Supermodel Turned Tycoon: Tyra Banks' Entrepreneurial Evolution


Jan. 10 2024, Published 5:43 p.m. ET

Over the years, supermodel and producer, Tyra Banks has effortlessly transitioned into a serious entrepreneur. She has made various business forays into fashion, TV production, and even her very own ice cream brand. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Tyra would be successful off the runway — she was the first Black model to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated and GQ. Since her modeling days, Tyra has gone on to launch several successful business ventures — along with her busy television career.

Keep reading to learn more about Tyra’s entrepreneurial evolution!

Tyra Banks Finds Success on Television

After signing with the largest modeling agency in the world, Elite Model Management, in the ‘90s, Tyra was able to quickly rise to supermodel status. After conquering the modeling world, she used her experience to launch America’s Next Top Model, a top-rated reality competition series show – enjoying the highest rating for its network for the first six seasons.

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Along with AMTN, Tyra also hosted her own talk show, The Tyra Banks Show, from 2005 to 2010. Her hosting duties continued on Dancing With the Stars, where she hosted for three seasons.

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Tyra Beauty

Back in 2014, Tyra Banks launched her beauty company – TYRA Beauty – after completing an executive education program at Harvard Business School. The brand focuses on the development and marketing of a wide variety of affordable beauty products initially split into three areas. The first area covers stick-based cosmetic products referred to as TYover. The second is a collection of makeup based on beauty products used on the runway, referred to as “IT Factory.” Lastly, there is Smize, which essentially covers the brand’s eye-makeup products.

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The brand created a unique multilevel marketing setup that would use independent contractors – referred to as Beautytainers — to sell their products directly to consumers. These contractors would be taught how to run a business through an online training program referred to as TyraU. “I really do believe that makeup has a lot of power to transform, and I felt the same back then,” she told PopSugar. “I just have so much more knowledge now about makeup, about self-esteem, how it is easy to throw on a lip and feel better about yourself temporarily while it takes a lot longer to fix things on the inside."

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SMiZE Cream

In 2021, Tyra announced the launch of SMiZE Cream, a premium ice cream brand that she has been planning for years and is named after her signature catchphrase. “I’ve always loved ice cream. Or shall I say, I’ve always been OBSESSED with ice cream. My great-grandmother used to hand-crank super-rich, homemade vanilla ice cream when I was a little girl. It was so smooth and creamy. I remember her using the huge rock salt around the basin and seeing her hands go round and round...spinning and spinning...until she produced the richest ice cream flavor I’ve ever tasted,” she told Hola magazine. “Fifteen years ago I was going to start an ice cream company. I had a strong business plan and a great partner. I decided to focus on my talk show at the time as it was starting the same time. So I put away my ice cream idea safe in a drawer and today...voila!”

Tyra Banks’ Business Empire Is Just Beginning

Being a supermodel is indeed quite lucrative. In fact, Tyra Banks was at one point one of the top-paid supermodels in the whole world. However, that was just the beginning for Tyra, who has become a bonafide business tycoon. Maybe her next TV appearance will be on Shark Tank?

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