As the 20th and final season of ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ airs on E!, momager-mogul Kris Jenner looks to what’s next: a multiyear deal at Hulu, the launch of Safely, a plant-based cleaning and self-care product brand with Chrissy Teigen, and her own skin-care line in the works.
The offices of Kylie Cosmetics are situated in the gleaming blur of a California office park corridor just off the 101, in the no man’s land beyond Calabasas. This low-slung architectural cluster, nestled into the almost cartoonishly parched and beautiful foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains, is home to corporate support centers, strip malls, and restaurants with beer-and-margarita happy hours.
Theirs is a world so art-directed and specific that it’s jarring to find a piece of the Kardashian-Jenner brand sprawl here, in this most anodyne of American landscapes. Indeed, when the double doors to the reception area glide open, I am taken aback. I tell the receptionist, a giant neon KYLIE sign glowing pink behind her, that I am here to see Kris Jenner, mother of Kylie, her sixth and youngest child, whose success landed her on the cover of Forbes at 20. The room has the feel of a luxe Tribeca loft—a long white sofa, fuzzy bouclé chairs, a coffee table piled with art and photography books. In case you still aren’t sure where you are, there’s a bank of video monitors soundlessly streaming images of Kylie at campaign shoots or Kylie interviewing her sister Khloé. The quiet storm of Sade’s contralto fills the room—a sign that Kris Jenner has, at least for the moment, control of the playlist.
And here comes Kris now, wearing a black-and-white Alexander McQueen military-cut maxi-sweater with black Prada combat boots. “I’m building a house,” she says, as she fetches me from reception, “and I was at the job site early this morning and I was freezing.” We head off on a tour of the joint, stopping first at her and Kylie’s matching side-by-side offices, each the size of a decent apartment. “Cozy,” says Jenner and laughs. A year ago, Coty named Kris Jenner chief executive officer of Kylie Cosmetics after buying a 51 percent stake in the brand for $600 million in 2019. She also negotiated Coty’s $200 million purchase of a 20 percent stake in KKW Beauty, Kim Kardashian West’s cosmetics line. While Jenner, 65, acknowledges that this is “definitely a great stage in my life,” she will also remind you that she’s been “CEO of my family for a very, very long time,” and “all the experience I’ve had over 30 years of being a full-time businesswoman has led me to this very spot.”
It is the stuff of legend that the housewife Kris Kardashian married former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner in 1991 and quickly turned a lackluster career as a motivational speaker into a corporate-engagement and infomercial juggernaut. She took everything she learned from that make-it-up-as-you-go, on-the-fly rebranding of a faded cereal-box hero and applied it to her entire family when reality TV came calling. She has long contended that once Keeping Up With the Kardashians was a worldwide hit, her only goal was to not waste all that fame and to seize the opportunities it afforded her children. She became the “momager” (a portmanteau she coined and trademarked) to her unlikely brood and managed them into multiplatform multimillionaires.
Today, she has her hand in all of their brands and endorsement deals (and gets a 10 percent cut): Kylie Cosmetics also includes skincare; Kim has her beauty and fragrance brands, plus Skims, her shapewear company; Khloé’s clothing line, Good American; Kourtney’s lifestyle platform, Poosh; Rob’s sock company, Arthur George, as well as his clothing company, Halfway Dead, and hot sauce company, Grandeza Hot Sauce; Kendall’s new tequila brand, 818; and a set of three new Kendall and Kim fragrances that come out March 25. Kris is about to launch Safely, a direct-to-consumer line of plant-based cleaning and self-care products with Chrissy Teigen and Emma Grede (the CEO of Good American), and has recently signed a multiyear deal with the streaming service Hulu, where upcoming Kardashian-Jenner television programming will now live. There is a sense that Kris Jenner has ascended to a new league, with real power—and respect among business leaders. “I think the people in the entertainment business, people in Hollywood, people who make products that fit the family for marketing, they realize that she is this incredible engine behind all of it,” says Ryan Seacrest, the co-creator of KUWTK. “They realize, actually, the power that she has.”