Inside Forbes’ ranking of the country’s most successful self-made women entrepreneurs and executives as measured by their net worths.
America’s top female entrepreneurs have shattered ceilings and scaled new heights, creating companies and building fortunes in everything from genetic testing to aerospace. Increasingly these self-made starters are tapping social media to cement their brands and build businesses ever more quickly.
That in turn has helped the nation’s most successful women become richer than ever before.
The combined net worth of the top 60 self-made women is now a record $71 billion, 15% more than in 2017. The minimum net worth to make Forbes’ fourth annual ranking of these top women jumped 23% to a record $320 million. Twenty-four of these women are billionaires, another record, up from 18 last year.
Seven newcomers joined the ranks (6 from California), including 4 Instagram-savvy makeup moguls. The richest of these new faces is billionaire Anastasia Soare, whose cosmetics company Anastasia Beverly Hills, best known for beautifying eyebrows, now has more than 17 million followers on Instagram.
The youngest is Kylie Jenner, who turns 21 in August. Half-sister of Kim Kardashian West, who is also on the list for the first time, Jenner has leveraged her massive social media following (110 million followers on Instagram) to build a $900 million cosmetics fortune in less than three years. That makes her worth more than twice as much as her more famous sister.
At No. 1 is Diane Hendricks, a Wisconsin billionaire who owns ABC Supply, one of the largest wholesale distributors of roofing, siding and windows in America. While the vast majority of list members hail from California – 27 altogether – the top three, including Hendricks, Little Caesars’ Marian Ilitch and Epic Software’s Judy Faulkner, all hail from the Midwest.
Altogether 17 list members made their fortunes in fashion and retail, 7 of whom peddle cosmetics and skin care products. Another 13 including Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg built fortunes in technology, while 10 including Oprah Winfrey and Taylor Swift made it in media and entertainment.
Fourteen of the top 60 women entrepreneurs were born outside of the U.S. including Eren Ozmen, the majority owner of aerospace and defense business Sierra Nevada Corp. who is now gambling hundreds of millions to take on Elon Musk and others in space. Ozmen arrived from Turkey in her 20s and held down several part-time jobs while attending business school, selling homemade baklava at a bakery and even working as a night janitor at Sierra Nevada, years before she and her husband bought it.
Click here for more on Forbes methodology, credits and acknowledgments.
Now, for the list of American’s richest self-made women…