Born in Oxford, Mississippi, Sims moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she attended high school. Due to her height, she was ostracized by many of her classmates. Sims credits her upbringing as a Catholic for getting her through adolescence.
Sims began college at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. She became one of the first successful black models while still in her teens, and achieved worldwide recognition from the late 1960s into the early 1970s, appearing on the covers of prestigious fashion and popular magazines. In 1969, Sims appeared on the cover of Life magazine.
By 1972, Hollywood took an interest in her as a potential actress and offered her the title role in the movie Cleopatra Jones, but when Sims read the script, she was appalled by the racist portrayal of blacks in the movie and turned it down. Sims ultimately decided to go into the beauty business for herself.
In 1973, Ms. Sims decided to start her own business. As a model, she often did her own hair and makeup, since many studio assistants were unfamiliar with working with darker skin. And she noticed that most commercially available wigs were designed for Caucasian hair, so she began experimenting with her own designs, baking synthetic hairs in her oven at home to create the right texture to look like straightened black hair. Within five years, her designs, produced by the Metropa Company, had annual sales of $5 million.
In 1973, she retired from modeling to create a successful wig collection fashioned after the texture of relaxed black hair.
She has authored several books on modeling, health, and beauty, including “All About Health and Beauty for the Black Woman,” “How to Be a Top Model” and “All About Success for the Black Woman,” as well as an advice column for teenage girls in Right On! magazine.
She died of cancer, said her son, Bob Findlay on Aug. 3, 2009. She was 61. Ms. Sims often attributed her success to using her race as an advantage. source