Inside Beyoncé’s business flops from perfume stink to Ivy Park as critics accuse her of neglecting her new star signing
WITH hundreds of millions of record sales and 29 Grammys, Beyonce is the sort of star from whom fans simply expect success.
So there was shock when she was linked to a high-profile failure this week.
The Break My Soul singer was blamed for lacklustre sales of the debut album from Chloe Bailey, a 24-year-old American singer-songwriter who she mentored and signed to her label Parkwood Entertainment.
The long-awaited record, In Pieces, debuted at number 119 on the US Billboard charts, selling only 10,000 copies in its first week.
Many of Chloe’s fans blamed Beyonce for not promoting the album on social media or showing her public support.
But it’s not Parkwood Entertainment’s first flop either – two of its former artists, Sophie Beem and Ingrid Burley, failed to set the charts alight with their own releases.
And judging by her track record in other fields, it may seem like Beyonce doesn’t have the business skills to run the label successfully.
While her contemporaries such as Rihanna have become billionaires thanks to their entrepreneurial endeavours, Bey hasn’t been as lucky.
Throughout her career, she’s attempted to replicate her musical success with a string of businesses that have ultimately fallen flat.
Here, KEVIN ADJEI-DARKO looks at how Beyonce’s side hustles came a cropper.
ONE of Bey’s first forays into the business world came in 2004 when she partnered with designer Tommy Hilfiger to launch the fragrance True Star.
The aim was to follow in the footsteps of stars such as Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton, who had all released fragrances around that time to huge success.
Beyonce’s new deal came with all the bells and whistles, including a heavily rotated advert with the singer belting out a remake of Rose Royce’s 1977 classic Wishing On A Star, which was later nominated for a Grammy in 2006.
She even released a two-track EP in support of the fragrance called True Star: A Private Performance, which featured the song Naive, a duet with her sister Solange.
At the launch of the perfume in London in June 2004, Bey said: “I’m so thrilled – it’s so exciting to be a part of this.
“It’s historical for me.
“There are not many women in the world who can say they have their own fragrance and not many black women, so this is wonderful.
“It’s so classy and so timeless and so beautiful.”
But it was not enough to secure the success of the fragrance.
After one further product, True Star Gold, the scent was discontinued and replaced with Tommy Girl.
N 2006, Beyonce created the clothing brand House of Dereon with mum Tina, who created all her red carpet and stage outfits during the early days of her career.
At the time of launch, Bey gushed: “She would make all of these beautiful clothes for myself and the other ladies of Destiny’s Child.
“After so many years, my fans said ‘We want to buy these clothes somewhere,’ so it was a natural thing for us to do this line.”
Beyonce and her mum appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show to talk about the new collection and even paraded her Destiny’s Child bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams as models.
The clothes also featured in almost all her music videos and concerts as well as being referenced in several of her hits, including Get Me Bodied and Single Ladies.
She wore a stunning gold mermaid gown from the label at the 2009 Oscars.
But it was dogged with accusations that the clothes looked cheap and tacky.
Some critics claimed they were rip-offs from the Ed Hardy brand, and an Icelandic company accused Bey of nicking one of their designs.
In 2008, there were accusations that an ad featuring children promoting the brand was over-sexualised because they were wearing lipstick and heels.
A poll by the Washington Post found that 62 per cent of readers found it distasteful.
Declining sales led to Beyonce finally pulling the plug on the brand in 2012, bringing an end to its rocky six-year run.
Beyonce set up her production, management, and record company Parkwood Entertainment in 2010.
The singer, R&B duo Chloe x Halle and The Carters – aka Bey and her rapper hubby Jay Z – are all signed to the label.
Beyonce has released five studio albums through Parkwood – and although her projects have been a big success, some of her artists cannot say the same.
In the wake of the Chloe Bailey storm, DJ Envy was one of several critics who believed Beyonce did not do enough to promote her artist.
The US radio host said: “I do feel if you’re signed to somebody’s record label, or you are in business with somebody, that’s part of what you expect.
“That’s why I’m signing to you. I’m signing to you because I’m hoping I’m going to get a Beyoncé verse.
“I’m signing to you because I’m hoping that I’m going to get some of your fans.
“I’m signing to you so I can get some of your knowledge and wisdom, and your promo.”
For now, Parkwood is still standing strong – but can it put out a successful album that doesn’t have Beyonce’s name on it?
IVY Park, Bey’s athleisure collaboration with Topshop, launched in 2016.
As a marketing ploy, she shipped off several boxes to US talks show host Ellen DeGeneres, singer Rita Ora, actress Reese Witherspoon and other high-profile stars for them to model the garments on their social media pages.
Ivy Park was such a success on its launch that the website crashed, and it looked like Bey had finally turned the tide of her business misfortunes – but there was controversy to come.In 2018, Topshop boss Sir Philip Green was accused of sexual harassment and racial abuse by staff members.
Bey was forced to buy out his stake in Ivy Park and cut ties with him.
She later collaborated with Adidas, describing it as the “partnership of a lifetime” – but this wasn’t the end of her problems.
In 2019, the brand was accused of paying its workers in Sri Lanka just £5 a day.
Ivy Park’s representatives released a statement denying the claims and said it followed a “rig- orous ethical trading program”.
Soon after, it was reported that Ivy Park was losing money for Adidas.
Many criticised the marketing strategy, while others said the clothes were never a reflection of Beyonce and what she would actually wear in real life.
After weak sales and a 50 per cent dip in revenue last year, Adidas walked away from the partnership, marking the close of yet another failed business deal for Bey.
…BUT SHE GOT SOME THINGS RIGHT
It’s not all doom and gloom for Queen Bey – she is still a megastar whose influence has been a rocket booster for several businesses and brands.
In 2016, she mentioned the American seafood chain Red Lobster in her song, Formation.
The name drop boosted its sales by 33 per cent over Super Bowl Weekend, when she first performed the hit.
Kim Lopdrup, its CEO, said at the time: “It’s clear that Beyonce has helped create some Red Lobster fans, and we are very grateful to her for that.”
Beyonce was also a spokesmodel for L’Oreal, who reportedly paid nearly £4million for her star power, and had a £40million deal with Pepsi.
In 2020, after being spotted in Marine Serre’s moon print bodysuit for the video of her single Already, searches for the outfit rose 426 per cent in just 48 hours.
She also helped make it the most popular design of that year.
When Beyonce mentioned Telfar in her Summer Renaissance song last year, the luxury bag designer saw a huge 85 per cent increase the day of release.
In 2021, she became an ambassador for Tiffany & Co and has also fronted campaigns for H&M, Samsung, and Giorgio Armani.
Clearly, Beyonce is still worth her weight in gold – which is why brands want to pay top dollar to be associated with her.
Now she just needs to sprinkle some of that gold dust on to projects of her own.