More Than Reality TV…A One On One With Yandy Smith-HARRIS
More than Reality TV
A One On One With Yandy Smith-Harris
Life Goals. Women Empowerment. Money Moves and Media Power.
Yandy Smith- Harris spoke about balancing motherhood, entrepreneurship, and social media influence in addition to managing her demanding job as a VH1 producer and reality TV personality.
“If I don’t hustle, I don’t eat. I’m more than a TV personality. I’m a worker. I’m a mom,” said Harris.
Harris, most known for her involvement in one of the highest ranking American reality TV shows, Love and Hip Hop, is a Women In Media (WIM) 2019 Arete of Media honoree.
WIM, a non-profit organization based in Philadelphia hosts a yearly Women in Media conference attracting women and some men from various cities and states to acknowledge trailblazers in communications.
Celebrating its seventh year, the conference has expanded into a four day affair during the month of November and in conjunction with their signature award ceremony, Harris gave a fireside keynote address this year.
Moments before Harris hit the stage to give her keynote address she agreed to a one on one.
The charming mother of two welcomed the interview without any hesitation. She managed her Yelle product table and greeted fans and customers all while having lunch, caring for her children, and giving a bomb interview in true ‘mompreneur’ fashion.
Harris openly answered a range of questions such as: what was the inspiration behind Yelle?, a cosmetic line specializing in tones and brands for women of color, she gave advice for entrepreneurs who are seeking funding, shared her keys to success, and explains why her media power is simple yet crucial.
Here’s what Harris had to say about being in Philly and a woman in media.
“I am super excited about being here in Philly,” Harris said enthusiastically. “ I absolutely plan to meet some amazing people but my biggest thing is to support. I enjoy showing support.”
“I’ve been a woman in media now for over 10 years. So when I got the call to be invited here to speak I felt like wow this is big. I love to speak to young businesswomen and young entrepreneurs about really grasping this industry in particular because it’s a difficult one to navigate, and I feel like with sisterhood, guidance, and a little push and support anyone can really do what it takes to succeed,” she continues.
When asked about her cosmetic line Yelle, Harris shared that the reason she got into the beauty business was very personal at first.
“When I started shooting [Love and Hip Hop] my skin broke out really really bad. I had acne. I had dry spots and hyperpigmentation. Then when I would go to places like Sephora to purchase products to fix all of my problems. After grabbing the expensive eye cream I needed, the cleanser and toner, I was checking out with a $500 bill,” she said. “It made me think about how can the average woman spend this amount of money every 30 days on beauty products alone,” she explains.
“There is no way that the average woman can do this every 30 days. It was then I realized that there is an opportunity for me to create something in a space that caters to melanin women like myself by developing reasonable and all natural beauty products,” said Harris.
“[Although] funding is absolutely a hard spot for us women of color,” said Harris. “There are a few things that I suggest for budding entrepreneurs. The first thing is to make sure you are prepared for the opportunity when it presents itself,” she advised. “Secondly, if you are around an angel investor or a capital venture investor make sure you clearly explain the value of your business and in what ways people will see a return on their investment,” she suggests. “ If I gave you a million dollars today what are you going to do with it? Make sure you are able to answer that question first. What will the marketing plan look like? These are just some of the questions you need to know how to answer,” Harris states. “You want to be prepared for the opportunity so if that means you keep all your business materials on a drive, USB, or have your presentation on your phone, do it.”
During the keynote address, the celebrated media maven made it a point to address that her body of work exceeds beyond the mark she has made with reality television. Harris, a Howard University Alum got her start in entertainment and media as an intern at Violator Management working as an executive assistant for Mona Scott Young. During her time at Violator Management she worked with worked with an array of artists such as LL Cool J, 50 Cent, Missy Elliott, and Busta Rhymes. Before being introduced on Love and Hip Hop, Harris managed rapper Jim Jones. She has now owns and operates both a lifestyle brand called Everything Girls Love and Yelle Cosmetics outside of her TV life.
With over 5 million Instagram followers, Harris is exceeding her sales goals beyond her dreams. She revealed she made over $60,000 during her first year in business and over $400,000 the second year.
When asked what was her media power. Harris simply stated being kind. “Manners will open up doors that money can not,” she said. “One thing that’s a power for me is that I network and I’m nice,” she continued. “The way the world works is people come back and karma is real.”
Harris spoke for a while about the importance of having a great attitude and genuinely being kind to others without expecting anything back and why it’s also good practice to keep good spirits when people aren’t kind in return. She proclaims that people can say many things about her but they can’t say she’s rude or isn’t kind.
“[Another thing] I also did was always step outside of my circle. I was able to articulate what it was I do, who I am, and what I needed,” Harris commented.
Before the conversation was over Harris suggested that women in media and aspiring women in media should always have a 30-60 pitch ready, cultivate and manage relationships, be strategic and deliberate with their time, and passionate about whatever it is that they pursue.
Written by Afea Tucker
Photos by Afea Tucker