Kandi Burruss is a music mogul, a star on one of reality TV's highest rated shows, a songwriter, a producer, a sex toy CEO, a television host and all around go-getter. Throughout the various stages of her career, she's played almost every role imaginable in the entertainment arena and she's done it extremely well. Whether she is the talent or working behind the scenes to make the magic happen, when others tap her to partner up, they know from her reputation alone that the end product will be larger than they ever dreamed.
But, as every mogul knows, failures happen and for the first time since she's been on reality TV, one of her dreams did not make it off of the ground. During the sixth season of the hit show, she and her new husband Todd planned a wedding and produced a stageplay called, "A Mother's Love." Her hope was to take it on a national tour but she hired an outside promoter who dropped the ball. Eventually, after dates were announced and venues booked, she and her team had to cancel the stageplay tour.
She was completely devastated when she had to break the news to fans who had already bought their tickets. In a teary confessional during the season seven premiere episodes, it was evident that the abrupt end of the tour was out of her control.
Still, the 38-year-old refused to let anything slow her down. Now, The Real Housewives of Atlanta star is working on new projects, taking her current ones to the next level of success and maintaining her marriage with her husband. Plus, being an amazing mom to her daugher, Riley and a great daughter to #RHOA standout, Mama Joyce.
We are excited to have her share some of her expertise with you at ESSENCE Fest 2015's Empower U session. But, just to get you pumped for all you are about to learn, we asked her for some tips on how to this working mom and CEO keeps it all together in a new exclusive interview.
ESSENCE: From the first season we saw you, up until now, you’ve been very consistent about being a brand. On #RHOA, we always see you working hard. How do keep your brand first on the show?
Well, sometimes it does get kind of crazy because the show, they don’t care about your brand. You do have to always try to stay consistent about the things that you have going on during the time of taping. For me, I always plan to have a lot of stuff going on throughout the year. If they’re taping my life, then they are going to see some business happen because that’s what’s true to my life.
ESSENCE: You manage a bunch of projects on a daily basis. But, we watched you go through a tough loss with the cancellation of the A Mother’s Love Tour. What is the biggest thing you took away from that experience?
Oh my gosh, that experience? Laughs. That really broke me down because first of all, I like to be dependable. If I say I am going to do something, I want it to be as good as done just because I said I would do it. I want people to feel like they can count on that and with me, I felt like he damaged it in a way of for one, the fans and the people who had already started buying tickets. The next time I come to town they’re going to be thinking that I may not come and I don’t want people to feel that way.
Then, as far as the whole team that was working on the show, from the cast to the crew, we were employing a lot of people. One thing that I really like, as far as being a business owner, is to be able to help other people go for their dreams. For me to have to be the bearer of bad news and tell them that the show a lot of them were planning on to pay their bills and to take care of their families over the holidays, was not going to happen. That just really messed me up. There was nothing that I could do about it.
I’m normally a fixer. I don't like to complain about problems all day, I’m like, “Okay, what we gotta do to fix it?” But in this situation, it was so far gone before we realized what was going on that there was nothing I could do to fix it.
What I learned is, even if I take on a partnering situation going in to the future, I definitely still want to maintain control of everything. I know that makes me sound like a control freak but I feel like, when me and my team are the ones overseeing everything and dotting the ‘I’s’ and crossing the ‘T’s,’ I know it’s going to get done. When we did it the first time we did the show here in Atlanta on the prior season, it was successful because we did everything ourselves. We put up the money for the show. But, I didn’t have the experience of taking a tour across a country so that’s why we took on a promoter. We thought that he had it down!
But then we found out he wasn't promoting in a lot of cities. He wasn’t really doing what he was supposed to be doing. It’s just a big difference of when you put on something yourself and when somebody just hires you to put on something. Going forward, if somebody is partnering with me and my name is on the line, then I need to be in control or I have to be checking up on you every few seconds.
ESSENCE: Other than your businesses, we’ve watched you go through a lot of difficulties in your personal life with your husband Todd and close friend Phaedra. Would you say that this is your most difficult season, yet?
Umm, it wasn’t the most difficult season. I would not say that, no. This year, I felt like it was all negative for me. Last year, it was all stressful for me. Maybe it was because I was planning my wedding. My wedding was stressful because it was all about my family-- the stuff I was going through with my mom, the pre-nup and all of that.
This year is the most negative because to me, it’s never any light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve got to be honest with you. Every year, I’ve always been able to have something successful in business, regardless of the stress, at the end of the day we can always made it happen.
I felt like this year, you saw me have issues with my husband. You’re never really going to see the happily ever after moment at the end even though we’re good.
With the play, you just see the play not happen. You never see us pull it back together… You get what I’m saying?
And then this thing with Phaedra was totally unexpected. I didn’t even know she was saying all that stuff to them about me behind my back until I watched the episodes. Now, it looks like I have friendship problems on top of that! So, everything just sucks as far as the look of what’s going on in my life.
ESSENCE: Right. For us as viewers, we definitely aren’t used to seeing all of this happen with you. But, how are you and Phaedra doing now?
It is a weird thing. I haven’t talked to her lately… Prior to seeing the last few episodes. I don’t know what to think because when I talked to her, we were good. Over the Holidays, I invited her to my house. She’s been around! But she was acting like I just let her down… I don’t know what to think and now I am starting to feel weird about the whole situation.
I’m just totally different. I’ve never been the type of friend that’s going to call you everyday. That’s just not me. But it wasn't that I didn't call her at all. She talked to me, she'd seen me but it just wasn't everyday. My thing is, if she felt that way, she never told me! But, if she was telling other people she felt that way, then I don't know what she’s feeling now. She could be feeling a way and just not saying anything.
ESSENCE: Hopefully you guys can get that together, soon! You have TAGS Boutique, you have Bedroom Kandi and more, but what else is in the works for you at the moment?
Todd and I have more TV projects coming but I can’t tell you too much about them right now. We’re in the midst of negotiating and working things out. So, please pray for us that it all comes together.
We’re also continuing to build our company, so we’re excited about that. We have more properties here in Atlanta and we are trying to do a restaurant but we have to go through the approval process so it’s too early to say it’s definitely going to happen.
I’m just trying to keep my hand in a lot of things, whether it be TV, real estate, the store TAGS, Bedroom Kandi… We’re doing great with Bedroom Kandi and we’re continuing to build. We just hired another female executive that I’m excited about. We are just trying to take things to the next level. Instead of trying to add stuff, right now I am trying to make sure that the things that I’ve already started are going strong. Bedroom Kandi is going strong so I’m excited about that.
ESSENCE: Now, for our readers to get a taste of what to expect from ESSENCE Fest 2015, What are the three things that a multi-business entrepreneur needs to have to be successful?
The first thing is a great team. You can’t do everything yourself, especially if you have multiple things going on. You have to have somebody who’s riding with you who are trustworthy people who see your vision. They have to be able to build your brand with you.
I think having a great schedule is second. For me, I not only post my business meetings but I also post my life events on the schedule meaning, if you are person who likes to work all of the time, you’ll let work consume your life. You have to set time aside.
If I don’t write it on the schedule, then it’s not going to happen. I can say, “Yea, I’m going out to my homegirls’ thing,” and I’ll completely forget it if it’s not something somebody scheduled for me to do that day. If there’s anything, like my daughter’s track meet, it’s on the same schedule that my interview for the day is on. I think that’s important.
Finding financial people who can help you make good money decisions is third because sometimes we work and work, and spend everything we make if we aren’t careful. You need somebody who is actually going to break it down for you and say, “Hey, you need to put this to the side and do this, and do that.”
You also need a good office space. A space where you can think and have meetings. I remember Tresa (Kandi's publicist) sat me down one day and said, “Kandi, you’re doing multi-million dollar business deals on a bootleg budget. You need to get an office.”
She was right and I got tired of taking meetings at Houstons. If you come to Atlanta and go to the Houstons on Peachtree, you will see everybody you know in that restaurant taking meetings in there like it’s their office space. I realized she was right and that’s when I bought the Kandi Factory building. Now, it’s going on three years this year.
Let us know what you think of Kandi's boss tips on Twitter, @ESSENCEFest.
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