Monday, August 3, 2015

Mimi Faust: Mother, Entrepreneur, and Reality TV Star Proves the Beauty of Keeping it REAL

("I just want to make sure that I raise an awesome, little person that is going to grow up and be an awesome adult." - Mimi Faust)

Let's be honest: Mimi Faust holds it down on VH1's Love & Hip Hop Atlanta. She's a BOSS and we know it! In our exclusive interview, the mother, entrepreneur, and Reality TV star opens up to me in a very candid fashion. As you'll see, Faust explores tons of topics, including her personal style, new business venture ("The Maya Collection"), motherhood, her passion for interior design, what a young entrepreneur needs to understand, why she was really casted to Love & Hip Hop Atlanta, and the importance of showing respect to her fans. Proving the beauty in keeping it real, Faust continues to persevere and make a name for herself while doing it all for her daughter.  

Let’s start with your style! Over the seasons, my boyfriend and I can’t help but comment on how much your style has evolved…it’s so chic! How would you describe your personal style?

Really, I dress for comfort. Of course, I want to be stylish, but I want to be comfortable in my clothes. And I have to give a shout-out to my stylist, Melvin Styles. He’s just amazing. We’ve been working together since the middle of season one [of Love & Hip Hop]. He’s just really awesome!

So I take it he’s helped you explore styles and trends that go with your personality even more?

Yes, we definitely collaborate! Please believe there are many times where he has brought me items and was like, “Girl, I think you should wear this!” And I’m like “Are you crazy?” [laughs]

Well, it’s working! All of the colors you’re wearing are beautiful on you. Are there certain brands or designers that you typically turn to?

No, I like to shop around. It’s not really about a certain designer. More so, it’s about what looks good on me. Actually, let me not tell a lie…I did find a designer, Karen Millen.  She’s out of the UK, and any time I try on anything from her, it fits me to a T. So, her line really works for me. But in general, it will have to catch my eye. I’ll know from sight – I’ll see it on a hanger and I’ll just love it. I mean, I could be in Target and I’ll see something that’s dope, and I’ll be like, “That’s dope!” and I’ll get it. And someone will be like, “Oh my god! Where did you get that?” And I’ll be like, “Target, yup, sure did!” [laughs].

I agree! Fashion displays definitely have to give you the right vibe…

And as long as you have the right shoes, you can wear a paper bag! [laughs]

So your newest venture, which I’m sure is making a lot of women happy, is “The Maya Collection.” I understand that your interest and journey with this business took you to India. Can you talk a little bit about how this came about?

Well, that’s how we got the name: The Maya Collection. It’s an actual Indian name. I wanted to go along with the hair I’ve been wearing, which is Virgin Indian Hair. And we picked a name to go along with that. I’ve been wearing the hair for a couple of years now, and I just love it! I’ve tried different types of hair, but this one was no shedding, it doesn’t frizz, you know, it’s not tangly, it’s just really, really good hair. And I just said, "You know what, why not partner up with this company and go into business with them?"  And now it’s been a huge success! I’m really excited about it.

When did The Maya Collection become available to the public? And, is it strictly available online?

It was launched this year and right now, it’s online only. But we are working on getting stores where you can actually just go and pick it up.

Growing up, what were some of the biggest lessons you learned regarding how to take care of your hair?

You know, the crazy thing about that, is that everybody’s hair is different. What might work for me might not necessarily work for the next person. Everybody’s grade and texture’s different, so my hair might be off or wrong for somebody else. I mean, my daughter’s hair is awesome! And I was really trying to find something that I could put in her hair to de-tangle it and make it easy to comb. So I mixed some stuff together…and when I tell you I have come up with this miracle product [laughs]…I have to figure out how to get this out because I give it to all of my friends. I buy squirt bottles, and I make it for their kids or even them. And in like a couple of days, they’re like "Oh my god, I need some more! What IS this?"

Well, there you go! Another venture to add to your repertoire of businesses…like a sister product of The Maya Collection!

YES! And this actually is for natural hair. My daughter’s hair is natural; she has no chemicals…I don’t straighten it or anything. But I spray it in her hair, and you can literally run your fingers through it. It’s incredible! So, I gotta figure out how to get that packaged up and out to the world.

So I hear you’re also pursuing interior design…that it’s another passion of yours?

Yes…This actually started when I started my cleaning business [Keep It Clean, Inc.] I was going through people’s homes when I was actually doing the cleaning myself, and they would ask me like, “Can you hook up my bedroom?” or “Can you hook up my bathroom?” So I was like, “Yeah sure!” And I would do that for my clients, and I just thought it was so dope. So that’s what made me realize how much I enjoyed decorating in the first place. Then when I moved into my home, I decorated it. And when everyone comes over, it’s like, “Oh my god! Give me the name of the person who decorated your place!” I’m like, “I did.” [laughs] I mean, I could be at HomeGoods for, like, literally four hours and wouldn’t think twice about it…and I’m really gonna come out with a home d├ęcor line as well. You know, throw pillows, rugs, blankets, and you know, decorative mirrors and candles, and thinks like that. So working on that too! [laughs]

Well, it sounds like you have a really artistic eye and an eye for detail!

Yes…and I think I get that from my dad. My dad was an artist. He had a whole art park in his backyard, where he lived in Upstate New York. He had created life-sized pieces. I mean six, seven, eight-foot tall, life-sized pieces of art that he carved out of wood and metal…and he’d make sculptures and stuff. So I’m pretty sure I got it from my dad! [laughs]

So interesting! I love how every artistic person has their own creative outlets to express him or herself. OK, now you being an entrepreneur, a Reality TV star, and a mother…just how do you stay inspired day in and day out to just keep going no matter the challenges you may be faced with?

My daughter, hands-down. She has been such an inspiration to me, and for me. I think, too, because I never wanted Eva to experience the things I did growing up…I really try to push and go the extra mile so she doesn’t have to. I had a rough childhood, real rough. And I just didn’t want her to go through that. So I’m gonna do everything in my power to not have her in that situation. And I think it’s also cool that I’ll be able to teach her right from wrong. You already know that I have made plenty of mistakes, but I can tell her, “Mommy has made this mistake. This is what you don’t do.” You know what I’m saying? I didn’t have that growing up. You know, I’m not blaming or pointing fingers, I’m just saying it is what it is. But I just want to make sure I raise an awesome, little person that is going to grow up and be an awesome adult. You know? So that’s what I’m doing.

So when it comes to being an entrepreneur, what kind of tips would you give to a woman who has a really great idea for a business but she’s not sure how to get started?

First thing is to write everything down. Write everything down on paper – your ideas from start to finish. Like where you want to see yourself in the next five to 10 years. Write it all down, so you have something to look back on. Like a checklist…and then you just start checking it off. You know, it’s gonna change. It’s gonna vary a little bit, but you write everything down. Let’s say it’s a cleaning business. You need to get it incorporated, licensed, insured, bonded…There’s steps you have to take to do whatever business you’re trying to do, and just make sure you cover your butt. You also need to read all of the paperwork if there is paperwork involved. You have a good attorney to go over things, such as contracts, with you. A good attorney is key. Please make sure you have a good attorney. And just take the proper steps and don’t do any type of shady or sideway business. Do it on the up and up, put the work in, and then your business will turn around and work for you.

As a Reality TV star, what misconceptions do you think the public has in regards to letting your personal life go public? Or, do you even think there are misconceptions?

Absolutely.  It’s one big misconception, because what is shown is only what the show wants you to see. Let’s break this down for a second: When we tape, it’s two hours. From a two-hour taping – and sometimes maybe more – you’re getting five or six minutes of those two hours that have been chopped and edited. So you are gonna sit here [the public] and determine or judge someone from a two-hour taping that has been broken down into five or 6 minutes?! You can’t do that. You can’t know someone from that. And the show is only gonna allow you to see what they want you to see. You’re seeing a fraction of these people’s lives. A small fraction, so don’t be so quick to believe whole-heartedly. Like people watch Love & Hip Hop and are like, “Oh, I saw it on Love & Hip Hop. That’s what it is!” Not necessarily so… [laughs] You’re seeing five or six-minute edited clips! Like come one…you can’t judge what you see on Reality TV seeing only a small portion of that person’s whole life.

And now, since you’re not new to Reality TV, you know what to expect. But what about a newbie to this? I imagine this must be a struggle sometimes…

Absolutely. A lot of cast members are mad when they watch the show. Like saying, “They didn’t catch what I was really trying to say” or “I didn’t say it like that” or “I didn’t mean it like that”…There are a lot of ways it can come out misconstrued and not come out the way you said it. [laughs]

You know, I’m a Reality TV junkie! And there are just some people you connect to more than others. I truly enjoy watching you on the show and respect you as an entrepreneur. I mean, you’re a BOSS, and I appreciate that. Anything you’d like to add?

Well, what I want to say is that I think the difference for me when I started this journey on Reality TV is that I didn’t set out to be a television star. I’m telling you my life literally changed overnight…

I had a girlfriend send me a text saying, “You and Stevie should go down for the casting of the show.” And that was it. At the time it was only Love & Hip Hop New York, so I hit her back and said “I need more information.”  And then she sent me a text – now mind you it was Monday when she sent me this text – that said “Wednesday, four o’clock, Mansion Hotel.” That’s it, that’s all she said… [laughs]. I’m like “Okaaaay.” So I called Stevie and said, “Hey, do you want to go  out for the show?” Him and I were beefing at the time, and he’s like, “I’m not doing that with you.” I’m like “Whatever.” So Wednesday rolls around and I’m like, “I’m just gonna go down there anyway.” And when I get there, guess who beat me down there? Mr. Man. [laughs]

So we had an argument right there, in the lobby of the hotel. Mona’s assistant sees us upstairs for our interview, and we were chosen just on likeability. Our lives were changed instantly. So what you’re getting is really who I am. This isn’t like a character I’m playing or being all extra…this is just who I am!

That’s so interesting! You weren’t even in the casting room and your real-life personalities got you in immediately.

Oh, and let me tell you about that! When we get upstairs, they said tell us about yourselves. Stevie turns into, like, ghandi! He starts “Oh…the universe…” and the planets align and the sun and the moon and the stars. And I’m like “What?!? You just got finished cursing me out two minutes ago, calling me all kind of names and now you want to talk about planets and stars.” I was livid. I mean, my teeth were clenched, I was shaking my foot and I’m like, “Are you seriously gonna sit here and play this role?” I couldn’t take it anymore. We were supposed to be telling them about ourselves. I was like, “You wanna know the problem? You wanna know what the real problem is? He doesn’t know how to come home at night.” And when I said that, their ears perked up and they were like, “Oh, tell us more!” Had I not said anything and kept my mouth closed, we would not be on Love and Hip Hop. Me, Stevie, nor Joseline, OK? [laughs]

So do you think that this was all meant to roll out the way it did?

I think it was. It wasn’t forced or anything – it just happened. We went to one audition and our lives changed…and we weren’t even gonna go to that! Yes, this was supposed to be and I think, not just for me to be on television, but the other opportunities that came from it. I’m not happy with all the stuff that’s happened on Love & Hip Hop, at all. But the stuff that’s come from me having that platform – don’t get me wrong, thank you very much Love & Hip Hop, thank you to the end of the world, thank you – but I think it’s the doors and opportunities that have opened for me from being on the show is where this journey was supposed to be taking me.

Do you think that you guys add a sense of authenticity to Love & Hip Hop Atlanta that otherwise may not have been there if you two weren’t on the show?

You know what’s funny, everybody says, “Oh my god, Mona’s such a genius. She got these people that…” Wait, no, no, no….Mona happened to pick cast members that really have a lot of bullshit going on in their lives. [laughs] For real, like we’re really going through this in real life. And then when we got the show, it just carried right on to television. And I think what makes it so interesting and popular is that somebody at some point can relate to me, can relate to Stevie, and can relate to Joseline. This is because these are real situations. And that’s what makes everybody tune in, ‘cause I’m pretty sure that people are like, “I can’t believe they’re really showing this.”

I mean, yeah, at some point I thought, this has to be real. It’s just so dramatic and the situation affected multiple lives! It’s all pretty fascinating to me, both the highs and the lows…

Yeah…I didn’t expect this. You know, a lot of people are like, “You know what you were getting yourself into.” Noooo way in the world could I imagine that it would be this ever…in my wildest imagination. But I’m enjoying the journey and I’m just rollin’ with it, you know?

Do you remember the first time when you realized you were famous?

I still don’t…My friend’s like, “You’re the most famous non-celebrity person I’ve ever met.” [laughs] Like I could still go to Wal-Mart, I mean…I can’t just sit around and get a bodyguard just to go to Wal-Mart. [laughs] I’m not gonna say it’s stupid, but that’s just me. I want to raise my child to be a normal child and do normal things, and I mean, yes there are safety issues…But just to be on my high horse like I’m all that and I can’t leave the house without security guards…come on man!

Well, you have a sense of realness about you, so if you want a sense of normalcy, I can see you just going to the store as you wish!

And when I go to the store, yes, I get harassed. Do I take every picture? Yes. I had six interviews today, and I was in Wal-Mart the whole time damn near, and I took about seven pictures while I was doing interviews. I didn’t even tell them no, even then. I said I’m on a phone interview, they nodded their head, and I still stood there with them, hugged them, and took the picture. And I think that is important. If it wasn’t for the people watching, the supporters, I wouldn’t be here! So why would I treat them some type of way. That’s backwards!

Well that shows a lot about your character, you taking the time to do that.

Yeah…If I had the nerve to go up to someone and asked for a picture and they told me no, I can only imagine how that would make me feel. That’s a real person and they have feelings.
To learn more about Mimi Faust, be sure to visit her website, as well as follow her on Instagram and Twitter! And to witness more of her realness, be sure to tune in tonight at 8/7 central on VH1!

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Anderson Group PR 

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