Being the daughter of hip-hop legend Rev Run of Run DMC fame, and the niece of entertainment mogul and Def Jam Records co-founder Russell Simmons, Vanessa Simmons has carved out her own identity as a fashion entrepreneur and entertainer. ELLE caught up with Vanessa and talked style, motherhood and Project Runway: Threads

ELLE: Growing up in the spotlight, how have you gone about carving your own identity in the industry?

I think it has always been important to be myself and let my authenticity carve out my place in the industry. I pursue the things I love and always aim to inspire and encourage people to be all they can be by remaining true to themselves. Being in the spotlight is pressuring but being myself has certainly lessened the load.

ELLE: You grew up in a tight-knit family. What does family mean to you now that you’re a mother? 

Family is honestly the most important factor in my life. I love coming from such a huge family and having so much support from people I can depend on in good and bad times. I don’t know where I’d be without them? Being a new mom I have a greater appreciation for family and understanding of just how deep my parents’ love runs for me.

ELLE: You and your sister Angela co-founded Pastry Shoes almost a decade ago. Both of your personal styles must have changed a lot since then. How has this affected the brand?

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 10 years…Our styles have evolved for sure. I’m super proud of my sister with the waves she’s making in fashion with her website Angela I Am. I’m currently gearing my website up for multiple designer collaborations. My style evolution will be represented in these designs, I am working with some really dope designers and brands and can’t wait for everyone to see. I am especially excited about an adorably chic Mommy and Me line I am working on with Laquan Smith.

ELLE: How did you land the Project Runway: Threads gig? 

I went in for an audition for [spinoff] Project Runway: Threads and when I read the description for the show I was sold. I thought it would be such a dream come true to be able to mentor and work with young fashion designers. It was my first audition after giving birth to Ava Marie, and my first time wearing heels in almost a year, and when I got to the audition I fell flat on my face while introducing myself to the executive producers of Project Runway, I thought I blew it and cried all the way home. But then I got the call that they loved me and booked the show and it turned out to be one of the most incredible experiences ever. That’s definitely a story for the books for me.

ELLE: Who are some of your favourite designers? 

My all-time favourite designer is Diane von Furstenberg. She is an inspiration and her designs are ultra-feminine chic, which I live for! If I could shadow anyone in fashion for a day, or intern at any fashion house, it would be DVF. My fashion heart beats for her big time.

ELLE: What are your top wardrobe staples? 

A great pair of jeans with perfect fit; my favourite pair is from Topshop; a black blazer; and a pair of great pumps: my favourite is Christian Louboutin So Kate’s in black suede.

ELLE: What beauty products are essentials for you? 

I love to glam up but honestly speaking feel most fab when my skin is acting right. I cannot live without my Lemon Honey Love Scrub and Face Wash. I exfoliate my skin once a week with the scrub, and it works wonder on the body too, and use the face wash in the morning and once before bed. It’s all natural, helps to even out your skin tone, and leaves you with an amazing glow. It’s my favourite and is available online at Kreamiescollection.com

Click through our gallery of Vanessa Simmons styled and photographed by Grace Bukumni and Casey Durkin  of the Purveyists . Styled by Christopher Mannor at Studio Milan in downtown Los Angeles.

Follow Vanessa on twitter: @NessaSimmons