Businesses You Didn’t Know Were Owned by Your Favorite Celebrities
There’s no doubt that celebrity sells products. After all, nothing makes you crave a hamburger or need another pair of shoes more than a celebrity endorsement. Stars often take their fame to the next level by founding their own brands and companies.
Some personalities — like media mogul Oprah and youngest self-made billionaire Kylie Jenner — are now more famous for their entrepreneurial spirit, others are low-key about their side businesses. Here’s your chance to explore 30 businesses you didn’t know were owned by big-name celebrities.
PINOT | Tituss Burgess
When actor Tituss Burgess landed a role on Tina Fey’s offbeat comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, he probably didn’t expect an Emmy nomination — let alone a line of pinot noir. Thanks to a tongue-in-cheek, in-show music video called "Peeno Noir," Burgess became a viral sensation.
Burgess began receiving wine from fans as an ode to his musical moment. Since 2016, he’s been giving back to fans in the form of PINOT by Tituss. At $24.99 per bottle, it will certainly help you "find out who your true friends are."
Aviation Gin | Ryan Reynolds
Deadpool (2016) star Ryan Reynolds purchased Aviation Gin in 2018 — all because of a really good negroni he couldn’t help but order again and again. Reynolds soon realized it wasn’t so much the cocktail, but the gin that kept him coming back for more.
While the actor fully admits he isn’t the one in the distillery, he has become involved in a hands-on way and isn’t just the face of (and money behind) the spirit. "We’re at the beginning of what feels like a modern day gin craze… Young people are drinking it," Reynolds said at a press conference. "Not toddlers, but young people."
Handsomecharlie Films | Natalie Portman
Starting up a production company isn’t anything new for actors who want to try something new — and control their own projects. However, you probably didn’t know that Academy Award-winner Natalie Portman stepped into the behind-the-scenes game too. Handsomecharlie Films, which is named after her late dog, launched in 2008.
Along with several other producers, Portman has backed films such as Hesher (2010), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016) and Jane Got a Gun (2015). Buoyed by her entrepreneurial success, Portman also launched a vegan shoe line for Té Casan in 2008.
Reddit | Snoop Dogg
Founded by University of Virginia roommates Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian in 2005, Reddit was acquired by parent company Condé Nast just a year later. In 2014, Reddit gained some well-known investors, although one backer landed firmly outside the usual Silicon Valley crowd — rapper Snoop Dogg.
While it’s not clear how involved Snoop Dogg and the other investors are in Reddit’s operations, the rapper has had Ohanian on his podcast to discuss topics like net neutrality. As of February 2019, Reddit is valued at $3 billion. File that under r/todayilearned.
Kode with Klossy | Karlie Kloss
In an article for Teen Vogue, fashion model and entrepreneur Karlie Kloss wrote that she has always been a math and science nerd. For her, there’s a meaningful intersection between fashion, technology and creativity. Around 2014, Kloss took a coding class just to satiate a curiosity, but it launched something huge.
"I quickly came to understand that code is a superpower every young woman should be able to access," Kloss wrote. Since 2015, the Kode with Klossy camp has empowered young women and girls who are interested in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math).
BIRD Bakery | Elizabeth Chambers & Armie Hammer
Actress Elizabeth Chambers — with support from husband Armie Hammer — helms a delectable side business called BIRD Bakery. Based in San Antonio, BIRD offers up nostalgic, made-from-scratch treats based on Chambers’ family recipes.
Since 2012, this local favorite has aimed to give back to the San Antonio community as well. At the end of each day, unsold goods are donated to deserving nonprofits. Nothing is sweeter than a treat that keeps on giving.
Sauza 901 Tequila | Justin Timberlake
After a stint with Bud Light in 2013, pop star Justin Timberlake really got into the spirit by partnering with Sauza Liquors. In 2014, Timberlake relaunched his signature beverage, dubbed Sauza 901 after his hometown area code — shoutout to Memphis — and for the time of night when the partying kicks into high gear.
Although Timberlake first launched the product in 2009, it took a while to hit big. By 2012, he and co-founder Kevin Ruder took home the gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The president of the parent company, Beam Suntory, insisted it wanted a founder — not just a "talking head." With Timberlake, he got both. Well, a washed up, talking lime head, that is.
Funny or Die | Will Ferrell
The popular comedy video website and production company Funny or Die was founded in 2007 by Adam McKay, Mark Kvamme, Chris Henchy and, most notably, Will Ferrell. The Anchorman (2004) comedian also starred in the website’s first video, "The Landlord," which has received more than 84 million views.
Featuring contributions from big names such as writer/director Judd Apatow and Saturday Night Live alum Norm Macdonald, the site certainly owes some of its success to Ferrell’s notoriety. Funny or Die has gone on to launch several well-known series, including Billy on the Street, Drunk History and Gay of Thrones.
Chicagoist | Chance the Rapper
Instead of announcing his latest business venture on the very news site he acquired, Chance the Rapper divulged the scoop in the 2018 song "I Might Need Security." The news site in question was the Chicagoist, a local Windy City-based publication.
Ever a proponent for his hometown, Chance helped raise upwards of $2 million to fund arts and education programs for the city’s public schools. He has also called for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s resignation in the wake of continual — and unchecked — episodes of police brutality and shootings. In relaunching the Chicagoist, Chance hopes to supply an "independent media outlet focused on amplifying diverse voices and content."
V Starr Interiors | Venus Williams
If you combine her singles’ and doubles’ wins, tennis champion Venus Williams has an impressive 21 Grand Slam victories under her belt. But that’s not the only venture she has aced. In 2002, Williams started her Florida-based interior design firm, V Starr Interiors, to satisfy a passion she had wanted to act on since childhood.
Since opening, V Starr Interiors has made a name for itself, tackling everything from luxury condominiums to college athletic facilities. "The best way to do things is to challenge yourself," Williams said. "And I’m always up for a challenge."
A-Grade Investments | Ashton Kutcher
In 2010, Jobs (2013) actor Ashton Kutcher went method well before he portrayed Apple’s Steve Jobs on screen. With assists from entertainment manager Guy Oseary and investor Ron Burkle, Kutcher founded A-Grade Investments, a venture capital firm focused on bolstering technology startups.
"I look for companies that solve problems in intelligent and friction-free ways and break boundaries," Kutcher said in an interview with The New York Times. So far, he’s done a pretty great job of finding those companies, investing in Spotify, Uber, Shazam, Airbnb and more.
Naja | Gina Rodriguez
More than a mere collaboration or a celebrity marketing campaign, Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez started her first venture in the fashion world with Naja in 2015. As co-founder, Rodriguez is particularly excited about the lingerie company’s ability to make a difference — for its employees and the environment.
For starters, the lingerie itself is meant to empower women. Naja has a strong commitment to employing single mothers and ensuring their kids receive a quality education. Moreover, the actress assures customers that "from beginning to end — you know that [Naja] is ethically-sourced."
SPiN | Susan Sarandon
In 2016, Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon got into the ever-growing celebrity-owned bar and restaurant game. However, Sarandon’s endeavor is more of a social club — and it serves up something completely different: table tennis.
At SPiN locations in New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto and Los Angeles, customers can enter tournaments, take lessons or just play a casual game of table tennis, all while sipping a cocktail. SPiN CEO Pieter Vanermen notes that the club is "the offline social network, because you are literally forced to interact with people ... without your phone."
Crystal Head Vodka | Dan Aykroyd
After becoming fascinated with stories behind the crystal skulls and frustrated that there was no additive-free vodka on the market, actor Dan Aykroyd conceived Crystal Head Vodka. In partnership with artist John Alexander, Aykroyd created unique bottle of quadruple-distilled, seven-times-filtered vodka that hit shelves in 2008.
That same year, Steven Spielberg’s long-awaited sequel Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) was set to debut. Afraid there might be a conflict, Aykroyd reached out to Spielberg, who — in an uncharacteristic twist — suggested Crystal Head Vodka be served at the film’s premiere.
JUST Water | Jaden Smith
When Jaden Smith was 12-years-old, he wanted to create a more sustainable replacement for plastic bottles. With a little help from his parents, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, Jaden’s dream became a reality in 2015 in the form of JUST Water.
The responsibly-sourced water comes from upstate New York, and 82% of the bottle is made from renewable resources. JUST Water is valued at upwards of $100 million and is sold in 10 countries, across 15,000 retail locations. But that’s not all. Jaden is still looking for ways to do more good. After sending cases of JUST Water to Flint, Michigan, Jaden installed a water filtration system to clean up drinking water for families impacted by the ongoing crisis.
Whoopi & Maya | Whoopi Goldberg
In 2016, actor and TV personality Whoopi Goldberg partnered with "canna-businesswoman" Maya Elisabeth to launch Whoopi & Maya, a medical-marijuana company. Unlike competitors, this business aims to help women and people suffering from menstrual cramps.
In addition to edibles, Whoopi & Maya offers up topical rubs, tinctures and even THC-infused bath bombs to help folks really soak in that relief. "If you don’t want to get high high, this is a product specifically just to get rid of discomfort," Goldberg said in an interview with Vanity Fair. "Smoking a joint is fine, but most people can’t smoke a joint and go to work."
The Honest Company | Jessica Alba
Hollywood star Jessica Alba decided to shift gears in 2008, following the birth of her first child. After struggling with childhood illness herself — and struggling to find baby products free of petrochemicals and synthetic fragrances — Alba took matters into her own hands with The Honest Company.
What started as a line of alternative, natural baby products became a fully-fledged consumer goods company. "Everything that touches you and your family — everything in your home — needs to be nontoxic," Alba said. "And [it] needs to be affordable." As of 2017, Honest was valued at just under $1 billion.
Workout Videos & Pole-Dancing Kits | Carmen Electra
Former Baywatch star Carmen Electra told Hollywood Life that she’s still "all about the cardio," with dancing remaining a favorite form of exercise. Back in the early 2000s, fans could also dance — in a manner of speaking — alongside Electra, thanks to her popular workout video Aerobic Striptease.
Electra maintains that people should have fun and feel great while working out. Her way of thinking — "Electra-cise," as Shape dubbed it — was not only bolstered by DVD sales, but by another entrepreneurial endeavor: professional in-home pole-dancing kits.
Marshfield Hills General Store | Steve Carell
Comedian and The Office star Steve Carell revealed on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show that he’s a bit of an average Joe. In fact, the Acton, Massachusetts, native owns a general store — not in his hometown — in Marshfield Hills, another Massachusetts gem.
At the Marshfield Hills General Store, visitors can expect to find penny candy, toys, wine, baked goods and little trinkets. If they’re lucky, summertime visitors might even bump into Carell himself, although it’s more likely they will spot his sister-in-law, who runs the store.
Chong's Choice | Tommy Chong
The Chong’s Choice website fondly dubs founder Tommy Chong "America’s Sweetheart of Cannabis." Based on what you probably know of comedy duo Cheech and Chong — who launched the "Stoner Comedy" genre — this is a fair assessment. For years, Chong has worked to destigmatize the herb, and now fans can benefit from his decades of expertise.
Selling products in Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon and Washington, Chong’s Choice offers a diverse variety of cannabis items. From pre-rolled joints and THC strips to CBD gummies "There really is only one choice — Chong’s Choice."
Crowdrise | Edward Norton
Founded in 2010 by actor Edward Norton, producer Shauna Robertson and the founders of Moosejaw, Crowdrise is a for-profit crowdfunding platform. Instead of kickstarting film projects, however, Crowdrise raises charitable donations.
In an attempt to show folks that giving back can be fun, the platform "gamifies" the process, using a rewards point system to encourage users to participate in fundraising endeavors. In 2017, GoFundMe acquired Crowdrise.
Newman’s Own | Paul Newman
From salad dressings and salsas to Oreo-adjacent Newman-O’s, Newman’s Own food company has been creating delicious products since 1982. Sure, you may know about this one. After all, Paul Newman’s face is all over his various food product lines, but other wealthy folks could learn something from Newman’s endeavor.
The Newman’s Own Foundation has carried on the actor’s business model: 100% of the royalties and profits it receives from the sale of Newman’s Own items go toward charitable causes and programs. Since its conception, the foundation has awarded more than $550 million to thousands of charities.
Ocean Therapy Solutions | Kevin Costner
Ocean Therapy Solutions isn’t a fancy sensory deprivation tank that will help you meditate better. It’s a company owned by actor Kevin Costner that specializes in developing centrifugal oil-water separators — also quite a mouthful.
After the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, Costner wanted to find a new way to clean up future disasters. In 1995, he acquired the company from the United States government for a cool $24 million. Ocean Therapy Solutions now has a machine that can clean up to 210,000 gallons of oily water a day.
Bionic Yarn | Pharrell Williams
Musician and producer Pharrell Williams is making waves in the fashion industry — and it doesn’t have anything to do with his famous hats. Williams is promoting Bionic Yarn, a company that makes sustainable textiles.
The company’s yarns and fabrics are all made from melted down plastic bottles, giving a whole new meaning to the mantra "reduce, reuse, recycle." But Bionic Yarn doesn’t sacrifice function or quality. The company has particular yarns for denim, khaki and canvas looks. In addition to cleaning up the streets, Bionic Yarn is also targeting ocean-based pollution.
App & Amazon Store | Jeremy Renner
Actor Jeremy Renner may be most well known these days for playing Hawkeye in the Avengers franchise. But in the same way Renner’s superhero alter-ego has been dubbed the "worst Avenger" by the internet at large, his latest business ventures have also been at the center of some serious scoffing.
Over the summer of 2019, Renner launched two seemingly random endeavors. One was an Amazon "store" — more like a glorified listicle, really — of items Renner approves of, mostly outdoor and camping themed items. The second, and possibly more bizarre, was the failed Jeremy Renner Official app. Renner wanted to connect with fans, but the app quickly became a huge joke on Twitter.
22 Days Nutrition | Beyoncé Knowles
Beyoncé gave fans a beyond epic performance in Homecoming. Last year, she revealed that part of the reason for her recovery was her dedication to a healthier lifestyle — namely, the 22 Days Nutrition program developed by trainer Marco Borges.
The idea behind 22 Days Nutrition is to create healthier eating habits by incrementally adopting a plant-based lifestyle. The USDA organic, non-GMO, vegan products form the basis of a customizable meal plan. The iconic singer encouraged everyone to try it out, even creating a video documenting her 22 Days journey to Coachella (now known as Beychella).
ShoeDazzle | Kim Kardashian
Founded in 2009 by reality star Kim Kardashian (and Brian Lee, Robert Shapiro and M.J. Eng), ShoeDazzle is an online fashion subscription service. Each month new shoes, handbags and jewelry debut on ShoeDazzle — and personalized picks are displayed in a virtual showroom.
Between 2011 and 2012, the company grew its members from 3 million to a whopping 10 million. How does this subscription service stand out? According to Fast Company, it’s ShoeDazzle’s ability to deliver "a collection of items users feel has been handpicked just for them."
HipCamp | Will Smith & Jay-Z
If you thought "glamping" — bougie glamour camping — was just a fad, think again. Hipcamp online marketplace helps users discover and book camping experiences suited to their interests. They can search for campsites based on elements such as amenities and landscape, for example.
As of September 2019, Hipcamp’s latest investors are Will Smith and Jay-Z. Now, the service is partnering with landowners, allowing them to rent out their spaces to campers. (Think Airbnb in campers and tents.) With the addition of investors like Smith and Jay-Z, Hipcamp has raised more than $41 million in funding.
CÎROC | Sean “Diddy” Combs
CÎROC, a brand of eau-de-vie vodka, is manufactured using grapes from France, which makes it sound super fancy — or at least fancier than a handle of Smirnoff. In 2007, the brand was struggling to sell a mere 40,000 cases, so rapper-turned-brand ambassador Sean "Diddy" Combs partnered with the maker in what was dubbed an "equal-share venture."
In Diddy’s first commercial for CÎROC, he named the brand the "Official Vodka of New Year’s." Diddy has vastly improved the brand’s success with 2.1 million cases sold by 2012. Now the premium vodka comes in a variety of fun flavors, from French vanilla to amaretto.
Goop | Gwyneth Paltrow
Okay, chances are you’ve probably heard of this last one, but how could we make a list of celebrity-owned businesses and just ignore the Goop in the room? The self-described "natural health company" is owned by Academy Award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who initially launched it as a "lifestyle brand" in 2008.
In the beginning, Goop was simply a newsletter, in which Paltrow served up her new age advice. Soon, it expanded into e-commerce, launching pop-up stores, a podcast, a Netflix docuseries and even a "wellness summit." As you’ve probably heard, Goop is constantly facing criticism for marketing harmful, misleading products — and dispensing advice — without any scientific basis.