There is a lot of money to be made in beauty, and right now a lot of it is being made by male executives. Moj Mahdara wants to change that. The C.E.O. of Beautycon, which holds semiannual trade shows, recently raised $20 million in funding and has begun to open pop-up retail spaces in Los Angeles. She wants to see women achieve Warren Buffett-, Bill Gates- and Jeff Bezos-level wealth on their own terms.
So she brought in a case study: Cardi B, the queen of “money moves.”
Cardi talks about money without condescension. “Everything she’s telling you — about spending, saving, taxes — is transparent and through her lived experience,” said Ms. Mahdara. At Beautycon NYC, Cardi and Ms. Mahdara spoke about how the basics of financial literacy ignore some personal-finance realities. “You can save money when you can afford to save money,” she said. “How you gonna save money and you have bills to pay?”
Ms. Mahdara shared a common statistic on pay parity: A woman makes around 80 cents on a man’s dollar (a recent study found the gap is worse than that, 49 cents to every dollar). She asked Cardi for her insight on the matter. The rapper insisted she gets paid equally — now, at least. Back when Cardi was Insta-famous, but not yet “Bodak Yellow” famous, she hosted parties at clubs for a fee. It became clear that the rappers and other guys she co-hosted with were making more money than she was for the same job. “I said, ‘I’m going to stop taking bookings until y’all pay me more,’” she said. And “that bag doubled.”
“Women are not comfortable talking about money,” Ms. Mahdara said, and men aren’t comfortable talking to them about it. She believes that her appearance and demeanor, as a butch, queer woman, intimidates the men she meets through business. “I think that’s half the reason I have issues with investors or people I work with,” she said. “I’m not a female they can put in a category and that’s uncomfortable for them.”
Here, Cardi shares advice for leveling up, hustling and getting paid:
Ask for what you want
Cardi said she was always shy, and that it took getting used to asking for what she wanted. “That’s why men are sometimes good hustlers,” she said. “Women are so timid. A lot of girls ask me, ‘How do I get what I want?’ By asking.”
Cardi was a stripper for a few years before she found fame online and on “Love & Hip Hop.” She hates bringing it up, she said, because she’s not suggesting that women should follow her path. But she learned a lot about money while dancing for tips.
“When I started becoming popular, I used to say, ‘I want y’all to throw me money. Don’t even talk to me if y’all not throwing me some money,’” she said. “Then when they started seeing me, it was like, ‘Here I know you want some money so let me throw it at you.’ You just gotta ask.”
(Last month video footage surfaced on Instagram in which Cardi said that she drugged and robbed men while working as a stripper. In a statement, the rapper said, “I’m a part of a hip-hop culture where you can talk about where you come from, talk about the wrong things you had to do to get where you are.”)
Listen to your mom
After having a daughter, Kulture, last year with her husband, Offset, Cardi feels even more driven to make money. “I can never be comfortable,” she said. Motherhood brings up thoughts of her own mother, who always told her to have children only if she could afford to take care of them on her own. “I used to think my mom was paranoid. But as you get older you understand what your mom be talking to you about,” she said. “I always dated guys that had money. But I didn’t have the money. What happens if we separate? I don’t want to be asking you for stuff — no, that’s not my style.”
Don’t get distracted by social media
Cardi would rather see you using influencers as inspiration for how to get money rather than distraction from making it. “These bloggers making mad money from y’all watching,” she said. “Watch their recipe.”
Live within your means
Cardi said the lavish lives rappers portray aren’t realistic. Flying private, for example, is at best an excess. But sometimes, to avoid the drama of airports now that she has Kulture, it’s unavoidable. “It’s a write-off sometimes, but you gotta prove all day that it’s a write-off,” she said. “And even if it is, that’s money you could’ve had.”
Hustle for a future, but don’t be ashamed of your past
Cardi said that people criticize her for her past work as a stripper. She should have gone to college, they say. She is candid though about the everyday expenses of higher education — like transportation, housing and food — that made community college unaffordable for her. “You cannot even get a room in New York City if you got a job that pays you $300 a week,” she said. She advises that if you’re working and hustling, do it with the future in mind.
Know where your tax money is going
Cardi B is passionate about taxes but understands why not everyone shares her opinion. If she makes $15 million, for example, she told Ms. Mahdara, $8 or 9 million is going to the government. “Then you be like, ‘Damn, I gave all this money to Uncle Sam, and there’s still potholes in my street.’” And besides, health care and college aren’t free, she said. It’s part of why she talks about politics so much to her fans. “I keep educating,” she said. “I try to elevate.”