Regrets, rock bottom, and managing the family: How Kris Jenner built a billion dollar empire.



If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say the Kardashian-Jenners are famous for nothing, I’d have… well probably nearly as much money as they do.

Not only is it a little bit tired, it’s also completely untrue.

There has been some serious graft involved in building the family’s billion dollar empire, and contrary to popular belief, it didn’t all start with Kim Kardashian and her infamous sex tape.

For years before that, Kris Jenner – the business savvy doyenne of the klan – was working away behind the scenes, building the solid foundations that would help make every one of her six kids a multi-millionaire before the age of 30.

She didn’t become the face of memes that praise her for working harder than the devil himself for nothing, okay?


The devil works hard, but Kris Jenner works harder.

So let's take a look at how she did it.

Kristen Mary Jenner (neé Houghton) was born in 1955 in San Diego. She was just 17 when she met Robert Kardashian, 11 years her senior, at the Del Mar racetrack. They married five years later and by the time she was 30 she'd given birth to Kourtney, now 39, Kim, 38,  Khloe, 34, and Rob, 33.

But Kris' brief affair with soccer player Todd Waterman ended her marriage to Robert Kardashian in 1991.

Kris Jenner and Robert Kardashian on their wedding day.

Years later, she would call it 'one of her biggest regrets in life.'

She told Harvey Levin for Fox News Channel's OBJECTified: "I married Robert when I was 22 years old and I got pregnant on my honeymoon — I had the happiest life you could’ve dreamt about.

"But when you’re in something, sometimes people think the grass is always greener and that was like what I think I went through at some point."

She also spoke about how the split left her broke.

"I went to the market one day and my credit card didn't work. I had a market credit card and I'm like, 'I can't even buy a tomato'," she told Levin.

While in the process of a messy divorce, Kris began dating the Olympic gold medallist, Bruce Jenner, now known as Caitlyn. Just a month after her divorce was finalised, the couple married.

But there was a problem. They were broke; Bruce had just $200 in the bank, something Kris was determined to change.

In a podcast interview with writer and transgender rights activist Janet Mock, Jenner said: "I became his manager instantly because he didn't have a lot going on. I saw this incredible potential, and he wasn't doing anything.


"Nobody was booking him for speeches. Nobody was sending him out on the road. I thought, Wow. You should be this incredible public speaker. I just figured it out to that point."

Kris single-handedly turned things around.

Kris, Khloe, Kendall, Kourtney, Kim, Caitlyn, Kylie and North. Image: Getty.

Of that time, she said: “It was a mix of blood, sweat and tears, enthusiasm, determination and just never sleeping and getting the word out there."


She booked speaking engagements, got Bruce sponsorship work with Coca Cola and Visa, and helped him to launch a fitness line. Meanwhile, the couple somehow found time to have two more kids, Kendall, now 23, and Kylie, now 21.

Then in 2007, everything changed for the Kardashian-Jenner family when Kris approached producer and American Idol presenter Ryan Seacrest with the idea of a reality TV show about the family.

By then, Kim was a tabloid regular, often photographed with her best friend Paris Hilton. And a year earlier, her sex tape with singer Ray J had been released.

Although Kris Jenner has since described the tape as a 'smaller seed than people think', it can't have hurt interest in the kind of the drama that might be expected on the reality show.

The idea was picked up by the E! Network and Keeping Up With the Kardashians premiered in October 2007.


The Kardashian-Jenner family (minus Kylie and Kendall) at the KUWTK premiere in 2007. 

To detail the meteoric rise of the show and every member of the family would be another story entirely. But Kris manages the careers of all six children, and every one of them has emerged as a legitimate businessperson.

For Kim, there is KKW Beauty and her mobile app Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, among many other lucrative projects. She's graced the cover of Vogue eight times.

At last count, Kim's net worth was estimated at $350 million.

For Khloe there is her spin-off TV show Revenge Body, as well as her clothing line Good American, and for Kourtney, a plethora of health and beauty related social media endorsements, as well as her new lifestyle website and e-commerce destination, Poosh.

Kendall Jenner is an in-demand model, walking runways for Marc Jacobs, Chanel and Victoria's Secret, and Kylie Jenner was, of course, named as Forbes' youngest ever self-made billionaire earlier this year at the age of just 21, thanks to her company Kylie Cosmetics.

kylie jenner kylie cosmetics

Kylie Jenner is the world's youngest self-made billionaire. But surely Kris had a hand?

Even Rob, who doesn't live quite so much in the public eye as the rest of his family, has his own sock company.

It's hard to imagine any of it being possible with Kris Jenner at the helm.

And let's not forget; she gets a 10% cut of all of it.