Cincinnati Philanthropist Takes $17K From Her Inheritance to Jumpstart a Plus Size Boutique for Curvy Women

Founder Renika J. Smiley first launched Generation NOW as a LinkedIn Networking Happy Hour Event, hosted at local bars. Her first events featured a diverse speaking panel and began with an audience of 40-75 young professionals in Igby’s private second floor. Fortune 500 corporate offices soon replaced Igby’s when attendance grew to 200+.

Renika’s tenacity proves that it’s not about the start, it’s about how you finish! Generation NOW has highlighted 200+ local businesses. We’ve honored 150+ young professionals with awards and plaques for career achievement. The organization has locked in community partnerships and sponsorships with companies like RDI, Nielsen, P&G, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, and more. The success of this program has won loyal followers by offering job opportunities, building business clientele, developing professional growth for young professionals, strengthening panelists’ speaking skills, and promoting inclusion to grow our community.

Hello Queen!!! We love that you work in spaces that are often overlooked and less catered to! Where did you get your initial interest in the work that fuels your organization, Generation NOW?

I actually left Cincy for a while. I went to Chicago and Atlanta then I came back to Cincinnati. What I liked in the big city markets was the vibrant culture for the young professional community.

I wanted to bring that vibrancy back to Cincinnati by hosting networking events, professional development workshops, and workforce training programs.

Renika Smiley
Renika Smiley with RDI CEO

How about your passion for servicing the curvy and plus-size community in fashion? How and when did this surface within your interests?

The reason I started my online boutique is to empower plus size women. I am a plus size woman too. And I struggled with my weight fluctuating for years. I would starve myself or workout crazy in the gym just to fit in the perfect size dress. Because there’s less options for plus size women in stores. So, I decided to love myself at every size, and if I couldn’t find the clothes I wanted to wear, then I will find those clothes to sell and help solve this problem for all plus size women. Who would like to purchase fashion forward, comfortable clothes that appeal to their curves.

To accelerate my business, I took $17,000 from my inheritance that was given to me by my mother who passed from Pancreatic Cancer in October 2022, and her sister who passed 6 months before her in March 2022 to grow my boutique with inventory and marketing dollars.

Renika Smiley & Her Mother

So, I see this business as a family business with an investment made into to the business by two stylish women that I love my mom and my aunt. Lusheous Collection Inc isn’t my first business. It’s my 3rd business. I had a prior career in nightlife club promotion, and I scaled that business to 6 figures at the age of 21. My second success business is Generation NOW which is a Nonprofit organization that funded by United Way and Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

We have learned through our Sip and Shops, Pop up shops, vendor events that Lusheous Collection generates more revenue in person than online.

So, our next goal is to open up our 1st storefront by next year to grow our plus size community for women, because women like to see, feel, and touch their clothing. In this past year we have landed women in our Ambassador program a few to name Jasmine Morrison, Lizzo back up dancer, Yvette Lloyd Host of Life Her Podcast and more.

What sets you apart from other boutiques and shops for curvy women? What’s your wow factor?

Fashion Forward clothing for every and any event need!

What are some misconceptions when it comes to plus-size style and wardrobe options?

That all plus size women are fat and want to dress in workout clothing. We like being stylish too. There’s a lot of women who are plus size due to Height as well.

Atlanta Fashion Show Photo by Jae The Photographer — Lusheous Collections

Tell us more about your community work! Who is your organization geared toward and what are you working on that our readers can position themselves to support?

Dedicated to providing affordable career training and development. Join over 5,000 young professionals advancing their networking and essential business skills.  Our mission is to provide world class networking, mentorship, and professional development training.  

What can Professionals gain from career training and resources? Are there any examples of training subjects or industry support offered at Generation NOW, that you can share with us?

Professionals gain from professional development more Employees’ confidence in their work can be increased with the aid of professional development. Higher staff performance, productivity, and general morale can all be correlated with higher levels of confidence.

Are you planning any upcoming fundraisers or events we can share with our community?

You can donate to Generation NOW at:

Do you have any expansion goals regarding branching out from your headquarters in Cincinnati?

I plan to duplicate my program for Generation NOW Advance Training for African American Women in Atlanta, Georgia. I would also like to open a Boutique Storefront in Atlanta too.

Do you have any advice for other WOC looking to mesh their authentic passions to create new streams of income while serving on the philanthropic side of things? —How can we keep in touch with your news and updates?

Start a new For-Profit Business. Your Nonprofit is for the community and also the most you will make is a salary which is fine. For-Profit sky’s the limit. You can follow me on Instagram @renikajsmiley