An entrepreneur since her teens, the former celebrity stylist took her cosmetology talents to Hollywood and worked among Tinseltown’s elite for years before returning to the Windy City.
Empire Life recently sat down with Willborn to discuss how she built her diverse business portfolio including her latest venture, the Italian eatery Truth located in Chicago’s historic southside Bronzeville neighborhood.
EL: How tough was it making the transition from celebrity hair stylist to serial entrepreneur?
PW: Although the process was challenging, it was one that always aligned with my vision. I have always pictured a life built around my own brand or in other words, being my own boss. I became a licensed hair stylist at 18, owned a salon by 24 and haven’t looked back since!
EL: Wow! Take us through your journey from young salon owner to celebrity stylist. How did that come about?
PW: For more than 20 years, I was married to the comedian George Willborn, so naturally some of his celebrity friends became mine as well, including Monique’. This relationship led to my being named the key stylist on her hit television show The Parkers, Moesha, among many others. I leveraged that platform to spearhead my other businesses.
EL: Tell us about your business ventures.
PW: In 2004, I opened my first 24-hour daycare center which eventually led to two others a few years later. My latest project is my Italian restaurant, Truth, the first of its kind on the south side of Chicago.
EL: The first of its kind?
PW: Southside Chicago rarely earns the attention of business developers, specifically restaurateurs, so we are often left with unhealthy fast food chains to dine at. When the idea of opening of Truth came about, my motivation came from the hope that I could dispel the notion that minorities don’t appreciate or deserve quality food just steps from their homes.
EL: Did you have reservations about the ROI as far as the location of your restaurant is concerned?
PW: Absolutely not; I have built my career from equal parts talent and interpersonal relationships. Therefore, I knew that if the quality of service at my restaurant was superior, the patrons would come, no matter the location. Not to mention, the Bronzeville neighborhood is absolutely beautiful!
EL: What are some of the key lessons that you have learned along the way?
PW: Always make sure that you have your endgame in mind, especially when working for others. When I styled on those Hollywood sets, I made sure to maintain my clientele in Chicago as well. Oh, and build towards having at least seven streams of income at all times–that’s how billionaires are made!
EL: Any words of wisdom for our young aspiring business owners?
PW: Never rest on your laurels–always strive for more.
Submitted by Jasmine Browley