LL COOL J’s Wife Turned Her Misfortune Into A Business Opportunity LL COOL J’s Wife Turned Misfortune Into A Business Opportunity Her husband LL COOL J may be a 90s dreamboat, but his wife, Simone Smith, is a superstar in her own right. One of the music industry’s long-time love stories, the pair has been together for over two decades, since they were teenagers living in Queens, NY. In a frightening twist of fate, Smith battled a rare form of cancer, which inspired her to launch Simone I. Smith jewelry, meant to help women stay positive during trying times. Smith, who was a stay-at-home mom while raising her three daughters and son, found her entire life suddenly shift when she was diagnosed with stage III chondrosarcoma in 2004. “It was life-altering and humbling. When the doctors tell you that you have cancer, it’s mind boggling but then you think about your children, husband, and everything, and you think ‘oh my God, what’s going to happen,” she says. “I had a two and a half year recovery. It took me two and a half years to learn how to walk again. Once I started to walk again, being able to get out and start my own business, a couple years before SIS, I launched a headscarf line [Ms Got Rocks], adorning all the bandanas [with beads and crystals].” “My line has bold, beautiful designs that allow women to show their sense of strength, integrity and style,” says Smith. “I think women are powerful and my goal is for them to feel good and look good whenever they wear my pieces” Her range, which she introduced in 2011, features plenty of spiritual messaging (Instagram junkies will remember seeing Smith’s “Blessed” necklace on Kendall Jenner in this Thanksgiving snap). Consisting of chunky, effervescent pieces and oversized hoop earrings, products are sold at Macy’s, Kohl’s, and SimoneISmith.com. “I grew up in the Eighties and always loved the door knockers, huge hoops,” said Smith, who donates part of her proceeds to The American Cancer Society. “I always loved the bling, I was always very fashionable.” Smith’s signature A Sweet Touch of Hope necklaces, which feature sparkling lollipops, were inspired by her own lollipop tattoo, which she says was disfigured by her illness. “During my surgery it looked like someone took a bite out of it, so when i started to create my line, I made a pendant that’s become iconic to me,” she says. “The candy reminds you how sweet life is, the bite shows what cancer does to a person, their family and their friends, and the logo in the center represents my strength and journey to becoming well.” In addition to her debut namesake collection, Smith introduced two sub-lines in 2013; SIS by Simone I. Smith, available at Macy’s, and Amore by Simone I. Smith, available at Kohl’s. Each is meant to reach women at multiple price-points. “I definitely want to expand the brand,” says Smith. “My goal is to take it all over the world.” According to Smith, her husband has been extremely supportive of her newfound business journey. “[LL] gives me a lot of feedback on my designs.” says Smith. “He named Infinite Love, it’s another signature piece. I do trunk shows and he comes out and supports me as much as his schedule allows. He and my kids are my number one fans.” Smith who is 12 years cancer-free, counts her battle with the disease as part of the reason she found her entrepreneurial spirit. “My journey to becoming cancer-free is what really influenced me to be an entrepreneur, and put my best foot forward to create something to believe in,” she says. “At the time I couldn’t find really affordable, yet well made hoop earrings, and something ignited in me. I wanted my children to see me become an entrepreneur and make my dreams come to life.” Smith, who said she caught the entrepreneurship bug and will continue introducing new items and expanding the business, has been featured on QVC and has drawn a celebrity clientele including Rihanna, Rachael Ray, and Missy Elliott, who wore a pair of her signature hoops during a halftime performance at Super Bowl. “Taking care of my family is number one. It’s still number one even though I am a female entrepreneur.” “I had my days where I was home, I raised my kids, but I also have dreams and aspirations and my husband has supported me to reach them,” says Smith. “I’m setting an example for my daughters and for my son, for young girls and women who look up to me and admire me and who have gone through cancer. Cancer can make a lot of people go through depression. They wonder why it’s happening to them. My cancer experience motivated me to say you know what, I can stay at home, but I’m also going to follow my dreams and create a fabulous business.” You’ll Also Love… » How An Opressive Marriage Drove This Entrepreneur’s Success » This One’s for the Girls: Martina McBride’s Passion Project » How This Teenage Prodigy is Painting for Change » Igniting Our Feminist Spirit: 25 Quotes from Inspiring Ladies » How Project Runway Alum Leanne Marshall is Giving Back Belisa Silva Belisa is an editor with more than 10 years of experience. Prior to SWAAY, she worked as freelance writer, covering lifestyle, fashion and beauty industries. Belisa was a Market Editor at Women's Wear Daily for five years, where she interviewed rockstar business women like Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Lopez and Iman. Belisa also contributes to Cosmetic Executive Women, where she highlights female executives making an impact in the beauty industry.