Country of Origin: Barbados
Year came to U.S.: 2005
Education: Combermere School (incomplete)
Organization: Fenty Corp.
Headquarters: San Francisco, CA
2018 revenue: $570 million, estimate
U.S. employment: 200
Rihanna is the world’s wealthiest female musician, primarily due to her income from Fenty.
Rihanna donated $5 million to help combat COVID-19 around the world.
Rihanna, born Robyn Rihanna Fenty, had a tumultuous childhood in Barbados marked by her parent’s troubled marriage and her father’s struggles with addiction. She overcame these challenges to achieve extraordinary early success. At just 16, Rihanna signed a major record contract, left high school and moved to the United States to become a world-renowned performing artist.
She’s best known as a chart-topping, high profile entertainer, but it’s not what made her the wealthiest female musician in the world. When she launched her beauty line, Fenty Beauty, in 2017, it was an immediate success. Using New York Fashion Week as a publicity springboard, Rihanna led Fenty to a reported $72 million in sales in the first month. Time named her products one of their “Top 25 Inventions” of 2017.
Her brand is known for its commitment to diversity, offering beauty products for a far wider range of skin tones than most brands. Her products have been credited with filling a longstanding gap in the beauty industry for darker-skinned consumers. Fenty makeup has been promoted with both male and female models. Rihanna has since expanded to luxury fashion and lingerie, offering an inclusive array of sizes and advertising her products with diverse models.
Rihanna is also an active philanthropist. At just 18, she founded the Believe Foundation to help critically ill children. At 24, in honor of her grandparents, she launched the Clara Lionel Foundation to support emergency response and education programs. She also paid for the creation of an oncology center in Barbados. In 2017, the Harvard Foundation named her their “Humanitarian of the Year,” in 2020 she received the NAACP’s President’s Award in recognition of her humanitarian work and in November of 2021 she was named the National Hero of Barbados. Most recently, Rihanna contributed $5 million to combat COVID-19 around the world.
Rihanna’s career as an entrepreneur is still young, but as with her music, she’s achieved an impressive amount in a short amount of time. In 2020, she launched Fenty Skin, a skincare line to accompany her makeup products. Fenty Skin was developed with Rihanna’s trademark attention to inclusivity, boosting the brand’s popularity.
To discover more extraordinary Black immigrants, read our blog post Black History Month: Seven Famous Black Immigrants. To discover more extraordinary female immigrants, read our blog post Eight Famous Women Immigrants in the United States.
Updated July 2022