The WeTV reality series House of Curves, follows full-figured fashion designer Kenyatta Jones on her journey from boutique biz to major player. Under her Bella Rene label, Kenyatta produces sexy dresses, fitted power suits and trendy casual clothes for younger, full-figured women.
Making a name for yourself is hard for any new designer, but Kenyatta has the added problem of catering to an audience that is generally shunned by the influencers in the fashion world.
She also has another problem – every one of her employees is either a relative or a friend.
Kenyatta’s mother Renee is the inspiration behind the company name. She’s also the company’s primary investor so she keeps a close eye on the expenses. Often, this kind of relationship is a major cause of tension in a small business, but in this case, it’s Kenyatta’s relationship with her best friend Kendra that is pulling them apart at the seams.
The two women met in college. Kendra was studying psychology but it was her eye for make-up, photography, and interior design that led to her becoming the Creative Director at Bella Rene.
She got the position when Kenyatta’s other college buddy, Sherlynda, gave up the job in order to concentrate on her marriage. Now Sherlynda is back in the role of lead designer with Kendra’s cousin Milan filling out the team as a personal assistant.
Though all three of the women have a love for fashion none of them have any actual experience in the industry or in running a business. So when it was time to take the company to the next level, Kenyatta smartly sought out the help of a pro who was neither a friend or a family member.
PR consultant Kelli Flournoy came to Bella Rose with a BS in Business Administration and an MBA in Marketing, but the employees were immediately put off by her slim figure and no-nonsense attitude. When Kenyatta handed over control of an upcoming fashion shoot to Kelli, Kendra took it as a sign of disrespect. Kelli’s very presence meant that the women who had struggled to get the company this far, weren’t good enough to get it to the next level.
“When I hired Kelli, I knew it would be an issue but I did not know that friendships would be tested,” said Kenyatta in an interview with PayScale. “The blurry line often gets crossed and feelings end up getting personal more than professional.”
At the photo shoot, Kendra made a scene after she was summarily dismissed by Kelli and the photographer she hired. Seeing the events unfold through only the eyes of the reality show cameras, it’s hard to say who was really at fault but clearly Kendra only wanted what she thought was best for the company.
Kenyatta did her best to keep things civil between her employees (friends) and the new addition to the team but her patience ran out in last night’s episode. When a team meeting turned into another round of bickering, she gave her staff an ultimatum. If you can’t be on board 100%, then you can’t be on board. Friends or not, this is business and there are five other people waiting to take your job if you don’t want it.
That sobered everyone up enough to get them through the biggest fashion show they ever produced but the hurt feelings were still there. When Kenyatta announced that she was giving Sherlynda a promotion for a job well done, it was another unintentional stab at Kendra.
Says Kenyatta, “I would advise anyone who would like to hire a friend to make sure they are able to separate friendship from business. The line between friendship and professional gets very blurry in my situation and sometimes it’s very hard to be the boss to my friends.”
Will Kenyatta lose her Creative Director and best friend? To find out, you’ll have to tune in next Thursday at 10 pm for the finale of House of Curves on WeTV.
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Photo courtesy of WeTV