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Author and Relationship Expert Tionna Smalls from ‘What Chilli Wants’ Gives Entrepreneurial Advice

By Boyce Watkins, PhD on Jan 18th 2011 1:05PM

Filed under: Dr. Boyce Money

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What is your name and what do you do?

My name is Tionna Smalls and I am an author/entrepreneur from Brooklyn, New York. I wrote the soon to be NY Times Best Seller, “Girl, Get Your Mind Right!” (Harper Collins Publishers, Released on January 4, 2011). I am also a youth advocate and a relationship advisor who also appeared on the VH-1 show, “What Chilli Wants.”

What are some of the misconceptions people have about celebrities and their money?

I guess some of the misconceptions about black celebrities and their money is the fact that all they do is live over their means and buy fancy cars and chains — but I dont think that is true. Many celebrities are financially responsible and understand what they can or can’t afford. Yes, some are crazy with their cash, but some arent. It all individually based. I dont think everyone should be placed within the same stigma.

What surprised you the most about the financial side of your industry?

What surprised me most about my industry is the fact that you dont get paid a lot of money for being on television. When I used to watch TV, I thought that they had it made in the shade — but really, if you want money, you have to be smart with your time while you are on television. Make sure you market yourself so that you can get book deals, production deals and endorsements. That is how you get paid in the end of the day.

What’s your fondest mother’s day memory? It was [son] Tron and my nieces and nephews and they all cooked and set up the house like it was a restaurant. And me, my mom and my sister, we all got served. It was amazing. They made these handmade cards to express their feelings about us and I cried. It was good.
What’s your fondest mother’s day memory? It was [son] Tron and my nieces and nephews and they all cooked and set up the house like it was a restaurant. And me, my mom and my sister, we all got served. It was amazing. They made these handmade cards to express their feelings about us and I cried. It was good.
Chilli on Motherhood, Beauty and Hair
What’s your fondest mother’s day memory? It was [son] Tron and my nieces and nephews and they all cooked and set up the house like it was a restaurant. And me, my mom and my sister, we all got served. It was amazing. They made these handmade cards to express their feelings about us and I cried. It was good. Chilli on Motherhood, Beauty and Hair What advice would you give your daughter on motherhood? I wouldn’t give my daughter advice I wouldn’t give my son. To me, your kids are your kids, and you should instill in them everything you know so that they are responsible, independent adults. And I always tell my son not to depend on a woman for anything. Just like we tell our daughters that. He will be equipped to take care of himself. I don’t think that we should raise our kids to depend on others. Chilli on Motherhood, Beauty and Hair What are the biggest issues facing our children today? Just stuff on the Internet and just a lot of television shows. To me, it’s not their fault; it’s because parents are not parenting anymore. You don’t have grandmamas stepping up and giving good advice anymore. People are not cooking, everybody’s eating out. But certain things should just stay traditional, like family. There are just certain channels we’re not watching. We don’t do that. So I’m not planting those seeds in his head prematurely. It falls back on the parents. They need to get a hold of things and cut out all the television and the computer. I’m like, give me a break. They need to be outside playing. Chilli on Motherhood, Beauty and Hair What are some rules you have for dating as a single parent? Well, to me, when you’re dating, especially depending on how old your kids are, I wouldn’t recommend bringing the dates, or introducing the dates to your kids as a boyfriend or a girlfriend. I don’t think you should introduce that type of relationship to your child until you know for sure that’s the person you want to be with. Chilli on Motherhood, Beauty and Hair What are three things every mother must have for successful work/life balance? The one thing about being a mommy that I found out is that you never have enough time in the day. And I understand the balance of mom and dad in a household. Unfortunately, when you don’t have that balance, you can still get it from other places – my mother helps out a lot, my son’s father is an active father. I have help, but at the same time, as a parent, you have to accept that there are a lot of sacrifices you have to make. There are things that you may not be able to do for yourself so that you can spend more time with your children. I think the most important thing is to learn how to use your time sparingly. [On weekends], that’s when you should prepare your dinners for the week. Because the week is crazy, you’re working, you have to check homework, you have to conversate with your kids and spend your time with them, so whatever you can eliminate on the weekends, I say do. Chilli on Motherhood, Beauty and Hair Your favorite article of clothing this season? You know, my most favorite things to buy of all are sandals and flip-flops, but my taste is very expensive. I love Giuseppe Zanotti. His shoes are like jewelry for your feet. If you see something this year, you won’t see it next year. Very beautifully done and very pricey, but I have to have my Guiseppes! I get a pedicure once a week. I don’t wait two weeks. And I’m ghetto with it. I get the blinged-out clear diamonds or some time of cute designs, even in the winter. Plain polish is boring to me. Chilli on Motherhood, Beauty and Hair What handbag is it for you this season? I carry my own bag line with my son on it. I would feel totally guilty carrying another bag that didn’t have his picture. As a matter of fact, he’d be confused, like “Mommy, where’s my photo?” Chilli on Motherhood, Beauty and Hair Who is your fashion icon? Let me think now. I like…wow. Whose style do I like like that? I don’t know. I’m serious. Some people have cute days and not so cute. I would have to say lately, Gwyneth Paltrow. Her style has just been so nice. I’m funny because I’m not a girly-girly. So I don’t like…I like dresses but it depends on the dress. To me, her style, it’s got that funky thing to it. It’s still very feminine, but everything about it is funky even down to her cute little haircut. She’s just fly. Chilli on Motherhood, Beauty and Hair Would you ever consider doing a short haircut? Absolutely not. Never, ever, would I do that. If you see me walking around with a short haircut, you know I’ve lost my mind. She’s ill. She’s on some kind of medication or something. I would put a wig on and play like that, but I would NEVER cut my hair. As a matter of fact, I’m letting it grow. Chilli on Motherhood, Beauty and Hair How do you switch it up — do you blow it out? Yeah. And somebody had said something about me, something about straight hair. There was a period of time when that’s all I wore. In our culture, we’re always with all these different hairstyles and, to me, I’m just not into all that. I’m not a fan of straight styles any more because I don’t want the heat on my hair. I’m into being more healthy. I love roller sets in the winter. I don’t do them in the summer because my hair sweats and gets curly. I don’t do any chemical besides color. My hair has been colored for eight years now. I stay in the same family — browns, light browns and reds and that auburn color. Chilli on Motherhood, Beauty and Hair

How has Twitter helped you in building your brand and running your business?

Twitter has helped me tremendously with my business. When the show “What Chilli Wants” aired, I received over 10,000 followers on Twitter. My followers became very loyal to me and then they started to become interested in other things that I had going on. Once the show ended in May, my tweets kept my name circulating, therefore not letting my brand die. Now that I am opening a boutique, my twitter followers let me know on a daily basis that they are here to support me. They have been pre-ordering my book and everything. Twitter is a great tool to use especially if you plan to make money online.

Do you have any financial and professional advice for aspiring celebs out there?

Well my first piece of advice is to get you a great lawyer and a great accountant from day one, because you will not be able to understand the verbage of a contract yourself. There is a lot of underlying bullcrap that you will not be able to sort through. Lawyers and accountants should become your best friends in this business.

I also think you should research things that you don’t understand on your own, because you never should get yourself into something you dont know anything about in detail. If you know better, you do better. Don’t let people make financial decisions for you without knowing what’s going in depth, because there are many people out there that will take advantage and bamboozle you. So don’t be a fool! Reading is fundamental.

Lastly, stack your ends! Sometimes in life when you get a little cash, you get crazy and start spending like tomorrow is never going to come. But the best lesson that I have learned is that you have to save for a rainy and a snowy day. We are in a business with Net 60 and Net 90 payment terms — meaning you may have to wait 60 or 90 days to get your next check. Therefore, you should save your money so that you can continue living the lifestyle that you want to live. Dont just go out and buy everything because you can. Look at the millionaire who drives a Toyota! Dont fall for the flashy stuff right away. Get your brand up so that they will start sending you those things for free.

What upcoming projects do you have in store for us?

Whew! Well I have my new book “Girl, Get Your Mind Right!,” which is out now. You can order the book through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or any other book affiliate. I am very proud of this new book and I am hoping that it makes the New York Times Bestsellers list. Most of all, I am hoping it will help women get themselves together. I will also be back on television in January so that is pretty cool. I still own my own entertainment company, Talk Dat Ish Entertainment, LLC. We are also helping other authors get published and things of that nature. We also have a toy drive event coming up for the underprivledged kids in my neighborhood, East New York, Brooklyn. Also, I am opening an accessories boutique in Brooklyn called Loveys. I am just so excited because I really plan on bringing the fabulosity to Brooklyn. So many things are happening; I am just thanking God for the many blessings that he has given to me.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our AOL Black Voices audience?

Yes I would like to let everyone know that I am getting married and I am so excited to be doing so. God has blessed me with a wonderful man who loves me for me. I am so happy that we are becoming one in a few months. I am proof that true love still exists. I would like to thank you guys for featuring me — and to my followers, thanks for everything you guys do for me. I appreciate the support!

Follow me @TionnaSmalls!

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