Before her career start as an entrepreneur, Ayesha Curry was a mother and a wife just trying to get her family and friends to eat healthier. Now six years later, she’s managed to turn a passion project into a growing business empire with several barbecue-focused chain restaurants, a best-selling cookbook, her own series on the Food Network, and a newly announced lifestyle magazine.
Curry didn’t fade into her husband’s shadow, she created her own businesses and opportunities all from scratch. She took her video-blogging hobby of cooking and grew it into a YouTube channel with over half a million subscribers. This would eventually lead to a successful cookbook that turned her into a well-respected businesswoman running a holistic lifestyle brand.
Curry realized the value of what would come to be her business empire when she started receiving gifts in the mail from various companies.
“There’s this business called Freshly Picked Moccasins, and I was obsessed. I got a box one day, and it was filled with these little moccasins,” she told Entrepreneur. “It made me realize that people were taking my opinion and thoughts seriously, and I had to build this the right way.”
Even without a formal background in business, Curry sought out opportunities to better her brand and herself. In May of 2018, she took an eight-week Harvard Business School course online that taught her management essentials.
“It helped me so much. I actually printed out the coursework and syllabus at the end of the class, and now I am constantly referencing it, making sure I’m always doing better business,” she shared with Entrepreneur.
While nurturing her lifestyle brand, she also partnered with Michelin-starred chef Michael Mina to open a chain of restaurants called International Smoke. Their mission to bring people a memorable culinary experience is what has attributed so much to the chain’s success.
“We want people to walk away remembering the people they ate with, the music that was playing, the cocktail they ordered and, of course, the incredible food,” Curry said.
She also teamed up with her sister-in-law, Sydel Curry, and John Schwartz of Napa’s Coup de Foudre winery to launch a line of red wine called Domaine Curry.
Building her business empire while also being a celebrity isn’t easy. In the beginning, she got a lot of criticism for starting a business and as some people viewed, overshadowed her husband’s brand, but Curry has developed a thick skin over the years that has allowed her to overcome those obstacles.
“No one likes their business being talked down. You’ve got to create a sort of wet-wicking coat for your skin — just let it roll right off,” she said.
In addition to her own business ventures, Curry also works together with her husband to run their nonprofit organization, Eat. Learn. Play., to make sure “every child has access to food, a great education, and safe spaces to play.”
Curry’s latest business venture includes a new magazine launch under the Meredith Corporation called Sweet July. She made the big announcement earlier this year, but finally revealed the name of the magazine in a recreated “The Devil Wears Prada” scene on Instagram.
“All three of our babies were born in July, we got married in July and it’s the 7th month in the calendar year. It’s the time in my life where I find I have the most joy and excitement,” Curry shared in the caption. “I wanted to carry that through everyday and simply honor and find gratitude in the big and the small moments.”
Sweet July is set to make its big debut in May 2020. Her hope for the magazine is to give people something to enjoy during this difficult time.
“As we prepare to release the first issue in what could be seen as the most insane time, I’m choosing to see it another way. I think the world needs a little joy right now, and this first issue is dripping with it,” Curry said.