Daniella Pierson, one of the wealthiest women of color in the United States, created the women-focused newsletter company The Newsette when she was 19 years old. At 27 years old, Daniella Pierson is younger than almost any self-made female entrepreneur with a nine figure fortune.
A Latina founder, Pierson grew The Newsletter from nothing to $40 million in sales and at least $10 million in earnings the previous year, according to her. She gave an investor a small part in The Newsletter two weeks ago in a deal that valued the business at $200 million. She still holds a majority stake in the company, but this is the first outside funding she has obtained (apart from a $15,000 loan from her parents, which she repaid).
Along with the actress and singer Selena Gomez and Mandy Teefey, CEO of Kicked to the Curb Productions and Gomez’s mother, she is a cofounder and co-CEO of Wondermind, a startup for mental health that has only been around for a few months. Pierson’s net worth is estimated by Forbes to be $220 million due to her ownership in the company, cash, and other investments. (Update: Wondermind said on Instagram on August 11 that it has secured $5 million at a valuation of $100 million from investor Serena Williams’ Serena Ventures.)
On Forbes’ 2022 list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women, Pierson, who just turned 27 this week, is 10 months younger than Lucy Guo, who is the richest under-30 BIPOC woman. Guo, who turns 28 in October, cofounded the tech company Scale AI and was listed as having a net worth of $440 million by Forbes. Only Kylie Jenner, who turned 25 on Wednesday, August 10, is another self-made female on the Forbes list. Pierson is the only other self-made female under 25. (For comparison, the $215 million threshold for inclusion on the 2022 Self-Made Women list, which was published in June.)
In order to visit her favourite websites more frequently as a sophomore at Boston University in 2015, Pierson made the decision to start a newsletter that would curate the culture, business, beauty, and wellness material she and her friends would find interesting. She began by informing folks that she was an intern for a hip newsletter company. She explains that she was hesitant to claim founder status in part due to her lack of confidence. However, she worked quickly, printing copies, and posting them in the lobby areas and common spaces of buildings all across the institution.
After she received her degree, Pierson didn’t begin looking for advertising. According to her, income increased from $1 million in 2019 to $7 million in 2020 to $40 million in 2021 thanks to collaborations and sponsors including Bumble, Fidelity, Old Navy, Twitter, and Walmart. In 2020, at the age of 24, she was included on the Forbes Under 30 list for the Media category.
Now, her free email has more than 500,000 members, most of whom are women between the ages of 18 and 35. It combines news with links to articles about topics like natural beauty products. It has a more irreverent attitude than the Daily Skimm and is generally wiser than that publication. The points can be redeemed for anything from a “exclusive Sunday newsletter” (3 points) to a variety of goods, such as a coffee mug (15 points), a “cool” sweater (55 points), or free coffee for a year. Subscribers receive points for introducing new readers via a personalised referral code (350 points).
In addition to Newsette, she founded the creative agency Newland in 2020, which helps companies find influencers to promote their businesses on TikTok and produces TikTok channels for them. On International Women’s Day 2020, it ran its first promotion for Amazon, promoting 20 small businesses founded by women. According to Pierson, word-of-mouth has been the main source of business growth. The agency hasn’t had an official launch and just recently launched its own website, but it has already contributed a higher percentage of revenue than the newsletter business did last year and employs 60% of her 40 workers. (She recently hired 10 new workers who will begin working in one month.)
The mailing guru is grateful for her good fortune, but she is honest about the fact that she doesn’t fit the mould of the ideal businesswoman. “I’m depressed and have OCD. I was a lousy student, she admits.
Her father, who was born in Niagara Falls, New York, now owns car dealerships in Jacksonville, Florida, where Pierson was raised. Her mother, who was raised in poverty in Colombia and later trained as an oral surgeon, was born in Colombia. When Pierson was a little child, she had problems falling asleep. She found it upsetting that her bed had black tape on one side but not the other—it wasn’t even. She established rituals, such as checking behind the bed until something “felt right.” She discovered she had OCD in her high school health class while learning about mental health issues. I was seen as the class valedictorian’s stupid twin, she claims. She has one million followers on TikTok, making her one of the most followed authors on the social media platform, and has published two well-known young adult fantasy/thriller books, one of which is being turned into a movie by Universal and the Twilight movie makers. Her twin sister, who writes under the pen name Alex Aster, attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated summa cum laude.
Pierson didn’t start getting OCD therapy until she was a college senior. In the second semester of her junior year, her GPA fell below 2.0, and she was concerned that if her grades didn’t improve, she would be expelled. Along with checking under her bed, she also recounts that “I would bang my hands on the ground—that was part of the ritual—so hard that my hands started bleeding one day.” “I cried all day long for three months.” She was aware of her need for assistance but was also aware of her parents’ lack of faith in therapists. She paid for a treatment session with a therapist who prescribed Prozac with part of the affiliate revenue she had been receiving from The Newsette; this, together with some cognitive behavioural therapy, helped turn things around. She earned almost all As and was named to the dean’s list her senior year.
She quotes her sister Aster as saying, “Danny and I don’t want to skim over difficult topics.” Although she is incredibly successful, not everything has been simple for her. Prior to presenting her novel on TikTok, which sparked an auction between publishers and a six-figure advance, Aster had already been rejected by a number of publishers and had broken up her relationship with her agency. Aster used to copy edit The Newsette for Pierson every morning in the beginning, and now Pierson reads Aster’s chapters first. The sisters are close and have supported one another. She is the only person whose opinion I trust, says Aster.
Pierson claims that she had her first one-week holiday in four years last month after being nearly driven to excess. I was unable to unwind, she admits. “Building firms make me happier than anything else.” She claims that although her OCD has changed, it hasn’t gone away; instead, she has learnt to cope and, hopefully, to inspire others.
According to Pierson, people with mental health challenges should not give up hope of achieving achievement. “I want to demonstrate to the world that success may take many forms.