NEW YORK — These days, one of the most-coveted roles among A-list actresses is business owner.
Oscar winner Halle Berry is one of the latest female celebrities to start a business. She launched Scandale Paris last year, a line of lingerie sold at Target stores.
For decades, famous faces have been hired by corporations to sell hair dye, lipstick and fashion. But now, more female celebrities are taking control and starting their own businesses. It’s also helping some balance career and family.
“Having a business like this, I can do more work at home, be with my family,” said Berry, who is co-owner and creative director of Scandale Paris. “I have two little kids now. I can’t travel around the world and do a movie like I used to.”
Wal-Mart shoppers can pick up lip gloss, mascara and perfume made by Flower, a makeup brand co-owned by actress Drew Barrymore. Fitness fanatics can buy a pair of yoga tights from Fabletics, an online seller of workout gear co-founded by actress Kate Hudson.
“It’s way more lucrative than making one movie a year,” said Jo Piazza, author of “Celebrity, Inc.: How Famous People Make Money.”
Berry stumbled upon Scandale Paris while in France. Founded more than 80 years ago, the brand was struggling because the undergarments were too expensive, Berry said. She called her business partner, Erik Ryd, and they bought the company. In October, Scandale’s $7 panties and $18 bras began selling at Target.
Berry is involved in the lingerie design and chooses fabrics, even as she films the second season of CBS’ show “Extant.” “We are solely focused on getting this business off the ground,” Berry said.
Starting a business can be risky, but several star-studded companies have soared. Jessica Alba, who battled evildoers in “Fantastic Four” movies, co-founded The Honest Co., which sells diapers, baby wipes and detergent, four years ago. It rang up $150 million in sales last year, Alba told CNBC.
Singer/actress Jessica Simpson started a brand 10 years ago that can be found in Macy’s, Nord-strom and other stores. Last month, brand management company Sequential Brands bought a majority stake in the Jessica Simpson Collection, which sells women’s clothing, shoes and handbags. Sequential did not say how much it paid, but said the brand brings in nearly $1 billion in sales a year.
“Celebrities are leaving money on the table if they don’t do this,” said Piazza.
Male stars have always had their hand in business ownership, said Piazza, but more women are getting into the game. Owning a business gives stars the potential to make more money over a longer time than short endorsement deals.
And they come with built-in customers: their fans.
They can get their products in front of millions of people with magazine covers, TV interviews and social media accounts. Hudson, for example, was on the cover of the March issue of Shape magazine wearing Fabletics wear. Last week, actress/producer Reese Witherspoon launched a brand of clothing, home decor and stationery called Draper James while promoting her new movie “Hot Pursuit.” Barrymore’s Flower cosmetics company doesn’t advertise, instead it relies on her to get the word out about the products.
In most cases, the stars are co-owners along with a business partner or another company that runs the day-to-day operations.
Music and business can mix, too. Rapper Nicki Minaj finds ways to infuse her bubbly wine, Myx Moscato, co-owned by producer Mona Scott-Young, into her music videos and songs. Myx, sold in single-serve bottles, was one of the fastest-growing wine brands last year. Minaj’s star power is helping to grow the brand.
“She knows how to leverage her celebrity,” said Scott-Young.