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Antonia aka “Toya” Johnson has had anything but the conventional journey to mompreneurship. Having first become a mother at age 15 with rapper Lil Wayne’s child, Johnson overcame many obstacles and hardships to get where she is today. She’s had an active career in reality TV, is a New York Times best-selling author and now has a popular hair bonnet company, Before Bed Headz. Many of her lessons have been hard learned and today, she had a deep understanding of her values and what being a mompreneur means to her. She discusses that and more with host Nancy Redd on his episode of Mompreneurs.


Being Her Own Role Model

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Johnson did not have entrepreneurial types to look up to in her childhood. In fact, she had no role models to speak of. Her parents abandoned her, and by age 15, she was a mother – while still a child herself. These are struggles she speaks of in-depth in her award-winning book Priceless Inspirations, which are the driving force behind everything she does today.

Toya never wants her daughters to learn the lessons she did the hard way. Her book shares her hard-earned wisdom so that her readers can avoid her mistakes and take inspiration from her story. Ironically, sharing a book about her struggles would become Johnson’s first step off of the struggle bus. The book was an instant hit, and before she know it, Johnson was making money for the first time in her life, on her own.

Following a turbulent (and possibly predatory) relationship with her publisher, Johnson decided to start her own publishing company where she vowed to do things differently. The publishing company, called Toya Wright Publishing, not only allows Johnson to finally – and rightfully so – collect a fair share of profits, but also allows her to choose other peoples’ stories to publish that she believes can change lives.

Changing lives is kind of Johnson’s MO. She spent enough time around people who didn’t lift her up or inspire her to know she never wants to bring that energy. “Dream killers,” is what she calls them. These were people around her in her youth who didn’t believe she could accomplish great things, and now, she avoids personalities like those like the plague. “Be around people who wanna see you win…people who can teach you,” says Johnson.


Balancing Humanity With Entrepreneurship

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Beyond publishing, Johnson also had a successful but brief stint as a boutique owner in New Orleans. She has a woman named Peaches to thank for that. Peaches was a fellow boutique owner who showed Johnson the ropes. She showed Johnson that there’s enough success to go around for everyone, and inspired her to pay it forward and help other women.

Johnson’s boutique sat on a busy tourist area in New Orleans and consistently had lines around the block. Business was good, but on a personal front, tragedy struck.

In 2016, Johnson’s brothers were shot and killed in their car in New Orleans. It was an event that would change Johnson forever, and that eternally tied the city of New Orleans to heartbreak for the entrepreneur. She closed her boutique and is content to let that be a part of her past now. When Redd asks Johnson how she got through that time period, Johnson says, “Talking to God” was her only way through. Surrounding herself with people with good energy was also crucial.


When God Closes One Door, He Opens A Bonnet Shop

After leaving the boutique business behind, Johnson wasn’t done with the beauty industry forever. For years she’d failed to find cute bonnets that didn’t look like something her grandma would wear, so she decided to start her own line, and Before Bed Headz was born (#TeamNoGrannyBonnets). She also has a children’s hair bow line called Reignbeauxs (named after her daughter Reign Rushing).

At four years old, Reign is already involved in the business and helps her mom with daily operations. She’s curious about every element of the business and shows early signs of being just as ambitious as her mother.


What Does Being A Mompreneur Mean?

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Redd wraps up the interview by asking Johnson how she’d rank fame, power and money from most to least important. You can tell from Johnson’s struggle to answer the question that none of them are top of mind for her.

For Johnson, helping people is what truly motivates her. Money is nice, and necessary to carry out most goals. Power is nice because it comes with respect. But ultimately, Johnson says a mompreneur is, “Someone that has morals…someone that wants to help the world become a better place.” This can be seen in everything she has done and is doing, including her most recent project, Weight No More, a movement to raise awareness about obesity. It complements Johnson’s Weight No More fat-burning product.

Johnson is a true inspiration for anyone who isn’t following a “traditional path” and a reminder that all things do work together for good.

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