How Pharrell Williams Created a $100 Million Empire (and Were Not Talking About Just Music)

How Pharrell Williams Created a $100 Million Empire (and Were Not Talking About Just Music)

Like other artists, hes a one-man holding company with interests in media, fashion, and the environment.

Pharrell Williams attends the Opening of the Billionaire Boys Club Flagship Store on November 9, 2016 in New York City.

Pharrell Williams possesses a very distinct skill: the ability to create hit songs that sneak their way into your brain and stay there for a long time, whether you like it or not. The omnipresent Happy was 2014s best-selling song and the prolific musician wrote and produced Robin Thickes Blurred Lines, which in 2013 spent 12 straight weeks at No. 1. In all, Williamss music career has earned him 10 Grammys.

But Williams has also managed to parlay his songwriting prowess into a successful business empire. His companies and alliances, which range from clothing to media to jewelry, have put the artists estimated worth atmore than $100 million.

Music will always be my first love, Williams hassaid. But the one thing Ive learned is that this life is a movie and I am a co-creator. Williams launched his signature clothing brands, Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream, in 2005. The high-end streetwear companies have combined formore than $25 millionin annual sales, according toWomens Wear Daily. In 2013, he launched a sister brand, Billionaire Girls Club. The labels have brick and mortar storefronts in New York City, London, and Tokyo.

But making clothes isnt cool unless youre saving the world too. As creative director at Bionic Yarn, a startup that converts recycled materials into clothing, Williams in 2014 helped launch a line of jeans made from — wait for it — plastic recovered from the ocean. That eventually led to him becoming co-owner of G-Star Raw, the Dutch denim maker. On top of my business, he proclaimed last year in anInstagram postannouncing the deal.

In addition to having his own companies, Williams has partnered with Adidas to launch a sneaker line and created a collection of T-shirts for Japanese clothing company Uniqlo. He has also designed sunglasses and jewelry for Moncler and Louis Vuitton. And there you were, judging his fashion sense by his oversize Smokey the Bearhat.

All of this is school for me, Williams hassaidabout his collaborations with professionals outside of the music world. I didnt go to college. This is my college.

In 2012, the musician-entrepreneur founded I Am Other, which encompasses his clothing brands and also includes its own media arm. On its YouTube channel, the company produces serialized shows geared toward, in Williamss words, thinkers, innovators, and outcasts — though its up for debate how much of an outcast one can be while collecting Grammys. The company, which also serves as a record label, released Williamss second studio album,Girl, in 2014.

Williamss first label, Star Trak, dates back to 2001, when he launched it along with childhood friend Chad Hugo. Together, the duo — known professionally as The Neptunes — has produced hits including Britney Spearss Im a Slave 4 U, Snoop Doggs Drop It Like Its Hot, and Nellys Hot in Herre.

In December, Williamsannouncedyet another partnership with a high-profile company: Hes the first-ever creative director for American Expresss Platinum Card. In this role, hell help create rewards and benefits for cardholders and might lend his expertise toward the cards physical design.

Somehow, Williams finds time to balance all this with his own music. So what keeps him going? Someone asked me this a while ago, what inspires me, he toldVulturein 2013, and I always say that which is missing. Doesnt mean its going to be the greatest thing in the world, just means its going to feel different. Thats what Im really into.

Before Pharrell came around, apparently, there was a whole lot missing.