by Cassandra Mickens
Marissa Simms’ laser-like ambition will prove to be a vital tool in building her own empire.
“I want to be a mogul,” said Simms, 22, a Jackson State University student and Callaway High School alum whose passions lie in fashion, entertainment and creative writing.
“I want to do everything, and you can do everything. You just can’t do it all at the same time.”
Simms is taking her own advice as she carefully maps her path to moguldom. Earlier this month, she opened Royal Bleau Boutique at One University Place, a mixed-use development on JSU’s campus.
“I really love shopping and fashion. It’s a hobby that’s turned into a passion,” she said. “Why not try to make money off your passion?”
Simms, a mass communications major and speech minor who will graduate in May, has fulfilled her course requirements. Her focus now is prerequisite courses for admission to JSU’s Master of Business Administration program. While textbook business lessons are valuable, Simms treasures real life, hands-on experience.
“I went and jumped in the deep end. There was so much to learn about real estate, contracts, subleasing, vendors … Ooh wee, this was a journey,” she said, her voice trailing off.
“I was most intimidated by the business plan because it’s so detailed in terms of marketing, projects costs and investors.”
Simms credits her parents, Camille Stutts Simms and Kermit Simms, for offering insight and guidance along the way.
“Whether this is successful or not, I’m so happy I did this,” she said. “Now I’m not intimidated about starting any business. I’m excited about starting at an early age.”
As a former Miss Freshman, Miss Sophomore and Miss JSU finalist, Simms, also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., has garnered overwhelming support from peers as well as the surrounding community. Simms said Royal Bleau fills a niche that hasn’t been tapped before – an affordable, chic one-stop shop for “ready to wear” fashion brands and college and Greek apparel.
“There are not a lot of places to shop around campus. I have a target market right here I can cater to,” she said. “A lot of people have come in because they’re fascinated by my story, opening a business at 22. I’m just very comfortable here. JSU is my home.”
Simms continues to brainstorm business ideas, such as adding menswear and plus-size clothing to her lineup. And she’s already talking of expansion, as any mogul would.
“I want to open up another boutique soon,” she said.