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When fans tuned in to Kandi & The Gang, they got to see more of Kandi Burruss’ inner circle and family, including DonJuan Clark, her longtime business associate who has made appearances here and there on The Real Housewives of Atlanta. So while fans may have felt they already knew DonJuan, the series gave them another side of him. And he noted that sharing more of himself with viewers has “been a really great experience” in a recent interview with Bravo Insider.
“I’ve been on Housewives for all these years, I think in this supporting role and kinda just around. I think people have their own [idea of], you know, ‘Oh, gosh, this is who he is. This is what he does.’ But I think being on Kandi & The Gang has allowed some opportunity for them to see a little bit more. They see a little more of the day-to-day and [go], ‘Oh, OK, well, he handles the business, but he’s also this guy that has a very strong connection to a lot of the employees,’ and that’s just kinda how I lead. So I think that part has been really good and people have seemed to be really receptive. Whereas I think [on] Housewives, sometimes people are like, ‘I can give or take him. I love him, but then I hate him,’ you know? A love-hate relationship is what I feel like the fans [have] had [with me].”
Prior to Kandi & The Gang, and even before working with Kandi, DonJuan’s resume included teaching sixth grade, managing a fast-food sandwich shop, and working at a bank, among other gigs. And he says his various job experiences were the perfect recipe to create his current career success.
“I’ve had a lot of these different jobs that I think have given me a lot of qualities that I’ve taken into the Kandi empire, and then Kandi and Todd [Tucker] opened the restaurant empire. [I’ve] been able to use a lot of those skills outside of that. My degree is in organizational communications, [and] most people don’t know I started out wanting to go into HR stuff when I graduated from [the University of North Carolina]. I kind of used all of those things... I’ve had a lot of jobs all my life... all of them have been really great experiences, and I’ve learned from them and moved on to something else,” he said. “Me and Kandi have worked together for over a decade or so, and I have kind of put all of those in one wheelhouse and kinda made myself this anomaly.”
But DonJuan and Kandi’s history dates back even further. They met “almost 20 years ago. She was pregnant with Riley when we met,” DonJuan said, adding that he and Kandi have worked together “in some capacity for about 18 years.”
“We met each other [because] I used to do online marketing, so we met each other almost 20 years ago. I was, like, 18 years old [at the time]. I’m 38 now. So we had always kept the relationship. It would be things that would come up [and] she would refer me to other clients,” he recalled. At the time, DonJuan was doing “online marketing for MySpace pages.”
He added, “We always just kind of kept this relationship going, and then right around the time she was starting the Housewives journey, we were looking at building the office and she was like, ‘I would love for you to come here and help me do that.’ And one day we got up and we were on a plane together. Literally. We were going out of town for a booking, we were sitting beside each other, and she was just like, ‘What would it take for me to have you come from North Carolina and actually come here?’ The Kandi Factory was not built. It was a wide-open concept. I literally got a U-Haul. We drove a U-Haul down [to Atlanta], and I moved into a place and drove the U-Haul back and that was kinda what happened. We looked up, and I was here, like, a few weeks later.”
The rest is history. “It was like a risk for me, you know?” DonJuan said. “I had worked all these jobs where I remember it was like, oh my gosh, you’re working in a school system, you work for a banking system. And it was like, OK, well, we’re gonna do this [with Kandi]. You’re gonna build and we’re gonna figure out how to expand the business in this office. You wanna do more stuff? Let me help manage the things that you have going on, and we [have] just been there ever since. So it’s been a while,” he said. “Every time I tell the story, people are like, ‘I did not know that.’ I think that most people did not know that.”
As time went on, DonJuan was working not only with Kandi but also with her family, including her husband, Todd, who works with her on many of her businesses, including the Old Lady Gang restaurant, among other ventures. That means DonJuan has built business relationships with the extended Burruss circle, as well.
“It can be its own world when you add in a lot more strong personalities, and I’m a strong personality. I have to figure everybody else out. It was one of those crash learning experiences. When you get the Old Lady Gang, who are, you know, more mature ladies who are set in their ways. When you get a husband and wife duo, they’re their own team and you gotta kind of learn his dynamic and all that. Kids grow up, and I work with Riley on some stuff. Learning that dynamic. So I think that has been the educational part, learning about people and learning what works for people, ’cause everything that works for Kandi doesn’t work the same for all of them,” he said. “And then just kind of understanding that they’re family. Some things, if they’re having a family dynamic that you may have even seen on TV, I don’t really enter that, you know? That’s not really my place. I just need this to happen. Let me facilitate making this happen.”
Speaking of family, DonJuan’s family has their own take on seeing him on TV. “They think I’m the biggest thing in the world, so I’m super happy to have some family that’s like that,” he said. “My 70-year-old aunt will text me about Kandi & The Gang, and ‘Oh my god, what about such and such?’ So it’s very funny how supportive they are when watching the show, telling people to watch the show.”
In addition to his work with Kandi, DonJuan noted that he has other ventures, including a business that does “business solutions and payroll [administration].” He said he has “probably, like, four other restaurants outside of [Kandi and Todd’s] restaurants” that he works with through that separate business. “We honestly probably process millions of dollars of payroll a year for different restaurants around Atlanta.” As for what’s next, he has a list of potential ideas, and explained, “I’ve actually been trying to figure out some more things to add to the bucket list of things to do.”
All we can say is stay tuned!
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