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EXCLUSIVE: Laticia Rolle Opens Up For The First Time - Boyfriend Shaq 'Rushed' Her Into Creating The LBD For Hats + Why He's Totally Going To Marry Her

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Laticia Rolle is about to change up the hat game for women. And she can thank her beau for the inspiration.

For the first time ever, the Hat Queen dishes to TheYBF.com about meeting boyfriend (not fiancé...yet!) boyfriend Shaq, advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, and how she bounced back from getting scammed!

Over the last few years, it seems NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal has found love and every time we see him with his longtime girlfriend Laticia Rolle, he always appears to be in great spirits.

But, we haven’t learned much about their relationship….until now.

TheYBF.com chopped it up with lifestyle blogger/author/inspirational speaker and TRESS creator Laticia Rolle about her whirlwind romantic relationship with an NBA icon, plus her innovative TRESS hat that’s going to change the game for women who love big hair.

We first noticed Shaq getting cozy with Laticia during his birthday bash in 2014. Since then, the lovebirds have been madly in love enjoying life together. But, we’ve never heard how these two became a couple.

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The 30-year-old entrepreneur and the 46-year-old NBA analyst were both at an event in Miami 5 ½ years ago. Laticia told us Shaq just walked up to her and sparked a conversation. He then whipped out a picture of a baby with blue eyes and asked her if they could “make one of these.”  He spit that game, telling her he saw her eyes from a mile away and was mesmerized.

So here’s where things got tricky. Laticia wasn’t in a relationship at the time, but she was dating. The guy she was dating was actually at the event as well. Shaq wasn’t feeling that, so he walked up to the guy and told him, “You’re not going to be talking to her anymore.” The guy responded, “Yes I am. I’m going to marry her.”

Then, Shaq responded, “No you’re not. I am.”

Ever since then, these two have been joined at the hip.

Things started to serious in 2014, around the time of his birthday in March. After making it official, Laticia figured out she had a problem and wanted to create something to fix it. A lot of times she and Shaq would leave the house, he’d rush her to get out of the house. Y’all know how our men do us.

Sometimes, you just want to grab a hat to cover your undone hair, but when you have textured or big hair (or weave/wiggery for that matter), it’s super hard to find a hat that fits! We can relate to that struggle.  And so did Laticia.

“It really started when I was getting ready to leave with my boyfriend and he was rushing me," she tells TheYBF.com. "And I went to go grab a hat because I didn’t have time to do my curls. I was just like, ‘I need to make it happen because I can’t deal with this.”

But, that’s not an issue anymore thanks to her TRESS hat. Laticia created an eco-friendly hat designed specifically for women with thick, curly and textured hair.

“I also knew that I wanted something all women would wear," she said. "You know like a little black dress, I wanted a little black hat.”

TRESS is made from black vegan leather that you can throw on no matter where you’re going. It also has built in elastic and a satin lining to keep your hair protected.  Satin INSIDE the hat to protect your hair. Game changer!

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The process to creating a hat for everybody' head wasn’t easy.

“Getting it off the ground was a struggle,” Laticia told TheYBF.com. “100% honest. There wasn no easy route.”

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The lifestyle blogger, who majored in Business Management and Communication at Eckerd University, suffered a few L's before she was able to get her hat company off the ground.

“I started to brainstorm with my sister. I found this company that would design the prototype. Girl, I lost $3,000. When you’re doing this entrepreneur thing, you have a little bit of money saved, and you’re using your own money and I didn’t know what I was doing.”

“I had my design drawn up. And then the designers went ghost. This was after I paid my payment. They were nowhere to be found. They were supposed to send me samples in two months and nothing never came in.”

She hopped on another opportunity while on a trip to China, where she also came up with the name and vegan angle:

“I told myself I had to do something. So, I’m in China and I meet this amazing couple who are hat designers. This is a true story. They were really sweet, really cool. I love their kids. I thought ‘This is great. Maybe I can pitch what I’m doing and we can create a partnership.’ The same thing happens! We sent designs back and forth.

"Now, I came up with the name: TRESS. People don’t know what TRESS means. It means a long lock of hair. People were asking me all the time why I did I say TRESS. When we have hair, we need it to be protected at all times. My baby cousin made the logo for me because now I have to stay within in my means. I finally got a sample back from the people in China. I got the sample finally made. I figure out the satin lining material I wanted. I figured out I wanted vegan leather because I love animals.”

But she quickly discovered, it was a scam!

“I said let me order 500 hats and see what happens. Long story short, I put in an order with this couple and then they disappeared after I sent them $3,000. So now I’m $6,000 in the hole with no hats.”

 

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One day, Shaq and Laticia go to a friend’s wedding where she pitched her idea, and the rest is TRESS history.

“So now I have a sample and now I need a manufacturer. Actually there was a wedding, it was our friend’s wedding and he actually has a hat company. So I was like ‘Hey Michael. Nobody gets it. If you’re not a woman and you don’t have textured hair then you don’t get the struggle of trying to wear a baseball cap.'

People don’t get it, especially men. Michael was looking at me like I’m crazy. So he kind of threw me off to his guy, but I’m so glad he did. I finally found a person to connect me with a manufacturer. I finally was able to create TRESS. It took three years.”

Laticia started working on her hats in January 2015 and was able to release it to the masses in December 2017. Must be nice.

So, anyone looking to build a brand or looking to become an entrepreneur, Laticia's advice is to “find your passion and let it fuel you.”

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Now that she has her business and her man…are kids and marriage something she’s looking forward to? Yep.

Engagement rumors started circulating in October 2017 when she posted a picture on her Instagram of them together (atop) rocking a HUGE diamond ring on THAT finger. Well, they’re not engaged…YET.

“We are not engaged, yet,” she told us. “I have a lot of diamond rings. Shaq buys me a lot of diamonds. I didn’t realize people were going to acknowledge that. I just thought it was a great picture.”

Laticia said she would love to have kids, especially after seeing how amazing a father Shaq is to his children.

“At least 2,” she spilled. “I come from a family of 5. So yeah, at least two.”

Their hesitation to have kids or get married likely has nothing to do with any tension with Shaq’s ex-wife Shaunie O’Neal as they don’t converse.

From the sounds of it, Laticia and Shaq may have some big announcements this year. *hint hint*

Check out TRESS to cop your own LBD hat.

 

Photos: Laticia's IG/TRESS' IG

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