“A diva is a female version of a hustler.” Pulled from Beyoncé’s 2008 track “Diva,” the words accurately describe multimillionaire Nathalie Nicole Smith. The self-made boss has been grinding since her college days at Howard University (HU) and has rightfully seen success as an entrepreneur without ever getting a 9-5 job. It’s safe to say her hard work has paid off.
At 34 years old, Smith owns a beauty and wellness store inside Houston Galleria Mall, Plush RX. She also serves as an executive ambassador for the network marketing company Total Life Changes, is the author of “Becoming a Brand” and the founder of Women Who Boss, a 501(c)(3) organization that helps women walk in their real purpose amidst pain. The nonprofit is also accompanied by an international podcast.
Smith spoke to REVOLT about her past, present and future as an entrepreneur. Here’s what we learned about the self-made businesswoman.
Smith, a resident of Silver Spring, Maryland, grew up in a two-parent home until she was 12 years old. After her parents got divorced, she and her mom moved to her grandmother’s house, where she had no room of her own. Though her mother worked tirelessly for her earnings, she wasn’t able to make enough to purchase her own house. Smith was grateful to have a roof over her head but wanted more for her and her family. Hence, she developed her entrepreneurial spirit.
“Being in the house, I remember saying, ‘I just want to go. I want to just graduate from high school,’” Smith tells REVOLT. “I graduated at 17 years old and I was like, ‘I want to go to college. I don’t care what college at this point. I just want to go to college. I want to just be out of this house. I don’t want to be here anymore.’ That really birthed my entrepreneurship.”
She continued, “I would sell MetroCards, I would sell candy, I would sell books, I would sell school supplies — I just wanted money. I had great people but, again, they didn’t have enough money for me to be able to thrive.”
On The Yard at HU, where Bisons show out in various ways, Smith was one of few driving through D.C. with a ride. Her grandmother purchased her first car, a Lexus AS300 in her freshman year of college. The luxury vehicle was a taste of the lifestyle she wanted — so to maintain it, she knew she had to go hard.
“I had to keep it up,” said Smith. “I didn’t know it was called entrepreneurship. I just knew it was, like, being a boss. I just wanted to be successful. I just wanted to be this person that was able to be free. I did not ask for millions of dollars. I don’t think I ever asked God for a million dollars prior to knowing what a millionaire was. I wanted to be successful and be free.”
The Entrepreneur Life
Within the next few years and in no particular order, Smith sold weaves, began bartending and dedicated some of her free time to mentoring D.C. youth. She earned money doing bottle service, celebrity makeup, makeup at MAC Cosmetics and by doing hair. By the time she left Howard’s campus, she was ready to take the next step and put together her brick-and-mortar business Plush Beauty in D.C., where she got her first real experience in being a businesswoman.
“Girl I rode around D.C., found a location and signed a bogus lease. Although I was successful in that space, there were a lot of growing pains there,” she explained. “I would buy a lot of products overseas … I didn’t always do my checks and balances. I learned a lot being an entrepreneur at a very young age.”
Those life lessons led to resilience and more lucrative business endeavors. In 2015, Smith teamed up with Total Life Changes to help promote their health and wellness products, quickly earning six figures and the title of national director. She released her book “Becoming A Brand” four years later, established Plush RX in Houston and has since launched her passion project Women Who Boss, which allows her to pour into women in every way.
Smith’s passion for women empowerment is also why she chose to work on the forthcoming Lifetimes series “Million Dollar Hustle.” The show follows self-made boss Stormy Wellington as she and a group of elite leaders, including Smith, battle to win challenges and (subconsciously) a spot in her inner circle. Unfortunately, as with other reality television shows, there were ups and downs.
“‘Million Dollar Hustle’ made me stronger as a woman. I haven’t yet shared the whole story because I’m waiting for it to air. Regardless of how it is edited or whatever it is, building relationships with women and making money together is a challenge,” Smith said of her experience.
“I’ve realized even in the space of women empowerment, we give more mercy to a man that dogs us than to a woman that we’re supposed to build with. And in this space, I’ve seen people fall out, I’ve seen miscommunication, I’ve seen no forgiveness or compassion and I said, ‘Wow.’ So, I’m excited about this show. I’m not gon’ lie: I had a lot of mixed feelings about taping it because it was very demanding. But afterward, man, I have nothing but love for everybody who’s on the show. A few of the girls, we’re not friends anymore but, like, it broke my heart. Just being friends with people that you think you’re friends [with], and then you’re being called to work with women but not getting the opportunity to work out relationships or to communicate effectively. It hurt.”
Smith credits those issues to the ladies’ lack of communication outside of production and adds she wouldn’t have made it through without Wellington.
Unfortunately, being on reality TV is only one of the challenging moments the businesswoman experienced throughout her life journey. Last year, she was robbed at gunpoint, which led to depression, PTSD and 50-pounds gained in weight. With prayer and therapy, she made her way through, however. She credits her apparel brand NN Luxury, which was birthed when Smith realized she let sadness dominate.
Although she has experienced some pitfalls, there were also many incredible wins. As an entrepreneur, she’s most happy about running her business in a six-figure capacity (or more) for 10 years now without any business loans; her “Top 30 under 30” honor; the number of people she’s helped; and becoming a multimillionaire and maintaining a seven-figure status. Plus, there’s so much more the business maven wants to accomplish.
A Look Into The Future
Among Smith’s many plans are her hopes to pursue an acting career and partner with actresses to create movies for Netflix. She wants to write 100 books and accomplish her goal of helping 1,000 women become financially, physically and spiritually free through her Women Who Boss platform. She is also looking to get into television.
“My goal is to give Oprah an opportunity to sit down a little bit,” said Smith. “Oprah has a talk show, so my goal is to have my own talk show that impacts billions of lives.”
Smith also plans on becoming a mother one day, but given pressures from her family and society, she’s making sure she does things on her time.
“I think family is beautiful,” she told REVOLT. “I believe in being equally yoked. I believe in living on your own terms. I believe in shutting the world out and being able to create space for your life — so you guys can grow adequately and it can be a healthy relationship, allowing you to create a safe space for your child and for your husband.”
As for what keeps her motivated, Smith explained, “I want women, especially across the world, to look at me and say, ‘It’s possible.’ I want men to look at me and say, ‘I want my daughter to be like her. I want my wife to be like her. I want my sister to be like her. I want to be her.’ I say that to say, ‘her’ takes care of herself. ‘Her’ takes care of her self-care. ‘Her’ takes care of her parents. ‘Her’ is a great mom. I want her, whatever ‘her’ is to that person, to be able to impact the world. So, that’s my why. I’m never gonna settle for just enough. If I settle, that’s going to impact the people that are watching me continue to set new standards and be able to break barriers for our culture, especially as a Black woman.”