Boss babe. Luxury. Securing the bag. Independent.
These are all popular terms used by global women social media influencers to mark success. Not one of these phrases came up when chatting with the mutli-facted Paris Matthews, MBA business owner, wife, mother (plus one on the way) and former Corporate America giant because she will tell you that it’s all hard work, intention and that success is never independent of a healthy support and friendship circle. The children’s book author and co-owner of Detroit’s own Culture Soul restaurant had a plan that went beyond impressing the masses. She wanted freedom of time, abundant resources and a well-balanced life for her family. This!—she says is true luxury.
SHEEN: After COVID’s devastation, so many people left the 9 to 5 workforce to pursue their dreams. Was this you as well? Why did you say goodbye to a well-paying corporate job to something that was unfamiliar to you and something that provided no immediate steady income?
Paris: I left my 9 to 5 not only because of Covid but also because my son was only five months at the time, and the office at my job hadn’t shut down yet when Covid first started at a very high peak. I made a huge sacrifice because I didn’t want to risk catching Covid and bringing it home to my family. I prayed about what I should do because I was so used to working, having excellent benefits, and getting a steady paycheck. My husband and I started multiple businesses during Covid, allowing me to work from home. One of them is my online clothing store Le’ Runway Culture. So I finally decided to quit and let God take it from there!
SHEEN: That’s awesome: We love how you said—let God take it from there because starting out is unknown. You’re a wife, mom, expectant mom, restaurant owner, online boutique owner and a children’s book author and you’ve completed your MBA. Our first question is girl when do you sleep? Next how do you do it all? ‘Briefly’ talk about the inspiration behind each venture.
Paris: Honestly, I feel like I don’t get as much sleep as I should. I’m always the last person in my home to go to sleep. I feel like a wife/mother’s job is never done. I go to sleep late because that’s when I can finally get some time to myself after a long day.
I founded my first clothing and personal shopping business in 2012 with my cousin because I’d always been in love with fashion before social media. People would also ask me to style them or source a particular item. Growing up, my grandmother and aunt always went shopping and took me with them, and I would be in the stores putting outfits together. I always had my own style, but now I like to dress very classy with a bit of sex appeal. It seems like because of social media, a lot of people sell a lot of the same clothing. This prompted me to relaunch my clothing store Le’Runway Culture, which targets more mature, sexy, classy, and professional women.
The inspiration behind my book is my son and my passion for writing. I always knew I would write a book; I just didn’t know what direction to take. Then, when I had my son in 2019, I would read to him every night, and he enjoyed it to the point that he tried to talk over me and read too. So I decided I wanted to write children’s books. Then, in the summer of 2021, my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, and three months later, he died on my son’s birthday. I’m incredibly close to my grandparents, and even though my son is a toddler, he shares an unbreakable bond with him.. I wanted to make sure my son never forgets his great grandfather, so that inspired me to write my first book, “My Visit with Grandad in Heaven,” as a tribute to him.
The restaurant came from my husband’s love for cooking. He used to sell dinners and they would sell out so fast. When we were friends, he used to tell me he wanted to open his restaurant and I would encourage him to go for it! That’s how Le’Culture Café came about, but due to the pandemic’s effect on the restaurant industry, he downsized to carry out only, so we recently opened a new restaurant called “Culture Soul.” As his wife, I try to give him the best business advice, provide support and work behind the scenes as much as I can.
SHEEN: Luxury is such a popular word right now within our culture and we see it being attached to Gucci, YSL, Chanel and other mainstream designers. How do you define luxury as it relates to living?
Paris: For me luxury is not just wearing high-end brands. Luxury is being able to live life on your own terms. Luxury is having time to spend with my family, paying bills on time, having good credit, traveling, having good health, having a nice comfortable home and simply enjoying life with less stress.
SHEEN: We know that social media influences so many purchases and behaviors and a lot of women think that you can just leave your job and become a millionaire overnight. Talk about the real process of being an entrepreneur because it’s not as easy as people think.
Paris: I wouldn’t encourage anyone to quit their job unless they have a plan. You have to be prepared and put in the work if you want to become a millionaire. So many social media influencers I follow who reached the millionaire status became millionaires from being consistent and not giving up. You have to be very strong-minded, keep a positive outlook and be mentally prepared. Some days your business may be doing great and some days it can be slow as ever. I always tell people no matter if you succeed or fail, at least you can say you tried. I don’t ever want to look back on my life and wish I had done something that was always on my heart to do so even if you have to start your business as a side hustle while you’re working, go for it! Those work checks can help fund your business!
SHEEN: Was your business journey easier with a husband?
Paris: My husband encouraged me to take a giant leap of faith. He roots for me and supports me 100%. Between he and my family, I have a great support system. It’s a blessing to start multiple businesses and work from home and I got the chance to take care of my son during the pandemic.
SHEEN: Give women about four obtainable steps to take before leaving their job to start their business—particularly, what should they already have in place especially in terms of finances and credit?
Paris: Every woman is different. Some women have started businesses with almost nothing and now have empires. However, to be on the safe side, which is the route I took, I would tell women to 1) Have at least a 6-month savings account. 2) Have your credit in good standing (just in case you have to use it) 3) Have a business plan 4) Have an established bank account that includes and EIN, DUNS, etc., for the business.
SHEEN: Selfcare is now a movement within our culture. We see it as a lifestyle. Talk about how you stay grounded and keep all of your projects grounded?
Paris: Self-care is essential because when you look and feel good, it puts you in a good space. I have to take care of myself to stay in a good mood and focused. Treat yourself to a spa day, get your hair done, do a little retail therapy and do anything that makes you feel good mentally because your mental health is essential and will help you stay grounded.
SHEEN: What’s a quote that you live by every single day?
Paris: I have a favorite bible verse which is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13
SHEEN: What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Paris: I’m a wife, mother, and businesswoman, which means it’s always something to do. That inspires me to get out of bed every day.
SHEEN: How important is it to have a support system that incudes your family and friends?
Paris: Having a positive circle of family and friends is very important because they will be there to help encourage you and push you when you want to give up.
SHEEN: Talk about how vital it is to have a healthy sisterhood circle.
Paris: Having a healthy sisterhood circle is top tier. It took me years to realize who my real friends were, who loved me, and who were genuine. I love my girls! They all have it going on—meaning they all have careers, businesses and together we support each other. I’m truly blessed to have a sisterhood I can trust.
SHEEN: Do you think you’re living your purpose and what’s next for you?
Paris: Yes, I do think I am finally living out my purpose. Just thinking back to how I was raised as an adolescent, to being independent and excelling in corporate America, making sure I had myself in order before meeting my husband, to have a family with multiple business ventures. Everything during my life’s journey has prepared me for where I am today.
Next, I’ll soon be a mother of two, so I want to be the best mother I can be for my children. I also want to keep growing within my clothing company, write more books, and own more properties. I have another business venture that will allow me to further my education with a few certifications and let the Lord continue to order my steps.
SHEEN: Out of encouragement, resilience, empowerment, self-awareness, freedom—what’s your one word for women to live by right now?
Paris: Out of those words, I would choose self-awareness. It is essential for a woman not to try to keep up with the current societal standards of beauty. You have to be confident in who you are, your morals, your values and love yourself! Then stand out and follow your dreams!
SHEEN: How can people connect with you?
Paris: People can connect with me via my personal website www.ParisMatthews.com my clothing site www.lerunwayculture.com or via IG: @Pmilani and @lerunwayculture