New Jersey is home to many ambitious and talented women who juggle family, career, and home. A select few of these women are also extremely busy building their own companies to help better manage the balance of work and family. At NJMOM, we want to highlight these extraordinary women building New Jersey businesses, and learn the secret to their success.
The OMG Tea Party Owner and NJMOMpreneur:
What started as a way for mothers and daughters to practice etiquette, bonding, and goal-sharing in a fun atmosphere has become a celebrated annual event produced by Shakira Johnson, owner of The OMG Tea Party. Shakira’s impressive professional background in PR and event production (she is also the owner of Johnson PR & Events, and has worked with everyone from politicians and professional athletes to nonprofits and large corporations) lends itself to what she considers to be her, “life’s purpose,” which is to bring women and girls of diverse socio-economic backgrounds together to foster community, togetherness, and female empowerment. In addition to her one-of-a-kind tea party experiences, Shakira reaches even further to touch the lives of women with events such as the Saks Fifth Avenue Women in Business Masters Class – and she operates it all under her mother’s own mantra, with “Style and Grace.”
NJMOM had the opportunity to find out how Shakira’s work with Johnson PR & Events lead to the inception of The OMG Tea Party, how her personal goals drive her work, and how she balances it all while raising three children as a hands-on NJMOMpreneur.
NJMOM: What is it that you do?
Shakira: I am the Founder and Creative Director of Johnson PR & Events, an award winning public relations and event production company. Our mission is to produce creative and innovative campaigns that provide exposure, measurable results and exceed the expectations of our clients. Through this methodology we craft campaigns that are engaging and touch the emotions of their target audience. In short, we make our clients memorable and stand out in a sea of competition.
I am also the Founder of The OMG Tea Party, a safe space for women and girls to experience positivity and support. Throughout the year we offer extraordinary event experiences and products designed to empower women and girls to lead inspired and fulfilled lives.
We are best known for the OMG Signature Tea Experience, held every August. This year we held our 7th annual event. The sold out event brought together women and girls from New Jersey and the tristate area for a memorable afternoon of tea, etiquette, self-care, and women supporting women. Every year the event is held at a mansion and it’s pretty amazing. This was the first year we had honorees and OMG Awards for Excellence were presented to NJ 4th grader Gianna Galecki, winner of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, Alicia R. Alston, Vice President, Global Communications Prudential Financial, Inc., and Maggie Haney, 2016 Team USA Olympic Gymnastics Gold & Silver Medal Coach, for encouraging women and girls to set goals, have confidence, and pursue their passions.
Earlier this year, we hosted the OMG Women is Business Master Class in partnership with Saks Fifth Avenue and Flagg Labor, a woman owned construction staffing company, in honor of Women’s History Month. We have also partnered with Microsoft to bring STEM to women and girls.
What I am most excited about now is the launch of our new The OMG Tea Party retail line. We offer select products with a portion of the proceeds from each sale funding special projects and events to empower women and girls. Right now we have OMG Statement Mugs, Isaac Mizrahi Lunch Totes and OMG Signature Tee Shirts that feature our beautiful logo. We will expand the product line and event experiences we offer in 2017.
I am also mother, wife, daughter, granddaughter, niece, and friend! I have three children ages 9, 8, and 1. I am very hands-on with them; they are my top priority. So as you can see, I have a very full life!
NJMOM: How did your work with The OMG Tea Party start?
About 7 years ago, the OMG Tea Party started by chance. A friend partnered with me to promote his art gallery as a venue space. We brainstormed and came up with the concept of a tea party for girls. We set up for the event and I went home to change. When I came back there was a line down the block! We thought the mothers would drop off the girls and come back to pick them up, but instead they wanted to stay! The event was over capacity and the media covered it and featured it in the newspaper. After the event, my friend ended up closing his gallery and moving out of town and I didn’t think much about the Tea Party until one day I was touring a mansion for a client event. I thought that it wouldn’t work for a gala, but would be perfect for a tea party. I started doing the event the next year as a community giveback from my company. Since then, it has evolved from a one-off event to an organization and movement. The OMG Tea Party is my life’s purpose. I see it touching and having a positive impact on women and girls around the globe. I grew up participating in environmental and civil rights demonstrations, feeding the homeless,s and collecting clothes for the less fortunate. So it’s in my blood to care for humanity and giving back.
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
At my core I am a creative. I enjoy conceptualizing events and campaigns. Actually, my brain never stops! I always have an idea I’m thinking over. In addition, I’m highly analytical, have great vision and I love big ideas. Another core strength I have is a high level of emotional intelligence and empathy. That is important when developing campaigns because you don’t want to miss the nuances of an audience and then come off inauthentic, and worse, ineffective. You want the campaigns to be organic and resonate with the audience in a genuine way, and in order to do that you need emotional intelligence and a deep respect for the audience you are trying to reach.
NJMOM: What inspired you to come up with the idea for your business?
My business was another thing that infinite intelligence had in store for me. I did not plan to start a business. I was working in government and politics doing public relations and events as a public information officer. I made the decision to resign and be a stay at home mom when I had my first born son. I was resigned for about two weeks before my phone began to ring from people I had worked with who now wanted to hire or recommend me. So Johnson PR & Events was born, and that was nine years ago.
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
My favorite parts are being creative and working with clients to reach their goals. My sweet spot is community relations and event activations; they are my absolute favorite campaigns to work on. Also, the flexibility with my schedule allows me to be more present with my children.
My favorite part of the OMG Tea Party is getting to spend time with the amazing women and girls who attend our events.
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
My background is in communication. I double majored in Communication and Sociology undergrad and have a masters in Organizational Communication – both from Rutgers University. I also have a certificate in event management and have completed numerous continuing education courses and attended various conferences to stay sharp. I also read on average 3 to 4 articles per day on everything from pop culture to industry trends. I have won numerous communication awards and graduated with highest honors for my masters and certificate in event management. Professionally, I have worked with politicians, professional athletes, celebrities, corporations, small business, universities, and non profit organizations. I also speak and present workshops at conference, events, and for groups.
NJMOM: Who is your role model? Why?
From a professional perspective, there isn’t really one person; it’s more of a blend of women and men who have different qualities that I admire about them, like their tenacity, confidence, grace, or financial success. From a personal perspective it would by my great grandmother, Marie. She was a trailblazer and was one of the first African Americans to purchase a home in Rahway. She was a socialite and activist who knew everyone from the mayor to the housekeepers. She knew how to make money and how to make money work for her. She was also famous for her cooking, knitting, and quick wit. She was quite the woman.
NJMOM: What’s the best piece of advice a role model ever gave to you?
When I was young my Grandmother instilled in me the importance of Prayer. The older I get the more I know that prayer works. She also taught me to save my money and be frugal.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by? Why is this quote so important to you?
I actually made two of my favorite sayings into OMG statement mugs. They are, “Beauty & Brains” and “Style & Grace.” Beauty and Brains reminds me that women can have it all and embrace their femininity while at the same time being smart and crush it in the workplace and in their lives. Style & Grace is also a favorite saying because that’s what I strive for every day – to handle the stress of my life and the ups and downs without complaining or with a negative attitude, but instead with style and grace.
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
My favorite season is definitely summer. We go to all the parks and beaches and visit Jenkinson Boardwalk at least once for the children to ride the rides and eat funnel cake. We also go to Six Flags: Great Adventure every year. They also love checking out books at Rahway Public Library and going to Dairy Maid in Colonia for Italian ice. In the winter, we always go sledding at Echo Lake Park in Mountainside. My special tip is to pack snacks! Someone will always be hungry. Having snacks and drinks on hand keeps children (and husbands) calm and saves you from spending at pricey and unhealthy food stands.
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
The best part of being a mother is the bliss and joy my three children bring me. I love talking to them, having dinner with them, playing games with them, and going places with them. They are all different and I learn to be a better person by having them in my life. They are amazing.
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
As far a restaurants go, Ninety Acres in Peapack is amazing. I also like Jockey Hollow in Morristown and Vonda’s Kitchen in Newark. One of my favorite activities was when my husband took me to see Shen Yun at the State Theatre in New Brunswick. It was so beautiful that I became overwhelmed and started crying.
NJMOM: Where do you reside in New Jersey?
I grew up, moved away, and now live back in Rahway. Rahway has a friendly, small-town vibe. It has a quaint downtown that’s currently in the mist of redevelopment. It is also very diverse; I grew up with friends from all different racial and socio economic backgrounds.
NJMOM: Anything else you would like to tell moms in New Jersey?
I’m always looking for ways to partner to create innovative programs and products for women and girls. If you have an idea or would like to collaborate, please let me know. I would love to hear from you.
To learn more about the OMG Tea Party, follow them on Facebook and Instagram, or visit them on the web.
Visit Johnson PR & Events to learn more information.
You can also find Shakira Johnson on Linked In, Instagram and Twitter @shakiramonet.