Who is Bobbi Rhian’s? Tell us your story.
Well, as you know, my name is Ralph. I’m from the city of Wilmington, came here when I was or 8 or 9 years old. My mother moved us to Wilmington from New York because of her job. I got caught up ripping and running the streets and ended up incarcerate, doing 15 years. When I was incarcerated, there was a young guy who came up to me saying he remembered me coming through his neighborhood and remembered what I was wearing, the car I drove, and right then and there, I realized people will pay attention to what I do, negative or positive. I figured, what if I change that around and just did positive things, what kind of impact I could have on the community. So when I came home, I would do different things like talk to the kids, having community events. It started off with just throwing parties. Business owners didn’t respect what I was bringing to the table. I saved my money working 3 jobs to cut the middle man out and fund these parties myself until I found the space I wanted to open up my own lounge.
How did Bobbi Rhian’s Executive Lounge come to life?
I knew what Delaware was missing. There’s just bars and restaurants that think they’re clubs -- we don’t have a lounge for people to feel safe, laid back, relaxed and just enjoy the ambience. While working on the project, I was going to name the place the “Executive Lounge.” A week before my daughter was supposed to be born, she passed away. We were going to name her Rhian Bobbi and while I was in the hospital with her mom, I played around with the name “Rhian Bobbi, Rhian Bobbi’s, Bobbi Rhian’s” and Bobbi Rhian’s had a nice ring to it. It felt rich, it felt different. I even went as far as to search “Executive Lounge” on Google and a million things popped up, but when I looked up Bobbi Rhian’s, there was nothing so it only made sense for me to change the name, but still keep my “Executive lounge” tagline on it -- but it just felt right to do it that way.
What has motivated you to be the successful businessman and father you are today?
To be totally honest, what keeps me motivated are my kids. I notice with a lot of African American families, we don’t leave our kids anything but debt; they can’t even pay for our funerals sometimes. So of course I want to make money with my business but one of my biggest things is to motivate my kids to be entrepreneurs. In today’s day and age, you can’t just have a nine-to-five, you have to have some other type of hustle going on.
How do you inspire your children?
I love the fact that my son is 5 years-old in daycare telling everyone about his daddy’s building. There’s teachers coming to the lounge because my son is saying, “Are you going to Bobbi Rhian’s?” He even loves coming around and sweeping for a dollar and doing little things for a little money. I think those are the things that inspire our youth to become great! When he’s 15, 20, he’ll remember when he was 5 in his dad’s building and maybe they’ll have a lounge or some sort of business. I’ve been trying to inspire my daughter to become an entrepreneur and at first she didn’t get it but within the last year or two, she’s started her own business and it feels good to have your daughter come up to you and “Dad, I’m proud of you.” Even people in our community that will come up and say “Hey, I just want to let you know you inspire us.” I come from where they come from-- I’m not the guy with the suit and tie and the degree who’s just going to tell you what not to do because it sounds good--I’ve done it.
Not just monetary items. Even when I came home, the things I didn’t have, I made up for it by spending the time and doing the little things. That’s one of the things that makes me continue to be a good dad. I’ve been locked up with people who hate their dads because they weren’t around or in and out of prison but my daughter embraced me when I came home and I fear that if I go back, she’ll turn into one of those kids that can’t stand their father.
What advice would you give to fathers?
Never give up. Situations are going to be difficult and people are going to tell you what you can’t do. I’ll be transparent about my situation, with my son’s mother, we didn’t get along at first. All I could do was continue to be myself and be a great father and it took some time but she finally came around and apologized and said despite her bitterness from things that you’ve done to me, I’d always been great dad. I hear some guys say they don’t know what it means to be a father because my dad was never around -- that’s all the reason you should step up to the plate and be a great dad! Because you know what it feels like not to have one. Life ain’t easy, but you stick around long enough, you fall, you get back up, I think everything is gonna be alright.
Being a Fashion Stylist and Jewelry designer, my life revolves around fashion, food and people. In these blogs you will find advice, tips, and references for all the best I have to offer about my brand, myself, home, and more.