I have to admit, the morning before my interview with Chilli from TLC, I was singing all of TLC’s top hits in the shower.Â “No Scrubs”, “Waterfalls”, “Unpretty” to name just a few, were arguably part of the soundtrack of my life during high school, college and my 20′s.Â So you can imagine how thrilled I was when Chilli agreed to talk to me about her successful handbag collection, Bags by Chilli.
Chilli had obviously tasted success before.Â When the group, TLC, was being formed and auditions were planned for a Saturday, Chilli walked in.Â The record company, LaFace, immediately signed Chilli on as the third member and the huge audition with hundreds of hopefuls?Â Needless to say, it was cancelled.Â What followed can only be described as a whirlwind.Â A month after that fateful Thursday, they hit the studio and two months later, released their first record.Â TLC’s first tour was opening for MC Hammer, a huge gig for a rising R&B band then.
Now, Chilli has a successful handbag business.Â How did she come up with the idea?Â Chilli explains on her company website:
“I received a few photo bags with pictures of my son on them as gifts years ago. They instantly became my favorite bags and the only ones I carry. Eventually I wanted bags in new shapes and sizes and with new pictures. The company that made my original bags closed and all that I could find for sale were plastic substitutes. I simply had to have more of these bags so I kept searching. I didnâ€™t know it then, but that search would lead me to create Bags By Chilli. Everywhere I go people ask where they can get bags like this. Now, I have an answer. I have expanded my personal collection and can share this great product with everyone. I enjoy sporting my sonâ€™s face everywhere I go. I hope you will enjoy your bags just as much!”
And enjoy you will!Â Chilli’s bags are truly gorgeous and come with leather options.Â There is even a men’s wallet as part of her product offering.While a lot of people choose to put pictures of their loved ones on the bags, Chilli encourages you to “Advertise Yourself”.
Starting and running a niche business like Bags by Chilli takes hard work and determination.Â Chilli advises anyone who is thinking about starting their own business to do their research.Â When asked for some words of wisdom, Chilli said to me, “Get help. The right help.Â A qualified person who is as hungry as you.”Â I also asked her what people should do on the days they feel like giving up.Â She replied, “Defeat it.Â Don’t let it defeat you.Â You can’t give up.Â You have to fight it to the end.”
It goes without saying that Chilli is one busy woman as she’s a mom too.Â I asked her how she manages being a mom to eleven-year old Tron and running a business.Â Without any hesitation, Chilli replied, “Tron always comes first.Â That’s that.Â Everything is worked around him.Â When you do it that way, it is always better for the child.”
Since her bags are created from the images that her customers send in, I asked her if she’s ever gotten any photos she had to turn away.Â She laughed and confided in me, “We had to send back a photo when a woman sent in a very distasteful picture of herself in a bikini.Â We asked her to crop it.”Â I think we can all thank Chilli for doing so and sparing our eyes!
Chilli would love to connect with those of you who would like to know more.Â You can find her on myspace and listen to her hit single “Dumb Dumb Dumb” from her debut solo album, “Bipolar”.
Bags by Chilli also offers group discounts and will have some special promotions for the holiday season so stay tuned and keep checking in with her.