There has been so much hype around Kim Kardashian's life, hasn't there? I have to admit, I keep up with Kardashians (sorry, President Obama!) and I love it. But what about all the "haters?" I constantly hear comments like, "What makes that family so special?" or "What does Kim do?" I'm not sure if it matters that their Dad was one of O.J. Simpson's lawyers, or that Kim may have gotten her fame because of her bodacious backside. Whatever the reason, I think she has actually used her celebrity status to shine the spotlight on several small businesses and help them grow.
Sounds crazy, right? But if you really think about it, it's true. And there's no better place to start to understand it than diving into a few of the details of Kim's and Kris's over-the-top, ostentatious, made-for-TV August wedding. Sure, the rich and the famous were all there, adorned in fabulous jewelry, dripping with designer labels (black or white only here, folks), enjoying an amazing venue and wonderful food, and chatting each other up about how beautiful the bride was and how amazing the cake looked. But behind the scenes, there were actually a lot of small businesses that helped put on this incredibly beautiful - though eventually sad - day. Let's take a look.
The Million-Dollar Bling
The ring: the enormous engagement ring said to be worth a cool $2 million. Forbes reported that the wedding band was estimated to be $60,000. Then there was the something "borrowed": a reported $2.5 million headpiece as well as gorgeous earrings said to be worth $5 million. The mastermind behind these designs was Lorraine Schwartz, whose company has been in the family for three generations, run as a small business.
The Wedding Dress, the Other Dress and the Other Dresses
Let's talk about those beautiful wedding dresses. Not just Kim's three wedding gowns; I'm also talking about the bridesmaid dresses and the mother of the bride's dress, all dreamed by that famous designer Vera Wang.
Now you might not think about Vera Wang as a small business owner since she's such a big name, but according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, a business could be considered a "small business" if you have less than 500 employees. According to the Vera Wang website, she employs 200 people and does all of her manufacturing in company-owned workrooms in the U.S. How's that for helping power our economy? And Kim is right "behind" her.
In fact, Wang is in the process of making affordable versions of two of Kim's wedding dresses for her "White by Vera Wang for David's Bridal" line, which is scheduled to debut in February 2012. If the buzz around Wang's past David's Bridal creations is any indication, the retailers will need a lot of extra staff on hand to meet demand.
The Wedding Schwag, of Course!
It's no surprise that Kim went "Krazy" with the wedding favors for the guests. She gave customized Voluspa candles that came in a box with a "K" logo for the then-happy couple. These luxury candles were made by Troy and Traci Arntsen, who created their first candle in their kitchen in 1999. And as far as I can tell, they're a small local business in southern California. After some research, I found that traffic on the Voluspa website went from an average of 500 visitors a month to over 2,000 in August - no doubt due to the Kardashian publicity.
Kim also gave gift certificates to her own small business, Shoedazzle, a shoe subscription website. Parlaying her own celebrity into her business, Shoedazzle's Web traffic ballooned from a paltry 1.7 million visits in June to a whopping 2.8 million visits in August. Not bad, Kimpreneur!
And of course she adorned all of her well-wishers with her own Kim Kardashian fragrance. Good thing, because according to the kkfragrance.com website dated August 2011, " 'LOVE' fragrance was such a hit, it sold out in 10 days." In June, that website had a mere 461 visits, which grew to over 5,000 in August.
The Vendors That Made It Happen
Kim helps keep makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic of Makeup By Mario successful as a small business owner. Traffic to his website went from 2,000 visitors in June to over 8,900 in August. Sharpen those eye pencils, Mario!
Kim's and Kris's wedding invitations were designed by the famous stationers to the stars Lehr & Black, the brother-and-sister team running this family-owned company, which has been around for over 30 years. The gorgeous invite arrived in its own box studded with hundreds of jet black hematite crystals. As a result of the word-of-mouth, their website traffic went from 750 visitors in June to over 2,400 in August.
Let's not forget the wedding planner: Sharon Sacks, founder of Sacks Productions, planned K-squared's pre- and post-wedding events as well. Sharon also saw a boost to her website traffic, going from just a few hundred visitors per month to over 1,600 in August.
Then there was the cake, created by Hansen's Cakes, a local SoCal-based bakery that produced the reported $20,000, five-foot two-inch tall cake for the big day. Patrick Hansen is the head baker and just took over the small business from his father, Gary. Patrick enjoyed a traffic bump to his company's website as well, when it went from an average of 2,000 visitors to over 8,000 in August.
Finally, Kim most likely boosted revenue for many businesses in Santa Barbara County, where the wedding took place. Roughly 500 guests were invited, as well as the camera crews from E! who all needed to get there (car services), eat there (restaurants) and sleep there (hotels and B&Bs). I'm sure the wedding brought huge business to small businesses in Montecito, Calif.
The Not-So-Happy Ending
I hate to call this out, but a small business even drew up Kim's divorce papers. Laura Wasser of the law firm Wasser, Cooperman and Carter is a famed divorce attorney who also handled the divorces of stars like Britney, Mariah Carey and Angelina Jolie. When I did my research, I found that there were 13 staffers at the firm, a mix of lawyers and paralegals - seems like a small business to me.
Sure, it's been reported that a few of the aforementioned wedding essentials were comp'd or "deeply discounted," but at the end of the day - as you can see from Web traffic alone - all of these companies benefited from substantial word-of-mouth that helped fuel their business.
So if you're a hater, so be it. As for me, I'm happy that Kim and her family turn to small businesses to keep their family fab.
Janine Popick is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse, which provides a full suite of self-service online marketing solutions for small businesses and non-profits including email marketing, event marketing, online surveys, social media and direct mail. She's also the CEB (Chief Executive Blogger) of the VerticalResponse Marketing Blog for Small Businesses.