Following in the footsteps of their family, so to speak, Angela and Vanessa Simmons are busy laying the foundation for the next Simmons empire. That’s right, the charming daughters of legendary hip-hop pioneer Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons of Run-DMC, have created a yummy new company called Pastry Footwear, which debuts this month.
With Pastry, the Run’s House reality show darlings now join a long line of Simmons sneaker tycoons, which includes their father (Run Athletics), their uncle Russell Simmons(Phat Farm sneakers) and aunt Kimora Lee Simmons (Baby Phat footwear). Still, these cool kicks have a flavor all their own. Named for the siblings’ love of baked treats, Pastry’s four distinctive sneaker styles —the Cake Collection— have tasty names to match: Chocolate Mousse (brown with pink), Red Velvet (red with white), Sprinkles (white with multicolored dots) and Strawberry Shortcake (pink with white). Each pair is sold in a cake box secured by a satin ribbon, and comes with a tube of lip gloss. (Could a cosmetics line be far behind?)
Essence.com caught up with the busy design duo to learn how they won over a skeptical dad, and juggle being entrepreneurs while balancing college classes.
ESSENCE: Who came up with the concept of Pastry?
Angela: When one of us comes up with an idea, the other will go, “Oh, I was just thinking that!”
Vanessa: There’s actually an episode of Run’s House where we’re having an all-nighter in the office, and you basically see the whole idea of the sneakers come together.
ESSENCE: What are some of the inspirations behind the line?
Angela: I bake a cake called confetti cake and one of the sneakers—Sprinkles—is inspired by this cake. These sneakers have a bunch of little dots on them, like the inside of the cake, and the cake has the same colors inside as the sneakers.
ESSENCE: Some people may not take you seriously as designers or business owners because of who your family is. What makes you guys different from someone like Nicky Hilton who has a handbag line?
Vanessa: We just happen to be in a really privileged position, which I thank God for every day. But we have to prove ourselves 20 times more to our family because our dad knows how quickly I can just say, “Oh, that was cool, but I’m over it.”
ESSENCE: Angela, you’re a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology and have a magazine called Angela’s RunDown. Vanessa, you’re a model and aspiring actress. How do you both manage to do so much?
Vanessa: Growing up, my father and uncle Russell definitely instilled their strong work ethic in us.
ESSENCE: What’s next for Pastry?
Vanessa: Expansion is key. We’d like to branch off and make Pastry a big empire the way Kimora took Baby Phat from a T-shirt and made it into everything. We already plan to launch boots this winter, but eventually we also want to create clothing, cosmetics and fragrances as well.
Pastry Cakes retail for about $65 a pair. They are available at undergroundstation.com and at Underground Station stores nationwide.