Entrepreneur, Model, & Author, Dr. Glynis Albright, Is "The Waffle Queen," & A Queen of Wisdom!
Meet true royalty! When I first learned about this amazing woman, Dr. Glynis Albright, I was immediately compelled to tell her story. Out of all the amazing interviews that I have done, this one was a divine appointment. Her story had a lot of similarities to the journey I've taken. While interviewing Glynis, like a sponge, I sat there soaking up all the wisdom that came from her mouth as she spoke with eloquence and grace.
Regardless of the roadblocks that were placed in her way, against all odds, she pulverized every brick like the incredible Hulk when he got angry! Yes, she was fearless, tenacious, and unstoppable! A quote from the Bible; Proverb 31 states, "A virtuous woman who can find one?" Glynis is that woman! Her worth is far above rubies! I had the honor and privilege of talking to this amazing woman of wisdom. This is what she shared with me.
First and foremost, I want to say thank you so much for this interview. I feel honored to have the opportunity to interview such an accomplished woman! I am so inspired by you! In my research of you, I said to myself, wow, this woman is amazing! I am inspired by you!
You’re so welcome! As phenomenal as you are, I had to interview you. I love interviewing people who do extraordinary things! I enjoy people who uplift, are positive and inspire others. You are one of them, Glynis!
Awe, thank you!
You’re welcome. So, Glynis, let’s have a girl chat and talk all about your amazing life!
Okay, let’s do it.
First, how are you doing? You know what Gina, it's been a challenging week, but it's been a blessing as well. Gerald’s on the road right now, but he'll be back this evening.
That’s wonderful! Yes, and next weekend our daughter will be performing at the same place her father just performed. Gerald took a picture of the marquee and sent it to me. When I saw it, I was beaming with joy! It made me so happy to see the Albright names up there! I was elated! So, overall, I'm doing just fine.
Well, it sounds to me like this is a great time to get some rest. Yes, and I've been doing just that. When I’m here alone, I'll make one big pot of food and I'll eat that for the next two or three days. So, even though I enjoy my family's presence, when I'm here alone, I enjoy those moments as well.
I agree. Times of peace and solace are very meaningful. So, Glynis, you’re a wonderful mother of two, a wife, and a professional woman. Tell me, how do you juggle all those things? You know, it took some time for me to figure it out, but I think it can all be summed up in one word, and that word is “balance.” I prayed about this. I asked God to help me help others. I asked Him to help me to be a good wife, mother, businesswoman, friend, sister, counselor, minister, and therapist to anyone who crossed my path. It was like I had on four hats with a few smaller hats underneath. I asked God to help me to do that, but without completely depleting myself because at that time, that’s exactly what I was doing, depleting myself.
Literally, my day would begin at 3 am and end at 11 pm. By the weekend I was completely burnt out. I mean, I worked myself to the point of getting sick. A hectic schedule like this is torturous for the body. As women, we don't see it as abusing our bodies because we’re just doing what we have to do. Therefore, I learned the valuable lesson of balancing my life.
That's so true. How would you instruct everything bagel woman to accomplish that?
I believe that the most important key to balancing your life is simply knowing when to ask for help and knowing when to say no.
So, once I understood that valuable key, I was able to easily navigate through my life. Now everything is fine. In fact, I even sleep eight hours like everyone else. Before, I was only sleeping three to five hours, and that wasn't enough sleep.
Why do you think that was?
Two reasons, it was hard for me to say no and equally as hard for me to delegate. But, in the end, I learn how to do that.
That’s wonderful Glynis!
Learning that really helped me because I wanted to be there for my special sister friends, friends, and other people who were married. I wanted to share with them the lessons I learned so that they could benefit from that as well. I had to find the strength to do it. You can't serve from an empty cup because there's nothing left in there. God gave me the ability to be able to do that and now, not only am I a happier person, but I'm living my best life!
That's amazing! You're ministering to me too. I know that this interview was God-ordained. That's awesome. Being married to someone in the public eye can cause some women to lose themselves under the shadow of whom they are married to. In many cases, motherhood can also render the same results, but you didn't. Glynis, you’re powerful, educated, professional, gifted, and a woman of purpose, talent, and vision. In fact, you remind me of Michelle Obama in the sense that although her husband was the president of the United States, she carved out her own legacy. How would you advise women who are walking in your same shoes to do the same? Well, it's funny that you mentioned Michelle Obama, because many of the children that I meet tell me that exact same thing, they say, “She reminds me of former first lady, Michelle Obama.”
But what I would say to young women who are getting into a relationship or a marriage, and they are with someone who is in the public eye, know your purpose. Although there is a level of sacrifice and compromise, I still would say, “know your purpose.”
See, I knew what my purpose was. When people would ask me, how does it feel to live in the shadow of my husband, I would say, “oh, I've never lived in the shadow of anyone. I met him when I was 13 years old, and we built together. I walk with him. Now, there are times when I'm behind him, pushing him, but I'm never lagging behind him living in his shadow. Even when it comes to my children, I chose to stand back. One of my children wanted to enter into film and the other wanted to be a singer. I support them in the things they want to do. So, it’s me that's up there.
Some people assume that I’m at home organizing and picking out everyone’s clothes. They also assume that I’m finally doing my thing. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve worked since I was 14 years old helping my parents because we grew up poor. So, I’ve always been a hard worker. I was Glynis Albert before I became Glynis Albright. I know who I am and I’m just fine! I would advise all women to know their purpose and to know that God created and shaped them. Don't ever lose those valuable qualities about yourself. What you had when you got him, keep that if you want to keep him. Because we're all human, it’s natural to fall into our habits and rituals, careful not to let those things get in the way. If anything, make it even better! Spice it up!
Find your purpose, then do that.
Many men are attracted to women who are strong and ambitious. Yes, that's what initially attracted Gerald to me. He was attracted to my hard-working ethics. When we met, I was an athletic girl, running track, doing gymnastics, singing, and dancing. Because these are the things that attracted him to me, why would I give that up just to be with someone? You don’t stop living and being who God created you to be just because you're married and have children. I would never give that up because I know that I would lose him in the process and the same with him. Yes. If suddenly Gerald became this lazy guy, laying around, I would not be attracted to that quality because he would lose me because when I met him, he was a hard worker. We are a family of high achievers and go-getters. You know, on June 9th we will mark our 50th year together. Awe, how nice! Praise God! Yes and 40 years of marriage. So, we make time for each other and do stuff together. It’s funny, sometimes kids get mad at us and say, “mama, you and dad are repeating yourself but, that's what it takes. Repetition. You have to practice being good for and to each other the way you did when you were dating. Yes. Continue to court one another. Many people don't know what that means anymore. My husband still courts me. In fact, he still calls me his girlfriend. And you know what? I want that to continue. You're awesome! Many people stop living when traumatic things happen to them. The traumatic events in our lives can drastically and sometimes irreversibly alter the course of our lives. But unlike so many, when tragedy struck in your life, you rose above it. There was a time in your life when you were on the course to becoming a surgeon and you attended UCLA. At some point, you were diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. How were you able to take a traumatic situation and turn it around into a positive one? When I was diagnosed with cancer, Selena was almost 12 and Brandon was almost four. Because my children were gifted and extremely bright, they excelled in school quite rapidly. Selena entered high school at 12 while Brandon entered the first grade at 4. Wow! Yes, I homeschooled my children. So, when I was diagnosed, I looked into their eyes and said something that my husband doesn't like hearing me say, but I said to myself, he can get another wife, but they only had one mother. Yes. That was the motivation that gave me the strength to fight. Just knowing that my children needed me. They weren't concerned about the length of my hair or how feeble my body was. All they wanted was their mother. That gave me the motivation, inspiration, determination, power, and strength to fight cancer and live! When I looked into their eyes, I said to myself, I'm going to beat this! Yes! Praise God! Although I knew that people have lost their battle with leukemia, I was determined to do everything that I could do to present to my doctors the best body that I could give. Yes! See, when diagnosed with something like that, there are things that you have to do on your end. Yes! So true! And we have to have strong faith in God’s ability to see you through the toughest moments of our lives. Yes, my faith is always strong, but faith without work is dead. Prayer without works is just words without action. and just actions. You have to put in the work. I couldn't just say, I'm going to pray this cancer away then turn around and continue with the same pattern of living. I wasn't getting enough sleep because I was always on the run, so I had to change my life. I mean, I literally had to clean house both spiritually and physically. That meant getting rid of anything and any person that was draining my energy. I had to get rid of them too. At that time, I wrote letters to each one of my closest friends informing them that in the next few years, I was dedicating all my strength, energy, and harmony towards getting better.
What was their response? Some continued with me on my journey and others didn’t, but nevertheless, I plunged forward. My priority was me and my family. Yes. I prayed and asked God to help me to get through my journey. Attending UCLA’s medical program helped me in ways I had not expected. While in college studying to become a neurosurgeon, about biology, psychology, epidemiology, chemistry, and calculus. Well, I was able to take those skills and ascribe them into healing my own body. I need to use that to make myself better. So, I thought to myself, how can I do that? That's when the idea came up, “Just Sweet Enough.” I thought to myself, “I can start a dessert line that has foods with the nutrients in them to help you to get better. Many times, when we become ill, the first thing the doctors say to you is that you have to give up all the white stuff like sugar, flour, pasta, and salt. Basically, no more this and no more that for the next 6 months. So, you're saying, in the back of your mind, “I'm going through all of this, and I can't have any enjoyable foods?”. People who have been healthy for six months say, "I'll go to the Cheesecake Factory and end up comatose.". So, I decided to create deserts. I'm going to turn deserts into something healthy and delicious because I'm from New Orleans.
Everything that you're saying is spot on! I've interviewed a lot of amazing people but, on occasion, there are times that God sends divine appointments into your life and you my dear, are that. You are a divine appointment. I am so blessed and encouraged by your testimony. You know Glynis when tragedy strikes our life, we tend to think the worse when in essence, sometimes it's a good thing. Sometimes tragedy can turn the courses of our life into a positive direction. Adversity can either steer us into our God-given destiny or make us insane fighting it. For example, while on the path to becoming a neurosurgeon, it took something negative to set you on a positive course. Not only helping yourself but being a blessing to others. What is your earliest memory of cooking? I always loved cooking and baking. I started cooking at age 10. When I was growing up, I had to cook for my entire family. Unfortunately, my father was in a bad car accident which left him disabled, so we moved from New Orleans to California.
Less than a year later, my mother had to go back to work. Because of this, when I came home from school, I had to make sure that dinner was ready so that my mom wouldn't have to do it. She was so tired when she came in from work. Whatever she left out, I would cook, chicken or fish. Whatever it was, I would get dinner started.
At that age, did you find it to be a weighted task for you? No, I enjoyed it because it made me feel important to be able to help my mom and to serve a purpose in our family. So, that’s where my cooking journey began.
Yes, and you know what Gina? The weird thing was that cooking and baking would be a major part of my life and even turn into a career I say this because cooking is something that I can do in my sleep. Another thing was that when I got started, I had to learn how to ask for money and figure out how to charge for my talent.
What are your favorite meals that you like to cook?
Gumbo is one of my favorite meals to prepare. I just made some. Gerald left on Friday, and Saturday I got up and fixed myself some chicken and shrimp gumbo. It's been cold and snowy, so when my husband comes home, we'll be able to eat on this good, like a good hot soup. So, gumbo is one of my favorite meals to prepare. Another one of my favorite foods is Italian dishes. I love spaghetti with meat sauce and lasagna. Another thing I had to learn is how to prepare a meal that usually takes five to six hours to prepare and have it completed within hours.
Because my mother had to work and my dad was in a full-body cast, I made sure that everyone ate. After that, I would do my homework, then I can go outside and play. Having a structured upbringing is something that followed me for the rest of my life. I even passed this on to my children. To this day, you know, I praise God because he said to me, “you'll be a doctor, but not in that area."
My doctorate will be in nutrition.
Yes, my Ph.D. is in natural health, and food science. I needed all those courses to create “Just Sweet Enough, Cookie dots, Mrs. Albright's teacakes, Lena’s nutty treats, and now Glynis’ kitchen. I needed all that training to create businesses that people can trust. Yes. Now, whenever they hear anything that's created by Glenis Albright, they know they can trust it. I list all my ingredients and none of my products contain any artificial sweeteners, food coloring, or dyes. The bases of all my products are fruit, vegetables, herbs, and spices. I use wholesome foods and wholesome ingredients in everything.
Awesome! Sounds delicious and healthy at the same time. How did your professional career begin in cooking? I used to make treats and bring them to the patients at the Cancer Center. I did this whenever I would have a doctor’s appointment. Also, whenever musicians came to our home for a recording session, they became my Guinea pigs. I started creating my business during my two-year storm. Gerald and I transformed our kitchen into a commercial kitchen. Although it still looked like a kitchen, it has all commercial equipment in it. So, I started creating various treats and tested them out on everyone. Consequently, it evolved into a business.
Where did you open your first location?
My first store opened in Simi Valley, California, in an industrial area. It was a sublease. I used that location mainly for baking, packaging, and shipping. This was back in 1997. Then, in 2001, I opened the second location, which was a cute little shop where you can come in and place an order. Not only did we do everything here that we did at the other location, but we also had a quaint seating area outside the shop. This allowed customers to sit down and eat, have tea, and get their blessing. With all this wonderfulness, some doors were slammed in my face. Back then, I would have all my treats decorated in cute small containers. I wanted everything to be pleasing to the eye because we taste with our eyes. So, I drove to all the shops in Simi Valley. Because Simi Valley is so small, I was able to visit all the local bistros and cafes that were located on Los Angeles Avenue. So, I would go inside with my cute tray of beautifully decorated treats and leave samples. Gina, do you know they would tell me, “No, we can't do this"
So, I drove to my old neighborhood, “the hood.” And received the same reaction. They loved everything, but because my products needed to be refrigerated, they were unwilling to work with me.” As you know, many black restaurants have Seven-Up and sock it to me cakes just sitting on the counter soaking in butter. You can see the liquid dripping from it, but my desserts had a non-dairy topping, were low in sugar and fat, and had edible flowers on them. My desserts looked beautiful.
Regardless of the professional presentation, they would say, “they taste terrific, but because your products need to be refrigerated, we would have to purchase a separate refrigerator with a glass display, so they turned me down. What's sad is that probably about 90% of their customers were diabetic or they were suffering from some sort of cardiovascular disease. All I wanted to do was offer them a dessert that would taste delicious but won't harm them. But they would say, “girl, we don't want that.” So, it was very discouraging.
At the time, did you have a business mentor? No, I didn't have a mentor, but I did everything I could in my effort to learn. I even went as far as offering to take knowledgeable people out to lunch or dinner so that I could ask questions. I was so eager to learn that I was willing to pay people for their time. I was on a mission to gain knowledge from other African American business owners about what they knew about networking within the African American community. Sadly, no one was willing to take the time. Although I didn't get the support that I needed, I was determined to make it work. Now, remember, this was in the 90s, so the Internet was beginning to boom. I started my website and decided to move my business online. My thoughts were, if I can't get my own people to support me, I'll have an online business. Taking it back a little bit, when I opened the second shop, most of my clientele were of white and Asian descent. What I noticed about them was that they cared about their bodies and took their health seriously. On occasion, African American people dropped in, but when they came, many times they would come with an unpleasing attitude, expressing their disapproval of my price points. Because Costco and Smart and Final were around the corner from my location, they would want me to price match. In other words, they would say something like this, Costco and Smart and Final, have their sweet potato pies marked at $5.99. So, I would politely tell them, if you can get your little sweet potato pies for $5.99 for a dozen, instead of paying $2.75 for one of mine, go around the corner.
I know that's right! You tell them Glynis!
My desserts are specialty desserts. When you purchase my desserts, you know what's in them and they're portioned out for everyone. So, I refuse to negotiate my price. Then they would say, “If I buy five, can I get one for free?” They were always trying to make a deal, but I stood my ground and I refused to lower my standards. I would tell them if you bought 5 or 6, then you're going to have to pay $2.75 times 6. So, this is the kind of thing that I dealt with. I hated the attitude.
On other occasions, when I was hiring, they would bring their teens in there to get a job and have the audacity to fix their mouth to say, “I noticed that you only have white people working in here” and before they could get started, I would shut them down. My response to them would be no! I will hire people based on their qualifications, not on their color. The people who are working here are qualified for the job. They wanted to put a guilt trip on me and make me feel as though I had to employ them based on their race. I told them, yes, they may be Caucasian, but they are qualified Caucasians. The only people that were allowed to work for me were those who'd been to culinary school. Although I didn't attend culinary school. I only hired certified chefs to work for my company. I took that very seriously because we had people's lives in our hands. Therefore, I was extremely particular about what I was doing and whom I hired as staff. If you didn't have chef certification, you couldn't work for me. Period!
That's right! That's right! There are so many people with food allergies and restrictions. You have to make sure the people that you're hiring on staff are qualified and understand what needs to happen to fulfill the needs of your customers. Yes, I even cared about the appearance of my staff. If someone came in for a job and they didn’t look presentable. They couldn't work for me. When my husband was in college and working at Disneyland, they required him to shave his facial hair. There were rules that needed to be followed.
I had rules and standards as well. For example, if you showed up with tattoos, you didn't take care of your skin, and you had dripping acne, you won't handle mine or my husband's food. So, appearance was critical to me Because I ran the shop by myself, when I had to leave to pick up Brandon, I would put a sign on the door, “be back shortly.” So, if you missed me, too bad!
That’s right! That's how I felt because to me, I worked hard to get to where I was, and besides, most of my clientele was on the internet. So, even though many doors were closed in my face, I was determined to keep trying because it was my passion. Besides, all of their criticism helped me. Rather than taking it as an insult, I took it as constructive criticism.
Yes! Great way to look at it. One day a guy asked me did I have product liability? To be honest, I didn't even know what that was. But guess what? I got on the phone, and I found out.
Yes. I had to do my own footwork, but I got it. Later, I returned to that same guy and told him that I had 2 million dollars worth of product liability, and asked him if he'd be willing to carry my product.
Glynis, I'm so proud of you! And just as you said, you are a go-getter and a phenomenal woman. Thank you and pretty soon those no’s turned into yes's. That’s determination! Dream and don't let the naysayers tell you what you can’t do. Never let family discourage you from following your dreams. Just keep pushing forward.
Tell me about being on the Food Network. What was your experience like?
You know, there was a time that you wouldn’t see any African Americans on The Food Network. Who knows, maybe they didn't feel that black people would fit the stereotype of the show. However, I did have a show on the food network that ran for four years.
What made you leave the show?
Their format changed. They didn't come out and say this, but to me, I felt as though they wanted a clown and I refuse to be a clown for anyone.
I hear you.
How can I share nutritious deserts, be serious, and be a clown? I wasn't about to do that. There was a couple that used to be on the Food Network by the name of Gina and Pat Neely. They were a husband-and-wife team.
I was on their show. Well, they would clown around. Now, when I’m at home with my family, I clown around in the kitchen, but when I’m filming, that’s a different story. The moment they said, “action”, the live cameras began to roll, and I was on TV, I’m serious. We show our intelligence by our actions. When I’m in front of the camera, I smile, but I won't have my nostrils spread out. Yes, I may give you some humor, but there's a difference between humor and just being an outright class clown. No, I'm not going to do that for you. I'm not about to give you what you want just because you saw it on YouTube or MTV. In my opinion, it's ridiculous to have to act like a clown just to be on someone’s show. I was unwilling to do that, so I walked away. I walked away from a lot of opportunities because they didn't fit me. As they say, all money isn't good money.