Kathy Ireland Is Super-Rich Because of Her Brains, Not Her Beauty

kathy irelandKathy Ireland, former Sports Illustrated model and now a mogul on the cover of Forbes, has some smart advice for current SI swimsuit model Kate Upton: "So many young people say, ‘I’m just going to see what happens.’ It’s so much more powerful to make things happen and have a plan.”

I hope Kate pays attention to that advice. And now, can we please stop calling Kathy a "model-preneur" and other stupid cutesy names like that? We're talking about the businesswoman who moved $2 billion in merchandise this past year. Have a little respect, yo? This woman got rich from her brains.


And to think it all started with socks at Kmart! Back in the day, when a marketer said to Kathy, "Hey pretty lady, want to model some socks?" she said, "Sure, but here's the deal, they're MY socks." She didn't just see another modeling gig -- she saw an opportunity. She saw cha-ching! in her future. And so she borrowed $50K and took a big ol' 70 percent share in the sock company. Smart move.

And then she kept thinking big and started modeling her growing business after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway! Yeah, that's her business hero, Buffet. No dis on Heidi Klum's Project Runway or Cindy Crawford's skincare line, but Kathy really shows how big you can grow when you think outside your own box

How did she know? What made her see the business opportunity behind those socks? Her dad was a union organizer, not a businessman. Mom was "in charity." But Moira Forbes thinks her modeling career actually helped her become an entrepreneur.

It requires discipline, the ability to handle rejection and brush of skepticism and critics at every pass; resilience is key. As they meet with potential employers, models must exude self-confidence, while remaining constantly aware of their own flaws and shortcomings. Critically, the model is, from day one, her own rainmaker.

So there you go, Kate Upton. Being born with outrageously good looks will take you pretty far. But it takes some brains and ambition to parlay that into a big business. Pretty dang inspiring.

Were you surprised to hear about Kathy Ireland's success as an entrepreneur?

Image via Forbes

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