Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian’s maternal half-sister, is only 18 years old and she is struggling with her fame. She is not comfortable with the attention she gets and finds it hard to deal with criticism. But she is giving it a go.
Unfortunately, recent events are not making things any easier for her.
Earlier this month, it was announced that the Better Business Bureau gave her cosmetics company, Kylie Cosmetics, an “F” rating after receiving 133 complaints from consumers over the past 12 months. The news comes after recent reports of a data breach at the company and claims that her factory had an “unclean work environment,” with conditions akin to a “sweatshop.”
Jenner responded in a statement and said the packaging is so distinctive that the product is being stolen before it reaches its customers and has taken steps to resolve the other issues.
Kylie Jenner, at a very young age, is getting a harsh business lesson that some of us take years, even decades, to learn. The lesson? Most people do not do what they say they are going to do.
Kylie, of course, is the name and face of her company. I am sure she is the inspiration for most of the products. But make no mistake about it, the business end is being handled by someone else – Seed Beauty, the same company producing the cult favorite ColourPop.
The manufacturing is also outsourced to a company called Spatz Labaoratories. This is not unusual. But unfortunately, Kylie’s partners did not do what they promised to do.
Kylie promised to lend her brand and ideas to the product. Seed Beauty was responsible for handling the marketing and distribution and Spatz the manufacturing. Based on all the recent news—the company’s “F” rating and accusations of a “sweatshop” environment—it seems that only one of the three parties actually stepped up to their commitments. Sadly, it is the person whose name is the one being smeared everywhere.
Kylie is not the first celebrity to learn this lesson.
Actress Jessica Alba has recently been under a huge amount of public scrutiny after it came out that the “natural” products her Honest Company sold may not be so natural after all. Alba has grown her business into a billion-dollar valuation. But like Jenner, she did this with partners. She contributed her ideas, vision and (most importantly) her famous name to the company and delegated the business end to others. She did her job. Unfortunately, the business people did not do theirs. So, she is learning the same lesson: most people do not do what they say they are going to do.
So how to protect yourself from this? Ultimately, you learn that you cannot.
I am sure the legal agreements were tight when Kylie and her mom and all the Kardashian lawyers made their deals with ColourPop and Spatz. You can get references, and that is helpful, but in the end, when you are going to choose a partner (or a key supplier, or contractor, or employee) you are taking a chance on their integrity. The smart business owners I know spend time thinking up every conceivable thing that could go wrong in a partnership and have a plan for dealing with it.
The legal documents and the promises are important. What is most important is whether that partner can answer this question for you: Does he/she have my best interests at heart? If the you-know-what hits the fan, will this partner be in the foxhole by my side, or stabbing me in the back and then running for cover elsewhere? The lesson is magnified when you are a public figure and especially a Kardashian where there are just as many haters as fans ready to pounce on any mistake you make.
Hopefully, this lesson will toughen up Kylie for all the future business opportunities yet to come.
Copyright © 2016 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.
Photos from Kylie Cosmetics' Facebook