Kim Kardashian’s $3.2 billion Skims brand started in her bathtub: I’d dye my own shapewear ‘with tea bags and coffee’

Kim Kardashian has spent her career on camera and red carpets, but the origins of her shapewear company Skims are far less glamorous.

For years, the reality star hunted for undergarments to match her skin tone, but most brands only sold products in one or two shades. She’d spend the moments before high-profile events scrambling, trying to dye her own clothing darker with home remedies.

 “I used to take my shapewear and dye it with tea bags and coffee in the bathtub,” Kardashian, 42, told Time magazine in a recent interview

So, she teamed up with business power couple Jens and Emma Grede to create more shapewear options. They launched Skims in late 2019.

The company built a brand around inclusivity: It sells bras, underwear, dresses and more in 10 skin tones and a broad variety of sizes. It also has an adaptive line for consumers with limited mobility. 

I used to take my shapewear and dye it with tea bags and coffee in the bathtub

Kim Kardashian

Skims Founder and Creative Director

The brand’s functionality appears to have struck a chord among consumers. Skims raised money at a $3.2 billion valuation in 2022 and was named to the Time 100 Most Influential Companies list in June.

While Skims is a commercial business success, Kardashian focuses less on logistics and more on creative and marketing tasks, she told Time.

She helps with and often stars in photoshoots, approves fabrics and designs, and estimated she has tried on over 7,000 products.

The company said Kardashian, who is Skim’s creative director, is the brand’s largest shareholder. Kardashian put some of her own money into the company, but she told Time her only regret is that she didn’t invest more.

Skims is likely Kardashian’s most successful business venture. Previously, she’s backed multiple beauty lines, perfumes, a jewelry collection and a mobile game, to name a few. Most of which were, at one point, profitable, Time reported, but didn’t have a lasting impact.

“At the beginning, when I didn’t really understand where my career was going because I was just kind of winging it, I would do licensing deals with a lot of different companies that would contradict themselves, like a cupcake brand with a weight-loss pill at the same time,” she told Time.  

Skims, however, helped Kardashian land on Forbes’ billionaires list for the first time in 2021. Currently, she has a net worth of $1.2 billion, in large part due to Skims and her skin care line SKKN, formerly KKW Beauty, according to Forbes.

She also launched private equity firm SKKY Partners with Jay Sammons, a former partner at investment firm Carlyle Group, last fall.

The company’s most recent valuation is $2 billion higher than Kylie Cosmetics, which her sister Kylie Jenner sold 51% of in 2020. One of the most well-known shapewear companies, Spanx, was valued at $1.2 billion two years ago.

“Obviously you have big hopes, but [Skims] definitely exceeded everything that I ever imagined,” Kardashian told Time. “I still have, like, impostor syndrome, or whatever. But I think that’s part of what keeps me going.” 

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