Entertainment production firm Will Packer Media has acquired xoNecole, a lifestyle website focused on urban millennial women created and run by blogger Necole Kane.
WPM founder and CEO Will Packer, whose producing credits include “Girls Trip,” “Ride Along,” “Think Like a Man” and “Straight Outta Compton,” said the addition of xoNecole (xonecole.com) is aimed at boosting WPM’s direct connection with its audiences. In addition, he’s look to adapt content produced by xoNecole for TV series and film projects.
“It fits perfectly with what I’m doing with my company,” said Packer. “I was looking for someone I could partner with who has a highly engaged audience and speaks authentically to them.” He added, “Necole is amazingly gifted in her ability to connect with women and deliver much-needed engaging, smart and empowering content that is aspirational and impactful.”
Financial terms of the deal, which closed in late 2017, weren’t disclosed. The staff of xoNecole will remain located in New York (where Kane is based), L.A. and Atlanta.
WPM is investing in the site to expand video, social and mobile content as well as develop a newsletter and launch in-person events, including activations during Fashion Week and educational and networking events. The goal is to turn xoNecole into a multifaceted digital-media women’s brand akin to Refinery29 or Popsugar.
Packer formed WPM last year in partnership with Discovery Communications and Universal Pictures. The company currently has 15 projects in development across 10 networks and platforms. XONecole is the company’s first owned-and-operated digital property, and Packer said WPM is on the lookout for potential acquisitions in the space.
Kane once traded in salacious celebrity dish as proprietor of gossip site NecoleBitchie.com, which she launched in 2008. Then she shifted gears: In 2015, Kane shut down NecoleBitchie and formed xoNecole with a focus on beauty, fashion, lifestyle, career and travel features. The new site’s mission is to promote positive images of women of color, as well as empower, educate and inspire millennials.
Ending her gossip site “was a very risky and terrifying move,” Kane said, but “I knew I wanted to offer my readers content that was more empowering and purposeful, would inspire them to live their best lives, and was deeply rooted in giving women permission to evolve.” She added, “Will Packer is someone I’ve always admired and respected, and he knows my audience. I couldn’t think of a better partnership.”
Packer said he first met Kane when some of the stars in his films were the subjects of items on her now-defunct gossip site.
“I want to be aligned with someone like Necole,” he said. “She’s had ups and downs, but she’s a survivor and a fighter. She’s also vulnerable and admits her shortcomings.”
The xoNecole team will continue to be led by Kane, overseen by WPM co-founder and COO Alix Baudin, formerly SVP and GM of Scripps Networks Interactive’s digital operations. Thanks to changes led by Baudin to streamline the site’s features and interface, xoNecole’s traffic has doubled in the last three months, according to Packer (who declined to provide specific metrics). “We see Necole as the face of a young and empowered generation of women who want to lift each other up and be inspired to evolve,” said Baudin.
In addition to traditional ad sales, xoNecole will be supported by content marketing and branded -entertainment partnerships, as well as the slate of live events, according to Packer.
So just a warning, now that I’ve rebranded my blog to focus more on fitness, wellness and travel, you will hear me talk a lot about self-care. Self-care is essential to self preservation and it’s very important that we incorporate it into our every day lives so that we are always working towards being the best version of ourselves.
Weight training used to be a daily part of my self-care routine. I’ve talked a little about how fitness saved my life in a prior post. When I leave the gym, I feel good, rejuvenated and ready to take on the rest of the day, however, my flexibility, or lack thereof, has been putting a damper on my squat game.
My trainer would always looks at me in disbelief like, “I know you can squat down a little further,’ and the truth is I couldn’t. My hamstrings was so tight, I felt like an elderly woman trying to drop it like it’s hot with a weight bar on my shoulder.
One day, while browsing through a yoga hashtag on Instagram, I came across a woman doing pilates on what I thought was a strange piece of equipment. I later found out that it was called the reformer. I was intrigued and my research led me to a #pilatesreformer hashtag where I saw all types of people doing really amazing things on the equipment.
I wanted in!
Now, I’m the type of person that has a little A.D.D. My mind is always racing, so Yoga classes (except for Ariel & Acroyoga) has always bored me to pieces. But the reformer pilates class seemed like it would be more of my speed since I would be engaging with a machine for most of the class.
I’ve been going for three weeks now, 3-5 times a week and I absolutely love it. A good 50 minutes on the reformer works every area of your body, including abs, legs, and glutes –and there is a little yoga incorporated in some of the moves as well. A lot of the exercises are done on your back, knees or using your arm strength. There is a little cardio included as well by way of the cardio tramp — it’s like jumping on a trampoline while lying on your back.
Here’s a few of the key exercises that we do in class:
There are weight springs that are attached to the carriage, so there is a lot of tension when doing exercises that require you to push the board back with just your legs
Cardio & Coordination
This is the cardio tramp! Sometimes we are required to jump while thrusting our legs outward and throwing a ball in the air. Mind you, there are weighted springs attached to the carriage so there is a lot going on all at once.
My teacher Vanessa is amazing. She’s a former ballet dancer and has been very patient with me during this jouney. I actually took 3 beginner classes before I realized I needed more of a challenge and so I now enroll in her Intermediate/Advanced classes only.
Sidebar: I found my studio, Scottsdale Pilates and Yoga, through an app called Class Pass. Class pass is in most major cities, and for a monthly fee, they allow you to see the schedules of a ton of studios in your area at any given time and reserve a spot in that class. Packages are anywhere from $40 to take 5 classes, to $80 for unlimited classes. It’s so convenient, especially when you want to find a class to take last minute.
I’d say, if you decide to try out class pass, try a few different studios, and cancel once you’ve found a Pilates/Yoga studio to call home. And you can use my code to get $20 off your first month. $25 bucks to try out 5 sessions/studios is a steal!
I’m headed off to class now!
If you decide to try out a Pilates Reformer class let me know how it goes! If you have ever tried it, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!
When I reflect on last year and what it truly meant to me, three words come to mind: transition, alignment, and sisterhood.
2017 was the end of a gruesome transition period between leaving my celebrity gossip blog NecoleBitchie.com, and stepping into a new chapter, which saw the launch of xoNecole – an empowering lifestyle website for young women of color. During that transitional period, I’ve lost friends, lost money, and almost lost my mind (a few times). However, what I gained by taking a risk and betting on myself and the woman I wanted to be, meant so much more to me.
When the clouds of a storm disappear, everything is new again and the sun shines brighter than ever. I’m there now. And after the rain, I can now confidently say that I can watch my brand grow into the beautiful empire I always knew it could be.
In 2017, I learned the importance of being in alignment and the power of manifesting the life you want for yourself.
Laying in the fetal position in my bed on days that entrepreneurship was beating me down like I had stolen something wasn’t serving me. I had to make sure I was getting up and relentlessly fighting for my dream, every single day. And I had to position myself so that when a big opportunity came, I was ready for it. And that meant shifting my perspective. That meant manifestation in its highest form.
In May, I remember sitting down with a close friend at a coffee shop in New York. She was unemployed, and I was struggling with keeping xoNecole running from where I lived in Arizona due to mounting operational expenses. I said, “Girl, if you could predict where you would like to be in 6 months, what would it look like? Let’s live in that for a moment.”
For 15 minutes, we quietly jotted down in our notebooks where we saw ourselves in 6 months using the present tense, “I am…”
Exactly six months later to the date, while in my new office in New York, I randomly opened my notebook and saw the life I was currently living written out line by line. I had manifested everything into reality and I sat there stunned with chills running down my spine and tears in my eyes. I owned the reality I wanted because I called its name and demanded it to become what it now is. That’s a testament to the power of words.
In 2017, I also learned about the power of sisterhood. I wouldn’t be where I am today without a strong tribe of women who had my back. A team of women who were passionate about work that was deeply rooted in purpose and positivity. My sister, friends, mentors, and business associates. Women who were uplifting and encouraging. Who had the same fight, passion, and purpose to empower other women to be their best selves. My Tribe!
I’ve also learned that choosing comradery over competition always produces wins for everyone.
And in honor of that, on December 19, xoNecole held its first Table of 20 event, a celebration of women in digital media – and it was the epitome of tribe vibes.
The dinner, pegged “Queens See Queens” was an ode to power women in digital media, especially those who have been making major moves behind-the-scenes at their respective outlets or media brands by pushing positive narratives for women of color.
The room was filled with genuine love as we shared hugs, laughs and promises of collaborations and partnerships. While feasting on dinner by Omar’s Kitchen and champagne from Belaire, we clapped and cheered as each woman shared their story of adversity and triumph. Many of the women in attendance shared the common risk of moving to New York with just a few bags and uncertainty, and now seeing the rewards of success they could have only dreamed about.
The gathering was the perfect closing of 2017 – the year of the caterpiller – and grand opening to 2018, the year we finish transforming into the butterflies we were meant to be.
Success can be a lonely road without sisterhood.
I pray that you find your tribe in 2018 and beyond.
May we uplift, inspire and encourage each other! Cheers to more collaborations in this New Year!
Watch a recap of the dinner that includes my surprise announcement below:
Menu at Table of 20 Queens See Queens
Decor at Table of 20
Appetizers from Chef Omar of Omar’s Kitchen
Necole Kane and Christina Rice
Danielle Young, Necole Kane and Tiffany Battle
Danielle Young and Claire Sulmers snap a selfie
Necole Kane, founder and Editor In Chief at xoNecole shares a few words
Lilly Workneh, Editor-In-Chief at Blavity Shares a few words at Table of 20
Arianna Davis, Senior Features Writer at Refinery 29, shares a few words at Table of 20
Natasha Alford, Deputy Editor at The Grio, shares her journey and accomplishments
Tiffany Battle, Founder of The Werk Place
Charreah Jackson, Senior Relationship Editor at Essence Magazine, shares a few words at Table of 20
Candice Benbow, “My Lemonade Has Vodka In It” speaker, shares a few words at Table of 20
Christina Rice, Founder of Omnoire shares a few words
Claire Sulmer, Founder of Fashion Bomb Daily, shares her story
Cori Murray, Entertainment Director at Essence Magazine, and co-host of Yes Girl! Podcast shares a few words
Danielle James, founder of Model Citizen and Beauty & Style editor at Hello Beautiful shares her story
Sharde Miller, Producer at Good Morning America, shares a few words
Danielle Young (The Root) shares a few laughs
Candace McDuffie shares a few words at Table of 20
Tracy G shares some laughs at Table of 20
Arianna Davis and Tracy Garraud
Chasity Cooper (Her Agenda) shares her triumphs at Table of 20
Renae Bluitt, Sharde Miller, and Cori Murray
Necole Kane and Arianna Davis
Candice Benbow, Candace McDuffie, Brande Victorian, Natasha Alford and Danielle Young attend Table of 20
Necole Kane and Renae Bluitt
Necole Kane and Natasha Alford
Candice Benbow, Brande Victorian, Chasity Cooper and Janel Martinez
Natasha Alford, Janel Martinez, Necole Kane, Tracy G, Chasity Cooper and Charreah Jackson
Candace McDuffie, Christina Rice and Jamilah Barnes
Janel Martinez and Natasha Alford share a hug
The group flick of all group flicks
Feel free to follow these amazing women that were in attendance on social for some #blackgirlmagic on your timelines!
Also many many thanks to Jamilah Barnes who helped organize this incredible event as well as Mecca Moore of Pynk Magazine who produced this amazing experience for all of us. The details were impeccable, with sand globes provided by SandGloves.Love, and the gorgeous flower wall by Dreamwork Diva.
I read in a magazine last year that we would see a ton of hotels, restaurants and major events featuring art installations and interactive activities with the intention of creating Instagrammable moments for it’s visitors. Spend a day in New York and you’ll see a snapworthy moment everywhere — from the sidewalks to the interior walls and displays of your favorite yogurt shop — it’s all meant for a picture-worthy moment.
Last week, when the invite to BET’s VIP night for the opening of it’s latest creation The Museum of MEME hit my inbox, curiosity definitely got the best of me. I knew for sure it would be something for the gram!
At first, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how a museum of memes could actually be a thing, but to my surprise it didn’t disappoint. Ahead of the BET Social Awards, the network converted a blank space in Soho into an immersive gallery of 25 exhibits. Incorporated were social movements, popular memes, hashtags, and some of the biggest video moments of social media viewed through the lens of Black culture and the voices that created them.
Issa Rae had a huge viral moment at The Emmys in September 2017. When she was asked on the red carpet who she was rooting for, she replied, “I’m rooting for everybody black.” This was a huge installation at the back of the Museum of Meme where the event’s photo booth was set up!
I wanted in.
There was also an array of installations that highlighted how we have used social media to amplify important causes and heighten social awareness with hashtags like #TimesUp, #SayHerName and #Black Lives Matter.
I arrived with my friends Sam and CJ in tow, and ran into some familiar faces including Rotimi (Power), Bobbi Valentino, Rae Holliday, Lowkey (Hennypalooza/Trap Karaoke), Ron Bass and my publicist/friend Christina Brown.
It was definitely an interesting and fun night.
Take a look at some of the pics below:
NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 08: Sam White, and Necole Kane attend the BET NETWORKS Hosting of the Opening Night Reception For “THE MUSEUM OF MEME” In Celebration Of “THE BET SOCIAL AWARDS” at The Museum of Meme on February 8, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for BET Networks)
Photos via Getty Images | Calligrafist | Dorothy Hung/Team Epiphany
When I look back at the moments of my life where I felt like I was accomplishing major goals and living out my dreams, those moments were always driven by me being able to submerge myself in visualization and manifestation techniques such as intention setting, creating vision boards, and dream books. That is why I was super excited when my close friend and long time publicist Christina Rice (Founder of Omnoire) and I decided to come together to hold our first Vision Board & Manifestation workshop.
On January 20, the Pretty Powerful You Vision Board and Manifestation workshop came to life at Live Primary, a wellness co-working space in Battery Park. Over 100 attendees from 6 different states joined us and life coach La Shell Wooten for an inspiring day that included a private breakfast, an intimate conversation, feng shui tips, an affirmation wall and vision board creation.
During the intimate chat, some of the attendees revealed some of their personal struggles and obstacles that they were attempting to overcome with suggestions and words of advice from La Shell. (She’s my personal life coach by the way!) Christina also revealed that she is very picky about who she allows in her home due to the emotional debris that people can bring into your personal space, and La Shell added the Feng Shui tip of keeping your entry way clean and clear of clutter so that your home is welcoming for the visitors that you do allow into your space.
“Your home has to be prepared to disarm everyone’s baggage at the door.”
A highlight for me was when one of my readers admitted that she was mad at me when I first closed down my former celebrity gossip site, but when I launched my new site, xoNecole, she said, “oooooh, she’s not gossiping anymore, then I can’t be gossiping. I have to do better too!” We all laughed, and then cheered as she revealed that her peeling away from reading the gossip blogs helped her finish school and get the job she wanted. Sis, was flourishing!
These are the moments I live for. Experiences that allow me to meet readers face to face and create moments of bonding and sisterhood.
I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a note on here.
This year, my life has undergone some major changes. 2017 has grown me, shifted me, and evolved me. So much has been happening behind the scenes and I can’t wait to reveal some of the things I have in store for you.
But, before I do, there is something important that I want to say…
I’m a New Yorker now!
Today makes it a week since I made the official move to New York City.
Yes, I moved back to the East Coast. Yes, this is really happening and yes, I’ve started over, once again.
While pursuing my goals and dreams, I’ve moved so many times that you’d think I could do this with my eyes closed. But what made this time so different from the other cross-country and state-to-state moves I’ve made in the past, is that I decided to forgo any sort of relocation services. This time, I got rid of almost everything I owned.
The decision to downsize was influenced by a call I received from a very successful friend while I was looking for the most inexpensive option for a mover. She revealed to me that she was losing her passion in life and in her career and she felt stagnant.
My friend wanted to move across the country but, to her surprise, a relocation service gave her a quote of almost $20,000, which immediately shattered her plans to uproot and leave. The accumulation of clothes, high-end furniture, her office equipment, and her car would cost her tens of thousands of dollars to take with her.
For months, she put off moving and existed in a space of unhappiness in her career and life.
After we hung up, I was reminded that we can easily become enslaved by the accumulation of material things that have no real value in our lives. The book The Happiness Project, as well as the documentary, The Minimalist, teaches us the concept of decluttering. It has been proven that living with less and having fewer possessions improves the quality of our lives tremendously.
So, why do we hold on to these things?
After taking inventory of the various items I was attempting to drag across the country with me, I realized that wasn’t the best move. There were a bunch of things I had accumulated through my different moves over the last few years that had no real value to me.
The furniture and appliances could be replaced.
The books donated.
Most of the bags, shoes, and clothes that I owned were collecting dust and represented the person I used to be.
But I wasn’t that woman anymore.
It was in that moment that I remembered a quote I heard Devi Brown mention, “A snake that cannot shed its skin will perish,” and it clicked for me.
If I truly wanted to start a new chapter, I’d have to shed myself of my old skin and everything that no longer served me.
That would include friendships, relationships, and material things. When one of your goals in life is to climb the mountain of success, the higher the climb, the heavier the burden of useless things will weigh on you.
It’s almost impossible to grow without eliminating.
I had to get rid of it all.
Over a two-week period, I sold all of my furniture, donated the bulk of my clothes and appliances to homeless shelters, and I dropped my car off to Carmax where they wrote me a check on the spot. Getting rid of my car was probably the hardest decision to make because it was on my vision board for a long time before I purchased it as a Christmas gift to myself in 2012. But I’m a true believer and a testament that what you are willing to give up and sacrifice for your dreams will eventually be restored tenfold. I had no use for it in New York or in the new part of my journey.
On Tuesday, July 18, I showed up at JFK with suitcases filled with everything else I owned. The only things I felt I truly needed.
I gave some of my books to one of my Instagram followers who just moved to Arizona.
I felt light.
I felt free.
Even a week later, I realize now that I don’t miss any of the things that I gave up.
I am telling this story because I wanted to connect with others who might be on a similar path, caught in the middle with a similar conundrum. If you are at a place in life where you feel stuck, uncomfortable, or the energy in your home just does not feel right, consider doing a purge.
Purging means getting rid of anything that has outlived its purpose in your life and is no longer in alignment with your current path.
This could be a closet clean out, clearing out storage spaces, and it can even mean ending relationships and friendships that hinder you more than they serve you.
You’ll find that once you declutter, purge and let go of things that don’t align with where you want to go and who you want to be, life will begin to open up and change for the better.
P.S. There are just 5 rooms left for the Glow Up Wellness Retreat in October. If you are in need of a relaxing and exhilarating weekend surrounded by empowering women, click here to find out how you can join us!
I have some exciting news for my readers who desire an empowering and memorable travel experience mixed with self-care, wellness and adventure.
I’ve partnered with my wonderful friends at OMNoire for their first annual “Glow Up” Wellness Retreat, which will be held on October 5-9, 2017 in Grenada, West Indies.
This revitalizing and empowering four-day weekend will include, daily yoga and meditation sessions, inspiring brunch and dinner discussions with entrepreneurs, yoga instructors, fitness enthusiasts, and global travelers around topics that include: Power of Purpose, Creating a Life You Love Through Positive Affirmations, Living Life With Intention and more as well as exhilarating adventures around the island such as Grenada by Land & Sea, Waterfall Hikes, Island-style partying, a Beach Bonfire Party, Snorkeling and more.
I am huge on self-care and taking time to recharge and I truly believe you will enjoy this awesome opportunity to bond with like-minded creatives, entrepreneurs and business women for a weekend to remember.
Still undecided? Here’s a few more reasons you may want to attend:
Discover the raw beauty of Grenada, one of most untapped islands in the Caribbean.
Learn why Ebony Magazine recommends “The Spice Island” as your next vacation getaway.
All you have to do is show up.
Packages (exclusive of airfare) include most meals, all events on the schedule (unless otherwise noted), ground transportation, daily yoga and meditation sessions, and more. Packages HERE.
Escape your daily grind.
Enjoy a weekend of empowering breakfast discussions, day time adventures, dinner talks and nightlife parties. Daily adventures include Grenada By Land and Sea. Schedule HERE.
Travel with girlfriends or travel solo
Meet like-minded women who share your love of health, wellness & adventure, and forge connections that will last a lifetime.
We’ve designed this experience with YOU in mind.
There is no other retreat that will stretch and grow you in areas you’ve never imagined…with a whole lot of fun, adventure, good food and camaraderie in between!
Confirmed speakers include myself, Necole Kane (CEO, xoNecole.com), Christina Rice (co-founder of OMNoire, founder LuxeLife Media & LuxeLife Adventures); Amber Forrester (co-founder of OMNoire, founder of Kane & Couture and Crowned & Brown); and Kered Clement (British Grenadian, travel journalist, digital strategist and content creator), with more to be announced!
Packages start at $1,400 with the first deposit of $750 due at time of booking by August 30th. Receive a 5% discount if your package is paid in full.
“It takes courage to push yourself to places you have never been before…to test your limits…to break through barriers. And the day came when the risk it took to stay tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anaïs Nin
There are things, people, places and events that change you.
EmpowerHer17 was that event for me.
This year, the 2-day conference was hosted in Chicago and brought together a room of more than 300 women who were there to inspire, network and hear insightful career advice from black millennial business women, entrepreneurs and influencers. The conference was hosted by Gia Peppers and included appearances and insight from everyone like Zim Ugochukwu of Travel Noire, to actress/producer Lena Waithe, blogger/author Luvvie Ajayi, and Allied Moxy SVP Erika Bennett.
Back in March, Blavity founder Morgan Debaun reached out to me to ask if I’d appear at the conference, and my first response was that I didn’t feel comfortable doing a keynote or even speaking at the conference because I was still knee-deep in my transition. I hadn’t fully reached my personal goals when it came to my new xoNecole website, and I was still in a state of laying low and doing the dirty work quietly while I patiently built my brand.
I’m a huge believer that every season won’t be your season.
There are some seasons that you sit out, and plant your seeds and there are others were you harvest.
I was still in my planting season.
I was also going through a personal transition behind-the-scenes as well. I was toying with the idea of venturing into Health & Fitness after winning two trophies in my first ever fitness competition. Training for the competitions as well as educating friends and loved ones on healthier, lifesaving eating habits had become a huge passion of mine and I felt as though God was leading me into a new territory. I was studying to become Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition, as well as Wellness Coaching and I was pretty happy. I was actually elated. New doors and opportunities were opening for me and I knew at some point I had to make a decision on if I still wanted to run and expand the xoNecole brand on my own, or if I was going to hand it off to someone else and take yet another leap in the pursuit of happiness and living my dreams.
But there was still this urge and fire in me to leave my shell and get out in front of my audience. Participating in the conference would give me the opportunity to engage with my readers and people who have been following me a long time face-to-face and get their feedback. I needed that energy and so I accepted the invitation.
I’m glad I did. Speaking at the conference moved me.
Talking to the women who had tears in their eyes as they told me how much they resonated with my story, admired my transition and needed my transparency moved me.
I needed that.
Sometimes we need to be reminded of the work we do and the affect it has on others, to keep pushing.
That’s what the conference did for me.
Here are 6 important questions and topics that people may have had that I answered during the fireside chat:
Why I Left My Gossip Brand
It was time.
When you settle into just existing in a space, it’s time to move on.
7 is the number of completion and I was inching towards my eighth year. I was no longer the woman I was when I started the brand and I was no longer interested in most of the news and topics we were covering. I had lost my fire. I had lost my passion and my readers could sense it. The longer I continued to run the site and keep up with those things that I was outgrowing, it would continue to stunt my growth as a woman.
The truth is, when your career is to report breaking news on other people’s lives, you end up subconsciously living your own life as a spectator. I always hear the saying, “you are what you consume”, and since I was consuming celebrity gossip, violence, drama, divorces, suicides and very negative news every hour of the day, I was becoming that. It was in conflict with the person I wanted to be.
I remember being so filled with angst, depression and anxiety all of the time and I thought it was because I had experienced so many deaths in my family. When I finally sought a therapist, she revealed that I had second hand PTSD from the news we were reporting. That was eye-opening to me. I had to wonder if it had that type of effect on me, what effect was the news we were publishing having on the site’s visitors?
Once I realized this, I knew I would have to let go of my old brand if I honestly wanted to live a fulfilling life full of joy, happiness and love. As most woman desire once they are in their 30s, I wanted balance. I wanted to nurture my friendships and have time to enjoy weddings, birthdays and baby showers. I wanted to be able to unplug for a few days without the fear of missing something or falling off. I wanted to be present in the presence of people I cared about dearly versus having to check my phone every few minutes. Finally, I wanted to launch a site that was the vitamin my audience didn’t know they needed. One full of inspiration, empowering stories and career advice to help my readers live their best lives. That’s what I wanted my legacy to be able and I do feel xoNecole.com has and is still accomplishing that.
Why I didn’t sell NecoleBitchie.com
In 2013, before the site reached it’s peak, I was negotiating a $1.3 -2 million deal to sell my brand to a well-known media company. I didn’t really entertain the offer for too long because at the time the fact that I built the brand from the bottom up meant more to me than a million dollar paycheck and I knew there was so much more work to do to get it to a place where it wasn’t just known for “salacious gossip.” A few years later, I remember reaching out to one of my friends who had sold her site for advice and I will never forget what she told me. She said:
“I wish I had sold for more. When anyone comes to you with an offer, believe that you are worth 2-3 times as much as that initial offer. You have to know your worth. After taxes, paying out lawyers and business managers, those checks won’t last long but your brand and your legacy is what can last forever.”
That always stuck with me. I eventually closed NecoleBitchie.com versus selling it because I knew that if I sold it, I would no longer have control over that particular brand’s content or legacy. As long as the site stayed up and running on the web, I’d always be known as the personality behind it and that was counterproductive to my growth and the places I wanted to go as I continued to evolve in my life.
How I still push on in the face of adversity after losing both of my parents
My mom was a staple in my life when it came to picking up the phone and having someone I could talk to. Before she died, I was calling her to catch up every single day on my lunch break at work. The last time I ever talked to her on the phone, I remember asking her “Are you going to die?” and she fell silent. In that moment, all the petty things I used to stress over no longer mattered. She was 41 at the time of her death (my father was 42). The concept of “Life is short” is very real to me.
At the conference, I cried as I revealed for the first time ever that it hurts me the most that my parents never had the chance to see me be successful. While they were alive, I was moving from house to house, staying with different friends, sleeping on couches, trying to finish school, dabbling into different interests and really trying to find myself. To achieve success and not be able to share that with loved ones has been excruciating. It’s been one of the root causes when I fall into stages of depression. I think there is a sense of guilt there, like I had to do a trade off in life and sometimes I feel it’s extremely unfair. But I know that things happen for a reason and I try not to dwell on the “why me?”
Moving back home doesn’t always mean you’ve failed
Before I started NecoleBitchie.com, I was dead broke, the IRS had frozen my bank account due to some back taxes and I had no choice but to move back to my hometown and live with an aunt. One of the audience members revealed that she recently found herself in the same situation, and she wanted to know how I was able to stay positive and still have enough hope to get myself out of that situation and eventually achieve success.
A lot of people equate moving back home and returning to the place you started as failure. I no longer look at it that way. Sometimes you need to take a few steps backwards to regroup, re-strategize and push forward and sometimes going back home is the best option for you to get back on your feet. Last year, I was consulting a fellow blogger that had moved to LA and each day she spent commuting to a job she hated was pushing her further and further from her dream. She felt as though all of her goals were impossible. We both agreed that her moving back to the East Coast would probably be the best decision, and within a 9 month period, she relaunched her website, wrote a few e-books, traveled to 3 countries, and was being booked for speaking engagements around the country. Giving herself permission to go back home and regroup, helped her to get back in alignment with her passions and propel herself into the next level of her career.
I always tell people when moving back home, give yourself a time period.
If you know that you only want to be home for six months, you will move differently and start taking the necessary steps to map out a plan to get you out of there in those 6 months. I didn’t have a time frame in mind when I first went home so my aunt did the best thing she could have ever done for me, and gave me one. Just as my brand was growing a little, she told me I could only stay for another month and I was devastated. I left that weekend and moved to Atlanta where I slept on a friend’s couch and my career started to take off. I am now mature enough to know that her kicking me out was not personal. As much as it may have hurt her, she was removing the crutch from underneathe of me so that I had no choice but to be uncomfortable and walk on my own two feet. I probably wouldn’t be here if she hadn’t made that tough decision.
Sacrifices and Discomfort Are Only Temporary
This wasn’t really a question but an add on to the young lady who had to move back home recently. Having to move back home, sleep on couches, borrow money and those type of things are all temporary if you are extremely focused on accomplishing your dreams. The problem with temporary, is having the patience and faith to know that things will work out without really knowing when it will happen. Whatever you have to give up and sacrifice for your dream, you have to trust and believe that it will be restored in due time. I made it a point at the conference to reveal that I had recently made the decision to move back to New York. I’ve lived in NYC three times already and have never been comfortable living there ever but it’s the sacrifice I’m willing to make for the goals I have for my brand. I also made it a point to reveal that even though I have a loft I love in Arizona, my dream car (that was on my 2009 vision board and is completely paid off), and I live a very comfortable lifestyle, it’s important that I sell my furniture, car, and most of my things before I leave.
Sometimes on the path of success we accumulate all of these material things that we think matter, and realize how much of a burden they are when we want to maneuver freely and chase new levels.
Please understand, when you achieve success, you are not the car you drive, amazing house you live in, and clothes you wear. You are your legacy and you have to decide what that is going to be. Nobody is gonna talk about any of the stuff you own in your eulogy at your funeral when you are no longer here. Instead they will talk about the impact you had on their lives.
It’s okay to unplug and take a break
We are currently in a social media obsessed culture were people feel as though if they aren’t constantly sharing pieces of their day, and themselves, that people will forget about them. The same goes for the entertainment industry and the thriving market of influencers who’ve built social media based brands. It may be tempting to attend every party, and post photos with celebs or other people with huge followings in order to feel relevant but at some point it will become a bit counterproductive if there isn’t other work being done to grow your business or brand. If you are at every event, or constantly on social media sharing your life or plugging into everyone else’s lives, when do you have time to create? When do you have time to be inspired? When do you have time to do meaningful purposeful work that means something?
And sometimes you need to take a break period.
I learned this the hard way when I transitioned out of NecoleBitchie.com and I rushed to launch xoNecole.com six weeks later. Instead of taking months or even a year or two to rest, gather my thoughts, live in my moments and then really map out the new site and produce really great work, I just rushed into launching something else in fear that I would lose my audience or they would forget about me. The end result was chaos, stress and I lost a lot of money. A TON of money.
Although we were mapped out the content, hired editors and writers, and figured out how we would market the new brand, I don’t think we fully thought through how the site would gain revenue since we weren’t a part of a network and launched with no in-house sales team. Do I regret the decision? No, I don’t…because sometimes you just have to say ‘f-ck it’ and take the leap and figure it out later, however, I do think we could have planned the launch of the site just a little better.
7 months after we launched, I eventually downsized my staff, regrouped, refocused and restrategized. When updating the site with new features, we focused more on quality over quantity, and instead of seeking out writers for the site, I started focusing on everyday women who had empowering stories to tell.
I also took a year off of doing speaking engagements, appearances and industry events so that I could work on self-care, travel, compete in fitness competitions and slow down and live a little.
I’m in a happier space now and I feel like I’m ready to get back out there, create, expand my brand and thrive! The best part of it all is that I’m viewing the world through a completely different lens.
That was the gist of my 60 minute chat at Empowerher17 (although I have elaborated a little more here 🙂 )
Thank you guys for reading!
I highly recommend investing in attending at least one conference a year if you are serious about learning from people in your field as well as growing your network. Don’t forget your business cards and keep in touch with your contacts. (I’m still working on this!) Something beautiful may come from it.
1) Don’t allow yourself to be restricted by rules. To live a liberated life of your dreams, you’ll eventually break every single one of them.
2) Never say never
Two years ago, I said I would never live in New York or the surrounding area again.
As a backstory, I’ve lived in Union City (10 Minutes outside of midtown Manhattan) in 2007, Downtown Brooklyn in 2010, and Union City again in 2013. The last time around, when my lease was up and I attempted to find another place to live in the city that didn’t require 2 full months rent for the security deposit, would give me the luxury of having a washer and dryer in the apartment, and parking that didn’t require me to have to wake up 1-2 times a week to move my car to another block because of street cleaning, I failed. In comparison, I went to LA for a week and found a spacious apartment with tons of natural lighting, basic luxuries, free garage parking and only required a $300 security deposit. I was on the West Coast before anyone I knew could throw a “going away” festivity.
I was out.
Over the years, I’ve always questioned why living in New York was so hard.
Eating healthy was the struggle.
Finding time to go to the gym was a struggle.
Self-care was a struggle.
Grocery shopping was a struggle.
Doing laundry if you weren’t the lucky few who had W/D in unit was a struggle.
Finding time to do anything outside of work and a little networking, was the struggle.
How did people over the age of 28 still do it?
After living in Arizona for two years, surrounded by Zen, energy healers, friendly neighbors, $25 dollar a month gym memberships and a list of luxuries, I said I could never go back to that lifestyle again.
And again, I lied.
In a few weeks, I will be moving to New York again. Although I started to believe I was going to spend the rest of my life tucked away in the desert living a very modest lifestyle, God had other plans for me. This year, I felt this overwhelming jolting feeling that I was settling for comfort. That I hadn’t even come close to walking in my fullest capacity of greatness, and that this calm, clarity-filled, healthy life that I was currently living, as beautiful as it was, was pulling me further and further away from the purpose-filled life that I was destined to live.
So when career opportunities started presenting themselves, especially those that scared the crap out of me, I knew it was time to embark on a new journey, and my time here was finally coming to an end.
As I pack up my things, and leave my peaceful life behind in Arizona, here’s how I have decided I will be navigating New York differently:
1. Create a self-care routine in the mornings
One of the first things I did when I realized there was a possibility I would be returning to New York was call a friend and ask her, “How do you exercise self-care?” I needed to know between the constant rush of subways, her job, attending network events and rushing from one place to the next, how she was able to create time to love on herself. Her answer was simple, “This city doesn’t have a collective curfew, so I make sure I always get up early and carve out time in the morning to find my center.”
For me, this will mean making sure I’m in the house by 9 and bed no later than 11 during the weekdays so that I can wake up during the magic hours between 4am and 6am when the city is sleeping. I plan to continue my morning self-care ritual that I currently have in Arizona which includes; opening my blinds, prayer, journaling, aromatherapy with essential oils, cooking breakfast, and listening to a few chapters of an audio book or podcast — all before checking my phone to make sure I’m grounded and centered before I plug into the real world.
2. Get to know my neighborhood, my neighbors and have staples
The one thing I’ve come to love about living in a not so major city like Scottsdale, Arizona is that people actually make eye contact and engage with you when you walk in stores, restaurants or pass each other in elevators. Most of the restaurants I frequent remember my order, and my UPS guy makes sure there is a bowl of fresh tootsie rolls in the front of the store every time I come to pick up my mail. I love the familiarity of it all.
I realize I can create a similar atmosphere in a big city like New York if I make time to really get to know my neighborhood. Frequenting the same coffee shops and bodegas often and taking time to make eye contact with people, as well as engage in conversation will help me get to know my neighbors and the people who are serving me a nice warm latte each day.
3. Arrive everywhere early
I found myself flustered a lot during the times that I lived in New York, and I’m coming to terms that it was 90% my fault. I was flustered because I was always rushing and I was always rushing because I was always running late. During the recent week I spent in New York, I arrived to all of my meetings at least a half hour early and there was a noticeable difference in how calm and confident I was versus the times I’ve shown up on time or a few minutes late. Arriving to places early, regardless of if it’s an event, important job interview, or dinner meeting, gives you time to settle in, scope out the atmosphere, and gather your thoughts which will boost your confidence and lead to better networking. Not to mention, it will leave a lasting impression.
4. A Social Circle Of Empowering Friends
While at the DC Broccoli Festival, I ran into “The Queen of Green” Yoli Ouiya who runs the healthy living blog Yoli’s Green Living. We instantly connected on our passion for self-care, crystal therapy and educating the community on healthier eating habits. When I mentioned I was toying with the idea of returning to New York, she told me she wanted to put together a sister circle of women who had similar interests in self-care and health for weekly meet ups and accountability check ins. That was music to my ears.
Aside from nurturing friendships with people who have similar lifestyle interests as I do, I also want to make sure I venture outside of my comfort zone and create friendships that empower me. I’ve sort of fell into the mentor role to a lot of people throughout my career and realized that although I had a lot of friends who looked up to me, I wasn’t establishing a lot of deeper connections and relationships with people I admired and looked up to. That is crucial in the pursuit of elevating higher.
5. Continue To Meal Prep, Indulge In Healthy Eating & Stay Fit
While we are on the subject of healthy eating, I can no longer allow myself to be on the one-meal-a-day diet that I adopted while working in the entertainment industry the previous three times I lived in New York. As entrepreneurs, at times we find ourselves so emerged in work that Breakfast and Lunch time passes us by and it’s not until late afternoon that we grab our first meal. An unhealthy meal at that. This go-round, meal prepping will be crucial to me sticking to a healthy diet. Better, healthier eating habits have become key to managing my energy, and has resulted in me being far more alert, creative and productive during the day.
I’m well aware, that grocery runs won’t be as quick and easy as they are where I’m currently living, however, the benefits of continuing my current meal prep routine will be well worth the effort.
Also, hitting the gym and releasing endorphins hasn’t just kept me uber fit, it has been the key to managing my stress levels. Finding a gym home and working out at least 3-4 times a week is going to be a crucial part of me keeping my peace.
6. Ditch The Car, Take The Subway
The last three times I lived in New York, I owned a car and instead of taking the subway, I drove, Uber’d, or Taxi’d my way around the city while racking up transportation and parking bills that rivaled rent prices.
This can not happen in 2017. I value saving for retirement, travel and living a life I don’t need to constantly escape from far too much. Taking the subway is not only much cheaper than all the other options that are available, you get places far quicker.
7. Spend More Time Networking
Dinner meetings, networking events, happy hour drinks, thank you notes and follow up emails are all crucial keys in building and nurturing your relationships in huge cities like New York. I remember being on the Rolling Out Female Success Tour in 2008 when I first heard Munson Steed proclaim, “Your network is your net worth.” I must admit, due to my social anxiety and awkwardness in social settings, I haven’t been the best networker in my career, but I am now challenging myself face my fears and go to more events, hand out more business cards and work the rooms when I return to the Big Apple.
8. Have A Thriving Personal Life
Work, life, love balance is very important to me in this stage of my life. During most of the 10 years of my career in entertainment, I didn’t date and most of my friends were my peers or business associates. Honestly, having solely these type of relationships can feel empty and almost a bit lonely in a city like New York. You find yourself only knowing bits and pieces of people and only catching up to go to parties, events and brunches together. I need something deeper to be fulfilled.
Now that my priorities in life have shifted to include more balance and the things that bring me joy, dating and getting to know people beyond surface level relationships is so important to me. This is a huge focus for me as I attempt to thrive in the next stage of my life and career.
I’m looking at New York through a different lens than I did before. My perspective has changed and my new New York chapter won’t be full of people I barely remember, at events I barely cared about. It’s going to mean something this time around.
Are you a current New Yorker or have you ever lived in New York at some point? Any suggestions on how I can navigate this fast paced scene and get the work/life balance I so dearly crave would be greatly appreciated!
Being a fashion blogger, influencer and/or face of your brand — even more expensive.
On any given day, you may scroll through your Instagram timeline and see women that you admire, dressed in the latest trends, looking “beat” to perfection and wonder, “why don’t I look like that on a daily basis?”
And the answer is simple. It takes work….and money!
When I was a gossip blogger, for the first few years, I’d attend events and appearances and I didn’t put much effort into what I looked like. I just didn’t care enough until I realized I was becoming the face of my brand. As my popularity grew and I became more visible, it became “a thing” for me to spend a ton of money on hair, make-up and wardrobe styling each time I attended an event or appearance. I owned a site that often covered celebs and their red carpet looks, so there was this added pressure to look just as good when I stepped out or I’d be subjected to the same type of critique as the celebs I covered.
It made the preparation for every event anxiety-ridden.
Lucky for me, now that I have shifted directions and rebranded, I don’t have that type of pressure anymore but I still like to look good ….and to do so on a budget.
This is why Rent The Runway and their unlimited program has been one of the best styling options I’ve stumbled upon. It’s an Influencer, Entrepreneur and Blogger’s best kept secret. (or maybe even worse-kept secret as fellow entrepreneurs Mattie James, Tiffany Battle and Myleik Teele all favor the service.)
Tiffany Battle in English Factory Varsity Coat from Rent The Runway Unlimited
Mattie James rocks a Solace London jumpsuit from Rent The Runway
Fashion Blogger Tiffany Battle in mixed prints from Rent The Runway
Fashion Influencer Tiffany Battle in Rent The Runway
How it works:
A regular membership to Rent The Runway will allow you to rent designer clothes for 4-8 days, however an unlimited membership to RTR will allow you to keep 3 designer pieces in your closet and exchange them anytime, for as long as you want for the low price of $139 a month. To give you a good example of how it allowed me to cut my shopping budget tremendously, during the month of November, I rented and returned a total of 8 pieces (a combination of dresses and coats) during that 30 day period. The retail price of the 8 pieces combined would have cost me over $4000. I only paid the $139 monthly fee, and that included the shipping costs and dry cleaning which Rent The Runway covers. The other reason I recommend it so much for women on the go is whether you work in an office, are an influencer, or CEO, you will never run out of clothing options and it saves tons of closet space.
Wearing a Suno crisp floral print dress from Rent the Runway
Wearing a Tory Burch dress from Rent The Runway
Over the last six months, I’ve smartened up a little, and have made it a thing to keep at least 3 pieces in my closet at all times that I can wear to a formal event, cocktail party or red carpet so I’m never scrambling to find things to wear last minute for events.
On Thursday, this came in handy as I hosted the xoNecole+ ORS Hair #NoStereotypes mixer in Chicago. I was finally able to get my hands on an Emanual Ungaro Garden Print dress that I’ve had saved in my hearts for at least 5-6 months now for the event. Totally beat the headache of last minute shopping at the mall or the cost of hiring a stylist.
Have you been paying close attention to what you pray, wish and hope for lately?
For me, it has most definitely been a life of balance. All of my prayers seem to revolve around a career that I’m passionate about, having amazing empowering friendships, a healthy lifestyle and a partner to share my life journey with.
The thing about prayers is, God answers them fairly quickly without us even realizing it. As we maneuver through life, wondering if he’s forgotten about us to tend to someone else, he is positioning us for the perfect moment to slam dunk on our #lifegoals.
The problem is, a lot of times, we are guilty of blocking our blessings when they come. For example, a huge job opportunity may come your way, one that’s far bigger than what you imagined and paying far more than you ever imagined you’d be making, and the first thought that runs through your head could be, “I don’t deserve this. I’m don’t have enough experience. I will mess this one up.“
We have to be conscious of the messages we continue to tell ourselves. Especially when they scream, “I’m not worthy!”
Normally this is caused by fear which paralyzes us from growing and becoming the person we are meant to be, with the career we are mean’t to have, and the life we are meant to live.
It is the same with relationships. I’m super guilty of saying, “God, I’m ready for my soul mate now. I’ve gotten myself together,” but the moment a guy approaches me, I throw out body language, hints and clues that I’m not available. When I am talking to or dating a guy who is phenomenal and I really start to like him, I create a million excuses of why he’s not the right one, or this isn’t the right time and talk myself right out of it going any further.
I always claim it’s my intuition but a lot of times, it’s really my fear.
My newest youtube vlog (which is really short and to the point) tackles this topic. It was inspired by a few situations that happened to me over the past few days. It also was inspired by me randomly meeting a guy just weeks after I said to myself, “Now I’m ready to date, meet guys and potentially be in a relationship.”
It’s Okay To Take A Break From Building Your Brand Without Feeling Guilt Or Shame
It’s not unusual to open up your social media feed to see hashtags like #thegrinddontstop and #sleepwhenIdie. And in those moments if you are kicking back and binging the latest season of “Orange Is The New Black” in footies smelling like yesterday, you may suddenly feel like you aren’t doing enough.
Nevermind that you may have worked overtime and spent hours of your day stuck in traffic, or even spent 50+ hours in a week working towards growing your brand, all while cooking, cleaning, taking care of kids, trying to keep your relationship intact, and have an active presence on social media. In that moment that you chose to do absolutely nothing but enjoy your favorite chick flicks, you may suddenly experience a tinge of guilt.
You may also feel like you have no right to rest and should be grinding harder. That somehow success only comes to those who never sleep, barely eat, and don’t take vacations.
And that’s furthest from the truth.
A few years ago a successful friend of mine had invited me over to watch movies. As he ran down a list of titles, he was shocked that I hadn’t seen at least 90% of his favorite classics. I remember him saying, “You don’t watch movies?” and I responded, “I don’t have time. I’m normally working” ( aka I have better things to do with my time.)
His response was, “You need to live a little. You need to escape.”
That day I didn’t quite understand what he meant because I come from a work-obsessed culture who pegged the television the “Idiot box.” Escaping to me meant running off to a secluded island, or traveling to a foreign place, or even immersing myself into a good book — but a movie or binge watching a show, “Nah.” And even those things had to be done moderately because again, we are a culture of super talented, creative dreamers and entrepreneurs who are afraid to take breaks and vacations in fear of falling off. That there may be someone who works harder or is more talented that will slide in and take your place.
If it’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that burnout is counterproductive to growth. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your company or brand in the long-term.
In 2015, I experienced burnout and was exhausted beyond belief. After I closed down my site NecoleBitchie.com, I went to work immediately on a new site, xoNecole.com, that would launch just two months later. During an interview that I set up with CurlBox owner Myleik Teele who is one of my entrepreneur sheroes, I remember her saying, “I read somewhere that you recently took your first vacation after 6 years. I was like ‘Is she crazy??’ I took 10 vacations last year.”
I sat there shocked in all my burned out glory, with barely enough energy to be on the call, let alone transcribe and formulate the interview I was currently having into a well-written feature article. All I could think was, “10 vacations? What am I doing wrong?” After years of working non-stop, I barely had enough energy left in me to launch a new brand, yet Myleik was sitting on a thriving empire that included a subscription box service, opening her own warehouse, and a podcast and she had somehow managed to give herself permission to take 10 vacations in one year. It was very obvious of who had it all wrong, and who was doing things the right way.
And it wasn’t me.
That conversation was a blatant reminder that instead of refusing to get adequate sleep, or grinding non-stop, those moments when you are feeding your soul with the things you enjoy like that hour-long pilates class, that weight-lifting session, learning a new language, happy hour with friends, a movie night, an unplug day from social media, a vacation and even binging your favorite show, only lead to more productivity and creativity in your professional life which ultimately will help you become a better performer at work and better version of yourself.
And you should never feel guilty about those moments.
Just recently I went on a 7-day vacation to Thailand, and had a blast, but there was a lot of times during my trip where I felt guilty about the time I was taking away from my website. When I returned however, I felt relaxed, recharged, and I was bursting out the seams with new ideas and projects.
Let me say this:
You should never feel guilty about the things that make you happy.
You should never feel guilty about not giving your time and energy to other people before making sure that you are good mentally, spiritually and emotionally first.
You should not feel guilty for doing the things you love.
You should never feel guilty or selfish for indulging in self-care.
Self-care is a form of self-love and self love is asking yourself what you need every day and then making sure you receive it. That could be as simple as unplugging from everything, and doing absolutely nothing but catching up on some much needed rest, or enjoying your favorite show.
Because you deserve that.
“The shit that makes your heart beat faster and your eyes glow when you do it or talk about it, no matter if it’s hiking, yoga, gardening, painting, sex, meditation, photography, going for walks, helping others – do that. Do it as often as you can. Because that’s what life is about. Creating as many passionate, happy moments as possible. Don’t let anyone stop you from doing the things you love – not even yourself.” – Unknown
If you are an entrepreneur, do you find that you experience guilt when you take time off from growing your brand to do a few things you enjoy? What are ways you are practicing self-care? Let me know in the comments.