Tanesha Sims-Summers, the founder and CEO of Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co. and the May 2019 Momma of the Month is building her business while she’s raising her kids.
Tell me about yourself.
Tanesha Sims-Summers, 37. I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, as well as Fredericksburg, Virginia, where I was raised by my aunt and my grandmother. I have an amazing and supportive husband, Clem Summers, and four extraordinary children: son Jaylen, 15; son Amir, 14; daughter Jacee, 4; daughter Janaah 3. My husband has over a decade of sales and consulting experience. His past career experience has been a critical factor in the support he gives to help grow Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co.
What do you want your kids to learn from your life?
There are many things I hope my children will learn, and what I hope I’ve done great job at instilling in them is to always be seeking God. You will have times in life where things are going great and times where you feel off course. Continue to trust God’s plan and move forward even when it doesn’t make sense. Be intentional with the energy you consume and put out. It will manifest in your life. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It means growth is happening. Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself. God is always reshaping us. Understand the power of self-reflection. Even when you feel you are right in a situation, there is always room to grow and tweak how we handle things and see others’ point of view. This journey is not just about you but how you can leave someone better than they were when they encountered you. Embrace the challenges that will come and try not to play the victim. No one is immune from pain or discomfort or disappointment. I hope they will always try to create a clean and pure heart. It’s easy to become self-absorbed. I have always valued family, community and experiences, so I pray they will be guided by those important factors.
What are the best and worst things about living in Birmingham?
The best thing is that we are on the cusp of creating a synergy in Birmingham that fosters economic growth and a more diverse ecosystem. This is a city that you can raise a family and be creative in bringing new innovative ideas and opportunities to the community. Many other larger cities are well established and can impose challenges to make a difference and impact change, even from the smallest business or youngest child.
Some of the challenges about living in the city of Birmingham is sometimes getting the buy-in from our communities regarding changes. Encouraging our locals to think outside of the box and welcome positive change that will benefit all communities, races, religions, education levels and socioeconomic backgrounds. I would love to see diversity in corporate opportunities, more entertainment and attractions. While entrepreneurship is on the rise, opportunities to establish and support creative and more sustainable business models that truly reflect the diversity of our city are areas of growth.
What is your proudest personal moment?
I have had so many proud moments throughout my life. With all of the trials in my life, it’s amazing to be able to reflect on some of my triumphs. I’ve been fortunate to experience so much personally and professionally from having the opportunity to have my family and myself on the Family Feud game show to winning the Winners Circle all expense paid trip for top producer in my last career to traveling abroad to London for the Olympics to studying as a foreign exchange student in Costa Rica. God has amazed me for sure. I must say the proudest personal moment that holds a lot of weight is having the courage to leave the security of my corporate career to jump into my dream and passion of creating a company and brand reflective of my personal values and passions for serving my community. The fact that I’m able to share my experience, influence, inspire and teach my very own amazing children the value as well as ups and downs of entrepreneurship brings me great joy.
What is your proudest momma moment?
My proudest mommy moment is having the courage to actually deciding to give birth to my first son at the young age of 22 despite my fear. He has been my greatest joy. Having the opportunity to become the mother to my bonus son, having all natural births with my daughters and being able to have the freedom to be a part of their everyday growth makes me super proud.
How do you juggle being a momma and having a business?
Some days it gets crazy. I’m not gonna lie. There were times I would break down and cry because the cross seemed too heavy to bare. Wanting to be a super mom is desired by most moms. I want to be the involved parent at school, cook the best meals, get to church every Sunday, brush teeth every night and never skip reading their bedtime stories. I want to do this all while running a successful company. I was so hard on myself because I never wanted my babies to feel any type of neglect. This may have stemmed from the fact that I wasn’t raised by my biological mother, and as a result, I’ve gained a heightened sense of a child’s emotional needs. Over the last three years since growing my family to four children, I’ve realized keeping the right perspective, being present and not taking on more than I can handle, even if it means losing money is what is necessary to enjoy the journey of motherhood and mommyprenuership. I meditate daily and always remind myself of my guiding principles: God, family, health and wealth…in that order!
You’ve been busy with your business Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co. How did you get started, and what advice do you have for others interested in starting a business?
Every since I saw the movie Boomerang, I was drawn to the idea to being in the world of marketing and advertising. Remember, they were challenged with creating a message for the perfume and Strangé literally birthed a bottle of perfume… I received my marketing and Spanish degree from UAB in 2005. As I approached my graduation date, I didn’t share the same excitement and zeal of my college peers regarding corporations they wanted to build their career with. I knew then I wanted the opportunity to build my own corporation. At the time, I was a single mom and decided to take advantage of gaining experience in the investment banking realm and the digital marketing realm to follow. I have to give credit to God for sowing the seed in my aunt Janice in Virginia, aka Mommy, because she practically raised me along with my grandmother. She knew my desire to start a business one day. I was out on maternity leave with my daughter Jacee. You can hear God more clearly when you shut out the noise. My aunt kept encouraging me to look into starting a kettle corn business. To be honest, I had no idea what authentic kettle corn was like, so I began going from store to store on the prowl for kettle corn. After weeks of prayer, I was convicted and convinced this was a venture I would pursue. During her four-month stay in Birmingham, while here helping me take care of my newborn, she trained me every step of the way. She had helped another small local kettle corn company in Virginia and was able to offer some valuable insight in PoPping the corn and not burning it or making it too sweet or too salty.
After my youngest daughter, Janaah was born 15 months after Jacee, I knew I needed to jump into the business full time and see how far I could take it. I’ve enjoyed creating and growing a brand that reflects my value of family and community.
My advice for the new entrepreneur is to take time to understand yourself and why you are really in business. Be sure you’re not only motivated by the money alone but influence and impact you can make. Understand the journey is more of building mental toughness and never stop learning and growing and connecting with like-minded individuals. If you do this, the money will come. Don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the ride and all of its ups and downs.
What’s next for Tanesha Sims-Summers?
I am looking forward to continuing to grow Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co., hopefully investing into and pouring into other businesses and children to encourage entrepreneurship. I am looking forward to many more community partnerships and collectively working with other small businesses to impact local and global change. I am exited about opportunities to serve as a policy changer one day and overall being the best wife, mother and servant I can be to change the trajectory of people’s lives. I’m always so inspired through inspiring.
Is there anything you would like to add?
I love people, and I offer myself as a source of business resources and encouragement. I am always open to connecting with business owners to support their endeavors in any way I can, so don’t hesitate to reach out.