The phrase, “It’s not what you know is who you know,” describes how some find success in Miami.

Yet, there are some people who are not connected to individuals who can bring them to the next level. “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Nene Leakes wants to change that. The reality TV star recently hosted Ladies of Success: All Girls Weekend. This was a conference specifically for businesswomen and entrepreneurs. The goal was to not only expose them to people with the resources to help them grow but also to provide a space where connections can happen.

“I never wanted this to feel like the traditional conference or summit. I wanted this to feel personal. I wanted this to feel like you are rubbing elbows with women you can actually touch,” said Leakes.

The Ladies of Success: All Girls Weekend took place on Nov. 7-10 at the Nobu Eden Roc hotel in Miami Beach. About 150 guests registered for the conference, which brought women from all over the country.

“The biggest difference between this and other conferences is the sisterhood of it all. The concept of minority women supporting each other brought me to Miami,” said Erika Blakely, a conference attendee from Atlanta.

Leakes pursued this idea based on how many people around her were trying to be connected to the high-profile people with whom she associates. Leakes organized several events this weekend including a networking mixer at Bar One in South Beach and a dinner hosted by national etiquette expert Elaine Swann. Attendees also participated in a slumber party.

“We had a pillow talk where the women came in their pajamas. We talked about relationships, business and anything you can think of. We did this as opposed to sitting in a class and taking notes and basically not getting the chance to know each other,” said Leakes.

The Bottom to the Top Entrepreneur panel with business owners in the food and hair industry was held on Saturday during the conference.

“Basically these were women that you don't know. They stared at the very bottom and brought themselves up to million-dollar status. That takes a lot for a girl that just had an idea but isn't known or even educated,” said Leakes.

The Bottom to the Top entrepreneur panelists included Monique Je' Muhammad, owner of the Yeshe Salon and Tiffany C. Hainesworth, owner of TCapri Gourmet Treats. Belinda Ndu, CEO of Covenant Marriage Academy, shared her story of how she became successful and offered to help attendees whose personal lives were not in order.

“I want to be a resource for the ladies who need intimate, personal help. So many people have challenges in their family life. A lot of these ladies have figured out money but they're married and [their] relationships are all screwed up,” said Ndu.

Three guests who attended the business meet up had the opportunity to present their businesses in front of Leakes and company in the Pink Shark investor’s panel.

This “Shark Tank”-inspired session offered the three guests $250,000 to invest in their business and coaching from Leakes, Leakes’ husband and real estate investor, Greg Leakes and millionaire coach Stormy Wellington.

Stephanie Lanier and her business Over the edge, Mary Ziese who owns Yoni Paradise and Erika Blakely, who owns Detach it were the participants.

Leakes learned as much as the attendees during the packed weekend. The “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star plans on hosting The Ladies of Success: All Girls Weekend again next year.

“I learned that this was very much needed. I learned how many women are trying to connect with like-minded women. I hope to do this annual and I will return to Miami for the second Ladies of Success: All Girls Weekend,” said Leakes.

Miami Times Contributor

Clayton Gutzmore is a freelance journalist from South Florida. He has bylines in The Miami Times, The Atlanta Voice,The Miami Herald and Variety Magazine. Clayton has a background of covering business, entertainment and local community news.

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