Simmons Sisters Continue Entrepreneurial Legacy

Pair Pins Hopes on Pastry Fashion Collection, Acting and Publishing

MTV reality show sweethearts Vanessa and Angela Simmons have extended the entrepreneurial legacy of the Simmons family with Pastry Footwear, a line of sneakers designed by girls for girls.

The pair has more than enough business models to mimic within their own family. Their father, Joseph (Rev. Run), uncle, Russell, and aunt, Kimora Lee Simmons, have each been wildly successful in creating brands and legacies that will live to affect future generations, including Run DMC, Def Jam, Phat Farm and Baby Phat.

Still, the sisters took a risk and decided to fill a void that they believed needed filling. The end result was the Pastry Footwear Collection, which came to life in front of thousands of viewers during the third installment of MTV’s “Run’s House.” The line, which includes a new Fab Cookie collection, is sold locally at Downtown Locker Room or www.pastrykicks.com.

Although it seemed like this was something the girls had always dreamed of doing, the sisters insist it was a fly-by-night kind of thing.

“[Pastry] was an idea that just came up,” senior sister Vanessa said. “It wasn’t something that we always planned to do. However, the more we began to develop the idea the more we got into it.”

Angela added, “We had thought about it before, but it started to make more sense when we realized that our dad had a line but he didn’t have a female line.”

As passionate as the girls were about their creation, they experienced the true nature of the fashion industry when their father and uncle became their biggest critics.

Although their father was easily swayed, it was obvious that Russell wasn’t too keen on the idea or the sweet tooth references to cake.

“It was difficult at first,” Vanessa admitted. “We really had to show Uncle Russell how serious we were. We had to show him that we are really dedicated to promoting and proving the product. Now he’s impressed.”

In addition to their line of footwear and a Pastry clothing line that will launch this winter, each sister devotes whatever free time she has to pursuing her own individual business ventures.

Angela, a pattern-making and production management major at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, is on sabbatical after three semesters so she can devote 100 percent to her other projects.

Most of her time is spent traveling across the country promoting the Pastry brand, filming the fourth season of “Run’s House” and growing her magazine, “Angela’s Rundown.” At 20, this can seem like a daunting schedule, but Angela handles it with ease.

She describes her typical day as hectic but fun, beginning with a 9 a.m. wake-up call. “Then we start filming,” she said. “I have interviews all day. Once we are done filming the show, I try to make time for friends and myself.”

“I travel all the time,” she added, “but I have to make time to take care of myself so that I can stay healthy and at the same time keep up with my beauty routine.”

Vanessa, a 2005 graduate of St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y., has a degree in communications business. Currently, she is playing the role of Lola on the CBS soap opera “The Guiding Light.” Between takes, she auditions for other acting roles, enjoys writing music and scripts with a close friend, and is constantly thinking of new ways to promote the Pastry brand.

“I love what I do,” Vanessa said. “Besides ‘The Guiding Light,’ I want to pursue more television and film roles. I definitely want to play a big drama queen role like Vanessa Williams’ character on ‘Ugly Betty.'”

One of the things that bothers the Simmons sisters is that people think they’re drama queens in real life with diva personalities.

“Despite what people believe, we don’t think we’re super famous,” Vanessa said. “We are very down to earth. We want people to understand us and to realize that we are just two young women trying to achieve success.”

“It’s disheartening when people hate on one another,” she added, “but fortunately our dad teaches us to push negativity away.”

Angela agreed, saying, “My sister and I aren’t really concerned about the money; we just like to see people happy with our products.”

The Simmons sisters stressed internal and external happiness as their main goals and credit their father’s guidance and wisdom for keeping them grounded and aware of who they are.

“We are working really hard,” Angela said. “We are just trying to touch everybody with our brand.”