Simone Smith is the pinnacle of grace and sophistication. Simone has turned her dreams into more than just floating wishes as to the mother of four children and stunning wife of one of music’s and television’s sexiest and successful men. With the Simone I. Smith Collection, LL Cool J’s leading lady has transformed her “hoop fantasies” into reality by combining her love for accessories and design with an entrepreneurial spirit. Simone opens up about the inspiration for her SIS Collection, how she and her spouse LL keep their marriage smokin’ hot, and her two-year battle to regain her ability to walk following an unexpected diagnosis in this exclusive OliveCocoMag interview. Dare to live – and wear – Simone’s fantasy.
OC: How do you stay comfortable in your flesh and retain a positive self-image being the stunning wife of one of the hip-hottest hops and most popular stars?
SS: I’m not an insecure person, to be sure. I am aware of my identity. I have a strong spiritual foundation and am at ease in my own flesh.
OC: We’ve seen you on the red carpet a lot, and you have a calm yet powerful demeanor. How do you strike a healthy balance between being a mother, a businesswoman, and a wife?
SS: First and foremost, I am not a quiet person! [laughing] My marriage and my children always come first, don’t you think? I set aside time for my children. I go through the motions of a mother. I manage my household, drive my children to school, and have a strong support network. ‘Mommy-Daddy time,’ as my husband and I call it, is essential to us. We go to the movies and eat out, but we also do things as a family with the kids.
OC: We applaud you for remaining humble and for sticking to your guns. How important do you believe it is for a woman to have her own life distinct from the rest of the world?
SS: I believe it is critical for women to spend time with their girlfriends. I believe it is critical for women to retain their identity. Women are prone to losing themselves in relationships. Dinner with my girlfriends is definitely something I do. We have get-togethers on a regular basis. I set aside time for me, but I also ensure that Todd [LL Cool J] and the kids are constantly on track at home.
OC: Let’s discuss your jewelry line. I had the opportunity to look at a few of your items, and they are really stunning! What drew you to jewelry design in the first place?
SS: Todd, in fact, was the one who introduced me to the possibility. He provided me with the opportunity, and because I consider myself a hoop enthusiast [laughs], I leaped at it! I adore earrings and enjoy mixing high-end and costume jewelry. I’m a sucker for accessories, and this is a lifestyle brand that all women will adore. With God’s help!
OC: What kinds of things do you have in your line, and who are you catering to?
SS: It’s for all ladies, without a doubt. I started with large earrings first, so we have great cuffs, and then we produced a bunch of earrings that are available in other sizes. I really encourage women to have the bravery to wear that large hoop earring, but the majority of earring types available in a variety of sizes for those who aren’t quite so brave.
OC: So you have jewelry that you can wear around the home or while doing yard work, and then you have jewelry that you can wear out for a night on the town with your girlfriends and make a statement with? There’s a lot to choose from!
SS: That’s right! There are additional diamond pieces available. A lot of the pieces that don’t have diamonds on them are simply stunning designs. You may dress them up or dress them down.
OC: What do you believe it is about jewelry that makes women feel so seductive?
SS: I just think it makes you feel good when you wake up, get dressed, and put on a fantastic pair of earrings, a great cuff, a wonderful ring, and a fantastic necklace. It completes your ensemble. It’s the finishing touch to your ensemble! It’s as though jewelry completes me. When I get dressed, if I leave the house without a set of earrings on, I think to myself, “Oh God, it’s all wrong.” [laughing]
OC: You see a lot of stuff in the news about couples and their personal lives. How did you avoid becoming a “prey” to the Hollywood lifestyle?
SS: I would have to answer that I am a real person with real friends. I’m not interested in who’s who in terms of celebrity. My friends are my friends because of who they are as individuals, not because of who they are as individuals. I have celebrity girlfriends like Mary J. Blige and Regina King, but they’re my pals on the inside. I still have my childhood girlfriends, and I absolutely retain all of my ties with my best friends, which is something that not everyone can claim! I simply adore genuine individuals.
OC: When you’re not working on your own projects, how do you unwind and take care of yourself?
SS: Girl, you know how much I enjoy shopping! [laughing] I go to the spa and have massages… I enjoy a good foot massage. I have my nails done, and I do the full pampering thing for myself. I enjoy doing the same things as everyone else.
OC: It’s very refreshing to see a woman with curves and a “genuine” figure. How much pressure did you feel, if any, to change your image as a result of being in the spotlight?
SS: I’m not under any duress. I’ve got four children. After that, I think I look quite decent! I enjoy my curves, and my spouse enjoys them, so that’s all that matters. I work out about four times a week and eat fairly healthily most of the time.
OC: Relationships are full of ups and downs, and adding fame to the mix may make things much more complicated. How do you and LL Cool J keep things interesting in your relationship?
SS: I’d have to say we’re first and foremost buddies. We don’t take each other for granted, either. Finally, I don’t believe anyone can do my husband as well as I can! [laughing]
OC: We can all relate to love and romance, especially as women. How crucial is it for women to romance their husbands as adult married women?
SS: This is critical! One of the reasons I’m still happily married, I believe, is because of this. I know when to light a candle and when to take a bath in lavender. When it comes to my husband, I’m quite aware and attentive.
OC: With so many couples divorcing, we understand that life isn’t always easy. What advice do you have for young ladies in terms of relationships?
SS: I’d think you’ll have to make some compromises. It is critical to communicate. I tell all my girlfriends that they should read Stormie Omartian’s book The Power of the Praying Wife, whether they’re married or not. And, you know, you have to preserve some flexibility while remaining true to yourself.
OC: What are the three most valuable things in your life that you can’t put a monetary value on?
SS: My faith, my family, and my physical well-being.
OC: When you hear these words, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
- New York – It’s my home, my stomping grounds, and there’s nothing else like it.
- Smith – Todd
Simone I. Smith Jewelry – Feminine
OC: Is there anything about you that you wish people knew?
SS: I am a fighter and survivor when faced with adversity and difficult circumstances.
OC: Are there any difficulties–or perhaps one thing in particular–that you remember having to overcome?
SS: Without a doubt. When you buy a piece of jewelry from me, the revenues go to the American Cancer Society. The reason for this is that in 2004, I had a very invasive surgery because a Chondrosarcoma tumor in my tibia bone was discovered. So they had to take my entire tibia bone and replace it with my fibular bone from my left leg in an invasive procedure called microvascular reconstructive surgery. It took me approximately two and a half years to regain my ability to walk. I battled through it, but I was depressed for approximately two weeks. My grandma, on the other hand, called me and advised me, “You better not be depressed and get prayed up for those physicians who are conducting this operation on you, and you’ll beat this.” So I prayed to God, and my test results have been excellent since then. I’m waiting for my doctor to tell me that I’m cancer-free in another three years!
OC: Many OC readers have similar ambitions, concerns, love lives, and insecurities, but we’re all tough at the end of the day! How do you feel about OliveCoco’s mission? What makes you a strong OliveCoco woman, specifically?
SS: I believe OliveCoco’s mission is a fantastic platform for women to share their tales. Because I’m a wife, a mother, a God-fearing woman, a sister, a friend, and an entrepreneur, I consider myself a strong OliveCoco lady. And the fact that I’m living my childhood fantasy! I’m hoping that my tale will inspire someone else.
OC: Talking about your dream, how did you make the shift from behind the scenes to working in the industry?
SS: It’s been fantastic! It’s been fantastic and a tremendous blessing, and the feedback I’m getting from women who say they put on the earrings and see the earrings. I mean, it just makes me feel great because it’s something I really enjoy doing. I was creating the bandannas with crystals around ten years ago, and it was successful for the time it was out there, but my youngest was only a year old at the time, so I needed to just sit back and let her grow. It’s now wonderful because she’s no longer a baby. I’m so grateful for the positive feedback I’ve received from the women who have purchased the earrings.
OC: As an entrepreneur, what advice would you give to women, in particular, who are attempting to start their own business or jewelry collection?
SS: It’s important to surround oneself with the proper people and to never give up. It’s critical that you associate with the appropriate individuals.
OC: What ideals do you impart in your home of daughters to ensure that they grow up to be the perfect reflection of their mother?
SS: Well, first and foremost, and form.