America’s Richest Self-Made Women

America’s Richest Self-Made Women

More women are creating new businesses and amassing fortunes than ever before. As a result, Forbes has expanded our ranking of the nation’s wealthiest self-made women to 80 ceiling crashers, one third more than a year ago. Each of these overachievers has blazed her own trail. Some, like the entrepreneurs behind toilet spray Poo-Pourri and vegan makeup line Thrive Causemetics, created fresh products while others like Belinda Johnson, Airbnb’s chief operating officer, joined tech juggernauts as they were taking flight. Still others, including musician and beauty entrepreneur Rihanna and reality TV star-turned makeup mogul Kylie Jenner, have figured out ways to monetize their fame, fans and social media followers. […]

At the top of the ranks for the second year in a row is Diane Hendricks, who added $2.1 billion to her net worth in the past year, thanks to record sales of $10.5 billion at her roofing giant, ABC Supply. List members range in age from 21 to 92, and are worth a combined $81.3 billion. The minimum net worth to make Forbes’ fifth annual ranking of these women is $225 million. A record 25 are billionaires, one more than last year. Nearly half, or 38, live in California, followed by New York with 9. Nineteen were born outside of the U.S., in countries spanning Burma to Barbados.

To compile net worths, we valued individual assets, including stakes in public companies, using stock prices from May 3. We valued private companies by consulting with outside experts and conservatively comparing them with public companies. To be eligible for the list, women have to have substantially made their own fortunes in the U.S. and/or be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Kylie Jenner’s inclusion in the ranks a year ago set off a heated internet debate about the meaning of “self-made.” Forbes uses the term to describe anyone who built or earned a fortune as opposed to inheriting it. Obviously all successful entrepreneurs and executives get help along the way from cofounders, investors, customers and employees. Some climbed farther and overcame more obstacles to get into the ranks. To measure just how far some have come, women are given a self-made score of 6 (hired hand) to 10 (rags-to-riches entrepreneur). We attempted to vet numbers with all list entrants. Some cooperated, others didn’t.

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