Students were abuzz last Friday following a guest lecture from Kim Kardashian at Harvard Business School.
Kardashian, an entrepreneur and media personality who rose to fame after starring in the reality television show "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," delivered a lecture to students in an HBS short intensive course "Moving Beyond Direct to Consumer." Kardashian spoke about her clothing brand SKIMS for the course, which examines companies that sell directly to customers without a traditional retail middleman.
After an investor told HBS Professor Leonard A. Schlesinger — who teaches the class — that SKIMS would be “an amazing case” for students to study, he set up a meeting with SKIMS’s co-founder Jens Grede. Schlesinger said the meeting “reaffirmed, quite honestly, my own excitement about the learning opportunities for students.”
Part of what interested Schlesinger about SKIMS was its growth and revenue numbers, which he said are “at a pace that are virtually unheard of in the world. Though the company was started just three years ago, Schlesinger said it was recently valued at $3.2 billion. Last year, he added, 140 million users visited SKIMS’s website.
For Schlesinger, SKIMS’s meteoric rise gets at the core of his course’s message, which reiterates how businesses are able to acquire customers at a lower cost than their competitors through social media.
Palis Pisuttisarun ’24, an undergraduate technology innovation fellow at HBS, was thrilled to see Kardashian — one of his “top three role models” — in person.
“The morning of her visit, I was picking out my best look because I knew Kim Kardashian was going to see me, and I had to look my finest,” said Pisuttisarun.
Pisuttisarun said he admires Kardashian’s business acumen and persona.
“I think people have this notion of Kim being dumb or she doesn’t deserve the success that she has. I think that woman knows what she’s doing,” Pisuttisarun said. “She’s very strategic, and she definitely is an entrepreneur at heart.”
Izumi H. Vazquez ’25 — who heard about Kardashian's visit from a friend the day of the lecture— waited for 45 minutes in the rain with a pack of HBS students to see the reality television star set foot on campus.
“It was a surreal moment,” Vazquez said. “I did not expect to wake up and see Kim Kardashian that day.”
Students weren’t the only ones thrilled to have Kardashian on campus. In a tweet thanking Schlesinger for having her, Kardashian said her visit to HBS was a “#BucketListDream.”
After Kardashian’s lecture about SKIMS, the students in the class chatted with Kardashian more freely.
“Folks loved her and how she was really kind of approachable,” Pisuttisarun said. “She took a copious number of selfies with the folks in the class.”
—Staff writer Rahem D. Hamid contributed reporting
—Staff writer Sage S. Lattman can be reached at email@example.com.