nothing more than an Ebay store where she sold luxe vintage pieces. It was so popular that within two years, she formally started the website Nasty Gal as a vintage clothing destination. Now 32, she still owns the company though she gave up the CEO reins to an outsider. She is worth an estimated $280 million.
Six women in their 40s also qualified for the ranks of America’s most successful self-made women. They include some familiar faces as well as one new one: Toni Ko, who sold her cosmetics company to L’Oreal for $500 million.
One of the best-known is Sara Blakely, who created the super popular shapewear brand Spanx. At age 45, she is America’s youngest female entrepreneur to rank among the world’s billionaires. She founded the company when she was 29 years old, investing $5,000 of savings towards creating something slimming to wear under white pants.
True to Silicon Valley’s reputation for minting big fortunes for some of the youngest entrepreneurs in the country, four of the youngest self-made women on the ranking come from California’s tech circle. Leading the group is Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s FB -12.65% 46-year-old COO who is worth $1.4 billion, $350 million more than last year. Sandberg, who got that job eight years ago, has helped oversee the company’s valuation grow by $328 billion. Others include YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, 47, number 16 employee at Google GOOGL -1.13%who lent her garage to the company back in its early days and Yahoo YHOO -1.52% CEO Marissa Mayer, 41, who also gets most of her fortune from her time at Google (she was employee No. 20). While Mayer has gotten a lot of heat recently for failing to turn around Yahoo since she took over, she’s still the fifth top-performing female CEO of a public company this year. Rounding out the 40-something techies is Adi Tatarko, who cofounded home design and redecorating site Houzz with her husband.