Daniella Pierson, who founded the women-focused newsletter company The Newsette when she was 19, is now one of America’s wealthiest women of color and, at 27, is younger than any self-made female entrepreneur with a nine figure fortune.
Latinx founder Pierson built The Newsette from nothing to $40 million in revenue and at least $10 million in profit last year, she says. Two weeks ago, she sold a small stake in The Newsette to an investor in a deal that values the company at $200 million. It was the first outside money she took (besides a $15,000 loan from her parents, which she repaid), and she remains the company’s majority shareholder.
She is also the co-founder and co-CEO of Wondermind, a less than a year old mental health startup, along with singer and actress Selena Gomez and Mandy Teefey (CEO of Kicked to the Curb Productions and Gomez’s mother). Her stake in this company, combined with the money and other investments she has made, brings Pierson’s net worth to $220 million. Forbes estimates.
Pierson, who turned 27 last week, is ten months younger than Lucy Guo, the richest BIPOC woman under 30 on Forbes‘2022 list of America’s richest self-made women. Guo, who turns 28 in October, co-founded tech company Scale AI and appeared on Forbes‘ list worth $440 million. The only other self-made woman on the Forbes Younger than Pierson is Kylie Jenner, who just turned 25 on Wednesday, August 10.
When Pierson was a sophomore at Boston University in 2015, she couldn’t find time to visit her favorite websites. So she decided to create a newsletter that would curate the culture, business, beauty and wellness content that she and her friends wanted to read. She first told people that she worked as an intern for a cool newsletter company. “I didn’t want to say I was the founder,” she explains, partly because she lacked confidence. But she was quick to print copies and put them in common areas and halls of buildings around the university.
It was only after graduating that Pierson began to solicit publicity. She says revenue grew from $1 million in 2019 to $7 million in 2020 to $40 million in 2021, with partnerships and advertisers including Bumble, Fidelity, Old Navy, Twitter and Walmart. She made the Forbes Under 30 list in the Media category in 2020, when she was 24.
Today, her free newsletter — which mixes news and links to articles on things like natural beauty products — has more than 500,000 subscribers, mostly women between the ages of 18 and 35. It’s mostly smarter than the Daily Skimm with an irreverent attitude similar to the Morning Brew daily e-mail. Subscribers earn points for referring new readers via a personalized referral code; points can be used to redeem anything from an “exclusive Sunday newsletter” (3 points) to a variety of goodies: a coffee mug (15 points), a “cool” sweatshirt (55 points ) or a free coffee for a year (350 points). points).
Inside Newsette, she also launched creative agency Newland, which creates TikTok channels for clients and helps them find influencers to market their brands, in 2020. Her first campaign was for Amazon on the occasion. of International Women’s Day 2020, highlighting 20 small businesses started by women. Business has grown primarily through word of mouth, says Pierson; the agency has yet to have an official launch and only recently launched its own website, but accounted for a higher percentage of revenue than the newsletter business last year and also for 60% of its 40 employees, she said. (She just hired 10 more employees who will start next month.)
The newsletter maven relishes her good fortune but is candid that she’s not the typical ideal of a successful businesswoman. “I have OCD and depression. I was a horrible student,” she confesses.
His mother grew up in poverty in Colombia and eventually became an oral surgeon and his father, who grew up in Niagara Falls, New York, owns car dealerships in Jacksonville, Florida, where Pierson grew up. As a young child, Pierson had trouble sleeping; she was embarrassed that there was black duct tape on one side of her bed but not the other – it wasn’t even. She developed rituals including looking under the bed until it “feels good”. In her high school health class, she realized while studying mental health disorders that she suffered from OCD. “I was considered the mute twin of the class valedictorian,” she says. Her twin sister, who writes as Alex Aster, went to the University of Pennsylvania, graduated summa cum laude, has 1 million followers on TikTok (making her one of the most most followed on the social media platform) and has published two popular young adult fantasy/thriller books – one of which is in progress made into a movie by Universal and the producers of the Twilight movie.
Pierson didn’t seek treatment for OCD until she was a senior in college. Her GPA had dropped below 2.0 in the second semester of the junior year, and she feared being kicked out of school if she didn’t get her grades. Along with looking under her bed, “I would slap my hands on the floor – it was part of the ritual – so hard that my hands started bleeding one day,” she recalls. “I cried every day for three months.” She knew she needed help, but also knew her parents didn’t believe in therapists. With some of the affiliate money from The Newsette, she paid to see a therapist who had prescribed her Prozac; who, along with cognitive behavioral therapy, made a difference. She made the dean’s list in senior year and got nearly all A’s.
“Something that Danny and I have in common: we don’t like to hide difficult things,” says his sister Aster. “She has an amazing life and she is so successful,” but it hasn’t all been easy. Aster was initially rejected by several publishers and parted ways with her agent before launching her book on TikTok, which led to an auction among publishers and a six-figure advance. The sisters are close and helped each other – Aster copied The Newsette write-up for Pierson every morning in the beginning, and Pierson read Aster’s chapters first. “I trust his opinion of anyone,” Aster says.
Pushed almost to the point of excess, Pierson says she took her first week-long vacation in four years last month. “I couldn’t relax,” she says. “Nothing brings me as much happiness as starting a business.” Still, she says her OCD evolved but didn’t go away; she learned not only to cope, but also, hopefully, to be an inspiration to others.
“I don’t want anyone with mental health issues to feel like they can’t succeed,” Pierson says. “I want to show the world that success can be different.”