Kandi Burruss Decoded: On the Move Mogul Quietly Builds “The Kandi Empire”

Kandi Burruss is following in the footsteps of Oprah and Tyra Banks.

Fast forward, what is in your portfolio as of now?

I have the music thing going, with songwriting and royalties. Then I have “Kandi Koated Enterainment” which has a production division and talent management division. I have multiple real estate properties, some are rentals, others I just have. I have two clothing boutiques in Atlanta. I have “Bedroom Kandi” which is my “adult luxury” line. I have my “Kandi Koated Spades” game on the iPhone. I have “Kandi Koated Nights,” my online radio show. I have my own TV show, “The Kandi Factory” on Bravo too now. Kandi Factory isn’t just a show either, it’s also a building I have for artist development. I’m also adding TV and video production into my portfolio, everything is going to the next level right now.

How was it breaking into the sex toy or “adult product” industry?

I have “Bedroom Kandi” and I have “Bedroom Kandi Boutique Consulting” where we come to your home to present the products. Since Kandi Koated Nights became popular on the internet, I figured we needed to do some kind of product to go along with the show. I stopped by Dr. Laura Berman’s show for an interview and she gave me some of the products from her sex toy line. Of course as a woman I’ve owned some toys, but it never crossed my mind to have my own line. I figured if she could do it, so could I.

When I did some research I found out that one of the richest women in Europe was a billionaire from having her own toy and lingerie line. So I found a smaller company that had the technology to make toys that could vibrate to music. Later on, a bigger company that knew of me and my interest in the industry through RHOA, reached out to me wanting to license my name. So I had to decide between licensing my name for six-figures, or take the gamble of owning my own company. I believe in ownership so I took the risk and partnered with the smaller company, OhMiBod, to develop my toy line and within the first couple of months of release we won an award for “Best Toy Line at the AVN Awards. Within the next few months we made all of the money back.

After that we launched the boutique consulting and have over 20,000 women wanting to sign up. So the Bedroom Kandi brand has really taken off. And it’s classy and promotes health and wellness too. There is a lot more to sex toys than just being raunchy. I know women have them, women with children have them, so why not make it more acceptable.

How much of an investment did you have to make initially?

It was a few hundred thousand dollars that we had to put into the initial production of our first two toys in the collection. Now we are developing more products like candles that turn into massage oils and vibrating lollipops. At first we were going to do just one item, but within 4 months there was so much talk about it that they said we might need to make more. I thought it was a good idea to do just one toy because I’m not known for adult toys, plus the African American community is so hush hush when it comes to sex, but it turned out to be a great decision.

What made you want to jump into retail?

I just wanted to have multiple sources of income. As a person who came up in the entertainment business, I know you can go through slow periods. So I wanted to do something that I could have a steady flow of cash coming in. My friend Peaches had stores before and decided to stop because of divorce and other things. She had an eye for clothes and knew how to run a store. One thing I hate to see is people make money and jump into a business and get a cousin or friend who doesn’t know what they’re doing to run it, I hate that. I had the finances and she had the know how, so I thought Peaches was perfect to partner with. After five years of convincing she finally said OK.

How have you used social media to promote your brands?

When it comes to social media, when you stay engaged with the people who support you, they love that. People will support you if they see you are in tune with what’s going on. So I started doing Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and all my businesses are a part of that too. I think I might have been one of the first people to put together a “tweet and meet.” It was me, Rashidah, Diamond and some of my friends. I figured we could invite people to hear our new music. I just wanted to go to Dave & Busters or something. But the response was so overwhelming. There was a line out the door and there were people who flew in from the Bahamas just to see us. That’s when I learned how big of a tool it was. It’s even better if we are showing support among each other.

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