Whether they began their careers in front of the cameras, on the catwalk or by singing their way to the top, these savvy celebs have now shown they’re worth their salt in the business stakes as well as on the A-list…
1 Victoria Beckham
Not content with being Mrs David Beckham or Posh Spice, Victoria, 36, has become über successful in her own right. As well as a multitude of endorsements, she launched her label DvB in 2008. With its beginnings in denim and sunglasses, the style icon’s collections now include super-luxe signature dresses and the rebranded company is all run in-house under the www.victoriabeckham.com name. Her collections have received critical acclaim, with many lines selling out, despite the hefty price tags.
2 Stella McCartney
Daughter of pop legend Paul McCartney, Stella, 38, made her first jacket at the age of 12, and scored a top job at Chloé just 18 months after walking out of Central Saint Martin’s School of Design, London. In 2001, she launched her own label in a joint venture with Gucci, designing ethically sound, high fashion garments. Inspired by her mother Linda, an animal rights activist, Stella refuses to use any leather or fur in any of her collections. She has also gone on to have fruitful collaborations: with adidas, as designer for the London 2012 Olympics; a baby and kids range at Gap; fragrances with L’Oréal and YSL; and an Alice in Wonderland jewellery range with Disney.
3 Sarah Beeny
Alongside her own property portfolio, the Property Ladder presenter launched Tepilo.com in 2009. It offers users a chance to buy, sell or let UK property without paying any fees or commission. Sarah, 38, also co-owns dating site www.mysinglefriend.com (MSF), which has already chalked up several couplings and even an MSF baby.
4 Kylie Minogue
The pint-sized Aussie pop star’s musical career is still going strong after 23 years. As well as joining forces with Agent Provocateur to lend her name to lingerie, she has launched a range of successful fragrances and bed linens, both called Kylie. Her linen range is inspired by her own bedroom and, like her perfumes, is powdery, silky and sparkly. ‘You hit an age where you think, wow, vintage linen. You spend enough time in your home, you may as well make it beautiful. It’s your nest of love,’ she says. Whatever she does, Kylie, 42, can do no wrong – making over £4million last year alone.
5 Elle Macpherson
The 47-year-old supermodel always had a head for business, controlling her modelling career from the start, producing her own calendars and workout videos. She launched Intimates, a lingerie range, with Aussie firm Bendon 20 years ago. The range has been phenomenally successful, and is the best-selling brand in the UK and Australia. After a disastrous foray into the restaurant world (the London restaurant, Fashion Café) and acting (ditto Sirens), she launched a range of beauty products under her trademarked nickname The Body. Her latest venture is as the presenter and executive producer on Living TV’s Britain’s Next Top Model. Her passion for business has really paid off – she’s worth a reported £60million.
6 Heidi Klum
German-born Heidi began her successful career modelling in the US. She appeared in several TV shows and films and in 2004, became the host, judge and executive producer of the reality show Project Runway, which has seen her become a household name around the world. Heidi, 37, has also: designed shoes for Birkenstock; lingerie and make-up for Victoria’s Secret; jewellery for Mouawad; clothing for Jordache; advertised products, including the VW Beetle; and launched two fragrances. She is set to film a reality series with hubby, singer Seal. Forbes estimates her income in 2009 as $16million (£10.1million).
7 Jane Leeves
The former dancer on The Benny Hill Show grew up in East Grinstead but headed for the bright lights of LA in 1984. Best known for playing the role of Daphne Moon on the TV sitcom Frasier from 1993 until 2004, Jane, 49, earned £7.85million in the show’s final year. Married to a Paramount vice-president, she has two children and owns production company, Bristol Cities, set up with Peri Gilpin (Roz from Frasier). Their latest project was a pilot for a US remake of the Brit sitcom The Vicar of Dibley, with Kirstie Alley in the title role. Her wealth is an estimated £22million.
8 Lily Allen
After being discovered on social networking website, MySpace, the outspoken London lass has had a successful pop career. Now Lily, 25, is turning her back on music for at least five years, saying: ‘I’ve been on the road for four years and I’ve given my voice a real run for its money…I’m struggling so I’m going to try something new’, says the expectant mum. The ‘new’ includes setting up a record label, a music charity, a website and a vintage clothes shop called Lucy in Disguise with her sister Sarah Owen.
9 Myleene Klass
The ex-Hear’Say pop singer returned to her classical roots and released several solo albums, with relative success. Myleene, 32, also became a regular face on our TVs, presenting everything from Heaven & Earth to The One Show. In 2006, she boosted her popularity by appearing on ITV’s I’m a Celebrity… clad mostly in a white bikini. She regularly presents Channel 4’s 10 Years Younger and Escape from Scorpion Island. But it was motherhood that really saw her steam ahead in business. Her Baby K clothes range for Mothercare has just been franchised to 12 other countries. Myleene has an estimated wealth of £7.5 million.
10 Elizabeth Hurley
After a long collaboration with Estée Lauder, Elizabeth, 45, went on to set up her eponymous beachwear company in 2005; Elizabeth Hurley Beach now does brisk trade on five continents. In 2008, she also designed swimwear for high street brand Mango. Her new venture is diet snacks in the shape of beef jerky, run from her organic farm in Gloucestershire, and sold through Holland & Barrett and Ocado.
And the women who stumbled…
Kerry Katona, 29 After accumulating an estimated £6.8million over her TV and singing career, the troubled star spent it all, lost lucrative contracts for allegedly snorting cocaine while her two daughters were in the house, and was declared bankrupt in 2008.
Sadie Frost, 45 Former actress and ex-wife of Jude Law, Miss Frost set up FrostFrench with best friend Jemima French in 1999. But in 2008, the label was forced into administration, having run up £4million worth of debt.
Bev Callard, 53 The Coronation Street landlady didn’t have as much success behind the bar in real life as she did on screen. Her Manchester pub business went bust, leaving her with £150,000 debt.
A word from James
‘Women are playing an increasingly important role in shaping the future of leading companies. I’ve worked with women of all levels of seniority, all of whom have been passionate, ambitious and real assets to their companies.’
Pictures: pa photos, john carey