Hip-hop royalty and television personality Vanessa Simmons has grown up in front of the eyes of America from a young adolescent to her evolution as mother and businesswoman. Much has changed since the beginning of the limelight through her family’s reality show in 2005 on MTV’s “Run’s House” for six seasons. She continued her career by serving as a judge on Lifetime reality competition “Project Runway: Threads,” and currently through various seasons of “Growing Up Hip Hop,” as well as being featured in various plays, TV and film projects.

Vanessa’s early exposure to her father––Joseph Simmons––Rev Run’s iconic Rock & Roll Hall of Fame group Run-D.M.C. instilled in her the principle that success would not just be handed to her, but rather she needed to grind to prosper.

She prides herself on the work she’s done as creative director & co-founder alongside her sister Angela Simmons, through their company, Pastry, a footwear brand for professional and university dance teams. Vanessa has since evolved into the beauty industry as a founder and CEO, launching brands such as all-natural skincare line Sugar Me and her mother/daughter apparel company Glitter and Lace. 

At the onset of becoming a mother, Vanessa launched Sugar Me while observing how the “mom life” doesn’t always allow for personal time. Glitter and Lace on the other hand, was largely inspired by Ava Marie––her seven-year-old daughter. Vanessa spun Ava’s creative leanings into a project they could do together, hence establishing a real designer line.

Vanessa shares, “This is meant to be an accessible line that keeps both you and your mini-me chic and comfy. It features fun sayings that moms and daughters alike can relate to, even on the busiest of days. Because at the end of the day, life’s too short to wear boring clothes.

It’s a brand I am building out for her so that when she turns 18 or 21, she has a company to run because she is very creative and very into fashion. This is like a dream come true for me.”

With multiple endeavors across entertainment and commerce, Vanessa continues to spread joy all while building her legacy and enjoying the delights of motherhood.

INSPIRED BY MOTHERHOOD 

Vanessa Simmons: Sugar Me is my all-natural skincare line. I started it after I had my daughter. When you become a new mom, you don’t get that “me time.” I created Sugar Me to empower moms. I had the mothers in mind who sometimes may neglect basic self-care needs because they’re keeping the home life together. In a way, it gave women their own self-care oasis. I wanted it to be all-natural, because my doctor warned me about the many products that I couldn’t use. 

I thought, if I couldn’t use it while I’m pregnant, why wouldn’t it be OK to use when I’m not. It is important to make sure that every single product that is released under Sugar Me is 100% natural and that they are high performance products. We’re currently working on a three piece skincare system right now, so I’m very excited. There is no set date yet. I want to really perfect these products.

A MOTHER & DAUGHTER PARTNERSHIP 

Vanessa Simmons: My daughter would come home from school and say, “Mommy, look I made this dress,” or “Mommy, look I made this.” I wanted to take it a step further and show her that I can take her designs to someone who can make them and show her the steps. She was blown away–– she was about three years old. 

That became our little project. I thought, you know what, we can start small. Then when she’s 18, she can take this brand and turn it into her own empire. She’s inspired me in a whole new way. That’s really what Glitter and Lace was born from. My daughter is still designing things, and over the pandemic she was making designs every single day. 

It’s funny, While we were doing Glitter and Lace, I had memorabilia of a sneaker line that I started with my sister. My daughter said, “Mom, how come you don’t design sneakers anymore?” I was like, “You know what, that’s a really good question.” She was my inspiration to go back to be a creative director of the brand I started 15 years ago. There’s so much inspiration from having a child. There’s no sort of deadline on your dreams — it’s just an extension. 

BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED

Vanessa Simmons: Keep going. I know it sounds cliche, but the goal is to keep going, no matter what you’re creating. There are going to be hiccups, there’s going to be things that come and challenge you, but those challenges are actually the sign that you need to keep going. We have got to learn the lessons so that we can fully live who we are. So bloom where you’re planted. You may feel like you’re not in the right area to get to your ultimate goal, but really you are. 

You just have to bloom exactly where you are to get to that next level. Have a powerful vision and just go for it. It may seem far-fetched. That’s what dreams are until you’re right there. People like to assume things about me since I come from a certain background, but really my dad taught me the power of work ethic to get to your ultimate vision. I’ve had retail jobs straight out of high school. My dad wanted me to understand this idea that you won’t get anywhere without hard work. 

Interview by Tricia Love Vargas
Photography By Michael Letterlough
Makeup Artist: Rodney Jon
Hair Stylist: Karl Jackson
Wardrobe Stylist: Jamar Hart
(Black couture dress): Zlatko Jovanovski
Shoes: Pastry

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