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Rihanna's Rise: Six Implementable Actions To Build An Empire

Rihanna's Rise: Six Implementable Actions To Build An Empire

Robyn Rihanna Fenty, known simply as Rihanna, is a Barbadian-born singer, actress, purveyor of style, and entrepreneur. Known as much for music as she is as a cultural provocateur, Rihanna has made atmospheric shifts in the endeavors she pursues.

Creator of Fenty Beauty by Rihanna and Savage x Fenty, collaborator with brands such as Puma, Armani, Dior, and Tidal, her latest milestone is the launch of Fenty Maison. This is the first fashion house created under the iconic LVMH conglomerate in 30 years, marking the first time a woman of color rose to the helm of a major luxury brand.

Rihanna employs vital strategies to build her empire, disrupting music, fashion, and beauty, with receipts to prove it. Here is why we should all take note.

1) Rise like a phoenix from the ashes.

Being in the spotlight, Rihanna has faced controversy. Nonetheless, after each storm, she emerged in a manner in which her light outweighed the darkness that tried to consume her.

We all face troublesome periods in business and life. We just may not be in the public eye. Some issues may be self-induced, others unwarranted. Nevertheless, optimistic-leaning humanity allows for second chances, and sometimes many more. We all stumble and sometimes fall flat.

If you go down in flames, rise from the ashes.

2) Don’t allow others to put you in a box.

Rihanna’s first foray into stardom was through music. She boasts an extensive catalog of chart-toppers. Many know her primarily as an entertainer.

While she has been entering industries outside of the music business for some time now, arguably it was the 2017 launch of Fenty Beauty that solidified her place as a change agent, disrupting the status quo and triggering many well-known brands to reevaluate their product offerings.

Rihanna has not released new music since the launch of Fenty Beauty. If you scroll through her social media feeds, you will see innumerable demands from fans that she produce new music. But she is building an empire.

We are all kaleidoscopic, multi-talented individuals, capable of excelling in many fields. Specialization does not have to become a prison from which you cannot break free. Some people will want to keep you where they are most comfortable seeing you, but that is a limitation of their own mindset. It should not be a limitation of yours. Many businesses may have started with a singular focus, but are now global conglomerates. Expansion and diversification are not uncommon concepts.

Do not limit your greatness solely to conform to others’ expectations of you.

[Related: How to Get Out Of Your Own Way]

3) Be unapologetic about who you are.

Love her or hate her, Rihanna utters no explanations nor offers any apologies for who she is. She is the reigning queen of iconic clapbacks for anyone who deigns to question her existence. She owns the authenticity of her personal brand.

In a world of near-constant exposure, it is imperative to control your narrative, because it is yours. Some will love you, others will not. Whether you are in the spotlight or the lowlight, your life is yours to live or to squander. Your choice.

To quote Rihanna herself, “If you don’t live your life, who will?”

4) Be inclusive.

Fenty Beauty’s tagline is “Beauty for All.” Traditionally, the beauty industry has been very exclusive, catering primarily to a narrow range of lighter skin tones, leaving women of color and even very fair-complexioned women out of the conversation.

Fenty Beauty is not the first to boast an extended shade range, but it set the standard and expectation that all colors were a priority and should be treated accordingly. And the market was primed for this launch. The brand captured 132 million views on YouTube for related content within the first month alone.

This inclusivity also resulted in remarkable sales, driven by a viable consumer base eager for options. It raked in roughly $558 million in revenue for 2018, besting a number of industry juggernauts.

Ingratiating your company with all potential customers and showing genuine effort to fulfill their needs are actions that separate good businesses from great businesses.

Inclusivity is not just the right thing to do; it is good for business.

[Related: Advancing Women Advances Business]

5) Galvanize your fan base.

Rihanna’s fans, affectionately called the Rihanna Navy, comprise one of the most fiercely loyal fan bases in the entertainment world. Rihanna uses the expansion of her entrepreneurial undertakings to grow and mobilize her fan base. She has blurred market segmentation boundaries and cross-sells her business offerings across media platforms. Therefore, those who know her as a vocalist now also see her as a beauty brand and fashion designer. This strategy can increase revenue on all fronts.

Creating a fan base loyal to your brand is an integral part of success. Evoking positive feelings about the fundamentals of your company produces devotees who will support new and even unrelated ventures as you move to expand your empire.

Be fans of your biggest fans.

6) Have a heart.

Rihanna has been recognized for her philanthropic efforts. Most notably, she established the Clara Lionel Foundation, created to support global initiatives. Rihanna uses her influence to lift others because she can. She does it for the community. She does it for the culture.

Businesses do not exist in a vacuum oblivious to the local or global community surrounding it. Choosing to ignore this connection, businesses may find themselves detached from current and potential consumers, and at the very least amid a bad PR episode – neither of which is good for business.

Build the world as you build your empire.

Whether you are a naysayer or a sailor in her Navy, Rihanna's rise is an intriguing business case study. The empire she is building has staying power and is a force to be reckoned with. We should all take note.

[Related: Are These Habits Getting in Your Way?]


Kelli Wingo serves as the Founder/Chief Vision and Strategy Officer of War Room Coaching, dedicated to helping clients excavate the authenticity of their personal brand and organizations develop a culture of entrepreneurship to engage employees and increase the bottom line. She is also the Founder/Chief Orator of Spiryt In Motion, specializing in confidence catalyzing, vision casting and inciting riotous rebellion against limiting beliefs.

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