Simone I. Smith is all of those women. By her own admission, she’s also a woman of strength, integrity and style, which are traits she relies upon to remain grounded as she travels along her journey.
In 2011, she launched her signature jewelry collection, Simone I. Smith, with two goals in mind: to transform her life-long affection for accessories into a thriving enterprise and offer a helping hand to those in need. A 12-year cancer survivor, she finds as much joy in designing earrings, bracelets and her ever-popular A Sweet Touch Of Hope lollipop pendants as she does when working with the American Cancer Society.
Her story began in the suburbs of New York. Back in the 80s, when hip-hop was burgeoning as a culture, Smith was coming into her own as well. Raised under the watchful eyes of her grandparents, she grew up during an era when asymmetrical bobs and acid-washed denim were all the rage. It was also a time when every girl on her block in Queens was wearing big, chunky earrings. In fact, she still has the first pair of gold “door-knockers” she received as a gift when she was a teenager.
“I was 17-years-old when we met and I’ll never forget the day he bought me those earrings,” she says of her husband, entertainment icon and fellow entrepreneur, LL Cool J. A self-proclaimed “accessories queen,” she confesses that her earring choice usually dictates the rest of her outfit. She has also mastered the delicate art of blending high-end pieces with classic, everyday looks. “I’m definitely a ‘hoop’ girl,” says Smith, who even admits to donning her favorite, wiry pairs to the gym. “I’ve been known to wear funky hoops on the red carpet with a to-the-floor gown.” Not surprisingly, she insists that the Simone I. Smith customer embodies the same level of confidence.
“She’s every woman, of every age and race,” she says of her customer. “She’s fashionable, career-minded and comfortable with who she is. She knows how to accessorize and can rock a fly pair of earrings, with ease. She’s also unafraid to defy tradition.” Simply stated, Smith is intent on inspiring women to not only tap into their own personal style, but also be bold and open to switching things up a bit, too. In addition to her signature line, she has expanded the brand to reach consumers across multiple price-points with SIS by Simone I. Smith and Amore by Simone I. Smith, which were launched in 2013.
During the decade after she spearheaded her first, successful venture, Ms. got rocks — a line of custom-made, beaded bandanas — Smith, the mother of four, focused her attention on caring for her family, full-time. Then in 2004, she received a life-altering diagnosis of stage iii chondrosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer which required an invasive surgery during which her right tibia bone was replaced with her left fibula bone. While enduring two years of rehabilitation, she held her head high and was rarely seen without her sparkly ballet flats or color-coordinated crutches. The experience tested, and renewed, her faith and also sparked her desire to give back. As such, she donates a portion of proceeds from every jewelry sale to the ongoing fight against cancer, in all its forms. “This disease affects so many people and so many families,” says Smith, who proudly appeared in the American Cancer Society’s 2014 ad campaign. “I always knew that I wanted to do something to help and I feel very blessed to be able to do so.”
For her efforts, she earned 2013’s rising star of the year award from the National Association Of Women Business Owners of Los Angeles and was honored by the faith-based non-profit, ladylike foundation, in 2015. She has been a featured guest on QVC and also appeared on The Talk, Entertainment Tonight and The Insider. Her jewelry has graced the pages of Essence and Instyle and has become a favorite among the likes of Rihanna, Mary J. Blige and Hoda Kotb as well as Regina King, Rachael ray, Chaka Khan and Missy Elliott, the latter whom wore a pair of Simone I. Smith signature hoops during her halftime performance at Super Bowl XLIX.
With all that she’s accomplished so far, Simone I. Smith has her sights set on the future. What keeps her inspired? Her faith in God, first, and her family, always. “I feel a great deal of pride in my roles as a wife and mother and now, with three jewelry lines, I feel even more fulfilled. Along with cultivating my philanthropic efforts, I want to continue to create quality, fashion-forward products and represent for all the ladies around the world who love accessories as much as I do.”