It’s one of our favorite brands and we really admire how Kim Kardashian has built up this business. Reality TV icon Kim Kardashian co-founded SKIMS with Jens and Emma Grede in 2018. The successful brand earned Kardashian a whopping $600 million in 2021. Is her name recognition really the only reason why SKIMS grew that much in three years?
Kim’s eCommerce team attracts customers worldwide with its positive and inclusive message. Entrepreneurs can take notes from SKIMS's business history. Her story serves as a guide about reaching a wide audience and facing controversy gracefully.
Let’s take a closer look at how Kim’s vision became the SKIMS we know today. What can women in business who want to promote diversity learn from her brand? And how does her eCommerce platform earn her 600 mil in one year?
SKIMS Business History and What We Can Learn From It
The Rise of SKIMS
Kim Kardashian wanted to create a shapewear brand years before it came to fruition. The idea came to her because she struggled to find shapewear that fit her body just right. That’s why body inclusivity is built into SKIMS’s business model. This model is a huge contributor to its success.
This idea caught the attention of entrepreneurial power couple Jens and Emma Grede. This isn’t their first business collab with the Kardashians. Emma Grede also co-founded Good American Jeans with Khloe.
They believed in Kim’s vision and worked with her to bring the inclusive shapewear brand to life. In some ways, Kim and Emma helped each other realize their dreams. Kim wanted her shapewear brand, and Emma has always focused on being a female entrepreneur that disrupts the fashion industry.
It may have started as shapewear, but the brand now includes underwear, loungewear, pajamas, swimsuits, and athletic wear. In fact, SKIMS outfitted Team USA for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, team USA logo and Olympic rings included.
Controversies Around SKIMS
Inclusivity is at the core of SKIMS, but Kim made some big mistakes in that department. The brand’s original name was Kimono. The internet immediately called that out for cultural appropriation. Of course, insensitivity was never the intent. It was meant to be a pun on her name.
Instead of taking a defensive stance, she listened to people’s concerns. The brand’s original July 2019 launch date was pushed to September so she and her team could come up with a more inclusive name. SKIMS was the result, and it got a much better response.
This story proves that even the most well-intentioned among us can make mistakes. If it happens to you, listen, research, and adjust as needed. Getting defensive is not the right move.
Sadly, SKIMS is currently facing accusations of photoshopping. This may be a longstanding (but no less problematic) business practice, but it’s disappointing to see it from a brand that’s built on body positivity.
How SKIMS Is Winning the eCommerce Game
Influencer marketing has been a big part of SKIMS’s success. You can find them all over Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and TikTok. Collaborating with the inclusive beauty brand Fenti was also a smart move. Cross-promoting with a company that shares your values will help you both reach a like-minded audience.
Content marketing has changed the marketing game in recent years. All brands are benefiting from positioning themselves as thought leaders in their industry. For a brand like SKIMS, this choice also promotes its message of inclusivity. Women come in all sizes, colors, and knowledge levels, and SKIMS considers them all.
What’s in Kim’s Toolkit?
According to BuiltWith, SKIMS uses Shopify as its eCommerce platform. One of Shopify’s most attractive features is how it allows business owners to set their brand identity. Distinct branding is a huge part of SKIMS’s marketing, so this choice makes sense.
As for their website, that’s hosted on Cloudflare, a great choice for online security and efficient bandwidth usage.
Based on our research, we also noticed that SKIMS uses these tools:
Google Ad Words
Conversion trackers for all social media platforms
A Few Final Words
It would be naive to assume that Kim Kardashian’s name recognition had zero impact on the brand. But we also can’t assume that it’s the only reason for the brand’s success.
Our biggest takeaway is that Kim noticed a gap in the market and filled it. This is a common story for female founders. Whether it’s shapewear that actually fits or something else, if you see a gap, you can fill it with your startup. Other women will probably thank you for it too.