Updated: Jul 2
It was Cincinnati Music Festival weekend, the sun was blazing and the streets were crowded with o
ut of towners visiting for one of the city's largest music events, when I met with Marketing Maven and Entrepreneur Ranika Smiley that Saturday morning. Walking into a packed Waffle House, I managed to scope out Smiley through the cluster of people, she had gotten a booth for us. We did our salutations and immediately got started, but not before she took a moment to say a prayer to give her the resources she needed to have a successful interview. From that moment I could tell that she was a women that let her faith lead her and her ambition follow. Being a huge believer in finding your talent and honing in on your craft, Smiley is dedicated to blazing trail for others, making sure that there is a seat at the table for everyone.
As a little girl Smiley remembers her father instilling in her to be not just good but great. Suggesting that she should be a Doctor, her father felt they make good money and it was a respectable job for a black woman to have. Although Smiley agreed with her father, she knew that was not the career for her. Smiley recalls a time when she was about 8 or 9 when she saw a black women getting out of a Jaguar wearing a fancy dress and a fancy pair of shoes to match. She was in complete aww about what she saw that she took it upon herself to ask her what she did. To her surprise she did not say lawyer or even a doctor. She replied," I am a business woman". It was in that instance that Smiley knew what she wanted to be.
Getting her start early Smiley remembers planning and creating invitation for her "Skating Birthday Party". She was so excited about passing out invitations to to all her friends at school, making sure everyone got an invite. She still remembers her classmates raving about how much fun they had at her skating party when they returned to school. Little did Smiley know by planning and creating the invitations for her birthday party, she was in the beginning stages of finding her talent and taking the right step to finding her career.
As she continued to get older she threw more parties and became the person known for throwing popping parties. While in high school she started promoting for her big cousin. He would pay her $60 a week to promote different parties and talent shows he was hosting. Taking her talent more seriously she went to Scarlet Oaks for Auto-video and Marketing. She continued to promote during her years at the University of Cincinnati and that is where she hooked up with TC Entertainment, one of the biggest promotion groups in the Midwest. She threw house parties, traveled and did marketing for major concerts, making a six figure salary at the age of 21. Even though she seem to have it all Smiley felt like she was losing direction and shifting away from her own dream. So she made the executive decisions to go into business for herself. It was a scary move to make especially going into a business in a male dominated industry, but it was a risk she was willing to take. She put her fears to the side and decided for herself to live out her dreams on her own terms. Sacrifice was the name of the game when Smiley went into business for herself. She left her six figured job and move back home, completely starting over. Slowly, but surely Smiley built her business up, making sure she made moves that fit her vision and creating a legacy she was proud of.
Having the capability of being her own boss she ran her business the way she wanted and it allowed her the free range to discover different avenues she didn't imagine. One of the path she explored was nonprofit. Smiley first got her glimpse at her friends Prostyle Rell fundraiser tournament for the community. From then on she started to do more and more for the community, giving back. Going down this path it lead to doing her first major campaign with State Representative Alicia Reese, who is also one Smiley's mentors.
Being a young melaninated woman, she has learned to love the skin she is and the power she holds. Having her fair share of ups and downs, she went from making a six figure salary to moving back home. Smiley has shown true strength and resiliency by building herself back up to a business she can be proud of. Making a name for herself in a male dominated industry, she stepped into new territory with nonprofit, demanding a seat at the table and letting everyone know she is there to stay. As Smiley continues to reach higher heights, she continues to clear the way for her own legacy and making way for others. She strives to be not just good, but great.