Foster Child turned Style Queen
By Belinda Trotter-James
The first time I laid eyes on Ms. Hampton was probably the first time most of America did when she turned out to be one of the outspoken stars of The Real Housewives of Atlanta and I Dream of NeNe. Her personality was fun, witty and charming however, if you said something that was a little shady, she would let you know in a firm way not to travel down that road. She definitely brought a little spice to the show and should have been a permanent fixture. When it comes to reality shows politics, no one wants to say who has the power to prevent someone from being on or off the show. In this exclusive interview Marlo reveals the projects she has been working on after Atlanta Housewives and what she thinks about being on reality television.
“I thank God for Bravo”, began Marlo. “At the time I wasn’t thinking that I want to a housewife; I was just excited to be on the show. I was excited to get bookings and see how much I would get paid to go somewhere for an hour. So for me it was a blessing and all the doors that opened helped me to be able to speak about my Glam It Up project and other projects that I’m doing; so it was an amazing thing. We know that a lot of people didn’t want me to become one [a housewife] and some people went through a lot of trouble for me not to be on the show so I just feel that if it was meant to be, it would’ve been, but I don’t have any regrets.”
Before The Real Housewives of Atlanta and I Dream of NeNe Marlo owned a boutique called The Red Carpet. The Bravo network actually recruited Marlo from her boutique. “They taped at my boutique before and I even styled NeNe for season 3 or 4”, remembers Marlo. The boutique closed shortly afterwards when she joined the Housewives of Atlanta. After her seasoned ended, she continued to get bookings and is doing very well.
For some the experience of doing a reality show either hurt or helps ones career, family life or relationships with friends. Marlo said her friends think she is crazy if she decides to do it again. Would she….? “Absolutely”, says Marlo. “I would definitely do it again. I know some people look at me and think I’m crazy, but it was just a great platform, awesome money and you can do so many good things with people. I just learned so much. I would be more aware the next time because I would not be so gullible to think its all fake and we’re all buddy buddies. I felt like wow, it’s a lot of drama and these girls are really crazy.”
This Saturday The Art Of Style seminar hosted by Marlo will be a fun-filled day of getting up close and personal with Marlo to chat about fashion and beauty at the Punto Space, 325 West 38th Street. Attendees are so excited for this event and Marlo has promised that her guests can ask her anything. “Honestly since I’ve been on the show everyone loves me for my fashions, so after I wasn’t on the show my numbers kept going up,” says Marlo. “I have ½ million followers between my social media… twitter and Instagram and one day out the blue the Bailey agency called and said, “Hey Marlo can you come and speak to my class of young girls on fashion; so I said, ‘Sure, no problem’. I’m thinking its going to be little girls however, Cynthia said that women between the ages of 28-30 are booking the class and I said, ‘Oh Lord these are going to be grown ups. I better get up there and know what I’m talking about.’ I went to the class and about 25 girls showed up and it was awesome. I thought if you can do this for the Bailey agency, then you can do this for yourself. So I started my fashion tour and the first one is in the fashion capital, New York. I said lets get on it and go. I’m really excited, I’m nervous and I’m scared, but I’m also looking forward to it.”
The excitement behind Marlo's style event is because fans will realize how much knowledge Marlo has when it comes to fashion and learn everything she knows first hand. “The reason fans should be excited is because it’s going to be a day with Marlo. It’s just going to be girl talk; not like your typical seminar,” says Marlo. We’re going to talk fashion and they can ask me anything they want. We are going to have a DJ, cocktails and just have fun.” Marlo is not claiming to be the queen that knows everything, but what she does know she will share them with her fans. “I want to give them ideas I use when I get dressed and tips for their body types,” says Marlo. “We’re giving away awesome gift bags, we’re raffling off a $200 Neiman Marcus gift card and it’s going to be fun… great gifts… and fun…. I want it to be like you and I are just talking; not sit down boring, but just a day with Marlo.”
If you didn’t know, Marlo has been in retail and fashion for years. “I don’t feel you have to go to school to know what I’m talking about,” says Marlo. “I’m sharing my tips; Marlo’s tips. I’m sharing Marlo’s vision, but my background has been retail my entire life. My first job was McDonalds, but from my second job I was at Tyrone Mall then Wakefield Mall, Birdine, Saks, Neiman Marcus, Harold Pener… so my background is retail and I definitely know fashion not only from working at those places but, I know it because it’s in my blood; I really feel it’s in my DNA. I learned it from my mother. We were the best dressed in the projects”, laughs Marlo. “Now I will not dare get up there and act like I’m Anna Wintour and I know about fabrics and textures…No… but I can definitely get up there and tell you what works.”
Since Marlo already experienced having a boutique, maybe some sort of style boutique is next on the agenda. “What I’m thinking about now is something where people can pull clothes for all the movies that are taping in Atlanta now,” says Marlo. “I’m going to do something, but right now I have a lot of things on the table so maybe that or a consignment shop. Definitely something with fashion. I’ll see how this tour goes and then go from there.” At one time Marlo did have an online store called, Marlo’s Closet. She is thinking about putting it back up online for fans. “People could go to the site to purchase some things that I’ve worn wore once or twice on the red carpet or purchase new things as well. I may be interested in doing that again,” says Marlo.
Besides her style tour Marlo is very active in her Glam It Up project for young girls who are in the foster care system. “That is something that is so close to my heart. It’s no TV cameras, radio… no platform,” reveals Marlo. “That’s something I will always do. I was a ward of the state as a child and I was in 4-5 different foster homes so it’s just from the love that I know I lacked that I wanted as a little girl… the hugs, kisses and talks with mom. I remember being picked on in school for having to wear the little cheap K-mart clothes, Gerri curl and medicade glasses. I just want the little girls self esteem to be high and I want them to know that no matter what your current situation is you can excel. Who cares if they see you walking to the foster home or you’re not looking right; you’re still special. I just want to do things with them. I try to do things with them at least once a month like take them to a movie or a concert. Once a year I have a huge event where I have people come in to do their hair, makeup and speak to them about credit and its just something I have to do. Me being a foster child I know what I lacked so how can I not give back and spend time with these girls and try to help them out.”
Marlo also has time to squeeze in another project that is close to her heart called the Simply Giving Initiative. “I just feel you have to give back,” states Marlo. “When I have a little extra on Thanksgiving and Christmas, I just give back and I even try to do something on Mother’s Day or just anytime it’s a holiday. I will go to radio stations to make five mothers happy. On Thanksgiving I team up with Publix and give out full meals… desserts…everything and I mean it’s just awesome. So when you see these families come in and you see how happy and appreciative they are, it makes you want to do more. They are so excited about a meal. Some have family members who are so ungrateful and feel you owe them something so that’s just one time of the year where I’m really excited. Here in America we take things for granted and here we have people who are excited for food and we’re out here fussin’ and complaining about crazy stuff.”
With everything that Marlo has been through, I just know the next chapter has to be a book to document her journey. “I’m going to tell you that a book is on the way, yes,” states Marlo. “I definitely have to do a book. I’ve been talking about that so I’ve been writing and now I have to sit down and make it happen.”
Marlo’s next stop after the New York seminar will be in Atlanta on June 6th hosted by Dermalogica. Fans can follow Marlo on her social network sites or visit her website at http://www.MarloHampton.com to find out about her upcoming tour dates. Visit her on twitter https://twitter.com/iheartMarlo
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