Silver & Riley’s Lola Banjo and Vanessa Simmons Share Timeless Tips On Business Partnerships

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Jun. 24 2024, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

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Vanessa Simmons, entrepreneur, actress, and mommy, has joined forces with Lola Banjo, founder and creative director of Silver & Riley, in a partnership that showcases “there really is no limit” to what can be achieved through “collaboration over competition.” 

The two women joined Her Agenda to discuss their partnership with Simmons joining Silvery & Riley as a brand ambassador. 

Banjo, the founder and creative director of Silver & Riley, spoke about her accidental discovery of her passion for travel products on a flight years ago. “It came to me by accident. I was traveling for business…and I was on a really cold flight and flying back. I asked the flight attendant for a blanket, and she said that the blankets are only reserved for first class. And that sparked something in me to create travel products.”

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From that experience grew her dream of building a legacy brand on par with Louis Vuitton or Hermes. “I wanted to build a legacy brand. I wanted to build something that I can be proud of, my family can be proud of, and my whole community can be proud of.”

Boldness In Entrepreneurship

Banjo emphasized daring to think differently, (read: audaciously) as a Black woman entrepreneur. “Why can’t this Black woman create a brand that stands the test of time? And it is a multi-billion dollar brand, just like Louis Vuitton?” She challenges herself daily that she can build Silver & Riley into a truly global brand impacting lives positively.

Silver & Riley takes a unique approach to luxury, focusing on accessibility and cost per wear. Banjo explained, “Cost per wear was actually part of that because it’s not overnight where we change the mentality that’s been created by this behemoth of social media, where we’re thinking about just consumption consumption.”

With a brand built differently, it was only right to find a partner that would buy-in to the vision.

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Simmons, who comes from her own fashion legacy with Pastry, met Banjo for a brand collaboration photo shoot and that would be the beginnings of this partnership.

The two women bonded over their shared values and experiences as entrepreneurs. While Simmons admired Banjo’s attention to detail and vision during their initial photo shoot, Banjo appreciated Simmons’ down-to-earth nature and classic style. “I have Lola as a mentor and I’m on this journey with her for Silver & Riley, just getting back into fashion, being able to be behind the scenes and seeing the production and learning how bags are made.”

Finding The Keys To Dynamic Partnership

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Simmons also expressed her respect for Banjo’s drive: “I’m watching her…making sure every piece represents her vision.” Their alignment on core values as entrepreneurs made the partnership an organic fit. “It aligns with all of my core values as an entrepreneur,” she said.

As aligned as the partnership seems, for Banjo the vision was a few years in the making.

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“I launched the brand at the end of 2019. In early 2020, I started working with my first PR partner, and she said, make a list of your wish list of people that you will want as maybe potential brand ambassadors or celebrities you want to work with. Immediately I said, ‘Vanessa Simmons.’ After meeting her in 2022 during a photo shoot collaboration, Banjo knew she had found the perfect partner. “Everything I thought she was, she actually is,” she added.

Simmons shared similar thoughts, “I feel like my ideals and my perspective as a businesswoman aligns perfectly with everything that Silver and Riley represents, the impact that it looks to make not only on our community, but just the world in general.”

When asked to describe their partnership in one word, Simmons chose “timeless,” while Banjo selected “alignment.” As they continue to build Silver & Riley into a global brand, their shared vision and commitment will undoubtedly lead to success.

If you would like to access more content like this conversation, become a Her Agenda INSIDER today! You can find Silver & Riley online — via their website, Instagram and Linkedin.

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By: Dominique Johnson-Lindsay

Dominique Johnson-Lindsay is Digital Community Manager at Her Agenda, focused on furthering the mission by bringing ambitious women together through meaningful programming and building bonds with one another. Beyond her role, Dominique is an award-winning multihyphenate marketer and business owner based in Birmingham, Alabama. The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) graduate and digital marketing enthusiast loves marketing technology, community-building and mentoring the next generation of marketers.

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