Unbeknownst to many, Knauss, 45, has had a successful career in both modeling and fashion as she was associated with her now-husband’s Trump Model Management, amongst other top-tier industry agencies.
While Knauss is mother to Trump’s 9-year-old son, Barron, she isn’t your typical presidential candidate’s wife. Although her individual riches pale in comparison to her husband’s massive real estate empire, she’s built quite the fortune nonetheless.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. She Runs Her Own Watch & Jewelry Line
Being a former fashion model, Knauss knows a thing or two about accessories. She’s capitalized on that knowledge by launching Melania Timepieces & Jewelry line. The items — bracelets, earrings, necklaces, rings and watches are sold on QVC and cost less than $200. In the video above, Knauss elaborated to Hollywood Life on May 10, 2012 about the line.
In January 2012, she spoke to Refinery29 about using her own life as inspiration to market her high-fashion jewelry line.
“Well, the client is a woman, a businesswoman, a mother, a daughter…. I take it from my lifestyle. I’m all of that: I’m a mother, a business woman, a sister, a daughter. And I wear all of these pieces for different occasions. When I play with my son, I love to wear necklaces or earrings or a watch. And if I go to meetings, I wear different watches or rings. Wherever you go, you can wear something from my collection. To keep your look elegant and chic, you have to mix pieces that are not so flashy with pieces that are for special occasions.””
Knauss — who clearly has the resources to hire help — told the Associated Press in April 2010 that she’s extremely hands-on in the company’s production process.
“I’m completely involved from A to Z, 100 percent. … I go through the samples and have to approve every piece. ”
While acknowledging that Trump’s fully aware of what she’s doing, Knauss stated that she prefers to finish something before she talks about it.
“He knows I’m doing it, but we didn’t talk much. I’m not a big talker; I prefer to do it and then when it’s done to come out and show. I don’t like people who talk, talk, talk and then don’t deliver.”
2. She’s a Former High-Fashion Model
Before moving to the U.S. in 1996, Knauss worked as a model for top fashion houses in Milan and Italy. At 5-years-old, she was recruited to model in Slovenia’s Jutranjka catalogues, and got her first taste of the fashion world while participating with her older sister Ines, according to Daily Mail. The event reportedly took place at the Hotel Jugoslavia in Belgrade, a hot spot that hosted celebrities such as the Queen and Tina Turner. At 17-years-old, Knauss posed for well-known photographer Stane Jerko, who discovered her in Ljubljana in 1987 at a modeling competition.
In the above interview with Barbara Walters for 20/20 in November 2015, Knauss spoke about accepting the judgement she’s received for being Trump’s wife, which she won’t let discount her prior successes.
“I think people will always judge, and maybe they will say, ‘Oh, the past that you have, the way you were modeling,’ That’s part of the job that I was doing. I was a very successful model and I did some photo shoots.”
3. She’s Graced the Cover of 13 Popular Magazines
With a highly successful modeling career comes great responsibility. Such was the case for Knauss, who nabbed the cover of the following 13 top-tier fashion magazines:
4. She Has an Estimated Net Worth of $10 Million
According to Celebrity Net Worth, which classifies Knauss as a “Supermodel, Socialite, Jewelry Designer,” has an estimated net worth of $10 million.
While Knauss boasts an impressive bottom line, Trump’s is drastically heftier at $4.5 billion, reported Forbes.
On January 22, 2005, Knauss and Trump got married to the tune of a one million dollar price tag. Caviar and flowers costed an estimated $500,000 with Knauss donning a $125,000 Christian Dior wedding dress. The power couple’s Grand Marnier cake weighed 50 lbs and was topped with over 3,000 roses.
5. She Studied Design & Architecture But Never Graduated
Although school in Slovenia usually ended at 15-years-old, Knauss’s father, Viktor, saved up money for his family to rent a place in Ljubjana. She was later accepted at the University of Ljubjana. While she worked hard at studying design and architecture, she ultimately left school once her modeling career began to flourish. Shortly after leaving university, Knauss moved to Milan, where she met Paolo Zampolli, who introduced her to Trump.
In August 2015, Knauss told the New York Post in August 2015 that her mother, Amalijia, supported her early fashion endeavors.
“My mom was in the fashion business. I was 5 years old when I did my first catwalk and did commercials at 16. I went professional after my studies. My mom loved fashion. We loved to travel and go to Italy and Paris.”