Kim Kardashian addressed graduate students at the Harvard Business School on Friday about her shapewear company Skims.
Students at the elite university said the reality television star and fashion mogul spoke for nearly two hours as part of a direct-to-consumer seminar, according to a report from NBC10 Boston. Kardashian is a co-founder of Skims, a multibillion-dollar shapewear company, and recently launched a private equity firm called Skyy Partners.
“My partner Jens and I spoke about our marketing, our challenges and our greatest wins,” she said on Instagram, along with a reel of photos from the experience. “I’m so proud of Skims and the thought that it is a course being studied at Harvard is just crazy!!!”
One student told NBC10 Boston that she enjoyed the lecture.
“I think a lot of people don’t respect her as someone who is co-running a multi-billion dollar company,” the student remarked. “Just to learn from someone who has built such a successful business was really exciting and I think having the privacy of no cameras in the room, being able to have that candid conversation was special too.”
Skims recently doubled its valuation from $1.6 billion to $3.2 billion over a period of nine months as investors rushed to acquire equity in the brand, according to a report from Bloomberg. The company now offers shapewear, pajamas, sweatpants, turtlenecks, and underwear.
“This latest round will allow us to focus on bringing more innovations and solutions to our customers and become even more of a trusted resource for them,” Kardashian said in an email.
Social media users were nevertheless skeptical of the value Kardashian brought to the elite Ivy League business school, which boasts graduates such as former President George W. Bush, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, and Amazon CEO Andy Jassy. One commenter said that “Harvard‘s prestige has evaporated into thin air in my mind,” while another added that Harvard “should be ashamed of themselves.”
“Kim Kardashian was born into wealth,” another user declared. “Attempted to use a sex tape to launch an acting or singing career; neither launched … Harvard is just as tacky as the Kardashians now.”
Grit Capital CEO Genevieve Roch-Decter, who has studied under two Harvard Business School Executive Education courses, noted that Kardashian earns $80 million per year, more than 450 times higher than the average $175,000 earned by Harvard MBA students after graduation. “I think everyone’s making fun of the wrong person here,” she said.
The speaking opportunity for Kardashian occurred after she faced widespread criticism for her response to fashion company Balenciaga releasing a photoshoot that depicted young children holding teddy bears in bondage-themed gear. As other celebrities publicly threw their Balenciaga apparel away, Kardashian did not rule out working with the brand in the future.
“I appreciate Balenciaga’s removal of the campaigns and apology. In speaking with them, I believe they understand the seriousness of the issue and will take the necessary measures for this to never happen again,” Kardashian remarked. “As for my future with Balenciaga, I am currently re-evaluating my relationship with the brand, basing it off their willingness to accept accountability for something that should have never happened to begin with.”