Best Inspirational Rag-to-Riches Life Stories


The saying the people need some money to create more money is true with many billionaires today as access to education, opportunities and to make wise investments are easily available to them when compared to other people. This helps kids born in rich families to making a lot of money again as they grow up and repeating the wealth building process. However, not everyone is born with the silver spoon and there are some people who had to work really hard to rise above their humble beginnings and become extremely rich. Here are some of such rags-to-riches stories to inspire you.

Leonardo Del Vecchio

Leonardo Del Vecchio was born in Milan in 1935 to an impoverished family. Just a few months earlier, his father had died and his mother could not afford to raise him alone and gave him to an orphanage. As he stepped into his teens, he worked as an apprentice to a tool and die maker in Milan and later decided to turn his skills in metal working to manufacture eyeglasses in Milan. After he worked for a few years and moved on to a town called Agordo, he created the Luxottica brand whose glasses were used by Ray-Ban, Prada, Oakley, Coach and others. He later acquired a distribution company in 1974 and signed a licencing deal with Giorgio Armani in 1988. His company was listed in New York in 1990 and started acquiring major brands including Vogue in 1990, Persol and LensCrafters in 1995, and Ray-Ban in 1999. Today, according to Forbes, Del Vecchio has an estimated net worth of $22.6 billion.

Ingvar Kamprad

Ingvar Kamprad is known the world over as the founder of IKEA but little is known about his poverty during his childhood. Born in 1926 on a farm to a poor family in Sweden, Kamprad had to sell matches to people at the tender age of six. By the time, he was ten years old, he was selling Christmas decorations door-to-door on a bicycle. He suffered from dyslexia which made it really hard for him to get good grades at school. Seeing him working hard to overcome this disability, his father gave him small rewards every time he got good grades. He saved that money and decided to start a business and name it Ingvar Kamprad from Elmtaryd, Agunnaryd – aka IKEA. The initials reflected his name, the family farm where he was born (Elmtaryd) and the nearby village where he was raised (Agunnaryd).

For years, he was selling furniture to his neighbours and realised that everyone needed furniture and décor and started selling products at a much lower price than the competitors resulting in local businesses boycotting him from buying wholesale. He created his own furniture design which was simple, cheap and yet modern. Today, IKEA has more than 350 stores all over the world and Ingvar Kamprad was worth $58.7 billion during the time of his death in January 2018.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey was born in 1954 in rural Mississippi to an unmarried teenage single mother who worked as a housemaid. As her mother travelled north for work, Winfrey had to stay with her maternal grandmother and lived in rural poverty. They were so poor that she wore dresses made out of potato sacks for which local students made fun of her. When she was just nine years old, she was repeatedly raped by different men in her family and she later moved to Tennessee to live with her father. She became pregnant at the age of 14 and gave birth to a premature baby who died after birth. Ever since, she has chosen not be a mother but shares a spiritual union with American educator, businessman and speaker Stedman Graham Jr.

Despite going through all the hell in her teenage life and back, all her suffering has only further encouraged her to show empathy for the pain that other people experience in their lives. A smart student who always excelled at school, Winfrey got scholarship to study at college and later found a job at a radio station as a news anchor. Winfrey choose her career in media and there was a special charm about her personality. By the time she was 30, she went on to become the first black woman in history to have her own talk show and today, her net worth is $2.8 billion.

Gabriel Chanel

Gabriel Coco Chanel was born in the year 1883 to an unmarried mother who was a laundrywoman known as Jeanne out of her relationship with Albert Chanel. The couple who live a nomadic life travelling around towns had five surviving children – two boys and three girls. Her mother died of tuberculosis when Gabriel was 12 years old and her father sent the sons out to work as labourers and sent all his three daughters to an orphanage where Chanel learned how to sew. She was sent to boarding house at the age of eighteen as she was too old to remain at the orphanage.

Later, she became a professional seamstress and also worked at a bar at nights as a singer for extra income. Women were not allowed to own property, open bank accounts and even vote at that time. Determined to succeed in life, she began living as a mistress to a young man she had met at the bar at the age of 23 and began to speak and act like wealthy women which later helped in her life to create clothes poor fabric that fit with the high society. Initially, she began designing hats and later moved on to create comfortable clothing including sportswear and chic clothing and later on to create perfumes. She opened boutiques in Paris and her designs quickly influenced the entire world. Today, Chanel products are a symbol of status and luxury and the present owners of the company are worth $19 billion.

J. K. Rowling

Joanne Rowling, better known by her pen name J. K. Rowling, was born in 1965 and grew up with her parents who were struggling financially. She has a rags to riches life story in which she progressed from being dependant government assistance to becoming the billionaire author that she is today. She went to college with the dream of becoming a novelist but her parents discouraged her. As an adult, she had to run away from an abusive relationship and had to be dependent on state benefits to take care of herself and her daughter. She was even diagnosed with clinical depression and even contemplated suicide at one point of time. Living on state benefits and taking care of her daughter, she continued writing her novels in cafés or wherever her little daughter could fall asleep.

She focused on her idea of writing Harry Potter which brewed in her mind for a long time and unsuccessfully met a number of publishers in getting her manuscript printed. Finally, at the age of 32, her first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published in the United Kingdom. Today, Rowling is one of the most successful novelists in the world is worth $650 million.