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How Rihanna Became The First Billionaire Caribbean Artist

Rihanna is officially a billionaire and the first artist out of the Caribbean to do it.

Rihanna‘s immense work ethic and talent is a testament to how hard work pays off. The beloved singer and fashion mogul has officially joined the billionaire’s club, according to Forbes. The Forbes article, which was published today, August 4, estimates that the Bajan pop star is worth a whopping $1.7 billion, second only to Oprah Winfrey. She is now officially the world’s richest female musician.

About $1.4 billion of her massive fortune comes from her wildly successful Fenty Beauty Brand, of which it’s estimated that she owns 50 percent ownership. The company is valued at around $2.8 billion, minimum. Her lingerie company, Savage x Fenty, is now worth an estimated $270 million, and her earnings are due to grow even more soon as she’s also recently announced a new venture. The “Only Girl” singer will soon be producing her first Fenty Beauty perfume to be called Fenty Eau de Parfum.

While it may seem natural that she would enter this position due to her charismatic appeal, her journey to the top started from very humble beginnings. She’s shown a resilience that seldom few in the business have. Her success relies largely on her ability to combine her talent with her business acumen.

Rihanna at ANTI album launch 2016

The pop star, whose real name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, was born in Barbados. She seemed destined for greatness as her talent was discovered when she was just 15-years-old by American producer Evan Rogers who was on vacation with his wife on the island at the time.

It might seem like something made for the movies because, according to him, when she walked in for an audition, he instantly knew that she was a star even though he was wary about if she was indeed the full package. He explained that his initial thoughts were that if she was so pretty, she probably couldn’t sing.

In fact, according to the book, The Song Machine, written by John Seabrook, Roger was stunned by her presence the minute she walked in.

“I said to myself, ‘If that girl can sing,” then — holy sh*t!” he shared. What’s interesting to note about the encounter is that he was also taken aback by her fashion at the time. A large portion of her wealth comes from her collaboration with the French company, LVMH the powerhouse behind Louis Vuitton and Dior. That partnership is behind the now globally successful brand, Fenty Beauty.

According to Rogers, “She had such a presence! Her makeup was perfect, and she had these capri pants and matching sneakers, with her green eyes and her long supermodel neck.” That meeting was kismet because by the time Rihanna was 16-years-old she was being recruited by fellow billionaire Jay-Z.

The then CEO of Def Jam Recordings became interested after hearing her Caribbean infused, “Pon de Replay.” According to the details of that meeting that were later released, Jay-Z refused to let her leave the meeting until she signed with the label. The end result? At just 16, Rihanna walked out with a six-album record deal following her audition.

His eye for talent was spot on, and Rihanna had some success with her first two albums, Music of the Sun in 2005 and A Girl like Me in 2006. Those albums also showed that she was prepared to stay true to her roots as both were influenced heavily by Caribbean beats.

For many folks, that would be the end of the story. Get discovered at a young age, become wildly famous by delivering a plethora of hits, and then coast off your newfound wealth. What would be a satisfying accomplishment for many would turn out to be just a stepping stone for the “Diamonds” singer.

Her innovative approach to the music business would soon bring her millions of fans around the world who also saw her keen eye for fashion. In addition to becoming a leading artist, she was soon sought after as a model. It would be her take on fashion that put her ahead of the pack.

Jay Z and Rihanna Pre Grammy

In 2011, four years after her first Grammy win for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Umbrella”, which featured JAY-Z, she would launch her first fragrance line, Reb’l Fleur. In that same year, she became the face of Armani. She continued her sure and steady rise in the fashion industry and, in 2014, was named the creative director of PUMA. Just a year later, she created history when she became the first black woman to the front for a Dior campaign.

She followed that up in 2017 by launching the fashion house Fenty. As the company’s artistic director, she became the first black woman to head a luxury brand for LVMH, and she would find even more success with the launch of Fenty Beauty. A cosmetic line which she specifically opened for women of all colors and shades. As she puts it on the website, the brand is “so that women everywhere would be included.”

That’s not to say that she hasn’t faced major setbacks as well. In February of this year (2021), she and LVMH agreed to shut down her Fenty fashion label after less than two years in production. The “Stay” singer did not let that her keep her down or hold her back, as the world can clearly see.

Throughout it all, the talented entrepreneur has stayed true to her roots. She is often spotted in Barbados’ Crop Over celebrations having a great time, and when the Covid-19 pandemic started to wreak havoc on her native home, she donated $5 million through her nonprofit organization, the Clara Lionel Foundation, to help with the fight in 2020. Even with all her success, she is still very much connected to and loved on the island.

As she continues her upward trajectory in the world of business, her fans are still clamoring for music from the star. They’ve patiently been waiting on her Reggae-influenced album R9, and who wouldn’t? After all, her music has sold over 250 million records worldwide, and she is considered one of the best-selling music artists of all time.