Me, Myself & I
Behind The Brand: Raven Thomas, CEO of The Painted Pretzel
"At first, I didn’t want to do it. I thought, 'Why would they pick me? I just make chocolate-covered pretzels. It’s not anything glamorous." - Raven Thomas, The Painted Pretzel
There are entrepreneurs and then there are business savvy, mini-moguls who appear on Shark Tank, command the respect and business partnership of heavy hitters such as Mark Cuban and land a life changing --deal of a lifetime overnight. Meet Raven Thomas. She is all of these and much more. I had the pleasure of learning about the woman Behind The Brand. She is genuine, Godly, humble, the wife of retired NFL player Eric Thomas and mother to two young boys. Raven is the Founder and CEO of The Painted Pretzel. Haven’t heard of her genius business and delicious brand? Get acquainted and get motivated!
Name: Raven Thomas
Husband: Eric Thomas
Anniversary: June 24, 2000
Occupation: Entrepreneur (thepaintedpretzel.com)
Husband’s Tenure and Teams: Started with the Jaguars, Buccaneers
Children: Two. Jeremiah (10), Aaron (8)
Cities You've Lived in with NFL: Jacksonville and Tampa
Favorite place to visit: San Diego
Your first car: Ford Contour
Music on your playlist: Adele and old school music like LL Cool J. I have a mix of old and new
Hobbies: I like to workout/exercise! CrossFit, Orange Theory Fitness and running sprints are my speed!
Your favorite memory: The day I met my husband.
LM: Where are you from originally and how did you get to where you are now?
RT: I’m from Atlanta, Ga. I arrived in Arizona because of my husband’s work.
LM: How did you and your husband meet? What’s your love story?
RT: We met at a party our freshman year of college at FSU. We started talking because neither one of us were dancing and I wasn’t the type to have boyfriends. But he was different; we didn’t see each other again face to face for like a year. My friend used to be lab partners with another football player so I would have her spy in class. When they would do work, she would spy (on him). Fast forward to a few months later, we had a class together over the summer. Once we had that class together, the rest was history…that was 20 years ago.
ON THE NFL:
LM: What are some of the challenges of being married to an NFL player and what do you like about it?
RT: Well, we got married when we were 24 so we were young. A challenge for me was not being able to settle down in a way. We lived in Jacksonville but then we lived in Tampa. NFL sent him to NFL Europe and then he came back so it’s just very unstable. That part is hard. I ended up going back to school and getting my Masters but not when I wanted to because of the instability. When I did go back, I was flying back and forth. He wasn’t a superstar so it was more like “will he have a job next week?” and that part is also tough to deal with. It is stressful. He was in the NFL for two years and then he played (in the) arena league. He had a stable contract with arena and he was very good at that. Of course the fact still remains that one injury could cause you to lose your job. When Eric left the game, he left on his own. His transition was very easy in that he didn’t long to play anymore.
LM: What is one piece of advice you can give to other women that you wish you would have known prior to your husband playing in the league?
RT: Probably that it’s not what I expected. I don’t know what I expected but I know it wasn’t that. Expect the unexpected! For a few families it’s different, but for the masses it is not glamorous!
LM: Do you believe there are any misconceptions or stereotypes of NFL WAGS? If so, what is your view?
RT: Yes. I think that a lot of times WAGS are seen as gold diggers or just trying to “come up”, get a meal ticket or are in it for the glamour (of it all). I remember someone told me, “Oh, you came up.” That was funny because we’ve been together since he was on the bench at FSU. Sometimes that (“come up”) does happen but overall with most of the women I’ve met, that’s not the case. The other misconception is that these women live off their husbands which is also not true.
ON SHARK TANK:
Editor’s Notes: The Painted Pretzel partnered with Mark Cuban for $100,000 in return for 25% equity in the pretzel business. Result – The Painted Pretzel is selling in hundreds of stores and has partnered with Landmark Theaters thanks to Mark Cuban.
LM: Let’s talk about your business, The Painted Pretzel for a moment. Tell us how your idea came about and what the journey has been like?
RT: Well, it came about by me going to a spa. Clarification, my sister worked at a spa. The owner would make little snacks around holiday time (Thanksgiving, I believe) where she would have little chocolate-covered pretzels and candies but I recall thinking that she could do better than that. I also liked the idea of giving them as Christmas gifts because I was pregnant with my second child and didn’t want to spend any money on gifts. I did it and everyone liked them, like a lot! Because I am a perfectionist -I said to myself that I need a website (probably didn’t need one at the time) but, people started buying them and it started to grow from there. After that, I thought maybe I could sell them in a store so I took the pretzels to a candy convention in Chicago and I received really big orders from all these stores. It was never my plan to have a business.
LM: Talk about the Shark Tank experience and how that came about?
RT: I hadn’t seen the show before. My father-in-law watched it and suggested I watch it and try to get on the show. At first, I didn’t want to do it. I thought, “Why would they pick me? I just make chocolate-covered pretzels. It’s not anything glamorous.” I ended up sending in an email to the show explaining my business. I didn’t hear back for nearly a year. I had completely forgotten about even wanting to be on the show. One day, the casting director for Shark Tank called me to see if I was still interested. They had already made their choices for the season I applied to but they had saved my application. I almost thought it was a joke it was so random. I still had to send in my video because I hadn’t done that yet (I had only sent an email). My husband filmed me in our home kitchen. It was hilarious! To this day, I think they picked me because they said this girl cannot be serious. It was unedited. My husband filmed it on his way out the door- one take and that was it, we sent it in.
LM: What role does Mark Cuban play in your business and how has it been working with him?
RT: He’s not involved with the day-to-day operations of the business. He gave me money and if ever I need to contact him, I send him an email and he will respond really quickly. He has a million people who work for him (marketing etc.) so whatever you need; it’s readily available. At this point, most of our things are made at a huge candy factory. They’re not technically my staff but they make it for me. I have one person who really helps me with the day to day. I’m very hands on and I am a perfectionist so there is still a lot about our business that I like to oversee. Most of the manufacturing details, I hand off elsewhere.
LM: How did the Shark Tank episode affect your business?
RT: It’s funny because I made the deal in June but, my episode didn’t air until February. No one knew and I couldn’t tell anyone. For that period of time I ran my business as normal. Literally the moment after it aired, my business grew 1500%! I knew right when my segment aired because my sales jumped immediately! Just being on Shark Tank alone, my business grew. From there, it’s just continued to grow. I’ve been in over 6000 stores and before the show I was in all the Neiman Marcus stores. After, I was in TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and then doors opened to where I had to actually decline offers. I’ve been in movie theaters also! Before the show, I was getting turned away from some places. That part is shocking, really.
LM: It sounds like the show really catapulted your business!
RT: Being in front of millions of people changes things. Customers are calling, emailing and ordering. It wasn’t this beautiful, lovely thing. It was actually just chaos! It was wonderful and terrible at the same time because it was just so much to deal with. I think my episode is the most-aired on CNBC. I could not pay for that kind of publicity. People ask me, how do you get on? And I say “I don’t know.” During my season, somewhere around 34,000 people applied.
LM: What do you think makes you different?
RT: I think I’m just not afraid to fail. When I went on Shark Tank, I kept getting asked if I was nervous. The only moment I was nervous was when I walked down that long hallway when they call your name. I just didn’t want to fall! Once I got to my spot, I was fine. I did care if they gave me a deal but not to the point where it would change anything. For me, I’m not living by someone else’s standards. I’ve failed many times in business and I think that’s big. That is resilience.
LM: What’s one piece of advice you can give aspiring female entrepreneurs?
RT: Do not be afraid! If you have a dream birthed in your heart, go do it! You shouldn’t let it die there. Whether you are successful or not (and success should be defined by yourself) you should at least try! If you allow your dream to die, it’s like living a life unfulfilled.
LM: What would you like people to know about you?
RT: I’m just a regular girl who once I got started with my business-- I just couldn’t stop. I’ve attempted to stop before, but I felt like this was the path God had for me and everything I’m about is about Jesus. I live for Him on purpose but everything else is accident.
LM: What are your goals?
RT: At this point I’ve decided I just want to really enjoy life. I want to enjoy the things that are around me: family, business, and life in general. At times, I can get so busy that I don’t have time to enjoy anything else. I still work 65 hours per week in the business but I had to start shutting it down for at least a week around the holidays. It’s good to aspire to do and be more but that shouldn’t be your main focus. I’ve accomplished a lot already so I need to be able to step back and say job well done. My goals are to enjoy what I’ve done, enjoy our kids and not let the business be the center of my attention.
LM: What are you most proud of?
RT: I’m proud that I didn’t lock myself in a box (as of yet). I’ve been willing to go where and how I wanted to go instead of going along with how other people think I should. I think that takes a lot of courage. I started this business eight years ago and it was after my first year that I attended the candy show (in Chicago). When I was there, I heard “Oh, that’s a really cute idea” like I should try something else because my idea was silly. I heard that multiple times. I never let the negative talk change my mind or deter me. I just kept going. The arena league folded around the time I went to Chicago and when that happened my husband didn’t have a job but, we had money saved. This was a crossroad for us where I could either try to make it into retail stores and really make this into a business knowing my husband didn’t have a job or I could go get a job. I could’ve gotten a job – but that’s not where I was supposed to be.
LM: What are you passionate about?
RT: I’m most passionate about living a life that’s pleasing to God where people can see me and know what I stand for. I’m passionate about my family remaining focused on things of God. No matter what we have, what we’ve been given; being able to stay centered on Him is important. Through the ups and downs, neither has broken me because I stay focused on Him.
Jonesing for the NFL Life
We have all heard the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses,” but for the NFL Family this can be very dangerous. One of the first things I tell my clients is “contrary to popular belief everyone in the NFL is not a millionaire.” Matter of fact, most players are not millionaires and most won’t ever be in that tax bracket solely based on their NFL contracts. From private flights to the infamous red bottom shoe wall, the stereotypical NFL life can be every family’s dream. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to fly private? No pesky security lines or stress of fitting your entire life into 50 pounds or less. But the reality is sometimes flying commercial now prevents you from being broke later. The Athlete
Immediately after players declare for the draft, they are propelled into a life of temptation. From expensive watches or loan advancements for new cars, the stereotypical NFL life seems to be a dream come true. Most players are instantly persuaded by agents, homeboys, family members and even some NFL teammates that they should live like a baller. The irony in this is that most of those influencers who push for the elaborate lifestyle would not be able to live the lifestyle without the generosity of the player.
For the athlete, the pressure to live a lavish lifestyle is very real. They must have the latest Jordan’s and designer brands including the famous Louis belt. Yes clothes, cars and bags are important but the true burden comes from nightlife spending. During the lockout, several players flocked to Miami to train but to also party. We have all heard of “Liv on Sunday,” and Liv was definitely aware of all of the NFL money that was in town. Players spending between $7,000 and $10,000 on a table every weekend was the norm, and complaining about it was simply unacceptable. No one cares about “how their accounts are set up.” If they are in the club, then they are buying tables because once they become a NFL player the expectation of high end living is the new standard.
The athlete isn’t the only one facing the pressures of living high. NFL wives are judged by their bags, shoes, cars and even eyelashes. Yes even eyelashes! From elaborate weddings and discussions about who has the biggest ring, the standards are high even if your accounts are low. Eyes are watching and unfortunately this is the downfall of a lot of NFL families. Wives aren’t the only ones who fall victim to the extravagant life, family members and homeboys who all of a sudden can no longer take care of themselves and assume the player is now responsible for their existence are some of the biggest culprits in perpetuating the bravado.
The truth is some players don’t learn that they can’t keep up with the Joneses until they are already knee deep in debt. Car payments, multiple mortgages, high credit card limits, and countless depreciating assets create unnecessary stress on both the athlete and the family. Someone who is making $500,000 a year can’t live the same lifestyle that someone who is making $10,000,000 a year without some pretty crafty investing. Unfortunately, I have witnessed it all from selling all they had to sending out mass texts to people they barely know asking for $20,000 loans.
The reality: Don’t let the time in the NFL be a waste. Become the Jones don’t try to keep up with them.
For more information on how to start a business or a nonprofit, email me at email@example.com.
Tenisha Patterson Brown, Esq.
Forever Fierce, Fabulous & Flawless
NFL Player Engagement Programs Focus on Life Beyond the NFL
Playing in the NFL is a dream for many but only attained by few. It is a small fraternity of men and their families that are connected forever. The NFL launched the NFL Families initiative that not only focused on active players but former players as well, and how they defined FAMILY. It’s more than adorable Dad-Do commercials and invigorating ads, the NFL Family initiative is bridging that gap between the images of fantasy players to seeing players as real people too! Part of this initiative includes the NFL Player Engagement (NFLPE) which focuses on three themes: Prep, Life, and Next.
NFL Prep is for high school and college student-athletes of all sports, and provides them with tools to help them succeed in life, focused on awareness, prevention, and education. NFL Life provides active NFL players with professional and personal development resources, “while supporting and educating players’ families to take full advantage of the opportunities afforded to them by their NFL experience.” NFL Next Legends “serve, equip, and empower former players and their families during the transition from their NFL experience and throughout their lives.” See www.nflplayerengagement.com for more information.
Many players have taken advantage of the various resources available through the NFL Player Engagement. However, there are some players who are completely unaware of the benefits of these resources during their career and in planning for their post-NFL career. From coaching boot camps to personal finance workshops, the Player Engagement programs prove to be worth it. Some programs are even open to spouses. See below for some of the programs scheduled for this year:
NFL BOOT CAMP PERSONAL FINANCE: April 4th-April 7th, 2016
This program will take place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida offering a relaxed learning environment for current and former players and their significant others. This year’s program will provide participants the opportunity to acquire knowledge that directly relates to their finances and lifestyles. Education will be provided by TD Ameritrade and the University of Miami’s School of Business Administration.
NFL BOOT CAMP SPORTS JOURNALISM & RADIO: April 14th-17th, 2016
Sports Journalism and Radio Boot Camp will take place at Bowling Green State University. This boot camp provides the opportunity for current and former players to enhance their writing skills, build journalism and radio portfolios, and receive on-site feedback and mentoring from ESPN Radio, Westwood One, and Bowling Green faculty. Following the completion of this boot camp, qualified candidates may have the opportunity to participate on ESPN Radio.
NFL BOOT CAMP ADVANCED BROADCASTING: May 16th - 19th, 2016
The NFL Advanced Broadcast Boot Camp takes place in Mt. Laurel, NJ at NFL Films and is open to those who have completed Broadcasting Boot Camp. This provides the opportunity to build on the foundation from previous training and strengthen broadcasting skills. This program provides increased knowledge and follow through with more possible job opportunities and internships.
NFL BOOT CAMP BROADCASTING: May 16th-19th, 2016
This year Player Engagement celebrates the 10th annual Broadcasting Boot Camp. Broadcasting Boot Camp provides players on-set training in broadcasting to build experience and determine interests. Players can explore multiple on-air job functions in television/media. Key learnings include: Tape study, show preparation, field reporting, and production meetings.
Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship
Providing talented minority coaches an opportunity to observe and participate during NFL OTA’s, mini and training camp and assist them in gaining experience to pursue a full-time NFL coaching position.
In this site, you will find information about your benefits as an NFL player. These benefits protect you while you play, help ease the transition to life and work after football, and provide a base upon which to build for your retirement. We believe that, overall, these benefits are the best available in professional sports. https://www.mygoalline.com/
All Pro Dads
Our message will inspire you to embrace who you are, give you tenderness of heart, and boldness of character as a dad and husband. We are consistently here for you to provide guidance and practical tips in raising your kids in a life giving way. http://www.allprodad.com/
The NFL Foundation is the league’s nonprofit organization representing the 32 NFL clubs. Its mission is to support the health, safety and wellness of athletes, youth football and the communities which support our game. http://www.nflfoundation.org/
Professional Football Wives Association
The Professional Football Wives Association (PFWA) was founded on a mission comprised of three basic tenets: Faith, Family and Football. PFWA's mission is to be a faith based organization that promotes unity and friendship among football wives, fiancées, and girlfriends, that positively redefines the stereotypes of NFL families, and that serves as a support system for women of the NFL. http://www.profootballwives.org
Don’t see a program you like? Contact the NFL Player Engagement office at www.nflplayerengagement.com for more information.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” - Benjamin Franklin
For more information email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org!
Tenisha Patterson Brown, Esq.
Forever Fierce, Fabulous & Flawless
Facebook: Tenisha Patterson Brown
Taking Time to Enjoy the Grind
As budding entrepreneurs or established businesswomen, we often push ourselves to the limit for the sake of the “grind.” We feel like there’s simply not enough time in the day although we know if we were given just another hour, we would fill it up with another task. By nature we are multitaskers and especially when we become mothers, but sometimes we spend so much time worrying about others and our respective businesses that we forget about ourselves. Yes I’m all about the grind but I have to constantly remind myself of the old age idiom “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
According to numerous research studies on occupational health overwork and the resulting stress, results in health problems include but are not limited to: impaired sleep, heavy drinking, depression and heart disease.
Several studies have been performed about the dangers of overworking but the one that stood out the most was conducted by the Harvard Business Review entitled The Research is Clear: Long Hours Backfire for People and Their Companies. This concept can be applied to business and to home life. Overworking is a common theme for our generation whether driven by personal success or the fear of being outdone.
We believe that by working longer or spending more time harping over a particular issue, that somehow it will result in a better outcome. However the opposite is true. According to numerous research studies on occupational health overwork and the resulting stress, results in health problems include but are not limited to: impaired sleep, heavy drinking, depression and heart disease.
Honestly, as I read through the article I was shocked. How is it possible that extending your hours into the late night results in such dramatic health issues? I quickly recalled that overworking is in fact the opposite of the doctor’s orders. Everything we have been told in the past to live a healthy life is the complete opposite of the constant grind mode. Our grind mode fails to account for necessities such as proper sleep and nutrition. If you are unbothered by the potential health risks, the fact that longer hours doesn’t always equate to better results should concern you. The purpose of working longer is to accomplish more. However, this is not always the case. Apparently, working too hard leads to diminishing returns simply because as you become more tired, you start making more mistakes (the kind of mistakes you don't make when your mind is fresh).
As an attorney and entrepreneur, I had to learn this lesson the hard way. My drive to have successful businesses was actually harming them. I was a one-woman show and when I was not at my best, neither were my companies. After months of late nights and neglecting my personal life, I realized that working well into the night every night was neither beneficial for my businesses or for my marriage. I was forced to develop boundaries because my passion was becoming my burden. When creating your own business, it's difficult to take a step back because it is your baby. You want to see it grow! However, it's crucial to learn when it’s quitting time.
I have heard several of my colleagues and friends say that they can enjoy life once they have achieved their goals. The problem with this mentality is that it lives for the future which is uncertain, not guaranteed. The here and now should take priority. After speaking with several successful people that are at or close to retirement age, the most common regret they had was not enjoying life when they were younger. So I challenge all “grinders” to continue your grind but take some time to enjoy it!
For more information on business devleopment or for business advice, contact me at email@example.com.
Tenisha Patterson Brown, Esq.
Forever Fierce, Fabulous & Flawless
YOU SAY HOBBY, I SAY POTENTIAL BUSINESS!
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image="1976" img_size="large"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]We all have that one thing that we love to do. Whether it’s making candles or interior design, there is something that not only comes naturally but is far from a burden. For me it is writing. I love to write but I am also very conscious about how I divvy up my time. With three businesses, clients and employees to manage, and a household to take care of, my extracurricular activities have to serve double duty. This is the case for many women.
Turning a hobby into a lucrative business is not only doable but can be very rewarding. I have the pleasure of personally knowing women who have taken hobbies that they loved and turned them into reputable businesses.
Love Lucy Candles
Rockhelle Johnson, owner and artisan of Love Lucy Candles, started mixing fragrances and pouring 100% all natural soy-candles for fun. She sent her hand-crafted candles to her family and friends as Christmas gifts, and immediately received rave reviews. She began to receive request after request for her custom candles. After receiving orders to a company that had not yet been created, she quickly realized that she needed to listen to her future customers but more importantly to her heart. She works full time in the heart of Capitol Hill but she did not want to succumb to the demands of her job and pass on this opportunity. Making candles was something that she enjoyed so she used what she learned from working with high level e-commerce and started Love Lucy Candles, affectionately named after her mother who she lost as a college student. Love Lucy Candles celebrated its two year anniversary in July and is booming in the DMV area. Visit www.lovelucycandles.com for more information!
Allusions by A. LeKay
Altrichia Cook, owner and designer of Allusions by A. LeKay, simply wanted a swimsuit that hid her scars that she acquired on her journey to motherhood. She asked a seamstress to create her design for a beach vacation. She posted her photos on her social media accounts and her swimsuit was an instant hit. After receiving countless questions about her swimsuit, particularly because it was high-waisted, she realized that other women were having the same issue. So she created more designs and the company Allusions by A. LeKay was born. Altrichia has a full time job and is very active in her community but that didn’t stop her from turning her small brand into a household name. In only two years, she has presented her work at the Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week, has won several business awards, has been in well-known magazines, and has had her designs worn by countless celebrities including Nicki Minaj. Visit www.allusionsbyalekay.com for more information!
Lainie Bug’s Boutique
Kristle Pressley, owner/designer of Lainie Bug’s Boutique and fellow NFL WAG, loves shopping and dressing her daughter Lainie. One of her top priorities was protecting her feet when she first started to walk. She wanted something that would be stylish and comfortable but more importantly that gave her daughter the freedom to let her natural step progress. She discovered moccasins and instantly fell in love. She quickly realized that she could create a brand that would help mothers just like her. Her genuine cow leather moccasins are handmade and are shipped from her home in Atlanta, GA. Lainie Bug’s Boutique recently had its grand opening and it’s already making a splash in the Atlanta area. Visit www.lainiebugs.com for more information.
The Painted Pretzel
Raven Thomas, owner/creator of The Painted Pretzel and fellow NFL WAG, was a stay at home mom when she created her first painted pretzel. She sent her decadent pretzels to family and friends as gifts for the holiday to save money. She was immediately swarmed with requests for more pretzels. Within months she had more orders than she could handle. Her products were featured in Neiman Marcus department stores, Sam’s Club and other big box stores. After having to turn down a $2 million order from Sam’s Club, Raven appeared on the hit television show Shark Tank where she landed a deal with Dallas Maverick’s Owner, Mark Cuban. She went from $75,000 in sales to over $1 million after appearing on the show. Raven’s motivation for pursuing her company was her sons. She wanted to show them that they could achieve whatever was in their hearts. Visit www.thepaintedpretzel.com for more information.
The common theme among all of these women is the will to take an idea and turn it into something bigger. When telling their stories, each woman speaks about conquering fears and stepping out on faith. They pushed the fear of failure to the side and focused on doing what they loved. Raven said it best "the worst thing you can do to a great idea is allow it to die in the same place it was conceived: in your heart." I encourage you to take a step of faith and turn that hobby into a business!
For more information on business development or for business advice, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tenisha Patterson Brown, Esq.
Forever Fierce, Fabulous & Flawless[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Q&A with NFL Wife LeShonda Martin: "You Have A Nice Smile!"
This week I'm writing about myself. Upon request, I have dedicated this post to giving you an inside glimpse at my own life. I am answering those questions I have been asked quite often this year in a special edition Q&A with...myself. I promise to return to guest feature's next week, but if you have any interest at all in the founder of this site, read on... :)
NFL WAG Stats
Name: LeShonda Martin
Husband: Sherrod Martin
Husband is Rookie or Veteran: Vet! Sixth year (Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Chicago Bears)
Children: None yet
NFLWAG: 2 years (and counting)
Cities You've Lived in with NFL: Jacksonville
Off Season Home: Atlanta (Duluth)
Favorite Food: Oreo blizzard, Reese's, any dessert
Hobbies: Reading, listening to podcasts, writing, fitness, entertaining my dogs, basketball (watching, playing, coaching)
Interesting Facts: I was recruited to play Division I basketball; I played PG (point guard) in college; I lived in Bulgaria for three months
More than that though, I caught my first glimpse of what it means to work for someone else and be at the mercy of someone else's thoughts, feelings, and opinions of you. It was at 17 years of age that I discovered my first reason for wanting to be an entrepreneur. - LeShonda Martin
Where are you from originally and how did you get to where you are now?
I'm originally from Bloomington, Indiana (the Hoosier state and the basketball state). Quite naturally, I played basketball. I was blessed enough to receive a scholarship to play at the point guard position so I found myself traveling to Mercer University in Macon, Georgia at 17 years old. I transferred to Emory University (Atlanta) the next year and graduated with a degree in Psychology and minor in Sociology. Like the young, lost student-athlete I was, I had no idea what I wanted to do after school. I enrolled in grad school. It was right after I graduated from grad school in Atlanta that I met my husband.
How did you and your husband meet?
The infamous Atlanta nightlife brought us together. I had just graduated from Georgia State University with my Master's in Sports Administration. I was working an 8 to 5 type administrative job in the Athletic Director's office at GSU. I was nearing the age of "I'm so over this Atlanta club scene" but still desired to escape the realities of life from time to time. Little did I know, a gentleman by the name of Sherrod Martin was in the same club that night for a "low-key" good time. A friend of mine told me that he wanted to meet me. I had no idea who he was. She informed me that he played for the Panthers. DOUBLE NO! N-O! No athletes for me, please. She was persistent, and I eventually gave her permission to introduce us. We said hello and smiled at each other. Without hesitation we said, "YOU HAVE A NICE SMILE" at the exact same time! Fate. Well, kind of. We said five words to each other then went our separate ways. Truth be told, I was not exactly single and I consider myself a loyal person. We did not exchange numbers that night. Fast forward a year. I remembered Mr. Sherrod Martin. Social media brought us back together. Our first "date" was a meet up at La Fitness, the perfect date night for two athletes. We had so much fun at the gym that we went to dinner, dinner was so fun that we went for ice cream. We spent several hours with each other on our first date. The rest is history.
How did your husband propose?
So this is a short answer because I was featured on another website talking all things wedding and proposal. You can read more on that here. It was beautiful and perfect for us. He planned out the weekend but during the proposal there was no cameras and no show. Just the intimacy of the moment between he and I.
You are a newlywed! How is married life?
Married life is wonderful. Having a good man is so freeing. My marriage elevates me to new heights. We're best friends. We get on each others nerves but we bring out the best in each other as well. We have fun together and laugh a lot! I wouldn't want to be with anyone else. He is really quite special.
Being young, Christian and married, I recently answered questions for "Girls 4 Christ Rock" in an audio clip here (the clip is 30 minutes, not 2 hours as it shows).
Any advice for women who want to be entrepreneurs?
WAGS Redefined is technically my fourth business. I am not new to this risky entrepreneur life. A common mistake people make is not jumping out there and just doing it. I am a dreamer. I do not have the handicap of thinking too long or too hard about things. If anything, I have way too many random ideas floating around in my head that I want to pursue! To be successful with any business, you need a team. You need a great team of talented people who have strengths where you are weak. In order to go to the next level, you will need to outsource and delegate. Otherwise, your vision is too small. You must work on yourself and have confidence in yourself. Read books. Listen to podcasts. These days I don't really watch television. I don't listen to the radio. I read and listen to spiritual and business podcasts in my spare time. I've read that a common trait of successful entrepreneurs is that they love to learn. I have a thirst for more. Time is precious and we don't have enough of it. You have to be self-motivated. You have to renew your mind daily. There is so much to learn about being an entrepreneur and the best teacher is experience. Entrepreneurship is tough. It's a long, lonely road requiring patience and perseverance. If you want to go that route, good luck. Here is where I end by saying...it's totally worth it!
Want to know more about my husband and I? Comment below or email email@example.com.
Entrepreneurship: Creating Your Own Lane
When your significant other has little control over his career and what city he will be in at any given time, being an entrepreneur is a viable option for working women who also want to be the necessary support system for their partner.
We live in a time when women have created and run over 10 million companies, offer over 19.1 million jobs, and continuously make the Forbes Top 100 list. This trend continues with women who live in the football world. We are long past the time where it was a requirement for wives, fiancées, and girlfriends to be merely the women behind the player or coach. Instead of relying on the uncertainty of the game, we are taking our financial future into our own hands.
The most successful entrepreneurs don’t become entrepreneurs for great wealth but instead to pursue a passion or fulfill a need. Sara Blakely, creator and founder of the world-renowned Spanx brand, is a prime example of a woman creating an empire out of necessity. Blakely, now a billionaire, started the Spanx brand because she needed a hosiery that she could wear under her tan dress pants that wouldn’t show lines. She created her prototype and then set out to acquire one customer at a time to not only sell her product but to sell her story. Blakely is one of many women who decided to give up the 9-5 grind for the benefit of someone else and instead invest that time in themselves. The path to becoming an entrepreneur isn’t easy but if you have the willingness to put in the work, then it is completely feasible.
There are several paths that you can take to achieve your entrepreneurial goal but here’s a quick guide to start your journey towards becoming a true boss:
Discover your passion. We have all heard the phrase “if you do something you love, you will never work a day in your life.” This axiom holds true. When you have passion for something you don’t mind putting in the necessary efforts to be a successful entrepreneur. You have a willingness to work, to be tired, and to grow your brand. You must have passion to achieve success.
Create a plan. You can have a great idea but if you never take action then it goes to waste. Write your vision and make it plain. Writing down your plan not only gives you an idea of how to bring the vision into fruition but it also holds you accountable.
Build a Team. Every successful entrepreneur has at least one person in their corner helping them along the way. For Blakely, it was her husband. For others, it can range from a family member to an associate that is in the industry of interest. Whomever you choose to be on your team, make sure that they share in your vision and have a willingness to work hard to achieve a common goal.
Dream Big but Spend Small. One of the biggest mistakes that new entrepreneurs make is spending too much money too soon. There will always be an initial investment and it may take time to actually turn a profit, however, there are aspects of the business that you can save money on by simply doing it yourself. How will you know when you can afford to contract out certain aspects of your business? When your time becomes more valuable than the contract for the task.
Never Give Up. Being an entrepreneur is tough. Your business begins and ends with you. However, that means you are in control of your future. Not everything will go as planned, but if you stay focused on your goal then it will work out fine. Your business will take hard work and commitment, but never let anyone deter you from your dream.
Becoming an entrepreneur was one of the toughest and most rewarding things I have ever done. There’s truly nothing like being your own boss. As an entrepreneur, your business is your baby and it is a true blessing to watch it grow.
For more information on business development or how to become a successful entrepreneur, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tenisha Patterson Brown, Esq.
Forever Fierce, Fabulous & Flawless
On The Job Training: Challenges & Benefits of Working with Your Spouse
Working together as husband and wife is not only appealing but a “#relationship goal” for most couples. Working with your spouse has both its challenges and benefits and is true “on the job training.” You are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, believing that everything will be smooth sailing. However, the nostalgia of working with your spouse quickly changes when met with your first adversity. My husband and I own two businesses together that challenge us on a professional and personal level. I discussed with him some of the challenges we face as business partners and some of the benefits. Here are a few of the common themes:
Learning when to turn off business and switch to personal.
I have spoken with several couples who constantly face this particular issue. If you are trying to start a business or grow a business, learning when to turn it off is challenging. It is a constant battle between the drive to be successful and the need to nourish your marriage. This will be an ongoing issue if you don’t set boundaries. A tactic that my husband and I use is setting a shut off time at night and during meals. We started one business prior to getting married and the other after we were married. Both required an enormous amount of time and we were not prepared for how it affected our relationship. We found ourselves talking to one another about business and missing the key details about our married life. We had to make a change because the frustrations of daily business was spilling over into our regular lives. Setting the shut off time was clutch in restoring peace in my household.
Balancing business responsibilities between both parties.
Like any partnership, including a marriage, there will be times that one partner will be doing more than the other. This is the natural flow of a partnership. When my husband and I started our first business it was during season and he missed the entire start up process. From construction to grand opening, it was a tough journey with only one person in the daily grind. I was forced to put my legal career on the back burner and fully commit to the new business. We didn’t expect it to be so difficult to release control over what we had worked so hard to build. I also didn’t realize it would be so challenging to allow him to help me once he returned after the season. I spent so much time putting systems in place and I had to make a conscious effort to allow him to be a part of the process. He also had to understand that although I was doing most of the work, that didn’t mean I was his employee. We are still in the process of learning how to balance the responsibilities but for the most part I deal with the employees and logistics, and he handles the marketing and sales.
Blurred lines between business and personal relationship.
Dealing with blurred lines between our business and personal relationship is one of the biggest challenges we face. If you are passionate about your businesses, at times you will allow the issues to affect how you treat one another. Being upset with your spouse over a decision concerning employees shouldn’t equal a night on the couch. Admittedly, when we first opened our restaurant I found myself treating my husband more like a colleague than a spouse even when discussing personal matters. I didn’t know how to turn off business mode. This was a huge issue that needed to be rectified. We established a check system. Any time we feel like we are overstepping boundaries, we quickly check one another and remember to not take the “checking” personal.
Working with someone you genuinely trust.
Although there are some challenges to working with your spouse, the benefits outweigh the trials. Trust is reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, and surety of a person or thing. If you trust someone, you have a certain level of confidence that they will remain loyal and will not betray you. We started our first business before we were officially husband and wife, actually before we were engaged. Our decision to move forward before saying “I do” was met with harsh criticism and scrutiny. We were both questioned about the security of creating such a “permanent” professional relationship by our family and friends while the status of our personal relationship was in question. We both knew that even if we never got married, we respected and trusted one another professionally so we didn’t see any issues with co-owning a business. We genuinely trust one another which not only helps in the decision-making process but also with financial management.
Both parties have a vested interest and are working towards a common goal of improving the family.
In business it is difficult to find someone who shares your vision. You will have those individuals who are supportive of your idea or concept but when the time comes to act, their enthusiasm is lack luster. In contrast, your spouse has a vested interest in your success. Your success equals success for the family as well. If you and your spouse have a common goal of a profitable business, it not only benefits the business but also the family unit.
Balance of strengths and weaknesses.
Most often your business relationship with someone mirrors your personal relationship. As I stated above it is very difficult to create clear lines between the business issues and the personal issues. However, if you have a healthy personal relationship it is easier to have a successful business partnership. The very things that make a successful marriage or relationship are also critical aspects to a successful business partnership such as: communication, respect, trust, positive conflict resolution, and compatible financial values. These attributes can easily translate to your business relationship and result in a happier home.
The key to a successful partnership is sharing the vision and a willingness to compromise. Yes, there are challenges to working with your spouse but it is worth it. It is an opportunity to work towards a common goal and to strengthen your bond. I encourage couples, if you have a chance to work with your spouse, take advantage of it even if it is a small project. I’m positive you will achieve more working together than as individuals.
For more information on business development or for business advice, contact me at email@example.com
Tenisha Patterson Brown, Esq.
Forever Fierce, Fabulous & Flawless