Stephanie Shepherd, Kim Kardashian’s Former Assistant, on Leaving the ‘Mothership’: ‘That’s All I Knew’

Power Women Summit: “That was my life. I lived, breathed that entire thing,” Shepherd says

Stephanie Shepherd Power Women Summit
Photographed by Ted Soqui

Stephanie Shepherd is a rising social influencer in the fashion and entertainment industries — but she wouldn’t be where she is today if it weren’t for her split with Kim Kardashian.

Shepherd spent five years as Kardashian’s assistant and COO of Kardashian West Brands before deciding to branch out on her own. And at TheWrap’s Power Women Summit, during a panel called “Betting on Yourself,” she shared why she chose to go out on her own.

“The tipping point for me, I think, was the desire for me to live my own life outweighed the fear,” Shepherd, who currently has 1.2 million Instagram followers, told moderator Claudia Carasso. “‘Cause I definitely was scared. And I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh. Is anyone going to care about me? Am I going to be cut off? How do I leave the mothership? What is that even going to be like?’ It was so scary and the crazy thing was, as I was driving away from Kim’s house, I was like, ‘OK. Oh my god. I’m gonna do this.’ And it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, god, this isn’t right.’ I wasn’t freaked out. I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m really kind of excited. Like, what am I gonna do?’”

“That was the first time I felt like that,” she continued. “Because it’s so scary to walk away from everything — I mean, that was my life. I lived, breathed that entire thing. That’s all I knew. That’s the only empire I had worked in. I knew the ins and outs. I had no clue if anyone would care to hire me or if my experience was enough or what would happen. But the desire to do it was just so much greater than the fear at that point that I was like, even if I fail, I have to.”

Lucky for her, Shepherd said, Kardashian basically pushed her out of the nest.

“She was like, ‘You need to do this. Like, you’re ready. Go do it.’ Because if I had to break up with her, I don’t know if I would have done it at that moment. But luckily she’s such a great mentor that she was like, ‘You gotta go. Like, I love you. I want you forever, but you have to go.’”

Most recently, Shepherd collaborated with the denim brand J Brand on her limited edition “Little Black Jean,” which sold out in 19 hours and currently has a waiting list. In addition to her design, Shepherd also appears as the face of the campaign. Her new addition of the remix comes out Nov. 7 and will likely sell out just as quickly.

She explained to the Summit’s attendees what made her realize she had to move on to look for these new opportunities.

“I started to find my voice,” Shepherd said. “For so long I kind of was living for someone else — and that’s why I was so good at my job. I gave everything to her business, and to her world, and I loved it. And I was so in the bubble and it was honestly one of the best experiences I think of my life. And I learned so much.”

Shepherd said working for Kardashian was her version of “graduate school.”

“I learned everything about the entertainment world that I needed to know during those five years,” she said. “And towards the end, I just felt like it was time for me to do my own thing. I had the itch to create something for myself and to really branch out and use my voice and talk about the things I wanted to talk about.”

She said it “means the world” to her to have Kardashian’s support in all this.

“If I didn’t, I don’t know if I would have all the confidence that I do,” she said. “But knowing that she’s in my corner really is such a positive thing for me and I feel very lucky and hopefully you guys are feeling like if you wanna step out you can make that separation as amicable as possible and have that support.”

Just a few days before the U.S. midterm elections, the focus of the Power Women Summit is to achieve gender equity in Hollywood, with the theme: The Road to 50/50 By 2020.

The Summit is the largest gathering ever assembled of the most influential women in entertainment and media, attended and supported by studios, news organizations and non-profits across the entertainment industry landscape. It is presented by the WrapWomen Foundation, a division of TheWrap News.