What Celebrities Like Ellen Teach Us About Entrepreneurship

by Amanda Congdon


We admire female celebrities for their good looks, cool jobs and enviable access to interesting events and lavish parties, but what about their business acumen? Sure, it may be easier for them to start companies, thanks to funds that are readily available and connections more anxious to be made, but they’re still women who are running their own businesses — which categorizes them as an industry minority like the rest of us.


Let’s look at five of my favorite famous females who’ve quite savvily used their celeb status to launch entrepreneurial careers, adopting the role of “businesswoman” better than any script they’ve read:


1. Gwyneth Paltrow. “Everything I’ve done has been completely organic, and that’s why the brand is a strong brand.”

Gwyneth Paltrow may be an Academy Award-winning actress, but she is also the creative mind behind lifestyle brand, Goop. Through her weekly newsletter, she curates the best in food, fashion, travel, culture and wellness. Friends, family and fans had been clamoring for insights into Gwyn’s everyday existence — from her favorite place to score a bikini wax in Manhattan, to her most beloved brand of kiddie pajamas — so she decided to compile all her recommendations and create a website to showcase them.



Gwyn’s definitely made a wise business choice by tapping into the burgeoning field of wellness, an industry that has been noted for its rapid growth. In fact, her venture has become so popular, even the original lifestyle authority is feeling the heat. That’s right, Martha Stewart herself tweeted: “Is Gwyneth the next Martha?” Gwyn has channeled her life experience into a brand. How can you make your day-to-day existence work for you?


2. Queen Latifah. “My mom raised me to be a queen. Queen. Queen Latifah.”

Queen Latifah has worn a lot of different hats in her life, including rapper, actress, and singer. But did you know she is also an astute business woman who invested in a New Jersey delicatessen and video store early on in her career? The Queen showed an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age. At 21, instead of getting ripped off by a record label like so many other artists, she formed her own company, Flavor Unit, and managed her career independently. Within a few years, the company had signed 17 rap groups, including the very popular Naughty By Nature.


Her passion for business has shown no signs of slowing down, either, signing lucrative endorsement deals with big companies like Jenny Craig and Covergirl.  The Queen understands that wise investments can be uncovered anywhere. Don’t limit yourself by sticking to one industry.


3. Ellen DeGeneres. “I do it because I love animals…I’m healthier for it, I’m happier for it.”

There are many reasons people go vegan. Some, like President Bill Clinton, do so for their health; others have environmental concerns, and still others like Ellen DeGeneres just really love the animals. In fact, Ellen has taken her love for animals to the next level by investing in their welfare. In 2011 Ellen announced a partnership with Halo, a healthy pet food company. Together, Halo and Ellen will develop a line of vegan dog food. Ellen may soon also add restauranteur to her resume, with rumors of a vegan restaurant opening in the San Fernando Valley in the near future.



If your business is based around something you care deeply about, you’re bound to invest more time and effort into it– a recipe for success.


4. Tori Spelling. ”My life is my business and my business is my life.”

Tori Spelling hasn’t always been lucky in business, even under the tutelage of her father, the late TV mogul Aaron Spelling. Donna Martin from the series 90210, past and present, may not have been cut out for the bed and breakfast business, but having the cameras rolling during all ups and downs made for TV gold on her first reality show, Tori and Dean: Inn Love.


Although Tori was not successful as an innkeeper, she was able to literally turn her failed business venture into sweet success. Her hit show led to a children’s clothing line, book series, jewelry collection, furniture store, an event planning business and, of course, lots more television. Tori’s business history reminds us to pause and remember that sometimes our biggest “failures” can morph into our most noteworthy wins.


5. Jessica Alba. “Our dream is to redefine the idea of the family brand.”

The very best ideas are often born by taking the high road. When actress Jessica Alba became pregnant, she came to realize how hard it could be to find baby products that were safe for her child and the environment. This led her to found The Honest Company, which specializes in nontoxic baby items and green cleaning supplies. Her diapers have earned some very positive reviews from happy parents (and presumably babies, too).



This sage entrepreneur can sleep well at night knowing her business and ethics are perfectly aligned. Do you have a strong set of values that might direct you towards a winning business idea? Are there ways you can capitalize on your hope for a better world?


Amanda Congdon is a California-based on-camera personality, new media pioneer and healthy food entrepreneur. She has produced and hosted many web and mobile TV projects; her show, AC on ABC, made Amanda the first video blogger for a major network, ABC News. She is currently Co-founder and Director of Operations at Vegan Mario’s™ Organic Kitchen.


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