So what trends are you into now?
I always like to utilize trends but I like to stay true to who I am. I like to keep it chic and then put a little bit of edge and how I'm feeling for the day. For instance, today it's rainy outside. It's gloomy. I would like nothing more than to be in sweats, but I had to make these rounds. So I said, how can I incorporate something chic but kind of comfy? It goes on how I feel day to day. Sometimes I wake up and I have appearances and I want to feel extra glam, so I'll take that and I'll wear a feathered skirt. I don't try to follow trends too, too much. I utilize them and I incorporate it into my day to day with things I like. Like oh, I like that sheer. I like the lace right now, so I like to incorporate that right now into my wardrobe. That's one of the trends that I'm up on.
What are some looks that you wish would just stop?
The overtly sexy. Sexy should just be a state of being and it should bleed out of who you are and less of how you dress. I feel like sometimes people are a little bit too sexy and it's not very necessary to show all that skin. Sexy is a state of being and less of how you dress or showing off so much cleavage or too much booty. And now the sheer thing is in and I'm so worried about this upcoming prom for kids. We don't need to see everybody's booty. You gotta save some stuff for the imagination. And while I'm not against it—some people have great bodies and can pull it off, I've seen it work—I think you should let sexiness be who you are and less of trying to be sexy and do too much and show too much skin. Less is more.
Yeah, prom outfits are looking more and more like Academy Award outfits.
How much has it changed since I was in high school? I was like a princess or something. I had a corset with a nice little poofy [skirt]. It was a little form-fitting but it was very age appropriate. Nowadays everyone is going to the Oscars, not the prom. This generation is growing quick. What's gonna happen when Ava goes to prom? I'm so serious. What's going to be the standard? I'm happy she's eight months right now.
Speaking of Ava, how's motherhood been for you this past year? What are some of the ups and downs you've had as a new mom?
It's definitely been an adjustment. I'm a little spoiled, I'll admit it. I'm a daddy's girl, so becoming a mom and having to take on the role that my parents played for me for so long was definitely foreign. But honestly, I swear to God, everyday I wake up and she makes me want to be a better person. To give her that example and to have her grow to be the best person she can be, that is seriously my inspiration every day. How can I improve myself to be a better person so that she has a good role model to look up to and she doesn't have to look on the outside to find that inspiration because we're providing that at home? It's been incredible. It's definitely had its ups and downs and no sleep zone for the first month and a half.
I had my times where I would just break down. And Mike is very supportive. I remember one time I just kept putting her down, she had to be like two weeks, and I was just getting the hang of it. I would tip toe away from her crib, then she would flip over and wake up like four times in a row. It's six o'clock in the morning and I remember sitting by her little bassinet, and he was like, are you seriously crying? Because it looked like a comedy, like a movie and he didn't know whether or not I was crying. He was like, "I got it. Go to sleep." So it has its ups and downs and you definitely have to learn, but I'm proud to say that I'm doing a good job and I'm getting the hang of it. Well I've got the hang of it now, she's here alive and well and eight months.
A photo posted by Vanessa Simmons (@vanessajsimmons) on Jun 6, 2014 at 11:26pm PDT
And you said you haven't been away from her for this long?
I've never not slept away from her. I was a little worried about traveling with her because it's flu season and other stuff, so I was a little worried. So I made the decision to leave her home. And it was hard for me. I cried on the way to the airport because I've never been away for that long. Yeah, for a few hours I'd go out to do my thing and do my auditions and my work, but then I'd bring it back home and I'm back to being a mom. I take off my glam and I'm back in my sweats within seconds of being back in the house. It's very hard being here doing this but at the end of the day, it's all for her and creating a positive image that she can see, especially in entertainment. And everyone has their own personalities and I judge nobody for anything, but for me, I want to be able to help her grow to be the best Ava Marie she can be.
I've heard there's a different kind of love that manifests once you become a mother. Was that true for you?
It's true. As soon as she was born… you hear so many people say it but you don't get it. You're a mom. As soon as she came out, my only concern was, was she okay? Is that okay? What's going on? The doctors took her from me and were checking her out and I just had this moment where I started crying because I knew that things would never be the same. All my family was taking pictures and my dad looked back and was like, "Are you okay?" I was fine, but the thought in my head was oh, shit just got very real. My dad had been so awesome to me. Not only just my dad, I had four parents growing up. My parents were separated and divorced for some time, so I have four parents and I was blessed to have them growing up and they were just so amazing to me. Now it's my turn to be that and to give Ava the life I had, and hopefully even more. I couldn't ask for more because I think I lived a great life, but I just want to be able to give her everything I had and more. It's a love that you cannot explain and every single day is for her.
Unfortunately, people can get more caught up in the "get your body back" stage of motherhood instead of the actual birth of the child. Have you felt any of those pressures yet about snapping back?
Yeah, I often find myself defending myself on social media because people make comments all the time. I don't like to usually address it because I'm going to let people be ignorant all day long, but it takes you a year to gain that weight and to have a child. I wanted to take the time to bond with her. I didn't want my focus to be, okay I have this child and now I have a nanny, and I'm going to be at the gym 24/7. I didn't want to do that. I wanted to be there and be hands on. To hear negative comments like "she's so big" and "her face looks so swollen," it is a lot of pressure and it's hard. It sucks. But I kinda stay in my zone and do what keeps me happy. I just started working out a month ago, five days a week and I do what I can. But my main goal is my daughter and doing creative things that make me happy. I'll continue to work out and I'm sure my body will come back, but I don't listen to what the standard should be. I don't listen to what the ideal should be and what I should be doing.
People tell me all the time, you're rich so you should have trainers and chefs and you should be doing this. Okay well you come step in my shoes and then you tell me what you think. But since you really can't do that, stay in your shoes, let me stay in my shoes and let me do me. People are going to have things to say all the time and I guess I'll just let them chatter and say what they want to say. For me, my most important thing is taking care of my daughter and making sure she's okay, being able to provide for her and taking care of my family. They think I should be out there like, oh she has a nanny, she should be doing this. Okay, I do have people to help me, but I don't want my daughter to know my nanny more than she knows me. I don't want her to have more of a bond with her than she has with me. I want to do this. I want to be a mother. I don't knock anybody else for what they do, because at the end of the day everyone needs to do what makes them happy. That's just the bottom line.
Can you already see a glimpse of Ava's personality type?
Comedic! I don't think that it's an accident because of her comedy side. She's a little comedian with the way she reacts to things and the way she is. I'm like Mike, this is your child. She's definitely a Wayans and she has been from even before she came out of my stomach. Just the way she moves. She's incredible.
Jumping back to fashion, can you go further into detail with the projects you're working on?
I was home a lot and even when I was pregnant, I just wanted to be comfortable all the time. I didn't want to be one of those glammed up women. I wanted to enjoy my time hibernating. So I've been creating a line of comfortable, nice feeling stuff that you can still run out to the store and glam it up and dress down depending on what kind of a person you are. Also a children's line. Those are the things I'm working on with fashion and building a web boutique. I have a shopping problem, so to cure that shopping problem I'm going to be shopping for everybody else and put that fashion boutique up so that it's my filter. Things that I love out there. Not necessarily things that I may have designed, just vendors and people that I like. It'll cure my shopping addiction. Hey guys, this is my favorite thing right now, go check it out. But I want to make it affordable for everybody and just really nice pieces that I think everybody can appreciate.
Any tentative release dates?
We're thinking about in the next two months and it'll just be my world on a webpage. It'll be a web boutique, a mommy blog with all of my advice, favorite products, cool giveaways of some of those baby products that I love. Just a cool website where people can come, moms can find a community and women can shop to find some cool stuff for your kids and then rock out.
What words of advice do you have for aspiring youth in fashion?
You are going to get a lot of no's and a lot of rejection, and that's just part of the industry. My thing is you can expect a no, but don't accept a no. You might get a no from somebody, but take the constructive criticism that they say and apply it to your plan and keep pushing forward. Don't let that discourage or stop you from pursuing your dreams. There might be people that say you suck, because people don't know how to speak and people are ignorant. It is what it is. Say thank you for your time, and go back to the drawing board and figure out how you can keep pushing forward and make yourself better and keep going. Keep studying your craft and get someone you can look up to like a mentor that's successful in the industry that you want to get underneath and be an intern. Even if you're not getting paid. If it's your passion, you won't care and that money will come later.
My advice is just to stick with it and don't give up, because that's what successes are made of. You're going to have a bunch of failures before you have that big time when you're in the spotlight and you have your time to shine. That's just the truth. It sounds cliche and a lot of people may say it, but they say it because it's what success is made up of. Keep going, don't be discouraged. Keep getting better. Learn your craft as much as you can and keep pushing is the best advice that I can give. I'm basing it off my own personal experience with things. I've failed at things before and I've succeeded at things before, so I take the good from it all and keep building to make myself better and myself stronger and a better artist.
What was your most inspiring "no"?
I've had a few. Honestly that quote that I gave you is a quote I made up because of the no's I've gotten. We've gotten no's from Pastry where they were like it's never going to work. But hey, $50 million later? Cool, we're working. You just figure out how to make yourself better as you go along and use those no's as a catapult into your giant yes. My dad is infamous for giving us stories and inspiration as we were going and pushing for our dreams. The brand 7Up started as one "1Up." That's representative of all the times that he got a no and it didn't become successful until it was 7Up. It's a weird story but it's cool to know how many times he got no before it was 7Up and blew up into the brand that it is today. Some people will have it where it's a one shot thing, but keep going and will have other types of hurdles along the way. Some people have to keep pushing and kicking down the door until they bust it wide open.