From 'Pon De Replay' To Billionaire Status: Rihanna's Top Boss Moves

From 'Pon De Replay' To Billionaire Status: Rihanna's Top Boss Moves

If you’re a fan like me, you’ve been down with Rihanna since she was wearing a traditional sew-in (when lacefronts could never), rockin’ cropped hoodies with boyfriend jeans, and asking Mr. DJ to “turn the music up.” Much of her music is part of the soundtrack of my life, from “Umbrella” and “Live Your Life” (both representing the moment that sparked my 5-days-a-week-in-the-club years), to "Take A Bow" (the breakup song I had on repeat for two years straight after my first real grown-ass-woman breakup), to "Man Down" (my F-you song for the abusive boyfriend I stayed with one minute too long that year).

Rihanna has a catalog going back almost two decades, has won multiple Grammys, Billboard Music Awards, and BET award honors, and has experienced the glow-up of three lifetimes in expanding her reach beyond music into fashion and beauty, to the tune of $1.4 billion.

In anticipation of her Super Bowl LVII performance—and as we all reminisce on why Rihanna is the queen of reinvention and authenticity—let’s take a look at a brief snapshot of her career’s most bossed-up and bankable moments:


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2005-2016: Music Career

As a teen, Rihanna earned the chance of a lifetime after she went solo (she was in a group, y’all) and was signed by Jay-Z to a multi-album deal with Def Jam when he was president. Her first album, Music of the Sun, was certified gold just a year later and she’d go on to record more albums with Def Jam before her official departure to join Roc Nation in 2014.

In total, she has sold more than 60 million albums worldwide, along with 215 million digital tracks as a music artist.

She has also earned millions on tours, with few notable ones being 2010’s Last Girl On Earth Tour (which promoted her fourth studio album "Rated R”) grossing $40 million, the Loud Tour in 2011, where she reportedly earned an estimated $90 million, and the Diamonds World Tour in 2013, which grossed more than $140 million in sales worldwide and sold out 84 out of the 87 stops on the tour.


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​2009: Fragrance Launches

She was one of the forerunners in the celebrity fragrance line craze of the early 2000s when she signed a licensing deal with Parlux Fragrances Inc. to get paid in royalties, profit-sharing and Parlux stocks instead of cash. It turned out to be a smart move because by the time her fragrance Reb’l Fleur was launched in 2011, it was projected to rake in $80 million. Two other perfumes, Rebelle and Nude, were launched in 2012, and Rogue, was released the next year. Several of them are still on the market today, proving she had that winning touch in the beauty industry even back then.


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​2011-2017: Big Steps Into Fashion

In one of her first major breaks in the industry, Rihanna teamed up with Emporio Armani Underwear and Armani Jeans to create a capsule collection and was the face of fall 2011 ad campaigns for the lines. In 2013, she signed a deal with British fashion retailer River Island, debuting at London Fashion Week.

In 2014, Puma tapped her to serve as creative director, brand ambassador, and campaign star. She also released her first shoe, the Puma Creeper, which reportedly sold out in three hours.

Reports at the time indicated that her work with the brand helped boost its sales 17.1 percent, with its 2015 earnings hitting almost $975 million.

She went on to design four ready-to-wear collections for the brand, including Fenty Puma by Rihanna, making its debut at New York Fashion Week for fall 2016, and, for her second and third collections, she took on Paris Fashion Week. Her last collection with the brand was launched in New York for spring 2018.


Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

2017: Fenty Beauty Is Born

Fenty Beauty was launched in 1600 stores in 17 countries, and the brand’s products reportedly sold out “almost immediately” both online and in Sephora stores. “Makeup is there for you to have fun with. It should never feel like pressure,” she says via parent company LVMH’s website. “It should never feel like a uniform. Feel free to take chances, and take risks, and dare to do something new or different.”

Rihanna has a 50% stake in the brand (valued at $1.4 billion), which earned her billionaire status on the Forbes list. She also became the youngest self-made billionaire with the success of the brand, her earnings from music and performances, and other investments.

The brand, which includes makeup, skincare, and fragrances, is loved for its inclusivity and embracing of all lovers of cosmetics, was named one of Time magazine’s “Best Inventions of 2017,” and generated $550 million by the end of the first year of operation.

​2018: Savage x Fenty

In 2018, Rihanna introduced her line of lingerie to the world with an immersive experience during New York Fashion Week. Continuing the message of inclusivity, power, and fluidity, the show and line became a viral sensation on social and in the media. Her stake in this brand is now worth an estimated $270 million.


Kevin Mazur /Getty Images

2022: Retail Stores & Going Public

After the brand saw major success with online sales, the first brick-and-mortar Savage x Fenty location was opened in Las Vegas in January 2022. This year, the company has reportedly raised $125 million in a recent funding round. There are reports that the company is edging toward going public, which could bring the company’s value to at least $3 billion.

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Feature image by Karwai Tang/Getty Images

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