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D'Andra Simmons Sets the Record Straight on Her Trust, Company, and Finances
"I don't need my mom to pay my bills," The Real Housewives of Dallas entrepreneur said.
D'Andra Simmons is just as confused as the rest of us as to why her mother, Dee Simmons, didn't tell her about the dire financial situation their family company (which includes nutrition line Ultimate Living and skincare line Hard Night Good Morning) was in when she handed over the reins to the business last season of The Real Housewives of Dallas.
"No, I still don't know why she didn't let me see the numbers and why she kept that information from me," D'Andra told The Daily Dish during an interview in New York City in September. "That's a question I don't think I'll ever have the answer to."
To make matters worse, Mama Dee declined to provide any financial assistance to D'Andra to help keep the company afloat, which put her daughter in a bit of a bind since all of her assets are tied up in a trust that she can only access once her mother passes away, unless Mama Dee decides otherwise. "I'm not somebody that gives up easily, even if I have to go through all my money," D'Andra said. "If I could sell my house, I probably would have sold my house. But I can't because it's in a trust."
Living with a trust has made life "somewhat stressful" for D'Andra, especially in situations like when she's in need of a loan, as she described during a tense conversation over the state of the business with her mother in Wednesday night's episode of RHOD. "It's kind of like the elephant in the room, but at the same time, it's not as big of a deal to me as I guess people think it is anymore," D'Andra told The Daily Dish. "I mean, I would have loved for my mother to help me out when I needed it, but she didn't, and I've gotta just pull myself up by my bootstraps, like my dad used to say, and get on with it."
But D'Andra wants to make it clear that she's not angry about what she didn't get from her mother, but rather, she's not happy about what she had to give up. Around the time D'Andra got the call to come back to Dallas to help run her family's company in 2004, she had just been appointed deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency working for Spencer Abraham, the Secretary of Energy under President George W. Bush. D'Andra had been moving up the ladder on her way to becoming a lobbyist in Washington, D.C.
"So that was something where I had a great career and coming home and being promised a business and being told, 'You're gonna have this business and these stock options and all this stuff,' and it never happening. And then at 50, you get this thing, and you think it's something, and it's a company that's really, I mean, almost bankrupt. And that was the hard thing," D'Andra explained. "I never thought my mother owed me anything or [she should] give me money. That was not it at all. It was about changing my career in the middle of my 30s for something that was promised. That was really the whole upset for me. I really wish people would understand that, and it's not about the money. I don't want my mother to support my life. I'm 50 years old, and I don't want her to support my lifestyle. That's not the issue."
Though D'Andra grew up as a Dallas debutante from a prominent family, she's used to having to support herself. "I don't need my mom to pay my bills. I'll figure out. I always have figured it out. People don't realize, I lived in New York, I was living in a place where there was a bathroom down the hall and a room with a sink and I paid $173 a week. That was in my 20s. Same thing in L.A. Also, I had an apartment [in New York City] with four roommates that were flight attendants," she said. "I've always had to make it work no matter what, wherever I've been all over the world. And I'm gonna make this work. That's just my life. And if I don't, I'll do something else that'll be successful."
Mama Dee shed some new light on how much she knew about the company's financial situation during Wednesday night's episode of RHOD. "Last year when I signed the company over to D'Andra, I knew that financially the company was not at the high peak like it had been, and I wanted to see if D'Andra could turn the company around," she explained in an interview during the episode.
And turn things around D'Andra did. "I've learned a lot of things in my 50 years. One of those things is sometimes you just have to drop something and move on and make the best of it. So what I did is I'm now treating it like a startup. So I cut my salary about over $100,000, and I had to fire a few people, which is very sad because some of the people were people that really needed jobs and that had worked for me for a long time, and that was the hardest part of being a boss was having to make those tough decisions," D'Andra said while getting a little choked up while speaking with The Daily Dish. "I've sold stock to keep the company. I did a whole branding campaign. So we redid Hard Night Good Morning, new website, new packaging, everything. Same thing with Ultimate Living."
You're going to want to stay tuned to see what the future has in store for Ultimate Living and Hard Night Good Morning, according to D'Andra. "We have a lot of good things happening with the business right now that I can't talk about. I mean, amazing things," she told The Daily Dish. "So it's really turned around in the last seven months."
D'Andra previously opened up about her company's bright future on Twitter on September 5, sharing that there is "a renewed energy among the team, some amazing new marketing partners whose innovative, strategic work already is getting bottom-line results and a continued dedication to developing amazing products that deliver for our diverse customers."
She added, "The company has life, potential and purpose again. And that's really beautiful!"
D'Andra said she was doing everything she could so that she didn't have to see Hard Night Good Morning, the business she started from the ground up, come to an end. "Hard Night Good Morning was my baby I started. It was my business, so it was really hard to let go of your business if you started it 10 years ago," she said, adding that "of course ego plays into every situation" and she "didn't want to fail." "I know how to run a business, and I want to prove that. And I think it was just proving it to me, proving it to my mom, of course, and leaving that legacy, because my dad would want me to have that legacy continue. And my grandmother."
But it was also important for D'Andra to keep the company her mother founded after battling cancer alive. "Ultimate Living has a great legacy and a history, and I knew that if we could get the messaging out to people that they would understand this business," she said. "That story needs to be told."
After working through her issues with her mom only to be back at square one this season of RHOD, D'Andra has learned that perhaps it's best to not mix business with pleasure when it comes to their relationship. "It was really hard for me. I love my mother. I've had to kind of not focus on that but focus on the parts of her that I love," D'Andra shared. "She's so fun. She's 78 years old, so I'm not gonna turn my back on my mom because I don't want to miss out on those years we have together."
See what's coming up this season of RHOD for D'Andra and Mama Dee, below.