We all know that the best moms out there have capes hiding under their regular clothes. They are gifted with the ability to do it all, while still making sure their cherished children are smiling. Molly Sims’ world revolves around her three kids, yet she manages to thrive in various careers simultaneously, from modeling and acting to starting her own jewelry line and getting involved in philanthropy. We asked her to give us the rundown on her professional and personal life, and how they seem to coexist so seamlessly.
1. Can you tell us a bit about your personal background? Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?
Family is the most important thing to me. I grew up in Kentucky with my mom, dad, and brother in a very close-knit family. My brother and I love to get our families together with our parents. We do this frequently because our time with each other is very precious. Everything my parents taught me, I instill in my own children. My mom taught me to love unconditionally, and my dad taught me to never give up.
2. When did you enter the modeling world? How were you discovered and what were your first impressions of the industry?
At the end of my sophomore year in college, a girlfriend who had experience in modeling suggested I take some photos with a fashion photographer she'd worked with in Memphis. So I drove myself down to Memphis, took my first ever modeling pictures, and sent them off to the New York agencies. When a few agreed to meet me, I flew out with my mom and I was signed with Next Model Management.
3. Can you share any anecdotes for what it was like being a model and whether or not you felt supported by the industry or industry mentors or not? Were there any specific challenges you had to overcome/lessons you learned?
The number one thing you have to accept in the modeling industry is hearing the word “no." You're never going to be the tallest or most beautiful girl in the room, but you can be the most determined. I had to learn to accept this and never give up my determination to succeed.
"My brother and I love to get our families together with our parents. We do this frequently because our time with each other is very precious. Everything my parents taught me, I instill in my own children. My mom taught me to love unconditionally, and my dad taught me to never give up." Photo courtesy of mollysims.com
4. Please share a bit about what life was like for you as you as an actor. What were some of the highlights/challenges?
Acting for me was a dream come true. I feel so lucky to have had my experience on the show Las Vegas. It ran for five years (which was practically unheard of) and that cast became my second family.
"My son has always been affected by eczema, not crazy bad, but it flares up where we need hydrocortisone. I found [ProCure] and it uses coconut oil and is very emollient. It doesn't sting or burn, and it makes his eczema feel so much better"
5. Do you have any advice for balancing motherhood and marriage? Do you have any go-to philosophies or life mottos?
You have to take each day at a time. Being a mom is my greatest joy. My family, or my "tribe of five" as I like to call us, is my entire life.
6. What advice do you give for women who have a really bad day/month/etc? What has helped you dust yourself off and put yourself out there after a set back?
Never let a bad day get you down. This industry is tough and it will knock you down, but if you want to succeed, you can never stop working. It's easy to look in the mirror and critique yourself, but you have to remember you are beautiful and strong, and that if you believe in yourself, you will accomplish your goals.
7. Can you speak about your experience in business and entrepreneurship, including launching your own jewelry line? What was that like? Can you share the challenges/high points?
I launched my signature jewelry line called Grayce with HSN in 2010. It was a great experience learning how to put myself out there creatively in ways other than modeling and acting. I have my own sense of style, so I wasn't sure if people would appreciate what I found stylish. It truly was a great experience that kickstarted everything else I've done.8. How did you get involved with ProCure? Do you use it personally? Can you share what it does for you? How do you work with the brand?
Being a mom of three you have to be organized at all times. It started when I created travel kits and first-aid kids for each of my kids. My son has always been affected by eczema, not crazy bad, but it flares up where we need hydrocortisone. I found [ProCure] and it uses coconut oil and is very emollient. It doesn't sting or burn, and it makes his eczema feel so much better. So that's ultimately how I got involved. I try to use things that are paraben-free and as organic as possible. It really takes any itch, burn, or pain away.
9. Can you talk briefly about the philanthropic causes that you champion? Please share why these are your passion projects?
Giving back is so important to me and it's something my entire family cares about. I'm passionate about Baby2Baby and everything they do for low-income children. At my son Brooks' sixth birthday party we just did a backpack drive for Baby2Baby. Instead of bringing gifts, guests brought backpacks to donate.
10. Any fun summer plans? Can you share any tips for navigating family vacations while still looking cool, calm and under control?
We always spend summer in the Hamptons. It's such a great getaway from LA and gives us a chance to slow down and be together. While traveling with my babies can be tough, I always keep my big bag of tricks with me. We've got snacks on hand, legos, bottles...anything you could need!
11. Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
Definitely Sarah Jessica Parker. She'd add a little glam, a little humor, and a lot of style.
12. What is the first thing you do in the morning?
The first thing I do in the morning is get myself and my children dressed and ready for the day. Although getting kids up and dressed can be the most challenging part of the morning, I make it a priority to prepare ahead of time and pick out all of our outfits the night before. This is the best way to get the morning started on the right foot.
13. What is your biggest beauty secret?
My biggest beauty secret is skincare. When your skin is fresh and flawless you can tackle anything. I love serums, moisturizers, face masks, eye patches...you name it. I'm currently loving the Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask created by Marianna Hewitt and Lauren Gores Ireland. It's the best for travel, and as a busy mom I'm always on the go.
14. Please name something that is always in your purse.
In my bag I always have Wet Ones (I'm a mom, so that's an obvious one), some type of moisturizer, a pair of sunglasses, and snacks.
15. What is your go-to karaoke song?
If you know me, you know I'm a huge karaoke fanatic. Give me a mic and I will sing my heart out. I love a good, upbeat song.
Sweaty Palms & Weak Responses
Early spring 2018, I walked into the building of a startup accelerator program I had been accepted into. Armed with only confidence and a genius idea, I was eager to start level one. I had no idea of what to expect, but I knew I needed help. Somehow with life's journey of twists and turns, this former successful event planner was now about to blindly walk into the tech industry and tackle on a problem that too many women entrepreneurs had faced.
I sat directly across from the program founders, smiling ear to ear as I explained the then concept for HerHeadquarters. Underneath the table, I rubbed my sweaty palms on my pants, the anxiousness and excitement was getting the best of me. I rambled on and on about the future collaborating app for women entrepreneurs and all the features it would have. They finally stopped me, asking the one question I had never been asked before, "how do you know your target audience even wants this product?".
Taken back by the question, I responded, "I just know". The question was powerful, but my response was weak. While passionate and eager, I was unprepared and naively ready to commit to building a platform when I had no idea if anyone wanted it. They assigned me with the task of validating the need for the platform first. The months to follow were eye-opening and frustrating, but planted seeds for the knowledge that would later build the foundation for HerHeadquarters. I spent months researching and validating through hundreds of surveys, interviews, and focus groups.
I was dedicated to knowing and understanding the needs and challenges of my audience. I knew early on that having a national collaborating app for women entrepreneurs would mean that I'd need to get feedback from women all across the country. I repeatedly put myself on the line by reaching out to strangers, asking them to speak with me. While many took the time to complete a survey and participate in a phone interview, there were some who ignored me, some asked what was in it for them, and a few suggested that I was wasting my time in general. They didn't need another "just for women" platform just because it was trending.
I hadn't expected pushback, specifically from the women I genuinely wanted to serve. I became irritated. Just because HerHeadquarters didn't resonate with them, doesn't mean that another woman wouldn't find value in the platform and love it. I felt frustrated that the very women I was trying to support were the ones telling me to quit. I struggled with not taking things personally.
I hadn't expected pushback, specifically from the women I genuinely wanted to serve.
The Validation, The Neglect, The Data, and The Irony
The more women I talked to, the more the need for my product was validated. The majority of women entrepreneurs in the industries I was targeting did collaborate. An even higher number of women experienced several obstacles in securing those collaborations and yes, they wanted easier access to high quality brand partnerships.
I didn't just want to launch an app. I wanted to change the image of women who collaborated and adjust the narrative of these women. I was excited to introduce a new technology product that would change the way women secured valuable, rewarding products. I couldn't believe that despite that rising number of women-owned businesses launching, there was no tool catered to them allowing them to grow their business even faster. This demographic had been neglected for too long.
I hadn't just validated the need for the future platform, but I gained valuable data that could be used as leverage. Ironically, armed with confidence, a genius idea, and data to support the need for the platform, I felt stuck. The next steps were to begin designing a prototype, I lacked the skillsets to do it myself and the funding to hire someone else to do it.
I Desperately Need You and Your services, but I'm Broke
I found myself having to put myself out there again, allowing myself to be vulnerable and ask for help. I eventually stumbled across Bianca, a talented UX/UI designer. After coming across her profile online and reaching out, we agreed to meet for a happy hour. The question I had been asked months prior by the founders of my accelerator program came up again, "how do you know your target audience even wants this product?".
It was like déjà vu, the sweaty palms under the table reemerged and the ear to ear smile as I talked about HerHeadquarters, only this time, I had data. I proudly showed Bianca my research: the list of women from across the country I talked to that supported that not only was this platform solving a problem they had, but it's a product that they'd use and pay for.
I remember my confidence dropping as my transparency came into the conversation. How do you tell someone "I desperately need you and your services, but I'm broke?". I told her that I was stuck, that I needed to move forward with design, but that I didn't have the money to make it happen. Bianca respected my honesty, loved the vision of HerHeadquarters, but mostly importantly the data sold her. She believed in me, she believed in the product, and knew that it would attract investors.
From Paper to Digital
We reached a payment agreed where Bianca would be paid in full once HerHeadquarters received its first investment deal. The next few months were an all-time high for me. Seeing an idea that once floated around in my head make its way to paper, then transform into a digital prototype is was one of the highlights of this journey. Shortly after, we began user testing, making further adjustments based off of feedback.
The further along HerHeadquarters became, the more traction we made. Women entrepreneurs across the U.S. were signing up for early access to the app, we were catching investor's attention, and securing brand partnerships all before we had a launched product. The closer we got to launching, the scarier it was. People who only had a surface value introduction to HerHeadquarters put us in the same category of other platforms or brands catering to women, even if we were completely unrelated, they just heard "for women". I felt consistent pressure, most of which was self-applied, but I still felt it.
I became obsessed with all things HerHeadquarters. My biggest fear was launching and disappointing my users. With a national target audience, a nonexistent marketing budget, and many misconceptions regarding collaborating, I didn't know how to introduce this new brand in a way that distinctly made it clear who were targeting and who we were different from.
I second guessed myself all the time.
A 'Submit' button has never in life been more intimidating. In May 2019, HerHeadquarters was submitted to the Apple and Google play stores and released to women entrepreneurs in select U.S. cities. We've consistently grown our user base and seen amazing collaborations take place. I've grow and learned valuable lessons about myself personally and as a leader. This experience has taught me to trust my journey, trust my hard work, and always let honesty and integrity lead me. I had to give myself permission to make mistakes and not beat myself up about it.
I learned that a hundred "no's" is better than one "yes" from an unfit partner. The most valuable thing that I've learned is keeping my users first. Their feedback, their challenges, and suggestions are valuable and set the pace for the future of HerHeadquarters, as a product and a company. I consider it an honor to serve and cater to one of the most neglected markets in the industry.