WAG OF THE WEEK is our newest campaign partnering with LUX WAGS to highlight deserving women around the league!
Meet Nadia. Wife of major league baseball player, James Loney, mom of two boys, San Fernando Valley native, and UCLA grad. This beauty is more than a pretty face; she passed the California bar and worked as an attorney prior to meeting her husband. I spoke with Nadia to find out more about the MLB life and her new interior design business...
Meet Meg Haney, high school sweetheart and current fiancee to recent NFL draft pick and The University of Oklahoma's All-time leading running back, Samaje Perine. I first found out about Meg and Samaje through a fellow NFL WAG who tagged me in this super cute Instagram post of a college football player proposing to his girlfriend...
Meet Danielle Herzlich, an American Soldier, a fearlesss champion for domestic violence, a fitness aficionado, the wife of NY Giants Mark Herzlich and as gorgeous on the inside as she is on the outside! Danielle's philanthropic work in the community along with her brave service to our country are the epitome of a redefined WAG.
Meet Nicole Cundiff, wife of former NFL placekicker, Billy Cundiff, mother of three, sister, daughter, and CEO. One of Nicole's most significant accomplishments is the success of her and her husband's foundation, Colleen's Dream, honoring Nicole's mother who passed away of ovarian cancer in February 2013. Her feature comes at a heartfelt time: Monday was World Ovarian Cancer Day and Sunday is Mother's Day.
This is one of those posts that will give you insight, inspiration, and encouragement as you walk through the journey of life and its many transitions. Wife, mother, author, and philanthropist are just a few of the descriptive terms to describe, LaKeisha “Keisha” Carey, wife of Don Carey, Defensive Back for the Detroit Lions.
Meet Nina Thomas. Wife to Seahawks six time Pro Bowler Earl Thomas, mother to Kaleigh, NOLA born and bred, quintessential Southern Belle, and possibly related to Beyonce (“her Mama and Daddy Louisiana” so you never know). Most significantly, Nina radiates love and light and we can see why her husband-her King, made her- his Queen.
Sincere, gracious, genuine, intelligent, chic and classy AND that is to say the least. Mrs. Dionne Boldin, wife of Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, Anquan Boldin, is more than what meets the eye. Dionne is as fabulous as she appears in her killa’ #selfies we see on social media with a timeless air of bold self-confidence. A wife first, mother to two boys second and a philanthropist third, who believes in not only leaving a legacy of giving but creating the mindset to give as well.
Name: Dionne Boldin
Husband/Teams: Anquan Boldin (Cardinals, Ravens, 49ers, Lions)
Children: Ashton (6) & Anquan “AJ” (12)
What #hashtag describes you best: #gamechanger
Favorite place to vacation: It’s a tie between Greece & Paris
Best Concert you’ve EVER been to: Beyonce
Interesting Fact about yourself: I’m Jamaican
Hobbies: Traveling & cooking
Your favorite memory: Giving birth to my boys
Where are you originally from and how did you get to where you are now?
DB: I am from Belgrade, FL, which is a little town in West Palm Beach County. We now live in Delray Beach, FL so we are still surrounded by our family. We chose to live near this area specifically early on so we could be closer to our family and create a home base, which was especially important to us as the kids got older.
How did you and your husband meet? What’s your love story?
DB: We met in high school. He is from Pahake (FL), a neighboring small town to the one where I grew up so we have always known each other and we met in probably 5th grade. I was a junior and he was a senior when we started dating in high school. After that, we both went to the same college, Florida State University.
ON THE NFL
What are some of the challenges of being married to an NFL player and what do you like about it?
DB: I like the platform it affords us. The ability to be able to walk into a scenario where you instantly have a platform for whatever your cause may be has always meant a lot to me. As a wife, there is a fine line between staying in a supportive role to your husband and positioning your platform in a way that you are grabbing the right audiences as well. Your presence, your behavior is important because people are always watching to see if you are going to screw up and that makes a difference as far as the type of “positioning” and respect you’ll garner. I have known my husband since he was very young so it has always been great to be able to see him live his dream. What I don’t like about it (and that’s the hard part because we knew what we signed up for)--I do miss having privacy. I miss being able to go anywhere and him not being noticed. I will say that I don’t like the scrutiny that the guys get. The fans can rip them apart for the smallest things and they are seen as“just athletes” when in reality, many of these men are fathers, husbands and genuinely good guys.
WR: What are some of your favorite fondest WAGS memories?
DB: I like the camaraderie. Every team has their own sense of camaraderie and there are always a few wives who will reach out to you when you first arrive. From team to team, I have picked up life-long friends. Whether we are out to dinner with the girls or at a game, those moments (the time spent together) are some of my favorite memories. Of course, Super Bowl year with the Ravens was another fond memory. My time in San Francisco was one of my favorite memories. In both Baltimore and San Francisco, I led the women's Bible studies. Being one of the “older girls” in the group, I enjoyed seeing the younger girls grow. I learned so much about each of these girls and really enjoyed pouring into them.
ON FASHION & STYLE
WR: Is fashion a hobby for you or a love? We’ve seen your Instagram looks and are impressed to say the least!
DB: I’ve kinda always loved fashion. Over the years, I have tried to switch it up and make my look different and fun. I went out on a limb last year and brought on a stylist. We have been working together for over a year so at this point, we are friends now and we’re just having fun! In my free time, we talk fashion and put looks together. At some point in my life, I will be in the fashion industry. Where? I don’t know. For now, I am building my budding personal shopping concierge service called The Art of Shopping.
WR: What are your favorite pieces and collections that you have been wearing recently?
DB: Everything Gucci is doing is really great right now.
WR: Any all time favorite designers?
DB: Hermes or Chanel, accessories wise. I like what St. Laurent has been doing the last few seasons. My favorite pieces are Jackets and Bombers and I like nice, structured blazers by Balmain.
WR: Don’t we all?...!
ON THE ANQUAN BOLDIN FOUNDATION & WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD
WR: Your foundation work and charitable contributions are nothing short of amazing! Tell us more?
DB: Thank you very much. We started the foundation in 2004 and originally it was just an opportunity to give however that may be. My husband and I both grew up in underprivileged areas and our thought was that we would create opportunities only for those communities. So that is what we have been doing every since we started. In each city where Anquan has played, we have tried to serve in whatever and wherever that city had its specific needs. About two years ago, we created an endowment: It’s a $1 million dollar scholarship in San Francisco and Palm Beach areas for students who academically deserve and have shown a commitment to community service. Our mindset has always been to give and share wherever there is a need but more specifically, we want to CREATE a mindset of givers as opposed to just leaving a legacy where we were the only ones giving.
WR: Has there been one particular charitable experience or individual story that you really valued?
DB: Yes and I definitely see the results. For example, we had one kid who was expelled from his high school. He later went back and got his GED so we gave him a scholarship and now he’s a teacher and started a mentoring program back home (in FL). You can really change lives and shift their perspective and anybody that has been helped, anyone I have poured into- I hope I have created a mindset that this is what YOU need to do as well. We also have a family in San Francisco right now where the mother was homeless with two boys. We put her in an apartment where all of her bills are paid for, for the next year. She’s now saving money, on track to support herself and I speak to her at least every other week making sure she is doing everything she “should” be doing. I like the building of the relationships as well. We aren’t helping you to leave you. Life is about relationships and serving. There are so many rich people in the world who are mentally poor.
WR: Your Husband was recently awarded the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. What type of impact has this had on you and your family?
DB: It’s impacted us in two ways. It has afforded us a platform to get our message out to a different group. This year as well as the year before he was nominated, we’ve seen such a jump in interest. I also like the notoriety of this award. The NFL finally displaying a positive light on the men enables me to appreciate the League for putting this award, front and center. There are so many guys doing the same kind of work who are as deserving. Secondly, we have been able to spend some personal time with the Payton Family. Growing up, Walter Payton was Anquan’s hero. They (The Paytons) are “who they say they are” and they are great people to be around.
WR: That is powerful. Shifting a bit as it’s wedding season and you have been married for over 10 years now. Every day, we see another picture of a beautiful bride. Before we wrap up, do you have any veteran marriage advice or tips for a newlywed?
DB: I have learned to prioritize one another and even before your kids. Prioritize your marriage and your spouse, which seems difficult when we have babies running around but putting kids in their place has helped us a lot. During the season, I do what’s uncomfortable for me and sometimes that requires me to do what’s not physically comfortable because I travel to every game. It gives us some time alone so I make it a priority. Keep people out of your business! That means not involving your girlfriends or your mother or father but keep your business at home. In the world of sports, there are a lot of insecurities floating around and rightfully so but, give your husband the opportunity to protect you.
WR: You seem like a lady who gets "it" all done! Tell us, what do you do in your home that no one else can do?
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
“Often times once a woman is married, society treats us as though you are merely a sum of your husband’s actions and successes. I’ve worked so hard on my own for so long (that) I don’t want my life and career to just get pushed up under his umbrella of professional football. There is plenty of room for both of us to follow our passions and shine brightly!” Devi Brown
Power Player. Wife. Radio personality. Media maven. Centered. Passionate. Ambitious. Gorgeous. Heart of gold. All of these and more describe Devi Brown, wife of Houston Texans, Duane Brown. Devi has built her entire career perfecting her brand; a brand that she's worked relentlessly to create and craft and with great success- be it behind the mic, in front of the camera or beside her man.
Name: Devi Brown (and in the radio world “Devi Dev”)
Husband/Team(s): Duane Brown #76, Left Tackle for the Houston Texans
What #hashtag describes you best?
#Adventure #Seeker #Resilient I know you asked for one haha but those three really sum me up as a woman. I look at life as an adventure and try to make every moment feel like one whether I am home in Houston or traveling abroad. I’m also someone who is constantly seeking to learn, grow and evolve. And like many women reading this, I pride myself in being a resilient woman. Someone who will rise no matter what life throws at her.
Where are you originally from and how did you get to where are now?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. That’s also where I started my career while in college (go CSUN!) at radio station 93.5 KDAY. I grew to where I am today by never taking no for an answer and always looking to evolve in my career. I started like a lot of people in radio by landing a couple internships and just grinding it out until it turned into real money and always seizing opportunities. That internship at 18 eventually led me to being an on-air personality, music director and TV host with a couple cross -country moves to work in New York City and now Houston.
On NFL Life:
How did you meet your Husband?
Well, if you let Duane tell it, he was listening to me on the radio and really liked my voice which led him to look me up online and try to meet me. He popped up at a birthday party I was having and introduced himself. A few weeks later he asked me out to A Tribe Called Quest documentary that was in theaters and we were kind of inseparable after that. We ended up getting engaged within three months and married a few months after that. Life moves fast! Haha.
Tell us about some of your fondest NFL/WAGS moments?
I’ve really enjoyed the atmosphere that our owners create for us in Houston. The McNair’s and the Texans staff are really phenomenal people with huge hearts. We have a lot of fun together and they promote and create an atmosphere of major community involvement. Recently, we had some bad flooding in the city and they stepped up by making huge donations to the victims and gave us a really beautiful opportunity to get out and serve the people of Houston at one of the shelters in an area where people were hit the hardest. That moment meant a lot to me. Another not-so-happy but really meaningful moment was this past season when my husband got injured. I was hysterical in the training room after they carted him off the field with a torn quad and I'll never forget seeing Hannah McNair, one of our owners, literally run to me with tears in her eyes and wrap me in a tight hug. Everyone there rallied around us and for weeks, sent food to the house and lifted our spirits with visits and messages. We felt really blessed!
Behind the Brand:
Who is Devi Dev and is she the same or different from Devi Brown?
Devi Dev and Devi Brown are one in same, Devi Brown is just the 2.0 version that has been able to branch out into different areas of media and philanthropy. I’m ready to merge my personal and professional passions. Some of my friends and long times listeners were like “Oh No! What is happening to Devi Dev?!” after I changed my social handles and website but, I’ve been explaining to people that even though I understand the brand equity I’ve built up in that name- I’m also ready to broaden my horizons outside of the hip hop radio world and using my real name is a long term investment. Plus… the core of each is still DEVI and as far as I know I’m the only one that goes by that, haha! I think slowly it will all fall into place.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I think this moment in time is what I’m most proud of. I’m taking the time to really evolve my brand, drop the things that I’ve outgrown and celebrate and push forward the things I’m really passionate about. These include: impactful conversations with artists and entertainers, spiritual journeys and women’s empowerment. In this last week, I launched my new self-discovery platform "Karma Bliss" which I am really excited about! We are a lifestyle and retail brand centered around connecting people with the tools needed to grow and stretch their inner selves. Over this last year I became certified by Deepak Chopra's Chopra Center to teach primordial sound meditation. I knew last summer after having spent a few years going to retreats and seminars that I deeply wanted to connect young professionals and busy women with an outlet to help them start some internal dialogue and become centered. We all spend so much time investing in our careers, families, and spouses that sometimes we are not making those same deposits into our spirits. I'm so thrilled KarmaBliss.com is now officially live and I hope you check it out!
How do you balance your own identity/brand/fans with your husband’s equally successful career?
Thankfully, it’s actually pretty easy. What we do is so different that it allows us to really be fans of each other and to stay in our own lanes. He’ll listen to me on the radio as he goes through his day and of course, I’m at all the games cheering my heart out. It works out pretty good fan wise too because he has fans that may not have been familiar with my show but now because they love him they have become loyal listeners of mine. The reverse of that is that I have a reach outside of Houston, where people who may not have been fans of the Texans or familiar with Duane are checking for him and supporting what he does. We do a lot of events together but I also try to keep a healthy distance between my brand and his. I want people to still be able to relate and identify with me for the work that I do and who I am individually. Often times once a woman is married, society treats us as though you are merely a sum of your husband’s actions and successes. I’ve worked so hard on my own for so long I don’t want my life and career to just get pushed up under his umbrella of professional football. There is plenty of room for both of us to follow our passions and shine brightly!
Tell us about Power Play Women, your program that you started to serve as a mentor platform for young women entering the industry?
So as we speak I am launching a foundation called “The Devi Brown Project: Moving Women Forward” which is where I will be funneling my mentorship work in place of PPW. I’m really excited about this project. Mentoring ladies in media is something that's really important to me but my workload doesn't allow for me to do as much "one on one" stuff anymore. With this foundation, it gives me the chance to not only continue to share what I’ve learned but to also bring other successful women on board to do the same. Our Mission: The Devi Brown project propels women to fulfill their potential and empowers them to pursue their dreams. Our Vision: The Devi Brown project does this by providing women with capital and business resources, education and vocational training, and networking and mentorship opportunities.
On Devi 2.0:
What do you know now that you wish you knew “then?” This can pertain to NFL Life, career, personal etc.
I wish I knew to be gentler with myself and to trust the universe more. To be present. That you are the only one who can give yourself peace. When you’re dream chasing-you tend to put A LOT of pressure and inner criticism on yourself. When I was getting started, I did so much of that. Looking back now I realize how many beautiful moments I missed and how many opportunities I did not appreciate because I couldn't get out of my own mind. If I had the inner peace THEN that I have now….Man! But then again, everything unfolds in the time that it’s supposed to.
Have you arrived? If not; what’s next?
I don’t think I will ever think I’ve arrived because I want to do so much more and reach so many more people. I definitely work hard but I find myself always thinking of how much harder I should be working. I want to find ways to foster deep connections between media and its consumers. I definitely want to grow more in television. I previously hosted an ensemble talk show for MTV which was an incredible learning experience and recently I’ve been doing fun stuff with the morning news team at Houston’s CBS affiliate. After working primarily in music- driven Hip Hop radio the past 10 years, I’m working now to transition into more talk-based radio. I'm looking to do more writing and mindful work as well.
Name: Candice Romo Husband/Team(s): Tony Romo – Dallas Cowboys Quarterback
Children: Two boys - Hawkins 4 & Rivers 2
Coffee or Sweet Tea? Coffee!!!!
CrossFit or Barre? Crossfit
Cheesecake or Apple Pie? Apple Pie
Beyonce or Adele? Adele
Philanthropist, entrepreneur, wife, mother, daughter, sister; Candice Romo carries many titles. As a philanthropist she is a staunch supporter of causes that assist women and children in crisis. By using the positive visibility that her position as wife of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo can bring to a charitable effort, Romo has actively led the charge to raise awareness and funds for organizations dealing with substance abuse, domestic violence and homelessness. Her personal connection to substance abuse has made her an advocate for Nexus Recovery Center for many years.
Her title as ‘mommy’ to Hawkins (4) and Rivers (2) has also pushed her into a new endeavor – business owner at Hawk & Sloane. Romo and childhood friend Hollie Siglin recently launched a line of sprays essential to facing various parenting challenges - sassy attitudes, scary monsters under the bed and many more. A Dallas-native, Romo graduated from Addison’s Trinity Christian Academy before moving on to study journalism and business at the University of Missouri. During college, Romo was crowned Miss Missouri USA in 2008 and went on to place in the top ten of the Miss USA. Additionally, she worked locally as a reporter for KTVT-TV CBS 11 and KDAF-TV CW 33 covering sports, nightlife and news prior to retiring from television work.
On Candice & NFL Life:
Where are you originally from and how did you get to where are now?
I was born in Lubbock, Texas, but spent most of my childhood in Dallas. From there I went to the University of Missouri to become a sports broadcaster, which led me back to Dallas for my job at CW 33 where I covered college and high school sports.
How did you meet your Husband? What's your love story?
Tony and I met through the Dallas Cowboys. I worked in their broadcasting department as a host for a pre-game show. We instantly hit it off and dated for a year and half before we got engaged. We’ve been married for five years and have two little boys, Hawkins (4 yr) and Rivers (2 yr).
Tell us about your day to day?
All moms can probably agree that each day is routinely different, but is a race to the finish line with un-definable duties. Regardless, it always starts with getting up with my 2 boys, a cup of coffee, and a Mickey Mouse episode. From there, my responsibilities vary from kid’s activities and household management, to Dallas Cowboys events.
Do you have a favorite WAG moment?
Being a wife of an athlete there are a lot of ups and downs dictated by wins and losses. When your spouse is on the field, you have this emotional investment that makes it feel like you are part of the team. One of the moments I will never forget is the Dallas Cowboys 2015 game opener against the New York Giants at home. We were down ten points with seven minutes to go and had to score two touchdowns to win. With ten seconds left, Tony threw a touchdown pass to Jason Witten to win the game. As Michelle Witten and I sat next to each other watching this unfold, the joy and pride we shared together as we celebrated is unforgettable.
Behind the Brand:
Introduce us to your amazing new company, Hawk + Sloane?
My best friend, Hollie, and I are always looking for creative ways to make parenting more efficient. We were both struggling with finding effective methods for discipline and that is how Sassy Spray was born: a healthy yet distasteful oral spray to keep the sassies away. From there we created an additional five sprays ranging from whimsical room fragrances: Sleepy Spray and Scary Spray to practical ones Lice Spray, Stinky Spray and Soothie Spray. Within a year, we had created Hawk + Sloane’s first product line and were ready to launch!
Sassy Spray – oral disciplinary spray
Sleepy Spray - calming bedtime spray
Scary Spray – monster repellent spray
Lice Spray - preventive leave-in spray
Stinky Spray- diaper deodorizing spray
Soothie Spray - soothing skin spray made with micronized silver
Can customers shop online as well?
Our product is readily available on our website: www.hawkandsloane.com
What’s the big picture for the brand?
Right now we are both excited and focused on the launch of our current six sprays, but we definitely have a long-term vision for the company with several more product ideas in the works.
What is your favorite spray and why?
Sassy Spray, not only was it the baby of our brand, but its also been very effective in my own household for taming our toddler boys. We call it the “modern version of soap in the mouth”- a dose of discipline and a dash of nutrition! We just found that it was a great alternative disciplinary option for families at home or on the go.
Thank you for sharing a slice of your world with us! Out of everything, what are you most passionate about?
There are many things that I am passionate about, but the foundation of all of it is the grace bestowed upon me by the Lord Jesus Christ. That unconditional love is the catalyst for my everyday life: wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.
Down to Earth, gorgeous, ambitious, genuine; ½ of a dynamic duo is Katie Levitre; former sideline reporter, Bills cheerleader and wife of Andy Levitre, offensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons. If you haven’t met Katie, then you are in for a real treat as we chatted about everything from how she met her husband (“love at 2nd sight”) to what she is passionate about (hint, her family and empowering other NFL WAGS).
Name: Katie Levitre
Husband/Team(s): Andy Levitre/ Atlanta Falcons (formerly the Tennessee Titans & Buffalo Bills)
What #hashtag describes you best?
"A large percentage of us don’t work outside of the home because of how much we move, so we don’t have something outside of marriage and children to call our own. I am definitely lucky that Andy always goes out of his way to make sure I am comfortable and made to feel just as important as he is, regardless of the situation. Having someone like him as my husband can make this hard transition a lot easier. I have always been a career driven, independent woman and Andy still treats me like one." Katie Levitre
Who is Katie? Where are you originally from and how did you get to where are now?
I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. Since I was a little girl I knew I wanted to be a journalist, specifically a broadcast journalist. I am passionate about writing and speaking and have always been comfortable performing in front of large groups of people. I graduated #1 in my journalism class from Buffalo State College and immediately pursued my career. I started with an internship at the local NBC station then freelanced for an entertainment website run by the Buffalo News. I moved on to sideline reporting for Time Warner Sports for a year. In early 2013 I was up for a full-time reporting job at one of the top 3 news stations at the same time Andy was ready to move back to California for his first off-season as a free agent. When he asked me to move with him, I had to make a decision that I knew would affect the rest of my life. I was deciding between love and my career. I knew the NFL lifestyle wouldn’t be conducive to my life as a journalist. In the end I know I made the right decision by choosing Andy. It’s easy to think about what life could have been if I had chosen to follow my dreams, but no part of me regrets my decision. If I had to do it all again, I would choose love every time.
How did you meet your Husband?
Andy and I met at a children’s toy drive hosted by the Buffalo Bills. It was his rookie year playing Left Guard for the Bills and my rookie year as a Buffalo Bills cheerleader. We spoke briefly at the event but there was no romantic spark (and thank God, or I would have been kicked off the squad!). Two years after we met, he walked into the bar I was bartending at in college and we both got that butterflies in the tummy, hearts in the eyes feeling. We think of it like love at second sight. There is something so beautiful about timing. We were both in such a stable place when we met the second time around, it was almost as if fate wanted us to wait a little while to really find our soul mate.
Tell us about your day to day?
I am a big spin fan! They have a great place in Atlanta here called Flywheel and the instructors are amazing. I finally understand what people mean when they say they get “addicted” to a workout. After spin, I run a lot of errands and take care of our house(s). I am a dedicated mommy to two French Bulldogs and as anyone with a Frenchie knows, they are quite high maintenance! I also love to cook, which you can imagine is quite enticing to an Offensive Lineman! ;)
What’s your game plan when adjusting to a new city?
I am in the process of trying to downsize everything! Andy and I have lived in 4 states in the past 3 years. My usual game plan was to pack 3,000 bags and hope I had enough. But now I am trying to get rid of things I don’t need so I can alleviate some stress when we go back and forth to our home in California during the off-season. When it comes to making new friends and feeling at home in a new city, it definitively isn’t always easy. Each football city has been totally different for us. I remember my first year dating Andy in Buffalo, some of the veteran’s wives told me that they don’t give new girls or girlfriends the time of day because they don’t know whether they’re going to be around for long. I remember thinking how sad that was! But, now I sort of get it. I will ALWAYS be welcoming and kind to new people but it can be so hard to find friends that you absolutely love only to have one of you leave the next year. In a sense it’s like starting your social life over from scratch every year, not to mention if you’re like us and live in another state in the off-season. Sometimes you just have to take it one day at a time and do your best to make this crazy life feel normal. I’ve been blessed to meet some really incredible people along the way.
What are some of the challenges of being married to an NFL player and what do you like about it?
I think when some people find out you’re married to a man in the NFL they automatically think your husband must be cheating or constantly followed around by women. It may be true for a small portion of the league but for the majority of us- that is definitely not the case. To be honest, its not the women at all- it’s the grown men that are big football fans!! Haha! I joke that I could be standing next to Andy naked and if a guy finds out he plays football they wouldn’t even notice me! In all seriousness though, it can be easy to feel like you’ve lost a big part of your identity. A large percentage of us don’t work outside of the home because of how much we move, so we don’t have something outside of marriage and children to call our own. I am definitely lucky that Andy always goes out of his way to make sure I am comfortable and made to feel just as important as he is, regardless of the situation. Having someone like him as my husband can make this hard transition a lot easier. I have always been a career driven, independent woman and Andy still treats me like one.
What are you passionate about?
My family is my greatest love. I love being a wife, a dog mom, a daughter, sister & daughter-in-law. There is nothing more important to me than the people who surround me. Something else I’ve been passionate about lately is giving not only myself, but also every woman in the NFL a chance to stand on her own. I want to be known as Katie Levitre, not “Andy’s Levitre’s wife” or “the football player’s wife” and I know other women feel the same. Solely identifying as someone’s wife or someone’s mother is not AT ALL a bad thing, but I want to give women a chance to have something outside of the home to call their own if that is what they want. People outside of professional sports don’t understand that its not glitz and glam; women have to leave their families, friends, homes and careers to support their significant others. In every city and on every team we’ve been on at least 5 women have told me that they wish they could work but “no one wants to hire someone for 5 months of the year.” So, I’m making moves to try to change that. I recently spoke with someone from the NFLPA about helping women find companies that would be interested in hiring us in the cities we live in during the season. After all, we are a league full of intelligent, hardworking and mature women!
Tell us about your babies, the bulldogs!
Awww, my babies! They are amazing! I got Titan right after Andy got signed with Tennessee, hence the name. We had to find a dog that could travel in a plane with us and Andy and I both didn’t want anything too fluffy. We were deciding between a French Bulldog and a Pug- until we heard that pugs eyes can pop out when they get too excited! We found Titan (who is blue with tan paws and a white chest) in Dallas. Four months later, I had puppy fever all over again and Andy surprised me for Christmas with a little black and tan Frenchie puppy. I always wanted to name a little girl Olive, but Andy wasn’t in to naming a human baby after a food- haha! So, my little black puppy became my Olive. They are my only children for now and I spoil them accordingly!
Love it! Now for something a little less rigorous; a fun question for you:
What do you do in your home that no one else can do? Lights, Camera, Action!
"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.