S1 E4 | Pretty Vee
Comedian, actress and influencer Vena Excell, better known as Pretty Vee, turned her Instagram account into a multifaceted entertainment career. Since 2016, fans and followers have had a front row seat to the glow up from Peanut’s mama’s kitchen to TV, movies and lifestyle products. In this week’s episode of “Assets Over Liabilities,” our hosts, financial advisor Rashad Bilal and educator Troy Millings of the “Earn Your Leisure” podcast, take viewers inside the influencer’s hustle.
The episode, which featured several clips of Pretty Vee products — from wireless earbuds and aux cables to makeup accessories and a luggage collection — began with her start in entertainment. The Miami native attended college in North Carolina — Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh to be exact — where she got her chops in radio as a host. After a move to Charlotte, the entertainer decided she wanted to be more in front of the camera so she began to carve a path all her own. She told the hosts that a friend inspired her to make her first viral video. That led to her linking up with rapper DaBaby just before his mainstream break as a manager and content collaborator. Ultimately, she got fired from that role and the next, which she took a sign to go all in and bet on herself. “Lord, what I am supposed to do?” she said. “I was able to get my first brand ambassadorship. Someone gave me a chance. I just kept doing skits.”
Her consistency in producing new material, in addition to her “creative” persuasive tactics, helped her to land an audition with MTV’s “Wild N’ Out.” Vee admitted, “I lied. I said, ‘Karlos Miller my uncle. DC YoungFly my cousin.’ I was like, ‘Ya’ll going to give me a chance.’” But she revealed that even with 100,000 followers and a big audition, reality set in that she was still broke. She couldn’t afford the flight to New York. “I just needed a push, and that was my family. My mother was very supportive,” she said.
When asked how she began to monetize her platform, she admitted her and her team select what brand deals they wanted to take on for $10, $20 even $50,000 per post. Pretty Vee explained how her catchy jingles helped one hair care company increase their followers by 60,000 followers and completely sell out of all of their products from just one post. “[The owner] called me and said, ‘I’m completely sold out of everything. Please don’t post for another month.’ So now I need a bag now because I got to eat too.”
Vee also discussed the responsibility she feels to her younger followers and how that factored into her partnership with Rick Ross’ Bel Aire Pink Lush Rosé. “I’m not going to get crazy with the brown. I don’t really smoke, I’m not ‘that’ girl.” she said. “I also wanted to think of the kids that follow me, so I was just like let me figure this out. I like pink. I like the Champagne makes me feel. It’s chill. It’s a vibe.” She’s hoping the vibe will lead to equity in the company like she has with Citi Trends.
She sent a cold DM to the Instagram account of the urban retailer with almost 600 stores nationwide. After several endorsements for clothing and moving the needle on their followers, her and her team went back to the New York-based company to ask for a percentage of the company. While she did not reveal what the deal was exactly, she did point to her consumer products sold exclusively through Citi Trends.
As if Pretty Vee didn’t drop enough game, Troy and Bilal took a few minutes at the end of the show to breakdown the importance of analytics in business today. They had Facebook employee Ralph Jean-Noel join in to discuss a new initiative from the company that helps Black and Latinx business owners specifically. Jean-Noel is the program lead at Meta Elevate. “Meta Elevate is a ‘for us by us’ consulting platform from employees at Facebook,” he said. “Meta Elevate is the plug for Black and Latinx businesses to succeed on Facebook and Instagram from and ads and business perspective.”
Learn more about Meta Elevate and watch the full episode with Pretty Vee of Assets and Liabilities in the video above.