Mother-Daughter Team Turns Diagnosis Into Million-Dollar Enterprise

This Dallas duo knows a thing or two about great skin.

Twenty years ago, Dee Simmons had a successful high-end clothing line and boutique, a daughter in college, and a doting husband. She was happy and healthy. “I never had so much as a common cold,” she says. That changed when she was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer. Back then, cancer treatments weren’t nearly as sophisticated as they are today. “I had a mastectomy out of fear,” Simmons says.

photo by Vanessa Gavalya

After her procedure, she traded that fear for intense resolve. Simmons declined the prescribed post-op therapies, including chemotherapy and radiation. Instead she decided to take charge of her health and cure her body naturally.

Simmons and husband Glenn packed their bags and a Rolodex full of international contacts and embarked on a series of information-gathering treks around the world. During their travels, Simmons met with leading authorities on cancer and nutrition, as well as with a handful of doctors, chemists, and scientists. Her mission was independently funded and focused on finding a balanced combination of the best components from science and nature. “I left a blazing trail,” she says. “Many people don’t have the resources to do what I did. I wanted to take charge, offer others hope.”

She tried treatments from dozens of different countries and was open to taking any supplements her well-connected physicians prescribed. “I was taking everything,” she says. “All day long.” At one time, she was injesting 113 different potions a day. Simmons soon surpassed Dallas physicians in her knowledge of alternative therapies. “Doctors would call me and ask what I knew about antioxidants and free radicals,” she says.

When she returned from her travels, Simmons knew she had to change several things about her lifestyle. Her research had proven that she needed to have a more natural diet. Overnight, she went from eating cookies and cakes to local and organic fruits and vegetables only. She invested in a $2,000 juicer and hired a full-time nutritionist to prepare macrobiotic meals for the family. She also hired a woman whose sole responsibility was to collect organic produce and juice it, eight hours a day, five days a week. “I [will] do whatever it takes, if it keeps me alive,” Simmons says. “I thought, ‘When I get well, I’ll make a product that contains everything and put it into one can.’”

Simmons later founded Ultimate Living and created Green Miracle, a supplement available in a powder or capsule, with more than 70 pharmaceutical-grade ingredients that aid in increasing energy and stamina while providing digestive enzymes and building the immune system. The supplement also provides the FDA-approved daily quota of fruits and vegetables. The Diabetes Resource Center has awarded Green Miracle, and other Ultimate Living products, with its exclusive seal of approval.

While promoting Ultimate Living in a series of infomercials, Simmons received an overwhelming number of phone calls about her skin. At 65, the entrepreneur has nary a wrinkle, and her complexion is clear and radiant. Simmons’ daughter, D’Andra, who earned her master’s degree in holistic nutrition, convinced her mother to branch out into skin care. Simmons’ all-natural, holistic remedies quickly translated into success in the lab. D’Andra took on the line as her personal mission and has spent years procuring advanced ingredients from around the world.

photography by Elizabeth Lavin

The primary ingredient in every skin care product is aloe vera, as opposed to water, for a rapid delivery system to a cellular level. (Water can evaporate before delivering nutrients.) Other notable components include Gatuline Expression, which has the effect of a topical Botox: tightening the skin and increasing elasticity. The eye cream, which took five years to develop, contains Arnica gel, a so-called “magic” ingredient that almost instantly reduces swelling and puffy eyes. The best marketing campaign for these potions? Dee and D’Andra themselves, who have enviable complexions.

And the empire continues to grow. Mother and daughter are launching their first cosmetics line this fall, and they are wrapping up the filming of their next set of infomercials in studios across the country. D’Andra is pursuing a doctoral degree in naturopathy and personally oversees quality control in each of their eight U.S. labs.

These ladies aren’t slowing down. “My priorities have so changed,” Dee says. “I wake up at 5:30 am thinking, ‘What can I do to better someone’s life?’ I believe in what I do.”
 

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