Successful Celebrity Entrepreneurs
Chris NothPaul NewmanPhoebe CatesGwen StefaniClint EastwoodKate WalshSandra BullockRobert De NiroSean Carter, a.k.a Jay-ZCal Ripken Jr.
The “Sex and the City” star opened The Cutting Room in 1999 with business partner Steve Walter. A nightclub, restaurant and music venue in Lower Manhattan, it quickly became a favorite hangout for celebrities including David Bowie and Russell Crowe. The club closed briefly in 2009 due to rising rents but was reopened in 2010. Noth was also a co-owner of The Plumm, a semi-private nightclub that opened in New York City in 2006 before closing three years later. Noth and his fiancé, Tara Lynn Wilson, also own a tea-party themed restaurant, Once Upon a Tea Cup, in Windsor and London, Ontario.
The Academy Award winner left behind a legacy of philanthropy with Newman’s Own, a food company that gives up 100 percent of post-tax proceeds to charity. Offering up a wide selection of dressings, pasta sauces, popcorn, salsa, wines and juices, the company claims to have donated more than $300 million since it was founded by Newman in 1982. In 1993, the actor’s daughter, Nell, started Newman’s Own Organic, a spinoff of the company that sells organic pet food, coffees and snacks.
Phoebe Cates once ruled the big screen during the 1980s in teen films like “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” but these days she’s ruling her own quiet, eclectic boutique in New York City’s Upper East Side. In 2005, the model turned actress opened Blue Tree—a high-end, catch-all gift shop that sells everything from kids toys and stuffed-animals to cashmere sweaters and diamonds. Cates manages the store with a hands-on approach, doing everything from selecting inventory to ringing up customers.
From the stage to the runway, the former No Doubt leading lady has won respect as both a musician and a fashion designer. The singer launched her Asian-inspired high-end women’s clothing line, L.A.M.B in 2004, named after her 2005 solo album Love Angel Music Baby. Not just another celebrity to lend her name to a label, Stefani is fully involved with the production of her line, which has expanded to include shoes, handbags, jewelry and a collection of fragrances. A favorite among celebrities and sold at high end retailers everywhere, the line is estimated to bring in $100 million in annual sales.
The Academy Award winning actor and director has made a name for himself both on and off screen. In 1986, he tried his hand at politics, successfully running for mayor of Carmel California, where he governed for one term. While in Carmel he also bought an old dairy farm, which he renovated into the upscale Mission Ranch Hotel. Eastwood also owns his own production company, Malpaso Productions, as well as two 18-hole golf courses in California. In 2009, Forbes estimated he brought in $35 million, ranking him No. 33 on its list of 100 most powerful celebrities.
The actress launched her own beauty product company, Boyfriend LLC, in 2010, putting out a line of fragrances, body oils and body creams she created to have the distinct, musky scent of an old boyfriend. The collection made its debut on the Home Shopping Network in November 2010, selling out in its first day. The products hit Sephora stores earlier this year, and plans are in the works to expand the line, possibly to include cosmetics.
She may be the highest paid actress in Hollywood, but Sandra Bullock also seems to have a lot going for her as a businesswoman in Austin, Texas. The actress is the quiet owner of Bess Bistro, a cozy, moderately priced restaurant with a comfort food-laden menu including burgers and macaroni and cheese. She also owns a bakery and delicatessen down the street, Walton’s Fancy and Staple, which doubles as a flower shop.
No stranger to the restaurant business, Robert De Niro co-owns two food franchises that have grown to include restaurants all over the world. His upscale sushi restaurant, Nobu, now boasts 24 locations ranging everywhere from Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Cape Town. The restaurant is estimated to be worth $250 million, with the actor taking in about 30 percent of the profits. De Niro is also part owner of Ago, a ritzy Italian café that first opened up in Los Angeles but has since made its way across the country, popping up in New York City, Miami and Las Vegas.
Sitting comfortably atop Forbes’ Hip-Hop Cash Kings list for two years running, Jay-Z has made a name for himself as a rapper and a businessman, boasting an estimated net worth of $450 million. The artist has come a long way since the 1996 debut of his first album, "Reasonable Doubt." That year he also formed his own record label, Roc-a-Fella records. But it wasn't until 2003 that he ventured outside his comfort zone and into entrepreneurial territory. He opened 40/40 Night Club in New York City, which has since become a national franchise. He also sold his clothing line, Rocawear, for $204 million in 2007.
The Orioles’ National Hall of Famer left the baseball field for the jerky business, teaming up with Florio Sports LLC in 2010 to come out with his own lean jerky product, Ripken Power Jerky. The jerky, available in three flavors, is currently for sale online at $34.95 for a six-pack and is expected to hit stores later this year. The baseball player plans on donating a portion of proceeds to the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, which teaches life skills to disadvantaged youth through baseball.