The Most Bizarre Celebrity Side-Businesses
Celebrities often license their names for fragrances and clothing lines – Jessica Simpson has built a nearly billion dollar brand with her various fashion lines and Paris Hilton will attempt to slap her face on anything in production.
But these stars have exciting, offbeat side-businesses that get much less press. Diamond mines, stripper poles and oil-spill cleanup are just the tip of their entrepreneurial icebergs.
10. Elizabeth Hurley has a line of organic snacks and beachwear
While most move to Hollywood to seek fame, Elizabeth Hurley packed up and moved to a 400-acre organic farm in Gloucestershire, England, after starring major motion pictures. Afterwards, she teamed up with the upscale department store Harrod's to launch a new line of organic snacks from her farm's produce. In 2009, Hurley ventured into business yet again when she teamed up with Prince Charles's organic farming and food company Duchy Originals.
9. Jessica Alba does baby clothing
Jessica Alba, one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood, started The Honest Company with author Christopher Gavigan. Alba and Gavigan set up their site so that families could choose what kinds of non-toxic, all natural products they would like to purchase without hassle. While an unexpected start up from the Fantastic Four star, the company was so successful that it secured $27 million in financing from General Catalyst, Lightspeed Venture Partners and IVP.
8. Kathy Ireland started a billion dollar product-licensing business
Kathy Ireland's product licensing company, Kathy Ireland Worldwide, received its start after K-Mart picked up her brand of best selling socks. While most companies do not find success in socks, Kathy Ireland Worldwide has grown to rake in $1.5 billion annually in 20 countries. The company's products can ventures can be found in the categories of fashion, home and outdoor products as well as real estate and weddings.
7. Will Ferrell helped start Funny or Die
Created by Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay through their company Gary Sanchez Productions, Funny or Die has fast turned into an internet sensation that millions of users flock to for hilarious video content. The first Funny or Die short, "The Landlord", has been viewed over 70 million times, and in 2007 the site received venture capital funding from Sequoia Capital. In 2008, HBO announced their partnership with the site. Funny or Die? Clearly audiences have chosen Funny. You can expect to hear a lot from this venture in years to come.
6. Sandra Bullock owns two food-related businesses in Austin, Texas
While restauranteuring is not original, Micky Mantle did it, Sandra Bullock's ventures are now a family business. Bess Bistro in Austin is Sandra's creation. She also reopened the popular Walton's Fancy and Staple in 2006. Sandra also hired her sister Gesine, a baker, to Walton's. In an interview with People Magazine, Sandra said, "Everything we seem to do at Walton's and Bess Bistro stems from family recipes."
5. Kevin Costner's company helped clean up the BP oil spill and he has a casino
Kevin Costner is serious about the environment. In 1995, Kevin bean to develop oil separation machines after he purchased a patent from the government. He also acquired Ocean Therapy Solutions, an oil sperating machine producer, for $24 million. Although, not many people focused on his business until the infamous BP oil spill of 2010. After a successful test run, the government leased 32 machines from Costner's Ocean Therapy Solutions to help alleviate the effects of the spill.
4. Venus Williams has an interior design company
Not just a champ on the court, Williams took to interior designing in 2002 with V Starr Interiors. Williams said of the Florida based company, that it is "one of the best-kept secrets." The company's portfolio includes athletes, athletic spaces and corporate settings.
3. Carmen Electra and Kendra Wilkinson both sell stripper poles
Carmen Electra and Kendra Wilkinson are both Playboy veterans, but now they are business partners. And what better business for these two porn stars to go into but stripper poles? The themed business goes well with Carmen Electra's fitness DVD collection, "Striptease".
2. Justin Timberlake is making his "Social Network" role real with a bunch of new ventures
For those who do not know already, Timberlake is one of the more prolific celebrities turned serial investors in silicon valley. Justin Timberlake has a large investment in the cloud-like photo tagging service Stipple and he created the company Miso Media in Venice Beach, CA that creates music and education apps. Recently, Timberlake and the venture capital firm Specific Media bought the hemorrhaging MySpace with the promise to turn it into MySpace TV which will be much more focused as an online channel.
1. Akon owns his own diamond mine in Africa
In 2005, the hip hop rapper with a sensual voice bought a diamond mine in Africa. Yes, you read that correctly. When asked about the purchase and how it came about, Akon replied, "It's real complicated. You can just know that I own it." What is so complicated about a purchase? Maybe his shyness bodes negatively about the mine's reputability. Akon only wears diamonds from his mine, and found himself in public trouble for stating he did not believe in blood diamonds. "That's just a movie," he said. "Think about it. Ain't nobody thought about nothing about no conflict diamonds until the movie came out."