Dirt: You're doing amazing, sweetie
The teachings of Kris Jenner.
Today in Dirt, Daniel Spielberger takes the Kardashian matriarch’s MasterClass.
If I had my way, I would shrink Kris Jenner down to action figure size and put her in a glass jar to carry around, for easy access when I need her most. There are a myriad of scenarios in which she’d come in handy. I’d take out this mini-Kris and pick her brain about fooling Forbes into believing that my daughter is a billionaire, or how to start a fake church to launder some money.
The Momager has an alluring cadence and way of being. Just smile, check emails on your iPhone, shake the right hands, and then wave a martini around while ignoring your child/client’s comments about your drinking. Breathe in and breathe out. Your Skechers deal will snowball into a multibillion-dollar empire.
Since my deranged glass jar fantasy is probably impossible, I must settle for the next best thing: MasterClass.
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As I first learned on Hulu’s The Kardashians, Kris has a class “On The Power of Personal Branding” for the online education platform that boasts courses from luminaries such as the masterminds of the War in Iraq and Petra Collins. In the interest of maximizing my market potential, I decided to give Kris’s sage wisdom a try. In her 11-part course, which dropped on July 15th, she offers profoundly vague tips on how to accrue a social media following, and then leverage those eyeballs to sell anything at all—7-11 hot sauce, Zara jeans, discount bin wellness, shapewear, tequila that tastes like hummingbird nectar.
There was something weirdly liberating about consuming one hour and forty minutes of Kris talking directly into a camera. A beautiful surrender to nothing. I pressed play and there she was, looking regal and radiant in gauzy lighting as she explained hashtags and memes and messaging. Gazing into her glossy eyes, I no longer worried about what improvements my LinkedIn and portfolio might need, my work troubles vanished into scattered pixels. All I needed was to find my right target audience, and it would all be okay.
Sounding like a summer camp art instructor sneaking Smirnoff from a Nalgene, Kris instructed me to make a vision board for my future at the end of her first lesson, “Create Your Personal Branding Story.”
“Have fun with it!” she exclaimed.
And so I did:
I visualized my brand future: sexy, masturbatory Jewish-American novelist sailing away into the Boca Raton sunset with an Açaí bowl in hand and a National Humanities medal swinging from my neck. But as Kris stresses, your personal brand can’t appear, wholly defined, overnight. Yet finding the ROI on my own existence has been a mixed bag. Though I have a line of merchandise that’s based off a moderately successful Tumblr blog—I sell tote-bags, laptop sleeves, t-shirts, shower curtains, and throw blankets comprised of photos of tabloid starlet Lindsay Lohan superimposed with my demented poetry—I still need to find a broader customer base for my products.
Momager, please help.
In Kris’s fifth lesson, “Consider Your Target Audience,” Jenner speculates that her influencer daughters have found massive followings through their “authenticity.” On the micro-MasterClass-scale, however, the way to gain an audience is by doing “market research” and perusing which hashtags aspirational brands are using to get the word out. As an assignment, she suggested picking “two or three social media accounts that align with your brand,” to “determine which hashtags perform better and why,” and then “apply those findings.” This was admittedly tougher than the vision board. Philip Roth is dead and when he roamed this earth, I don’t think he touched social media.
With little choice, I scavenged through the Twitter account of Philip Roth’s Personal Library, which is housed at the Newark Public Library. Their most frequently used hashtags are #philiproth, #newark, and #philiprothpersonallibrary. Most of the content had to do with his sex-positive novels. I applied those findings to my Twitter:
I accrued 7 likes and 1 reply.
Later on, in her lesson on “Visual Storytelling,” Kris proposes that video posts are “a really important part of your social media brand and experience because that’s what’s really going to capture the attention of somebody scrolling through.” She says that according to her daughters’ rampant success, the best way to sell, sell, sell, is to do a video tutorial explaining how to use a product. I posted a tutorial detailing how to use a tote-bag—alas, it didn’t lead to the millions in sales boasted by Kardashian brands like SKIMS or Kylie Cosmetics, or indeed any sales at all.
Here’s another Kris truism that washed over me like the eventual wave that will devour Nobu Malibu:
“In business, behave like you can't afford the loaf of bread, when in fact you own the bakery.”
Upon finishing the personal branding crash-course, the dead air punctuated my lack of direction. I still didn’t own the bakery. But Kris had given me a renewed sense of humility, which aligns with my brand somewhat when you consider Roth’s widely-panned 2009 novel, The Humbling.
Kris touches upon how there’s a secret sauce to it all, citing how when daughter Kylie Jenner went viral for singing the words “rise and shine” to her own daughter Stormi, the family quickly capitalized on it by brandishing the innocuous phrase on merchandise. Every meme, even those based on intimate moments, can be monetized. Kris relates the “rise and shine” merch to the infamous Keeping Up with the Kardashians episode in which she egged on her daughter Kim Kardashian at a Playboy shoot. In 2020, she cashed in and trademarked her enduring line from the episode: “You’re doing amazing, sweetie.” But those moments can’t just be easily replicated.
Perhaps the real Jenner wisdom doesn’t come from chasing the ebbs and flow of the internet, but rather commodifying your own woes. Kris shares that she suffers from a sore neck and thus is “always slapping on” Salonpas, a pain relief patch. After she used the product on Keeping Up, Salonpas reached out to her for a presumably lucrative collaboration. So when all else fails, just follow the body to greener pastures. According to Kardashian lore, Kim started her brand SKIMS, originally solely a shapewear line, because she couldn’t find undergarments that suited both her curvaceous figure and vaguely avante-garde fashion choices. She also has been open about her struggles with psoriasis and aging, laying the groundwork for a skincare line that retails at $630 per nine-step set.
Sister Khloé Kardashian, mocked for her weight for years, started a popular, profitable denim company, Good American, that caters to women of all sizes. She also once joined forces with Nurtec to treat her migraines. Eldest sister Kourtney, a health nut, started a lazy GOOP dupe, POOSH, and is likely currently poring over her 23&Me results so she can leverage some obscure genetic ailment in the future. All three, along with Kylie, have pocketed checks from diet companies, hawking Flat Tummy Tea (a heinous laxative) on their Instagram pages long, long after they really needed the money.
Towards the end of her course, Kris cheers, “It worked for them and it could work for you, too!”
Maybe I’m just destined to teach a MasterClass on The Queer Art of Failure. For now, however, it’s time for some raw honesty. Like Kim, I have psoriasis, so I need to keep moisturizer close-by, but I also suffer from needing to go places. Thus I carry moisturizer in a $17.60 tote-bag. I also clean my psoriasis-ravaged skin in the shower, and have invested in a $65.50 curtain because no one wants psoriasis and a wet bathroom floor. These products can help you along your journey, too.
Thank you, Kris. — Daniel Spielberger
The Dirt: Kris Jenner pimps out her children, I pimp out myself.
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