Working for their wealth
It's common knowledge that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and businessman and philanthropist Robert Bass rank among the wealthiest people in Texas. But did you know that five other Texas entrepreneurs — collectively worth more than $4 billion — stand among the richest self-made women in the country? And two of them call North Texas home.
Millionaires Kathleen Hildreth and Suzy Batiz appear on Forbes magazine’s new list of America’s 80 richest self-made women — women who garnered wealth on their own, rather than by inheriting or winning it. And they’re in great company, joining the likes of Taylor Swift, Oprah Winfrey, Kylie Jenner, Rihanna, Madonna, Celine Dion, and Beyoncé.
Kathleen Hildreth, co-founder of aviation-maintenance company M1 Support Services, appears on the list at No. 57, with an estimated net worth of $370 million.
Hildreth is a West Point graduate and Army veteran who served as a helicopter pilot. Before M1 Support, she worked with defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin and DynCorp. She calls Aubrey, Texas, home.
“Anything in the government’s [aircraft] inventory, we do work on,” Hildreth told Forbes. “You name it.”
Forbesadds: "The U.S Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and NASA are all clients of M1 Support, which relies entirely on the federal government for business. Most of its revenues come from maintaining military aircraft, including fighter jets such as F15s, F16s, and A10 Thunderbolts."
Suzy Batiz, founder of Poo-Pourri, the before-you-go toilet spray available at major retailers, appears on Forbes magazine’s new list of America’s 80 richest self-made women at No. 77, with an estimated net worth of $270 million. Batiz lives in Dallas.
The main product of the company, which is expanding into shoe and pet odors and a cleaning line, was born out of necessity: Batiz had to do something about the smell left behind from her husband's trips to the bathroom, so she turned to essential oils. More than 60 million bottles of Poo-Pourri have sold since the company's founding in 2007.
Asked in 2016 what the riskiest thing was she had ever done professionally, Batiz said not selling her company or taking on investors.
"I had no idea if it was going to work out. It's like being on a game show," she told Forbes. "They hand you the big briefcase and you think, 'You can take this thing of money, or you can gamble and try to stay in the game.' Somehow I knew that my baby, the company, was very similar to a child. It just wasn't ready to be released into the world yet without me."
Joining Batiz and Hildreth on the list are billionaire Thai Lee and millionaires Kendra Scott and Whitney Wolfe Herd, all from Austin.
Lee, with an estimated net worth of $3 billion, appears at No. 5 on the Forbes list. She is president and CEO of SHI International Corp., a provider of IT products and services whose more than 17,000 customers include AT&T and Boeing. Revenue at the New Jersey-based company hit $10 billion in 2018; more than 4,000 people work at SHI. Austin is home to SHI’s corporate call center and is the hub for its sales division catering to small and midsize businesses.
“In early 2015, we mapped a five-year goal to reach $10 billion in revenue by the end of 2019. Through the hard work of our employees, the strength of our partnerships, and our ability to discern and solve our customers’ most pressing IT and business challenges, we reached that goal 12 months early,” Lee says in a February release.
At No. 40 on the Forbes list, with an estimated net worth of $550 million, is Scott. She is founder and CEO of Kendra Scott Design Inc. Annual sales at the Austin-based jewelry company hover around $360 million.
In 2017, Boston-based private equity firm Berkshire Partners invested in Scott’s company at a valuation of more than $1 billion. Scott started the company in 2002 in the spare bedroom of her home. Today, Scott’s business operates 100 jewelry stores, runs massive e-commerce and wholesale units, and employs more than 2,000 people. Last year, the company opened its flagship store on South Congress Avenue.
Herd, founder and CEO of Austin-based Bumble Trading Inc., developer of the Bumble dating app for women, and the related Bumble BFF friend-finding app and Bumble Bizz networking app. Herd launched Bumble in 2014 after co-founding dating app Tinder. With an estimated net worth of $290 million, Herd claimed the No. 72 spot on the Forbes list. This is her first year to be ranked.
Bumble counts more than 60 million users in 150 countries. The company’s estimated annual revenue totals $175 million, according to Forbes. Russian billionaire Andrey Andreev is the majority owner of Bumble.