Charming Entrepreneur

Houston retailer bests Beyoncé on list of America's Richest Entrepreneurs Under 40

Houston retailer bests Beyoncé on Richest Entrepreneurs Under 40 list

36, charming charlie, grand opening party, CityCentre, December 2012, Charlie Chanaratsopon, Judi Langley, Suchit Majmudar
Charlie Chanaratsopon celebrates with friends at the opening of the Charming Charlie store in CityCentre in 2012. Photo by William Yao

A "Charming" Houston entrepreneur has bested hometown icon Beyoncé Knowles on the latest Forbes list of America's List of Richest Entrepreneurs Under 40.

Charlie Chanaratsopon, the founder of the Charming Charlie accessories chain, is No. 27 on the list, with an estimated net worth of $450 million. The 38-year-old entrepreneur now has 350 stores across the United States and Canada that showcase fashion jewelry, handbags, apparel, small leather goods, scarves, watches, sunglasses, and a new fragrance collection. The chain has recently expanded to the Middle East, with stores in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

According to Forbes, "Chanaratsopon is the first generation in his family born in America, after his parents immigrated from Thailand in 1974 and eventually started sterling silver jewelry import business that sold to some department stores. Always entrepreneurial, Chanaratsopon ended up in the elementary school principal's office after charging first-grade classmates $1 a day to rent his Nintendo games."

In 2004, he founded Charming Charlie, naming it after himself, as a side business to fill out Houston shopping malls he was developing. 

Chanaratsopon surpasses Beyoncé Knowles, who ranks No. 38 on the list, with a net worth of $290 million. The singer, 35, has pulled in more than $600 million in gross earning as a solo artist since 2008, according to Forbes.

Chanaratsopon was No. 38 on the list in 2015, Knowles was not on it. The singer and actress-turned-consumer products marketer Jessica Alba are the only two women on the top 40 under 40 list.

The richest under 40 newcomer is Austin-based oilman Bryan Sheffield. He is worth $1.45 billion and ranks No. 14 on the Forbes list.

The son of outgoing CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources and grandson of West Texas oil legend Joe Parsley, Sheffield took his company public in 2014. He survived the drop in oil prices by the company's old wells, "which were smack dab in what's now considered to be the best place left to drill for oil in America," Forbes says. The company's shares are now at record highs.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is No. 1 on the list, with a net worth of $50.3 billion.