Cardi B backstage at Beautycon at the Javitz Center, in New York, April 7, 2019. The rapper talked to Moj Mahdara, the chief executive of Beautycon, about financial literacy and how more women in beauty can “chase the bag.” (Dolly Faibyshev/The New York Times) Image Credit: NYT

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.

Mahdara, the chief executive of Beautycon, which holds semiannual trade shows, recently raised $20 million (Dh73.4 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 Mahdara. At Beautycon NYC, Cardi and Mahdara spoke about how the basics of financial literacy ignore some personal-finance realities. Cardi said: “You can save money when you can afford to save money. How you gonna save money and you have bills to pay?”

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,” Mahdara said, and men aren’t comfortable talking to them about it. She believes that her appearance and demeanour, as a butch, queer woman, intimidate 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 levelling up, hustling and getting paid:

1. Ask for what you want

Cardi said that 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.”

2. 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.

3. 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.”

4. 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.”

5. Hustle for a future, but don’t be ashamed of your past

Cardi said people criticised 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.