Kailyn Forbes and Matthew Hall, SMDP Staff Writers
A retail ice cream store inside the Santa Monica Place mall is not the first business you’d associated with celebrity businesswoman Tyra Banks but according to Banks, it’s a natural extension and combination of her life experiences.
As a child, every Friday, Tyra Banks and her mother would drive to an ice cream shop off of Hollywood Boulevard, anticipating the tasty creaminess of their favorite flavors. That time with her family, and the future plans discussed therein, became the foundation of her success.
“15, 16 years old, in that car, eating that ice cream, all of my dreams, a lot of it started there,” she said during a media preview of the store this week.
From that simple start, Banks has grown into a worldwide entrepreneur and entertainer. She was the first female model to appear on the cover of GQ magazine and the first black woman to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, which she later reappeared two more times to record-breaking sales. She was also twice named as TIME magazine’s most influential people in the world and for the last three years has taught at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.
Banks has a well-known and diverse entertainment background and while an ice cream store differs in comparison to previous ventures, it’s actually right in line with her personal aspirations.
“This is my dream, this is my passion”, she said of her newly launched Los Angeles area shop. With a love of ice cream dating back to her time at Immaculate Heart High School as well as a business plan fifteen years in the making, what was once a fantasy is now a reality for Banks and she said the business skills she’s developed over the years can now be channeled into something that she hopes allows us to embrace the kid, and idealist, in us all.
“I am a natural entrepreneur. I am attracted to risk,” she said. “I think a lot of it has to do probably with being a black woman in the fashion industry and constantly being told no, and as an entrepreneur, you are constantly being told no, something that I’m used to.”
Banks said she’s long been obsessed with innovation and being a visionary but like any good idea, the stores are a result of partnerships between experts who have helped bring the idea to fruition including food scientist, Dr. Maya Warren.
She said the experience led her to add a mentorship component to the business to help others attain their goals. Banks founded a mentorship program called The SMiZE Goalz and Dreamz Factory in alliance with Eldera, a global intergenerational mentoring platform, to partner youth with experts that have valuable advice for the next generation.
“I want to encourage people and inspire them and give them a way to reach their dreams,” said Banks. She said the “SMiZE Surprize” at the bottom of each cup signifies “digging for goals.”
The seven signature flavors, The Best Vanilla I Ever Had, Strawberry BirthYAY! Cake, Brownies, I Love You!, Purple Cookie Mon-STAR & Me, Salted Caramel King, Cookie Caramel Queen, and Chocolate Barbeque, hide a large chunk of cookie dough truffle.
Banks is opening two businesses in the Santa Monica Place Mall and while her Modelland concept was the first to be announced, SMiZE Cream will be the first to unlock its doors with a grand opening Friday, July 2 at 4 p.m.
SMiZE Cream is located at 395 Santa Monica Place, SMiZE Cream, Center Court, Ground Floor. Visit www.smizecream.com for more information.