When I sat down to write this post, I labored over how I could articulate my points. How could I communicate the need to take care of myself when society forces the ideals that if women spend one minute to themselves then they are doomed to be bad wives, mothers, and businesswomen?
You know her. We love her. She is one of us! Meet Leah Miller, better known as The Diamond Duchess and the face behind the most amazing, customized, crystallized pieces in the game. When she isn't creating masterpieces for yourself and your little ones, she is building an empire that embodies the principle of "do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life." Leah is wife to retired NFL veteran QB, Jim Miller, and mother to three (plus one on the way!). She is a Believer and a genuinely beautiful "BOSS" who shines bright like a diamond.
"I give all glory to God! All of His door openings, all of His vision and all of His ideas that I have received have taken Bella to where it is today. I know that it is ALL HIM because I work from my home studio, in a basement in Michigan. Who on earth would ever see me or what I do if it weren't for HIM?!? No one would know about me if it were not for HIM."
Name: Leah Paulovich Miller, Founder of Bella Artistry
Player/Team(s): Jim Miller (QB) Steelers, Jaguars, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Tampa Bay, Patriots, Giants
Children: 3 (Sophia-14, Emmanuel “Manny”-9, King James “KJ” -2) and one on the way arriving November 2016.
Kanye or Carrie Underwood? Carrie
Ice Cream or Potato Chips? Ice Cream
Yoga or Spin? Neither
Manicure or Massage? Manicure
Where are you originally from and how did you get to where you are now?
I am originally from Pittsburgh. We (my family and I) now live in Michigan near Jim’s hometown. Oddly enough, we don’t have family here anymore but he started a custom home building company when he was playing here so he wanted to be near the company after he retired from the NFL.
How did you meet your Husband?
I was in college during my senior year at the University of Pittsburgh. I met Jim three days after the Super Bowl (96’), the Steelers had just lost that year (that was actually the first football game I ever watched on purpose). Ironically, I was actually dating an Olympic wrestler at the time and he was supposed to meet me out that night but he didn’t show up for some reason. That was the night I met Jim. I dated both of them for a little while. The funny part is that they were both "hometown heros" and would be invited to be on the same celebrity panels at a lot of the same events in the area. It was quite surreal when Jim was starting his first game in the NFL and the wrestler was at the game to flip the pre game coin while I watched from the stands. After awhile Jim and I started dating exclusively and we dated for three and a half years before getting married. We got married in Vegas. We didn’t elope but we knew there would not be enough time between him popping the question and me planning the wedding of my dreams during the offseason. We’ve been married 17 years.
Tell us about some of your most favorite WAGS memories?
The Super Bowl, of course. Even though Jim was the backup to Tom (Brady), we were still a part of the team and you can’t compare anything to that experience. I would also say I enjoy the lifelong friendships that you create. I know women all over the world from all walks of life because our paths crossed in the NFL. We don’t talk every day but, when we do, it’s like we have not missed a beat. My business (Bella Artistry) was born out of that time in our lives. I owe a lot of credit to that part of our lives for the niche I am in now.
As the wife of a retired player, how does your day to day differ from when Jim was still playing?
Jim is retired from playing but still involved with the NFL and fully immersed in football. So, my busy schedule and his still revolves around the NFL. Out of all of Bella Artistry's sports clients, the NFL clients make up 80% of our business, so my busy season ends up being the same as his. Jim is still gone three to four days out of the week and he travels more now that when he was playing in the NFL. During NFL season/school year I get up at about 5:15 to get my kids going and get ready for my staff of 13-21 (depending on time of year) to arrive. On the business side of my life, when you own your company- work doesn’t stop. You don't get to clock out and forget about it until the next day. But that's okay because I love to be busy and feel so much more accomplished when I have worked a 16-hour workday. For me, having my own "thing" is more enjoyable than working out, cooking dinner, house stuff and waiting for Jim to get home from football practice. I was busy then (when he was playing) but, this busy is “times 1000” and I LOVE work. My children are my most perfect creations and I am so grateful that I have been able to work from home for so long and spend as much time with them as I can.
What advice would you have for WAGS trying to find the balance between their own identity and that of their men?
My tip for anyone is to find something you love, to make it your job and to get your own identity outside of who “he” is. When the crap hits the fan after football is over (and EVERYONE will go through a period of transition), if the wife has something of her own then they are more likely to stay married. Find out what is important to you because football does not last long. I never liked the idea of being “Jim Miller’s wife.” Funny story, a few years ago at the Super Bowl someone came up to my husband and asked, "Aren’t you Leah Miller’s husband"? I got the biggest kick out of it! For years, I prayed that God would make me independent, self-reliant, and self-sufficient and He did it. I don't have to rely on anyone but God. Even if your spouse isn’t on board (with what you spiritually believe in), God will ensure that you have the desires of your heart if you make HIM your number one.
How did The Diamond Duchess concept and brand develop? You create the most amazing pieces, Leah!
I appreciate that. I’m touched by your kind compliment. I was an art major by training (my bachelor's is in painting and sculpting) and I worked for my father’s marketing firm for eight years and did really well for myself. I was making six figures on my own before I got married. Part of our (Jim and my) deal was that during the offseason we would live in Pittsburgh so I would still be able to work for my parents' company and travel back and forth from our in season locale to continue to service my clients. But when it was time to make the move, Jim didn’t want to move. So I was forced to leave my job. There was only so much shopping, cooking and cleaning I could do before I lost my mind. So I decided to cultivate my first love, which is murals and furniture. I started a painting company and painted furniture and murals for doctor’s offices, other player’s homes and other clients for about two years until I got pregnant. One day while pregnant with my first baby, I was working on scaffolding painting on the ceiling of a doctor’s office and caused myself some serious issues; I almost lost my first baby because the work was more dangerous than I realized. I knew then that I had to come back home.
What were the early days like?
When we first got into the league, there was not a lot of team-related things to wear to your husband’s games except a big, boxy jersey from his locker or the same one everyone else was wearing from the team store. I started creating because I didn’t want to wear something like that and there weren’t any other women’s sports clothes options. They didn't make any women's jerseys then. I had already been designing with crystals and other embellishments and would do pieces for myself and my girlfriends to wear to games or as gifts. Word would eventually spread as my friends moved from team to team so Bella just got bigger and bigger. At first, I did it for free but while we were in Palm Beach during one of Jim’s recoveries (2003, I believe), I began to charge a fee and made it into a business.
What are some of your favorite items you’ve created?
I really like designing shoes and I like to see footballs completed. I design every single piece that goes through the company. At any given time of year, I can have up to 21 wonderful and talented seamstresses and artists working at Bella bringing my ideas to reality. During Super Bowl Season, I had a team of 21 ladies working double shifts to get all 90 orders done in a 10 day period. I still say that accomplishment was miraculous! I prayed and prayed God would help us get our orders completed on time and we finished everything in 9 days (plus some of the orders for the girls on the waiting list)! Having something you've designed in your head and scribbled on paper come into existence from almost nothing but a pile of materials and Crystal is very rewarding.
This was a big wedding year for you, wasn’t it?
Yes, we were honored to be asked to create for some of the most fabulous weddings of the year. Nina and Earl Thomas, Gypsy and Aqib Talib, Cannon and Collins Tuohy Smith and Risalyn and DeAngelo Williams were some of my biggest weddings this year. We are honored to even be asked to create for such a special day. It’s up there next to the Super Bowl. Also, the volume of work is great to have, especially in the off season. Nina Thomas, for instance, had 22 robes, 15 jerseys and glasses made for the ceremony. The wives are pulling out all of the stops for their big day and they want it to be the best of the best so it’s an honor to be included in that. What’s your big picture for the brand?
We are currently working on our new storefront and studio. Our house is on a lake and so is our new location. We’ve slowly been refurbishing an area that is literally a “stones throw” from my house. We started it about two years ago but, over the past year I’ve really been working hard to get in the new space. My next goal is to complete it by the time the baby comes (God willing). The new location will quadruple our working space and we will have a storefront that will allow people to come in and design their own furniture, clothes and accessories; Customers will be able to procure our seamstresses on staff for alterations and custom clothing as well. You have accomplished some really beautiful moments over the past decade. If you were not an entrepreneur, what would you be doing instead?
Well, I always make jokes that my mom and I would open up our own Private Investigator/ Interior Design Firm! I do love to do interior design AND use my superb sleuthing skills. I am very much like my mom (and dad) because they are very artistic and brilliant business people. I hope to become half of what they are.
I have to say that looking back on where I have come from is amazing. I honestly started my company in my spare closet. To go from just me in a 5'x8' closet to 21 people with 4000 sq. feet makes me teary-eyed. I give all glory to God! All of His door openings, all of His vision and all of His ideas that I have received have taken Bella to where it is today. I know that it is ALL HIM because I work from my home studio, in a basement in Michigan. Who on earth would ever see me or what I do if it weren't for HIM?!? No one would know about me if it were not for HIM.
Check out more of Leah's work on Instagram @thediamondduchess or online at www.bellaartistry.com
"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.
This week’s Featured WAG, Behind the Brand edition is with the brilliant and super sweet Ariana Torry, fiancé of Indianapolis Colts' Safety, Mike Adams. We had the opportunity to laugh at little (she has a great sense of humor!), talk about parenting and discover how she impressively manages both bedtimes and her brand new beautiful baby boutique, Milk & Honey Babies. Ariana has graciously extended a discount promo just for our readers! Go online to www.milkandhoneybabies.com to purchase, use nflwags10 and receive 10% off. Shop till you drop! Also, don't miss our new tradition; scroll to the bottom of the interview and click the video to meet Ariana in person!! Name: Ariana Horry
Player/Team(s): Mike Adams/ San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts
What #hashtag describes you best? #humblewithahintofkanye
Where are you originally from and how did you get to where are now? I was born and raised in New York City in the Bronx and attended to the University of Delaware for both my undergraduate and graduate degree where I met Mike. After grad school, I was offered a position at NBC as a digital researcher and when someone offers you a job in the city working for NBC, you take it! This was before children, of course. I became a full-time mother when I moved from NYC to Cleveland but when my oldest was around three, although I definitely enjoyed a sense of fulfillment from taking care of my family, I started longing for something else. I mean at this time my daughter was attending pre-school and Mike of course was killing it in the game ;) (he doesn’t believe in an off-season which is why he is blessed to be entering his 13th season) so I desired something I could call my own. After having our second daughter Avery in 2013 I began to notice there was a void in the baby retail market. I found it increasingly difficult to locate a lot of my favorite baby products in any one given store. And by “my favorite” I mean healthy, eco-friendly and innovative stylish products (either made from organic or natural plant based ingredients). So, once I knew we were going to call new Jersey home in the off season I jumped on the opportunity to open my own store back in New Jersey.
How did you meet your fiancé? Mike and I knew each other throughout college and we always had a great vibe. He always knew how to put a smile on my face and we finally got together in our senior year of college. So while he started his playing career, I was beginning my first year of graduate school. While working on my masters degree in Delaware I flew back and forth quite a bit to San Francisco where he was playing for the 49ers. After graduating and beginning my research career in NYC we were pleasantly surprised with our oldest daughter Maya and shortly afterwards I moved to Cleveland full-time where Mike was then playing with the Browns and after moving to Denver we had our youngest daughter Avery.
Tell us about this precious company, Milk & Honey Babies? Milk & Honey is like our third baby! We’ve been open since September (2015). Our store is located in Englewood, NJ. We decided to open in NJ because Mike is from northern NJ, Paterson to be specific and I’m from NYC. we like to think of Milk & Honey as a luxe one-stop-shop for new parents. We carry a premium selection of high quality nursery furniture, gear, toys, clothes, and specialty baby products. We’re really happy with our collection of what we like to think of as “must-have” baby items. We truly believe in the lines we carry and we’ve worked so hard to vet the lines we carry to help take guess work out of the equation for new parents. Our typical customer are new parents looking for sophisticated, safe and eco-friendly items that don't sacrifice on style.
Can customers shop online as well? I saw the website and it is beautiful! Yes! Thank you! We launched both e-commerce and our brick and mortar simultaneously. As a mom, I get that you want to come inside a boutique and feel the fabric, push a stroller, touch an item and if its your first time trying out a product; you want to see it (in person) and make sure its a good fit for your growing family’s lifestyle.
What’s big picture for the brand? I am still getting this baby off the ground but I am hoping to open a Milk & Honey Too down the line. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from the community and its nice to know that people want us to expand. We often get asked if we will franchise but those ideas are much later down the road.
If you could expand anywhere, where? I am a New York baby! I love the East coast and Mike and I are both from this area but (Editors Note: a pause and a chuckle moment happened here as I could tell she didn’t want to betray her “stomping grounds”); IF I could let my mind go there to expanding then maybe the west coast like San Diego, one of my favorite cities. I have to add though that without our families, this dream I have, we could not have even executed. Without my family and Mike’s family helping out, supporting us, watching the kids while I stayed at the store late; none of this would have been possible without them. Family support was and continues to be crucial in helping to make our store a success.
What does your day to day look like? Well, since OTAs just started… Monday through Friday I always get up at 5:30. I have to drive 30 minutes to the store and my daughters’ school and after that, I am in the store until the end of the school day. The second part of my day is getting the girls home, helping with homework, preparing dinner, bath time and making sure they are in bed by 7:30 and I don’t play with bedtime! I then try to squeeze in a workout and after that I’m checking e-mails and preparing for the next day. Girls need their beauty rest, you know this! This is so true. My oldest wants to be involved with the process now. She tells me when her braid or bun is a little off or gives input on her outfit but that’s Maya for you!
If you were not an entrepreneur, what would you be doing instead? Hmmm, honestly I would have probably gone back to school and picked up with where I left off, on track to get my Ph.D and would probably be a college professor. After completing my Masters, I felt like I was a little isolated in the academia world. I was missing Mike, my parents and my sisters (I have five and we are annoyingly close). But I’ve always had a love for research and analysis. Give me a topic and I love to apply theory and make sense of it all! I love debate and thought provoking conversation.
A college professor, I love it. Well, now for something less rigorous than academia; a new tradition that we've started at #WAGR. Tell the people what they want to hear!
Now for the fun question (we have a new tradition that we love!): Lights, Camera & Action!
My recent interview with Linda Hope, a beautiful Dominicana born and raised in Miami, Florida, and wife of retired NFL probowler and 2011 Super Bowl champion Chris Hope, delivered perspective on how balancing life as a loving mom, driven entrepreneur, and caring wife is possible with intentionality and strategy.
When and where did you and Chris first meet? What is your greatest joy about being married? Chris and I met in Tallahassee, FL back in 2000. He was a junior at Florida State and I was a freshman at Florida A&M. At times, we laugh at our present. The reality that we are married with 2 kids is simply incredible to me. My greatest joy about being married is knowing that I married the man of my dreams and that he wanted to marry me back. That’s a blessing! So many people choose wrong or end up with someone just because they don’t want to be alone. I’m happy I listened to that small voice that assured me that one day he was going to be an incredible husband. I love knowing that I have a person to grow old with that loves me unconditionally. I also love the fact that I have a live-in comedian. My husband is so funny! There’s never a dull moment in our house. I will soon have two for the price of one because my daughter is taking after him.
What are you passionate about and what drives your desire to succeed?
I am passionate about people. Anything I can do to help people become their best self, I’m all in. Especially women. I truly enjoy empowering and motivating women to recognize the jewels that we truly are. I also love identifying solutions. Give me a problem and I will solve it. That’s one of the reasons I love designing. In design, we identify the need first, then provide a solution. I also enjoy traveling and learning about other cultures. I truly enjoy new experiences.
Outside of having a degree in Journalism, Linda is currently enrolled and obtaining her degree in Interior Design from the O'More College of Design in Franklin, Tennessee
When did you decide you wanted to pursue your dream as an interior designer? What inspired you to pursue this journey?
After having my daughter; before we decided to conceive, we discussed me staying at home with our first born for a few years. I believed at the time that staying at home was the perfect fit for my growing family and me. But, after staying home with Crislyn for about 6 months I soon realized that I missed working. I missed being in a professional environment. I needed to be mentally stimulated and away from baby babble for few hours a day. Right before I gave birth, I was actively working in the Real Estate field. I knew that I wanted to go back to work, but I also knew that if I had to choose between showing a house and spending time with my baby girl, Crislyn would win that battle every time. That’s when I realized that it was time for a career change. In that moment, I decided that if I was going back to work it had to be something that I really enjoyed doing. After praying for direction, God showed me Interior Design. Growing up, I was the one in my house that always moved the furniture around. I was in charge of giving our childhood home a face-lift from time to time. As a young adult, I never imagined earning an income doing something that seemed so fun.
How do you balance supporting your husband, taking care of your family and supporting/ chasing your own dreams?
With lots of prayer, a plan and help. A very wise friend told me after I had my second child and was feeling a little overwhelmed, “there’s no problem that can’t be solved with a little help.” And she was right! I welcomed more help and recognized that I could not do it all and remain sane. I also got more organized. I started managing my time better. You’d be amazed at how much more efficient you are with a plan and great time management skills.
So tell me about your career with Beautycounter?
Where do I begin!?!? I LOVE being a part of this amazing company. It has completely changed the way I see the beauty industry, an industry I fell in love with at a very young age. Based in Santa Monica, CA, Beautycounter is a disruptive brand with the mission to get safer skin care and cosmetics products into the hands of everyone. A B Corporation, Beautycounter has created unparalleled transparency and safety in the personal care industry—a severely under-regulated space. To top it off, our products are amazing! I use them all and love them. To me, Beautycounter is another vehicle that God has blessed me with to fulfill my life's mission to empower people to be their best self in every area of their life. What I love most about being a part of this incredible movement is connecting with amazing women all over the world that want to leave a better beauty legacy for our future generations.
What is your favorite Beautycounter product?
Hands down...Our Lustro Face Oil # 3! It's a beautiful blend of light weight pure plant based and essential oils that balances and moisturizes my skin. I love it!
Linda Hope, the picture of multi-faceted perfection!
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
My next WAG feature Wednesday is of the "fierce, fabulous and flawless" Mrs. Tenisha Patterson Brown. Tenisha and I were introduced through our husbands, who were drafted together in 2009 to the Carolina Panthers. As a woman of God, football wife, entrepreneur, and attorney, Tenisha is truly a well-rounded woman! I had to get a Q&A with this lady and pick her brain on life as a newlywed, business owner, and NFL WAG. She also shed some light on NFL contracts and football "sororities." Read the interview below.
NFL WAG Stats
Name: Tenisha Patterson Brown
Husband: Everette Brown
Husband is Rookie or Veteran: Veteran. Going into his 7th season (Carolina Panthers, San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins)
NFLWAG: Going on 7 years
Cities You've Lived in with NFL: Charlotte (I never moved)
Off Season Home: Charlotte
Favorite Food: Pineapples
Favorite Music: Ratchet Florida music
Hobbies: Traveling; I love writing cards (Hallmark is my favorite store); Blogging (www.fiercefabulousflawless.com)
Interesting Facts:I am a Sports Attorney and Business Manager for Professional Athletes. I created my own job title when I was in college because I didn’t want to be a sports agent but I wanted to help athletes. I created the position of Business Manager because I help athletes on the field as well as off the field.
It's not fun thinking that my husband may not live to the age of 60 because of the physicality of the game." - Tenisha Patterson Brown
LM: Why did you agree to do this interview?
TPB: I think there is a negative image or perception of NFL wives and professional athlete’s wives in general. A lot of people don’t see players as real people...just fixtures in their fantasy football league. The media is so judgmental and I think there needs to be something positive said about athletes and their families.
LM: Where are you from originally and how did you get to where you are now?
TPB: I am from Tampa, Florida and I moved to Charlotte when I enrolled at Charlotte School of Law.
LM: How did you and your husband meet?
TPB: We met the day before his 19th birthday which was also the day before they started training camp [at FSU]. We both attended Florida State during our undergraduate years. His teammate, who was also a friend of mine, came over to my house because we were cooking but didn’t tell me Everette was coming. Everette had been trying to holla at me via Facebook for about six months but I wasn’t giving him any play because he was a baby. I later found out they had previously discussed and plotted how Everette would meet me. After that night at my house, we started dating.
LM: You and your husband are a part of the Seminole family. Talk about what it’s like to be a part of the FSU community.
TPB: Being part of the FSU community is nothing short of a blessing. I used to tell Everette all the time that if you take care of home, home will take care of you. FSU blessed Everette with an athletic scholarship and a chance to live out his dream playing football. Florida State blessed me with degrees and friendships and my line sisters. The university has continued to support us and our foundation. They constantly ask Everette to come out and do events. We are boosters and will continue to be boosters. We’re a part of the Alumni Association. We love Florida State. We really do. We love what it stands for. Once a Seminole always a Seminole. When we go back to FSU, we know there’s going to be someone looking out for us because we’re a part of that Seminole family.
LM: How long have you and your husband been married? How long have you been an NFL WAG ?
TPB: We’ve been married a year and a month! I have been with Everette since he’s been in the league so I’ve been an NFL WAG going on 7 years now.
LM: What are the pros and cons of being married to an NFL player?
TPB: That’s a loaded question. I’ll do the cons first to end on a positive note. One of the cons is the lack of job security. When you’re married to someone who is a lawyer or doctor they can work anywhere. NFL players have no control over their career – when it begins, when they have to move, when they’re traded, and when it ends. You have players like Tom Brady and Ray Lewis in the league but most players don’t have that opportunity. Another con is the injuries and the toll the sport takes on the guys. The average lifespan in the NFL is shorter. It’s not fun thinking that my husband may not live to the age of 60 because of the physicality of the game. Many people say, “Oh, they’re athletes and they don’t need to be paid that much!” If you risk your life everyday for someone else’s entertainment, you should be paid well too! One positive or pro for the lifestyle is that you get to experience a lot of things that you wouldn’t experience in a normal career. I see a lot of places and meet a lot of people. You get to interact with fans and have the opportunity to touch lives in ways that you wouldn’t if you weren’t in that position. Another pro is seeing your husband live out his dream.
LM: What is your love advice to all women and women inside the NFL? Is there a difference?
TPB: To all women – Love yourself first. Always. It’s God, you, then everybody else. If you don’t love you first and invest in yourself first, then you can’t fully love someone else. There’s nothing more beautiful than a woman who truly loves herself. I find that with many NFL wives they live for their husband as an NFL player so when their husband isn’t an NFL player anymore, they don’t know what to do. When the lifestyle stops, they don’t know what to do. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of wives leave their husbands after the NFL. You have to have your own happiness in order for you to be able to love the person that you’re with. You gotta love yourself and be happy with who you are.
LM: You brought up the point about divorces in the NFL. I know that’s something we discuss in our household. What is the NFL divorce rate now? I know it’s high.
TPB: The statistic right now is that 70% of NFL players get divorced within 3 years of retirement or leaving the league. I do a lot of educating college football players on life after the league. Part of my program called College to NFL Transition Program instructs them on the transition from college to professional athletics and what comes with it. You see guys who marry women when they just get to the league and they’re on their high. Then when the NFL is over and the lifestyle is no longer there, she can’t handle it. You can’t handle it. You’re depressed because you’re not playing football anymore and she’s depressed because she doesn’t have the lifestyle anymore. I try to enlighten guys on the reality of what can happen if you don’t make wise decisions concerning your future.
LM: What are your hobbies? What are your passions?
TPB: I love to travel, see the world and experience new things. I love to help people grow. My passion is helping individuals to be better versions of themselves. I like when someone tells me their idea and seeing the idea come into fruition. I love seeing people do something they never thought they could do. I enjoy making people happy, giving gifts, and just doing nice things for others. It’s kind of ironic because I’m an only child and don’t like to share [Laughs]. However, I love making people happy.
LM: What do you think about all the coverage lately surrounding NFL players and domestic violence?
TPB: I think when it comes to domestic violence, the problem is the perception we as a society have on domestic violence and the perception there is on athletes. There’s a lack of care for the victim. In the Ray and Janay Rice incident, the video kept getting played over and over again. She could not go on about her life without someone making her relive what happened. Lord knows I don’t condone domestic violence and any man who does that deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest. I didn’t like all the questions like, “Why is she with him?” There is such a thing called Battered Woman Syndrome. It’s a real legal defense. Do I agree with his career ending? No I don’t. When you take away his career, then you have two negatives: he loses his job and a means to support his family. He didn’t deserve his career to be taken away. I think of it like this: if someone who’s a doctor hits his wife are you going to say now you can’t be a doctor anymore? You get your punishment and get your help. I believe everyone needs to follow the same rules. When you’re an athlete, you are held to a higher standard and sometimes it's unfair. The positive note in all the coverage is that the NFL started paying attention and so did other leagues. Husbands have abused their wives inside and outside the league but now there is some awareness. You have more organizations and people trying to mitigate the problem.
LM: Talk about what the NFL has meant for your family.
TPB: The NFL is definitely a blessing. We have been able to accomplish a lot of our business goals and dreams in a shorter period of time because of the financial aspect of it. One of the things we’ve had to do in our relationship is prioritize what the NFL means to us. My husband and I decided that it’s faith, family, then football. When football is taken away and he doesn’t play anymore, our family will be strong, our faith will still be strong, and we will just replace football with another occupation.
LM: Talk about some of those business goals that you and Everette have been able to accomplish.
TPB: One of the things my husband really wanted to do was become a franchisee. We opened a Tropical Smoothie almost 2 years ago in Charlotte, NC. We also had the opportunity to start Charlotte Luxury Rentals. With the rental car company, it started from nothing. There wasn’t an existing business plan. We had to create everything. We were able to do that because of opportunities he’s had in the NFL.
LM: What has being an entrepreneur taught you?
TPB: One of the biggest lessons I learned with entrepreneurship is that you have to do everything, know everything, and be willing to do everything. You have to deal with employees, vendors and clients. You have to manage accounting, taxes, government regulations, and do it well enough to be successful. That is a huge challenge. You have to grind it out. It’s not like okay we opened our doors so now people will automatically start coming. I have a greater respect for our businesses because we’re building it ourselves.
LM: What’s the hardest thing about being a restaurant owner?
TPB: Dealing with employees.
LM: Which business do you like better?
TPB: I love being a lawyer. I love creating my own hours. I love drafting. I love helping people create business plans and seeing them open [for business]…seeing everything come into fruition. I enjoy my company better. It’s my favorite.
Check out Tenisha’s company Definitive Sports Representation here
LM: What would you like people to know about you?
TPB: That I’m human and I go through the same struggles and challenges, and have the same desires and needs that everyone else does. I feel like it’s crazy that I have to actually explain that.
LM: What type of activities, specifically, do you do with your spouse?
TPB: We travel a lot. The last destination was the Cayman Islands for our one-year anniversary. We went to four weddings this year, three of which were all in a month’s time! We hang out with our dogs because we love our dogs. They are our babies for right now. We have two pit bulls – Coup is the boy, Carolina is the girl, and we have a Yorkie (Pebbles).
LM: How is that having a pitbull? They also get a bad rep.
TPB: We can’t go to the dog park because people start grabbing their dogs and being dramatic. We get upset about how people talk to us when we have them. They’re called a vicious breed which is sad because they’re not.
LM: What would you like people to know about NFL families or the NFL lifestyle?
TPB: Everybody doesn’t blow money fast. Nobody is making it rain in the club everyday. A lot of times people think because your husband is in NFL that they can ask you for money all the time. They don’t think you have bills to pay. We get asked for money all the time especially because we own businesses. Everyone always contacts us when they need something. Just because you have money doesn’t mean you have to live a certain lifestyle, and every NFL player isn’t a millionaire. The way taxes are set up, even if you make league minimums, the combination of federal and state taxes adds up to almost 50%. Nobody understands how NFL contracts work and how they're really broken down. It’s only guaranteed [money] if you’re on the team. If you’re not on active roster then that affects your life.
LM: You guys have been with several teams over the years so you may have a different perspective than I do concerning NFL women. Talk about what you’ve seen with NFL wives.
TPB: It’s different depending on where you go. Unfortunately, some women portray a certain image and it’s almost as if they push and feed into what’s seen on the reality shows like Basketball Wives and Football Wives [Vh1]. NFL wives are different depending on the team. Dallas has nice wives. There’s a hierarchy in Dallas though [amongst wives]. The Redskins wives are really nice and close. They do community service together every week.
LM: Is the difference in treatment a result of being a veteran versus a rookie?
TPB: If you’re a rookie, you’re a rookie. That’s going to be everywhere. It’s more the money distinction. When big money’s in the room, you know it. There are some who have big money [contracts] who don’t act like that but there are others who don’t associate with you unless you have big money too. That attitude also filters into the wives. If your husband is acting like that most likely you will too. Again, that’s not everywhere though. Julius (Peppers) was the big money guy here in Carolina and Jon Beason but they were so nice to us and great guys. But then you have players who are jerks because they have money and it’s stupid but it happens. It’s kind of sad because its’ like money shouldn’t make you but that’s what some people live for because its all they have.
LM: How do you go about changing some of those unwelcoming attitudes among the NFL women?
TPB: I don’t know. I think you have to create a more unified forefront that every wife wants to be a part of. I correlate the NFL wives society to a sorority. It’s a group of women with a commonality, all working towards the same goal. Then you have the cattiness that goes along with a sorority too. For me, I was discouraged in joining the wives’ groups in the NFL because I’m in a sorority. I remember what it was like to be a Neo versus a Prophyte in college. I obviously know what it feels like when you have to earn your way into a group out of respect. In college it’s different than when you are grown. When you’re grown, you don’t have time for the pettiness and girl fights. I’m really trying to live and be productive (not talk about Pinterest).
You can’t get mad at me because I can’t go to away games. I’ve had a wife look down on me because of that. We have businesses to run. It’s those instances that pushed me away from wanting to be a part of a wife group. Your blog is such a great idea because every wife is not the same. Every wife is not at home waiting for their husband to get home. Not every wife wants to stay home and have seven kids. Everyone thinks we workout, shop and take care of the kids…or really that a nanny takes care of kids. That’s not my life.
The only way it would change is if people stopped thinking they were better than others. That’s tough to change because so many individuals in society think that way. I’d like to compare NFL wives to army wives, only not on the same scale because being an Army wife is really hard. However, I think NFL wives should take time to help other wives in need like Army wives by meeting, having Bible study, and talking to one another. We need to have each other’s backs and have those conversations. When your husband is away and you have a newborn, how do you deal with that? It’s hard. Building a better support system for each other would be nice.
LM: Anything else you would like to add?
TPB: Athletes are real people.
Spoken like a true attorney...Well done Mrs. Patterson Brown.