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Being Broke Made Me Better

Happy Tuesday!

I want to share a part of my journey that I don’t talk about a lot with you today.

As most of you already know, a year ago I was living a very peaceful and content life in Scottsdale, Arizona. I was spending my days training to compete in fitness competitions and doing the bare minimum to keep xoNecole running. The site was growing, but there wasn’t enough staff, or resources to bring in revenue to help it evolve and expand into the empire I always envisioned it to be. Although I was very comfortable and making a living, I knew I wanted more for myself and my brand, so I made the tough decision to move to New York where my business had a better chance of thriving. I knew New York was going to be tough, not to mention expensive, but seeing xoNecole win meant more to me than my comfort.

In July 2017, I finally made the big move after selling everything I owned (including the truck that was once on my vision board) and I showed up in New York with just 3 suitcases. I rented a room in a Harlem apartment with a rotating door of roommates and there wasn’t a day that went by that I wondered what people would think if they knew about this moment of struggle. Just three years prior, I was a celebrity gossip blogger making tons of money, traveling the world, and living good, and here I was back in New York, living with 2-3 roommates and not knowing where the next check was going to come from. This was not the life I had envisioned for myself!

But my dreams meant more to me than my comfort.

Everyday I woke up and whispered to myself, “this is only temporary. This will not last long” I reminded myself that God had my back, and that everything I was willing to sacrifice for my dream was going to be returned to me tenfold. I just had to trust and believe that things were going to work out in my favor, and that the lesson always comes before the blessing.

2017 humbled me.

I was stripped of everything. My finances, living comfortably, all the clothes, shoes, bags, the whip and material things I had acquired at the height of my success. I had to get rid of all of it, and looking back, I realized that I had to let them go to grow. It wasn’t meant for me to take those things that represented the old me, into this next chapter.

Sometimes you will have to be broken down to your lowest just to be built back up into the best version of who you are meant to be.

The risk, sacrifices and moments of discomfort eventually paid off in the Fall of last year when xoNecole was acquired by producer Will Packer’s company. Two months later, I moved into what I like to call “my zen space” and I added a few inspiring young women to the xoNecole staff.  Finally, all the struggle and discomfort I had experienced over the past few years made sense, and it was the first time in over 10 years as an entrepreneur, that I didn’t have to wonder when the next check was coming. I could focus solely on growing my brand into the empire I’ve always dreamed it to be.

I don’t know if I could have asked for a better situation with the freedom Will has given me to grow my brand, while providing a work environment that encourages and promotes self-preservation and self-care.

I also realize that I may not have gotten to this place where I am able to live out my dream if I didn’t first believe in it enough to take the leap, and trust that the parachute would eventually open for me.

This is why I am absolutely in love with a recent article we posted on the site from writer Kiah McBride titled, ‘Being Unemployed Made Me Better’. In the very vulnerable and transparent piece, Kiah detailed how she risked everything to move to LA a few years ago as a freelance writer and it resulted in some of the most uncomfortable and desperate moments of her life.

Being broke and uncertain made her better.

It made me better.

And it’s a reminder that whatever you may be going through right now, it’s making you better.

So if you’re in a place of feeling stagnant, not knowing what’s next, being placed out of your comfort zone and struggling to find peace in each day, know that you are being prepared for your breakthrough that awaits on the other side.

Is that where you are now? Check out Kiah’s experience as well and let me know in the comments how you get through stages of discomfort.

xo,

P.S. Keep in touch! @hellonecole on Twitter, and Instagram

Originally sent as a newsletter. Subscribe to our email list for daily inspo straight to your inbox!

Why I Refuse To Take My Phone To Bed

**This post is part of our Letter From The Editor newsletter series on xoNecole. To get updates straight to your inbox sign up here! **

Good Morning!

This past weekend, I did an interview with former NFL star Arian Foster for his Now What! podcast. You can imagine we had a lot to talk about with me retiring from gossip blogging earlier than most would have expected, and him retiring from the NFL before the age of 30.

During our chat, we started talking about how our phone obsessions and the need to feel connected can make us disconnected in real life. And he was absolutely shocked when I told him I have boundaries when it comes to my phone. YES, I have major boundaries!

For instance, I don’t bring my phone into the bedroom anymore. I think it’s very important to establish healthy boundaries with our phones and social media. At worst, they can be distracting and addictive, keeping our productivity low and anxiety high. Secondly, the constant feed into other people’s lives and negative news can put a damper on our spirits, as well as hinder our own personal growth. Did you know some people experience secondhand PTSD from reading about or viewing tragic and negative things on social media? (I learned this from my therapist!)

For these reasons, I implemented a few boundaries around my phone to keep my mental health in check, as well as allow me to be more connected in real life:

 

  • I turned off all of the push notifications on my social media accounts. The only way I see that I have a message or notification on a particular social network is if I log into that network. That keeps me from checking my phone every minute due to getting an alert.

 

  • I have my Do Not Disturb set up to automatically turn on from 10pm-8am so that I do not get calls or alerts for texts while I’m sleeping or before I start work. That allows me to really go through my morning ritual and have the morning to myself before I’m called to do work or plug into social media.

 

  • I bought an alarm clock so that I would not have a reason to take my phone in my bedroom anymore. When your phone is beside you, sometimes you may get a habit of checking it occasionally and it becomes harder and harder to get to sleep at night, or to really get a good night’s sleep. I have been getting the best uninterrupted sleep and have been waking up with a clearer head since I’ve implemented this!

 

  • When I’m out to eat with friends or on a date after normal work hours, I normally turn my ringer off, place my phone on the table face down, or put it away altogether so that the person I’m spending time with has my undivided attention.

 

  • When I’m on my laptop, I utilize the The Self Control App which prevents access to distracting websites so that you can get work done. After downloading, you are required to set up a blacklist of social media sites like Twitter, gossip blogs, etc that you spend more time than you should on, and it will prevent access to those sites for a set time period. Hello productivity!

 

Our relationships with phones do not have to be toxic. They serve a great purpose in our lives and can contribute to our overall wellbeing. We just have to set healthy boundaries and be intentional about how we allow them into our daily lives.

xo,

P.S. This week, the xoNecole staff shared their personal self-care tips. It’s one of my favorite posts! In case you missed it, meet the staff and get into their self-care routines here!

I’m Featured On 21Ninety: “How This Entrepreneur Works Less To Be Successful”

Hi Guys!

I am featured in 21ninety this week.  It’s one of my favorite features because it reflects my current lifestyle and self-care regimen as an entrepreneur.

Read it below:


“I don’t work as much as I used to,” says Necole Kane, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of xonecole.com. And that’s a conscious decision that has brought her even more success.

“When I had a celebrity gossip site, I spent every waking moment of the day working,” she says, “You might think you’re scrolling social media casually, but you’re looking for a story. Every phone call was work related.  Every person and friend I knew was a business associate. I never turned work off for eight years. I didn’t even date. So, when I created my new brand, for the first year I saw myself going down that same path. I remember saying to myself, ‘This is a mistake, this isn’t what I want for my life.’ But it’s now going on two years since I’ve launched and I’ve rebranded and re-strategized.”

Her ability to work less and work smarter comes from putting people in place who she trusts to help run it and also changing her goals and expectations to be flexible.

Now Necole doesn’t put pressure on herself to put out a ton of posts each day. She focuses on quality over quantity and tells herself a few less posts is ok. And it is.

“Now that I’ve switched the way I work on my new site, I’m living my life in such a way that sometimes I wake up and I’m like ‘I love my life,’” she says, “This is how I envisioned my life.”

Necole’s site is now focused on women empowerment and lifestyle. It serves to empower and inspire young women to live their best lives through personal essays about relationships, beauty, fashion and career advice.

Before this current iteration, many knew Necole as a “gossip blogger,” but her path to where she is now is anything but traditional.

After going to school in Maryland for Electronic Media and Film, Necole always thought she would be a screenwriter or producer in Hollywood. But after her mom passed away, she got writer’s block.

“All the stories and creative energy I had before, I couldn’t channel,” she says, “So I was living with my aunt at the time in a small room in Maryland and I started a blog to pass the time and to keep my mind busy.”

From there, her blog took off and surpassed anything she could have imagined. But it was important for her to take a step back and create xonecole.com in order to keep her brand true to what she wanted.

Necole BIO.jpg

BEYOND THE WORKDAY

And with her mission to spend less time working, she’s able to create time for friends and family like never before.

“I missed weddings, birthdays, funerals and a ton of milestones before, so when I left my old site I wondered if my friends would still be there,” she says, “I eventually realized that if they weren’t there, I had no one to blame but myself. Sometimes you have to realize what kind of friend you’ve been to others and be the friend you want to have.”

Beyond just relationships, self-care for Necole comes in the form of eating healthier (it helps her mood and productivity) and competing in fitness competitions.

Self-care has been a priority that she’s found a routine for in her current home in Arizona, but with a career transition and move to New York on the horizon, Necole’s now having to think about what self-care looks like and how she will practice it in a new city. But one thing remains — it’s still a priority for her.

FROM AM TO PM

Each morning, Necole gets up and turns on her diffuser with peppermint. Before she leaves bed, she has a moment where she prays and centers herself by setting intentions for the day.

“A practice I use is an intention planner or intention map,” she says, I put it out in the universe and say ‘I’m going to get this opportunity, I’m going to get this increase in income,’ and state how I want my day to go, even with personal relationships.”

Then she’ll make eggs and oatmeal for breakfast, drink between 8 and 32 ounces of water and open her blinds.

“Opening my blinds is the best part of my day,” she says, “I close them every night so I can open them again in the morning. Letting the sun in really makes my day.”

All of this happens before Necole plugs into what the world is doing.

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Then she can indulge in some self-care through a workout. She jogs for 30 minutes each day, and ends the day with a good weightlifting session.

As far as hair and makeup, Her go-to for foundation is Laura Mercier’s Candleglow Soft Luminous foundation. I also like their translucent setting powder (although she’s looking for a talc-free alternative) and their face illuminator powder in a golden, shimmery shade.

“And if you’re on a budget, Sephora samples will save your life,” she says, “I couldn’t justify me spending money on that foundation without me trying it thoroughly first.”

At night, she uses Aveeno face wipes to remove makeup and leave her skin moisturized. She also swears by Belif’s The True Cream- Moisturizing Bomb. Those, paired with St. Ives face scrubs and the Neutrogena acne wash, keep her skin smooth, hydrated and healthy.

Throughout the day, she uses Calm.com to listen to waterfall sounds.

“I love that as background music when my mind is all over the place,” she says, “It’s like meditation. That gets me back centered.”

And to-do lists keep her on track. Her favorite to-do list app, Momentum allows you to you open your browser and see your tasks for the day.

But something that dictates every decision Necole makes in life is a simple quote, “If it costs you your peace, it’s too expensive.”

It allows her to contribute to her legacy in a positive way, even when she’s offered good money for a deal or a job opportunity — some things are just not worth it. And there’s unlimited value in knowing what will move your life in the direction of your dreams.

Necole High res bio 2.jpg

 Thank you Christine for the amazing piece.
Original posthttps://21ninety.com/how-this-ceo-and-editor-in-chief-works-less-to-be-more-successful

It’s Never Too Late To Be The Woman You’ve Always Wanted To Be

I’ve been thinking a lot about transformations lately.

A few weeks ago, I competed in my third fitness competition and walked away a champion with two first place trophies. This win meant more to me than any of the others, because it was the first time I’ve done a competition since I made the big move to New York. So this competition wasn’t about beating the girls that joined me on stage that night, it was about beating the prior version of myself. It was about beating the insecurities, self-doubt, depression and anxiety that once filled my days. It was about beating the obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes that run in my family history. Most importantly, it was about beating the girl that most of you guys had a chance to know as Necole Bitchie.

Last year, when people first learned I was a bikini fitness competitor, they were shocked because I had to take my body through a complete transformation — similar to my life and career when I decided to shift paths. I realize more than ever that it takes real courage to walk away from the life you once knew. A lot of people are stuck in unfulfilling careers and/or relationships and are afraid to take that first step to evolve and elevate in their lives due to fear. And I find that a lot of people are afraid of change, not only because of the possibility of failure, but because of the feeling of “I’m too old” or “it’s too late.”

Well, I want to tell you something.

My own unique path to self-fulfillment and true joy didn’t happen overnight. It has actually taken years and I didn’t take the first step until I was in my mid-twenties.

It wasn’t until I was 25 that I decided to pursue a job in the entertainment industry and I had to start as an unpaid intern. People thought I was crazy for working for free at that age, but I had a vision. I was 27 when I started my celebrity gossip blog while jobless, broke and sleeping in my aunt’s guest room.

Although the site eventually amassed a huge following, and I garnered fame, money and success, I wasn’t happy with my life and at the age of 34, I decided to walk away. At that age, society tells you that you are “supposed” to have it altogether, and there I was giving up everything I had worked so hard for.

IT WAS SCARY!

At age 35, I started all over again. During that time I launched a new site that was more empowering and reflective of the person I was becoming. That site was XoNecole.com.

At age 36, I decided to compete in my first NPC bikini fitness competition.

At age 37, after years of self-funding my websites, I experienced my first big business acquisition. At this age, for the first time, I am also balancing a career I love effortlessly with my personal life. I’m nurturing fulfilling friendships, attending retreats, taking vacations, and I am looking and feeling the best I’ve ever been mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

The moral of this story is this: the only reason I am able to live my best life is because I was willing to take a risk.

It’s never too late to start working towards the woman you always knew you could be.

You may be scrolling social media and feeling like you are behind or not doing enough because of what you may see others accomplishing but success is truly a slow climb. It’s very hard not to compare yourself to what others are doing when you feel stuck and unfulfilled but we all have different paths and journeys. Just know, If you choose to compare your life to mine, I was a late bloomer who was broke and couch hopped until she was almost 30. And I was willing to face my biggest fears and risk going broke all over again at age 35 to live the life of my dreams, because I knew I deserved better than to stay stuck in a career path that didn’t fulfill me.

You can reclaim and reshape your narrative at any time ❤️ Please, Remember that.

xo, 

P.S. I’m currently reading “The Last Arrow” and the saying “Save nothing for the next life” is about to be my motto!

_________________________________

Originally posted on Instagram  + xoNecole’s Letter From The Editor

 

Creating A Morning Ritual Can Transform Your Days

Two years ago, I used to wake up flustered and in a panic. 

“What did I miss while I was asleep,” I’d wonder as I scrambled to get out of bed to get to my laptop, all while scrolling through emails on my phone. Within minutes, I’d be responding to texts, shooting off emails, making phone calls and updating social media before I even had the chance to hop in the shower and eat breakfast.  Those minutes would turn into hours, and before I knew it, my entire day had passed by before I had an opportunity to eat, drink a few glasses of water and find my center.

It was no wonder when I visited a holistic doctor in 2014 after my monthly cycle went missing that I found out I was extremely fatigued, dehydrated, mal-nutritioned and my nervous system was on the brink of shutting down.  I knew in that moment that things had to change.

During a February 2015 text exchange I had with Sway In The Morning co-host Tracy G, we dived into the topic of morning rituals which went something like this:

Tracy: What does a successful morning look like? 

Me: A successful morning to me right now is waking up with a positive mindset and knowing I can do anything I put my mind to.  It might sound small but I’ve mentally abused myself over the past year more than any man or human ever could. A successful morning means eating two meals before noon. It’s the small stuff.

 

My success definitely does not include giving my mornings to others and not myself first, even though I am very thankful for my job. 

That was my morning for 8 years, giving it to others. Now I make sure I wake up, drink a glass of water, open my blinds,  listen to an empowering podcast while cooking my breakfast, and really make sure I’ve found my center before I plug into what the rest of the world is doing.

 

I’m trying my best to have an hour to myself in the morning before having to prep for my show.  Now that you’ve realized that it’s a non-negotiable that can help you with future decision making, if something is going to disrupt your recharge time in the morning – Is it worth it? 

Absolutely not.

 

Two years later, I’ve remained pretty consistent about my morning recharge time and it has literally transformed my days and changed my life.  Here’s at least 12 things I find myself doing upon waking up before I’ve even had the chance to check emails or log into my computer.

  1. Lay in silence for 15 minutes and visualize how I want my day to go
  2. Write down my intentions for the day in my journal
  3. Pray (and Thank God for the many blessings he’s bestowed upon me)
  4. Stretch (a lot of people do yoga or meditate, I’m not there yet)
  5. Make my bed (I’ve found that if I don’t do this, I’ll want to jump back in)
  6. Drink a glass of water (You are super dehydrated upon waking up)
  7. Open my blinds and let the sun in (this is actually my favorite part of my day)
  8. Shower (steam shower helps get my ideas flowing)
  9. Cook breakfast (normally it’s 3-4 eggs with a side of oatmeal and fruit)
  10. Take my vitamins
  11. Listen to an empowering podcast or audio book  (this can be done while making breakfast)
  12. Put on feel good music
  13. Aromatherapy (I find that when I put Peppermint oil in my diffuser it helps energize me, Lemon awakens my senses)

Bonus: Depending on how I feel, I may do about 15 – 30 minutes of cardio to get my heart rate going in the am. 

Once I’ve completed most of my ritual, and fully immersed myself into my “Me” time, that’s when I will log online and plug into what the world is doing.  

I have noticed such a dramatic change in my life since putting these rituals in place and my friends have all pointed out the shift they’ve seen in my energy and overall attitude towards life since I’ve been doing this as well. 

A lot of people may say, “Sorry, I don’t have time,” but making the choice to go to bed earlier, and wake up an hour or two earlier makes all of the difference. If you put a good morning ritual that works for you in place versus the usual routing of scrambling out of bed, hopping in the shower, plugging into emails and rushing out the door you increase your chances of having a productive, well-balanced and positive day. 

Try it, and let me know what happens!

What’s your current morning ritual? 

Originally published May 17, 2017

How I Turned My Bedroom Into A Zen Oasis

“Create positive space around you, even if it’s in your mind. You must have an environment of good energy in order to give good energy.”

Does the space you spend the most time in leave you drained, uninspired and unproductive?

Last week I shared with you that I used to wake up flustered and in a panic. I told you how I created a morning ritual that dramatically shifted my energy to start my day. However I also made another significant change in my life that helped improve my well being.

A couple of years ago, I started noticing a pattern that I was creating. Ever since my first real job in Corporate America, I never made my work space a home. I always treated my desk as a temporary dwelling, refusing to pin photos, put up quotes, and decorate the space as if someone actually worked there 8 hours a day. I figured why bother to personalize the space if I went into every job knowing it was a temporary situation for me –a means to pay bills and get by until another opportunity came knocking that would place me closer to my dreams.

This went on for over 10 years. Finally in 2014, after I moved to Arizona, and started really focusing on self-care, I took a look around and realized that my spaces were always filled with unproductive energy and were becoming a reflection of my life. For example, I was still treating the move to Scottsdale as a temporary situation so my bedroom only had a desk, no furniture except a mattress lying on the floor, and there were piles of books and clothes everywhere.

It was pretty messy.

And my messy space was a reflection of my messy life. 
I didn’t realize it at the time but my set up was sending “I’m Not Staying Here Long” energyout into the universe and I was still living as though it was my old college days again—unsettled and unconcerned with creating a house that felt like a home.

 

Waking up to a cluttered space every day was definitely having a negative impact on my productivity and I constantly felt drained and uninspired. This was a huge problem since I was working from home a lot, and I knew I had to do something about it and fast! 

So I started Operation: Create My Happy Space.

Over a period of a month, I went from this ….

To this…

Necole Bedroom 8

I can honestly say my room felt like a vacation home. When you walked in on any given day, you heard soothing music, smelled lavender and peppermint scents, and felt a gentle breeze flowing. Everyone who visited mentioned how soothing it felt and I even had a few people say, “I would never leave my room if I stayed here.”

Here are a few changes I made to my room to restore peace and order in my life:

Necole Bedroom 5

PAINT

I painted the walls purple, after studying Feng Shui. I wanted to attract prosperity and in Feng Shui, the color purple attracts abundance. This color also brought a romantic, soothing energy to my bedroom. I loved it. (I also bought some purple curtains to match.)

Necole bedroom 2

Necole Bedroom 6

A LAMP

I bought a grey lamp to match the color scheme of my room. The lamp also changed the mood of the room in a good way. I used to have a ceiling fan with a harsh overhead light. Now the lamp casts beautiful shadows, lighting up the space gently without glare.

Fake flowers

A PLANT

Initially, I brought home a beautiful purple Orchid for my room. It fit so perfectly but unfortunately I couldn’t keep the poor thing alive past three days. I replaced it temporarily with an artificial bouquet of white roses. Adding flowers or a plant to your workspace increases productivity and creativity.

Image-1 (1)

HIMALAYAN SALT CRYSTAL LAMP

I originally bought my Himalayan salt lamp while browsing Bed, Bath & Beyond because it looked cool and changed colors. When it’s turned on, it creates a very relaxing atmosphere in my room. I had no idea it had health benefits. Some sites claim that they boost blood flow, improve sleep, increase levels of serotonin in the brain, and calm allergy or asthma symptoms. They also keep the air clean and help with respiratory problems.

bookshelves and books

BOOKSHELF

While decluttering, I needed a space for my piles of books. Although a floating shelf would have been the best fit in terms of clearing up space, I bought a corner bookshelf which made for a beautiful home for my books on self-help, wellness, productivity and love. Beginning and ending my day with an inspirational read is a must.

Crystals on the window

CRYSTALS

I never thought I’d be that girl with a windowsill full of crystals. I visited a photographer friend in LA a few months ago and we bonded over our love for crystals and oils and she sent me away with a Celestine wand as a parting gift. She too had crystals on her windowsill and I loved how calm and welcoming her home felt. I placed mine there to remind myself of the sort of energies I want to manifest in my life. My current favorites are Rose Quartz, which helps attract love, and Green Jade, which helps to attract prosperity and abundance.

Sage

SAGE

If my energy is all over the place or very negative on any given day, (for whatever reason) I burn sage. Burning sage is one of the oldest and purest methods of cleansing a group of people, space, or person.

Aroma diffuser

AROMA THERAPY DIFFUSER

Aromatherapy is the practice of using natural oils to enhance psychological and emotional well-being. I have an aromatherapy diffuser that I use to mist my room with the scent of lavender, peppermint and/or rosemary. Lavender oils are really good when you want to have a good night’s sleep and I find Peppermint makes me really alert and happy.

Also candles give a really nice touch and make your room smell great.

Bedroom Necole 4My new zen-filled space definitely shifted my energy and overall productivity immediately.

If you are feeling uninspired by your space, definitely consider giving it a revamp. Inspirational pillows, shag rugs, floating shelves, lighting, candles, soothing music, and the right color paint are all things that will help spruce up your space and give you the boost you need to get things done.

What are some things you’ve added to your room to create a happy space? Let me know in the comments! What are some things you’ve added to your room to create a happy space?

Originally published May 20, 2017

New Balance x Arizona

I visited Arizona last week, which is absolutely my most favorite place to spend time.

And I had nostalgia of when my life was filled with mountain views and solitude. I lived there for two and a half years, and it literally changed the way I viewed myself and the world. 

It’s a huge contrast from my current hectic big city life in New York, and I would absolutely still live there if opportunities didn’t come knocking that would elevate me to the next level of my career.  

During the five days that I was there, I had the chance to take in the scenery as I stopped by my old gym Pro Physiques in Gilbert, competed in the Natural Western fitness competition in Mesa, and went graffiti hunting in downtown Phoenix.  With all the running around I was doing, I had to make sure I was comfortable, so I tested out my new pair of kicks courtesy of New Balance sneakers.  I love that the new Fuelcore Nergize are very lightweight and were easy to slip on my feet without popping off a fresh set of press on nails I was trying out (LOL!).   They are also a good flat workout sneaker but also can take you from the gym, to a casual last minute outing with friends.  

Of course, I had to rock them all through Phoenix as I hit Papago Mountain, Loco Patron (which has the margaritas and best wings), and Roosevelt Row. 

 

 

Price tag: $65 . (Pretty reasonable)

Purchase yours over at New Balance.

**This post is in partnership with New Balance, however thoughts, opinions and images are my own**

Snapped by Aaron Markus

7 Of The Best Airbnb’s I’ve Ever Stayed In

If it’s one thing I love more than a spacious, cozy hotel, it’s AIRBNB.

I travel a lot for work, and even more for some much needed vacation time, but what I’ve found to be super important when visiting new cities, is how comfortable your accommodations are, and for me, hotels just haven’t been cutting it for me lately. 

Ever since I booked a 2 bedroom spacious condo, with a chef kitchen and washer and dryer in Paris for the same price I paid for a cramped hotel room which was barely big enough for a bed, I haven’t looked back. Don’t get me wrong, for last minute trips, I normally find myself booking a hotel (through the highly discounted HOTEL TONIGHT app) but for anything longer than a day or two, AIRBNB is my preference. 

Plus, what’s better than getting to live like a local? 

With that being said, although most of the places I’ve booked on the site have been amazing, I’ve had some shady experiences as well.  Like the time I checked into an Airbnb and the biggest bug I’ve ever seen in my life greeted me at the door like, “Hey girl hey!!!”  The good news is that Airbnb was pretty good about refunding my money for that place and I decided against giving the apartment host a bad review. 

Things happen.

For that reason, I decided to share the Top Airbnb’s I’ve ever stayed at in various cities. 

1. London, England
London Airbnb Paddington 3

London Airbnb Paddington 3 London Airbnb Paddington 2

London Airbnb Paddington 2 London Airbnb Paddington

Cost: Ranges from $170 – $215 a night

What I loved: This Luxury, Airy and Bright 1 bedroom modern apartment in the Paddington area of London was the upper echelon of Airbnb experiences. The neighborhood was gorg with all white buildings lining both sides of the street, and Hyde Park (which is equivalent to Central Park) was a few blocks away. The train station was a short 5-10 minute walk which was convenient since all of the necessary attractions (Birmingham Palace, The London Eye, Big Ben, etc) were only a few stops away.

The inside of the apartment was impeccable and decorated to give an old Hollywood glamour feel. The bedroom was very ZEN and had bottles of water and fruit on the night stand. When I checked in there was fresh roses on the table, as well as chocolates, the kitchen cabinets were fully stocked with pots and pans and food, the fridge stocked with water and fruit, and the bathroom fully stocked with all the essentials such as toothpaste, lotion, toothbrushes, etc. I thought maybe it was a one time thing since I was one of the first  to ever stay in the place, but when I went back to look at the reviews recently, everyone mentioned the roses, fruit, fully stocked kitchen and so forth.  A fully stocked kitchen is very rare for an Airbnb unit. 

Additional bonus points: Since I was staying for a week, I reached out to the hosts to ask if they’d be able to give me the place for a set rate, which was discounted a few hundred dollars, and they agreed. (I never mentioned my websites or anything.)  Also, upon check in I asked if they had a full-length mirror in the condo, and I was told ‘no’ but they kindly brought one in for me the next day. 

 

2. Paris, Franceparis-airbnb-2bd paris-airbnb-2-bedroom paris-2bd-kitchen

Cost: $176

This 2 bedroom apartment in the Le Marais area of Paris was my first AIRBNB experience ever. Unlike the London pad which is set up to be rented out by a high volume of guests, this place is the actual living quarters of the host, and she rents it out during the holidays.  

What I loved: Once we got past the super tiny elevator (that could barely fit one person), and the fact that all of the hosts things were still in the apartment, we realized that this condo far exceeded what we would have ever gotten out of a Parisian hotel for the same rate.  The apartment was spacious with a huge cozy living room, washer and dryer, and chef style kitchen. There was also plenty of train lines nearby, as well as restaurants, shops and the market for basic necessities.  What made this stay amazing was the hospitality of the host’s boyfriend Herve, who helped us carry our bags when we arrived as well as when we departed and was very generous. 

I definitely would recommend if staying in Paris for longer than 4-5 days. Live like a local!!

3. Manhattan, New York

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Cost: $349 (Not bad for a 2bedroom in New York if you are traveling with 2 or more people. This place can hold up to 4-6 people comfortably. )

If it’s one place I prefer not to Airbnb in, it’s New York City. You just never know what you are walking into, and you have to make sure you read the reviews thoroughly before booking.  It’s just uber convenient if you are traveling with friends and want to book one unit versus several hotel rooms.

What I loved: This Spacious Mid-town 2 Bedroom apartment near 5th Avenue lived up to all of my expectations.  The unit looked like the photos, and the two bedrooms had enough space to walk around and feel comfortable.  The building had an elevator which you will find is rare. Most apartments in New York listed on Airbnb are walk ups! The full length mirror in the living room was a huge plus for us since we attended a few events during our stay and needed to make sure we were presentable before leaving the house.  This was definitely one of the coziest and spacious New York Airbnb apartments I’ve stayed in and it was in a central location (near 51st and 5) close to everything you’d need.

The check in process was also flawless with someone meeting us at our check in and check out time.   (A recent Airbnb I stayed in had us walking blocks –with our luggage– to find a safe deposit box located in a pay phone to get our keys. And there was a two flight walk up.  Just terrible.)

4. Las Vegas, Nevada

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Cost: $98 – 120

What I loved: If you want to be extremely close to the strip, but away from the crowds, loud noise, and gambling that Vegas is known for, this 21st floor Strip View Studio In The MGM Grand Signature is everything you are looking for while being cheaper than most hotels.  Since the MGM Signature is a hotel, you have to check in at the front desk in the same way you would a hotel room, however with an oversized bathroom complete with a spa tub, two flat screen TV’s, a view of the Strip and (the jumping pool party over at the MGM Grand, a comfy bed, and pool on the property, you can’t really beat the price.  

Extra bonuses: Room service and valet 

5. Chicago, Illinois

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Cost: $92 – $98

What I loved: If you are hopping in and out of Chicago for a business trip, and need a crash pad, this Charming apt in Lakeview will serve it’s purpose.  The place looks exactly like the photos (very artsy and cosy) and is situated in an elevator building in a quiet neighborhood, with just a 10-15 minute ride to downtown Chicago.  Maria the host has some great books on her windowsill as well. 

During my stay, the maintenance guy came banging on the door abruptly while interrupting my much needed nap after a red eye flight. It wasn’t a big deal to me, but when I woke up, I had a note from the host that she had left something outside my door. It was a bottle of wine as an apology for the disturbance. I thought that was very thoughtful. 

6. Atlanta, GA

Cost: $99 a night

What I loved: If you are visiting Atlanta for more than 2 or 3 days and need space, plus basic amenities like washer and dryer, a full kitchen, gym and underground parking, this Buckhead 1-bedroom condo is a good option. There is a grocery store literally across the street, and it’s a very short distance to Lenox Mall and other Atlanta hotspots, bars and restaurants with Midtown being a short 10-15 drive away.  There’s no way you can find a hotel room for the same rate, amenities and space.

7. Hollywood, CA

Cost: $179 a night

Why I love it: I ended up booking this two story Hollywood loft while on a business trip to LA and found it to be much more cost effective than the hotel that we usually book when we visit our LA offices. It is located at La Brea and Sunset and was a 5-15 minute drive to everywhere I needed to go, including Soul Cycle in Weho.  The apartment came equipped with a washer and dryer and 2 bathrooms, as well as a chef kitchen, floor to ceiling windows, 20 foot ceilings, a gym located right outside the door.  All of the nearby hotels in the area are at least $250-350 a night, and you get four times the space with this unit as well as free parking.  It’s definitely a good option for people who have to frequent LA for more than 3-4 days at a time but still want to fill like they are at home versus living out of a suitcase.

If this unit is booked, there is another one in the same building that is even nicer:

Modern Stylish Loft With Breathtaking City Views

P.S,. I remember a time I walked into a $105 dollar a night Airbnb that was in the heart of Hollywood, and I stayed all of 30 minutes. There was no way, anyone would have paid me to ever stay there.  This is why I made this post, to cosign the actual places I’ve stayed at that I loved and that were safe.

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If you will be visiting any of these cities soon, I hope these listings are useful. Always remember to read the reviews before booking an Airbnb as you will find out all that you need to know. Also, if you are not a member of Airbnb and interested in joining, follow this link, sign up and enjoy $35 off your trip the first time you book. 

P.S. If you are just popping in and out of a city last minute for a night or two, hotel tonight is another good option for extremely last minute, discounted hotel rooms.  Download the app here and use my promo code NNECOLE for $25 off your first booking. 

Have you ever stayed in an Airbnb? Share your experience (and the link if you dare). 

Keep in touch. Follow me on Instagram!

I’m In The Press This Week (Glamour, Refinery29 & Launch DFW)

I haven’t done much press over the last two years, nor have I orchestrated a PR campaign, so I’m always very humbled and appreciative when journalists reach out to request an interview.

Over the past week, I’ve had the honor to be featured in 3 pieces that were published on Refinery29, Glamour and Launch DFW.

Here’s a summary:

1. Launch DFW : Necole Kane Goes Beyond The Web To The Center Stage

This piece was a very in-depth interview where I spoke about my failures, why it is important that I remain transparent about the ups and downs of my journey and my brand being acquired.

A standout quote:

I promised myself in 2007 that I would never send out a resume. I have not sent out a resume since 2007. Like, how cocky of me to say, but [at the time] I was like I’m tired of getting no. I’m tired of interviewing. I’m tired of proving myself. I’m not sending out another resume. And I have not had to send out another resume since then.

Click here to read more!

 

2. Glamour Magazine – Black Women Have Been Politically Powerful But We’re Not Your Saviors

In this piece, I was featured along with other black thought leaders on the narrative surrounding black women and their political choices.  Read it here

 

3. Refinery 29 – 24 Of Our Favorite Entrepreneurs Namecheck The Businesswomen You Should Follow

 

 

This was one of my favs for International Women’s Day because I had the chance to honor an entrepreneur that I look up to.  It should be to no surprise to anyone that follows me that I chose Myleik Teele, the Founder of Curlbox.   

A key quote from the piece:

As a Black woman, entrepreneurship can feel isolating. Sometimes it’s hard to find a support system of women who can guide you through huge business moments like mergers and acquisitions or even securing an investor. Myleik is a serial entrepreneur and doesn’t hoard the information she knows and the lessons she has learned from creating two successful companies. I always joke around and call her the ‘Oprah for entrepreneurs’ because she really is breeding and birthing a new generation of young bosses through her valuable advice, resources, and retreats.

Read more here!

My Battle With Depression: A Discussion On Mental Health

Do you sometimes find yourself smiling on the outside while crying on the inside?  Are you suffering in silence?

That was me for a very long time.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my recent video where I opened up about my long history of depression.

It took a lot for me to post this to my timeline today because depression and mental health isn’t the easiest subject to open up about. People have a perception of what it should look like, so if you have certain things, reached a certain level of success, come from a certain background, or look a certain way they feel like it shouldn’t affect you. When @shantidas404 and @jrbland asked me to be a part of the #silencetheshame panel on mental health and minorities in Atlanta, I knew it would take a level of transparency I wasn’t sure I was ready for and I’d have to uncover things that I had been swept under the rug. But it was healing in a sense, and your DMs, emails, and messages since then has let me know that I’m not alone. I’m much better now than I was years ago because I’ve spent the last 2-3 years really pouring into myself and working to be the person i always knew I could be despite my life circumstances. This was such an important conversation and I’m really thankful for @kerihilson for opening up and sharing her story which left the door wide open for me to do it more comfortably ☺️ thank you @jrbland @shantidas404 @dr_ayanna_a and @the.atl.lpc for such a great no judgement panel on an important topic we should talk about so much more. (Link in bio)

A post shared by Necole (@hellonecole) on

During the Silence The Shame panel in Atlanta a few weeks ago, I revealed for the first time that I have been battling depression for a very long time.

“I am the strong friend,” I revealed as I choked back tears. “And when you are the strong friend, you have to be there for everyone. So I go into a shell when I’m going through something and no one can reach me. I isolate myself from everyone until I am able to be the strong friend again and that is not healthy. It’s like you are filling up all of these cups, but no one is filling up yours.”

I also added, “It affects my dating life because people fall for the idea of you and those happy pictures that they see on social media. But are you going to stand with me when I am hurting?”

My bouts of depression are deeply rooted in many things I experienced during my childhood, as well as isolation and abandonment issues as a result of me losing a lot of family members, including my parents.

It took a lot for me to share this because depression/mental health isn’t the easiest subject to open up about. People have a perception of what it should look like, so if you have certain things, reached a certain level of success, come from a certain background, or look a certain way, they feel like it shouldn’t affect you. During the panel, singer Keri Hilson also shared her story of depression, which resulted in her taking a 7-year hiatus from the music industry.

“Literally 7 years of my life have been a battle with depression,” she said.  “It all just kind of spiraled for me, and became something I had never been through, I had never recognized myself as a person who can’t pick themselves back up.”

Silence The Shame founder Shanti Das also revealed that despite being a top executive in the music industry with a 500K salary and everything she could ever dream of, she went into a dark downward spiral two years ago. “It was the first time I had ever contemplated suicide.”

Her battle with mental health led her to launch Silence The Shame, and now she tours the country encouraging discussions around minorities and mental health. Atlanta based therapists Vaughn Gay and Ayanna Abrams were also a part of the panel, and gave really helpful insight on how to be aware of the early signs that you should seek help, and a ton of resources for those people who have no idea where to start to find the best therapist for themselves.

The panel and being able to discuss mental health openly in a no-judgement zone was healing in a sense. I am happy to admit that I am much better now than I was years ago and my bouts of depression don’t happen as often.  I’ve spent the last 2-3 years really pouring into myself and working to be the person I always knew I could be despite my life circumstances. Changing my brand into one that centered around empowerment and positivity helped tremendously as well. A therapist once told me that I was experiencing second hand PTSD from all of the negative and toxic news that my former site was covering which would cause me to go to a deep dark space more frequently.

This was such an important conversation and I’m really thankful for successful women like Shanti Das and Keri Hilson for opening up and sharing their stories, which left the door wide open for me to do it more comfortably.

I received so many DM’s, emails, and messages since posting the clip, which let me know that I’m not alone. Therefore, I wanted to share the full video of the panel with you. If you’re experiencing sadness, isolation, or going through depression, you are not alone. I hope this video gives you comfort and hope that there’s light ahead. Please feel free to share it, if you believe it may help someone else, and if you have been touched by the message, let me know.

 

xo,

 

P.S. This event was held in support of the second season of James Bland’s “Giants” series which tackles mental health in one of the main characters. I watched an episode a year ago and ended up binging the entire season.  Check it out on Issa Rae’s youtube if you get the chance.

The Biggest Mistake I Made In My Career

Photo credit: Christopher Alvarado

Good Morning,

We’re all on paths to become bosses in our own rights. And what makes us great girl bosses is not the fact that we are good girls who never mess up. It’s the fact we’re human women bound to make mistakes, especially in our 20’s and 30’s. The good news is that we are not defined by the mistakes we make, but rather how we recover from them.

On the site, we recently shared 11 Women’s Biggest Career Mistakes They Made in Their 20’s. I too have had my share of mistakes in my career, some of which have unfolded before you in the public eye. As many of you know, I ended my first site, Necole Bitchie almost three years ago. It wasn’t a mistake that I ended the site. I had outgrown the content because it no longer represented the woman I had become nor wanted to be. The greatest mistake I made in my career was that in all the years I operated that site, I never once prepared for what would happen once the site ended. In short, I didn’t have an end goal.

There are a lot of courses, workshops, and seminars that teach you the art of starting a brand, but there isn’t as much emphasis on creating an exit strategy. Even while I was operating Necole Bitchie, I was approached for a seven figure acquisition. Clearly that deal never happened, but had I agreed to sell the site, all of my ducks weren’t in a row to negotiate a good deal that favored me.

My biggest advice for entrepreneurs and women starting businesses is to know what your end goal is so that you have a clear road map to reach your destination, whatever your goal may be. Do you want to achieve funding? Do you want to expand into products or become a huge media empire? Do you want to merge businesses with another brand or eventually be acquired? These are important questions that I did not ask myself while running my old brand.

Since I did not plan for my exit, I paid dearly for it financially, mentally, and and emotionally. But guess what? I did what a girl boss does and I learned from my mistake. When I finally recuperated and was able to start the brand xoNecole, I began with an end goal in mind that I did not have for Necole Bitchie, and that was to come out with a major acquisition or investment.

To prepare, I created a business plan, marketing deck and kept up with my companies profit and loss reports monthly. Preparation is so key! You have to be ready so that when the the opportunity comes you don’t have to get ready. My big opportunity came quicker than I could have ever imagined it would. Two years after launching xoNecole, my brand was acquired by none other than Girls Trip producer Will Packer, which is a testimony on its own that I can’t wait to share with you at a later date.

I couldn’t be more proud of my decision and am so thankful that it was a black man who saw my vision and the value of my brand and stepped in to help me expand and take it to the next level. I am even more proud that we are black-owned.

I think it’s important that you read our article and learn about mistakes other women made early on in their career. Read them to not only avoid making the same bad decisions, but to know if you’ve already gone down that same path, you’re not alone.

So check out these women’s mistakes and let me know in the comments section if they resonate with you!

xo,

P.S. To get my daily inspirational emails to your inbox, sign up here!

My Unexpected Live TV Appearance Taught Me The Importance Of Having Closet Staples

 

So last week I was surprised with a last minute opportunity to be a presenter at the BET Social Awards. And by last minute, I mean fly to Atlanta from NYC the next day to present. OMG!

Can I be honest? The first thought that went through my head was not ‘What am I going to say?’ It was ‘What am I going to wear?!’

You’re probably waking to that same thought this morning too lol. There was no stylist to help me, like there’s probably no stylist to help you this morning. No, you’re not going to be photographed on a red carpet, but regardless of what you have going on today, the act of figuring out what to wear is pretty stressful.

9 times out of 10, if I’m not getting dolled up for an event, meeting or outing with friends, I’m dressed head to toe in my favorite athletic gear. I know I can look fly at the drop of a dime, but because I go to the gym daily, I just prefer to be comfortable in my leggings and sneakers.

That being said, I’m so proud that I had staple pieces in my closet from years back that I was able to pull for the award show and be red carpet ready. And I think that’s important! It’s necessary to have a wardrobe that can speak for you before you even open your mouth. Not necessarily because to appease the superficiality of this society, but more so to enjoy the act of presenting your best self to the world. It feels good to have the option to present ourselves the way we want to be interpreted.

We recently posted an article on the site about 30 closet staples every woman should have before 30. The story got a lot of attention from our xoNecole readers. Do I have all of these closet staples? Hell no! But I do think there are some amazing pieces to add if you’re looking to build a wardrobe that shows off the best you have to offer.

And by the way, my last minute award show look came together nicely.

I took a risk and mixed patterns from two separate statement making pieces.

I didn’t know if the final product would be a good look or a bad look but I knew it’d be a look. And it actually ended up being a hit.

So if you’re looking to make sure you have some statement pieces in your wardrobe for those crucial style moments, check out this article!

xo,

 

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