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The A&T Register

The Student News Site of North Carolina A&T State University

The A&T Register

The Student News Site of North Carolina A&T State University

The A&T Register

Smile Shields: Fashion-Forward Masks By The Smiles Family

Smile Shields: Fashion-Forward Masks By The Smiles Family

Serial entrepreneur couple Ernest Smiles and Barbara Furlow-Smiles are showing the true power behind a smile with their fashion-forward mask business Smiles Shield. The popular brand offers customizable face shields and has been featured on The Breakfast Club as well as Sheen Magazine and Black Enterprise.

Among all the emerging businesses that have arisen during the pandemic, the Smiles have proved to have a true entrepreneurial spirit. This business has created a contemporary take on wearing masks by offering made-to-order face shields that serve as an additional face covering. 

In addition to their business, both Smiles and Furlow-Smiles have extensive backgrounds. Smiles is the co-founder and CEO of Smiles Financial Holdings and is also co-founder of the non-profit organization, Global Smiles Health. Spelman College alumna Furlow-Smiles is a lead strategist and global head of employee resource groups and diversity engagement at Facebook.

Photo Courtesy of Smiles Shield.

Smiles says that Smiles Shield began with the fashion-forward spirit of his wife Furlow-Smiles. She expressed that she wanted something that could be fashionable and show her personality all while protecting herself from the virus. Eventually, this idea developed into an entirely new business for the two.

My wife, Barbara Furlow-Smiles is very glamorous and loves to wear make-up and wanted something to express her personality and her authenticity,” Smiles said. “Her desire to still look fly in the midst of the pandemic was the inspiration around the creation of the Smiles Shield face shield that is fashionable and customizable.”

The innovative couple spoke on the importance of first impressions, being a part of the rising entrepreneur demographic, the benefits of teamwork and Smile Shield’s next moves.

What gave you the courage to turn a crisis like COVID-19 into a business for you and your family?

Ernest: “I understood from my business background that the COVID-19 crisis created a new billion-dollar industry with PPE products. My focus was tapping into just 1% of the new market.  

My successful background played a major part in having the confidence that we could venture off into a new product during a pandemic because of my academic training! I created a business philosophy around my last name SMILES: Superior customer service, Managing Ideas through Lean & Efficient Sales.”

How exactly is Smiles Shield™ uplifting others through the pandemic right now?

Ernest: “Right now, we are uplifting people who feel like their creativity has been wiped away due to the pandemic. We are a customizable & fashionable product that allows each customer to design their OWN shield with a personal touch by adding accessories, bling around the shield, and-or name personalization. 

I’m most proud of the overwhelming feedback we get from our customers who have a personal and emotional connection to their SmilesShield, which I’ve now dubbed the “Smiles Effect.”

How does it feel to be a part of the growing African-American entrepreneur demographic?

Ernest: “There is power in the black dollar and I feel empowered that I’m able to continually build a legacy of wealth for my family and community. 

I’m intentionally creating a narrative of what success looks like as a Black man that doesn’t have to be centered around the common rapper or sports star. I feel powerful to have the freedom, autonomy and ownership of my company.”

Since Smiles Shield runs as a family business , what benefits do you think come with running the business as a team?

Ernest: “We made a decision early during the pandemic that we were going to shift our perspective in order to be open to endless opportunities. 

One of our routines in the morning is to pray together as a family and read positive affirmations. Our family prioritizes focusing on positive energy and maintaining a high vibration so that we can be open to creativity and opportunities.”

What can we expect from Smiles Shield in 2021?

Ernest: “We are partnering with amazing influencers to launch their own Smiles Shield™  lines that speaks to their own personality. We just launched our NEW Pageant Beauties collection featuring Sydney Jackson, Miss Teen DC USA with her signature Smiles Shield’s. 

Coming soon, we’re partnering with actress, model and TV personality Shamea Morton from the Real Housewives of Atlanta with their own signature line—which will be their own mask and face shield combination set.”

Keep up with Smiles Shield by visiting their Instagram page for updates. All Smile Shield products can be found on their website.

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