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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.

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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)

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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.

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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Inside xoNecole’s “Queens See Queens” Table of 20 Dinner

Published on xoNecole.com

Oh 2017!

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:

More pics:

 

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

Vibes

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

Vibes

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

Slay

 

Feel free to follow these amazing women that were in attendance on social for some #blackgirlmagic on your timelines!

Necole Kane – Editor-In-Chief xoNecole.com
Sharde Miller – Producer, Good Morning America
Lilly Workneh – Editor In Chief, Blavity
Natasha Alford – Deputy Editor, The Grio
Arianna Davis – Senior Features Writer, Refinery 29
Candice Benbow – Writer, Public Speaker (4:43, My Vodka Has Lemonade In It)
Tracy Garraud – Founder, She’s Beauty And The Beast | co-host Sway In The Morning
Christina Rice – Founder, Omnoire
Charreah Jackson – Senior Relationship Editor, Essence Magazine | Author
Brande Victorian – Managing Editor, Madamenoire
Cori Murray – Entertainment Director, Essence Magazine | co-Host Yes Girl! Podcast
Claire Sulmers – Founder, FashionBombDaily.com
Danielle Young – Producer, The Root
Danielle James – Style & Beauty Editor, Hello Beautiful | Founder, Model Citizen
Renae Bluitt – Founder, In Her Shoes Blog, She Did That Films
Janel Martinez – Founder, Ain’t I Latina
Tiffany Battle – Founder, The Werk Place!
Soraya Joseph – Digital Media Manager – Ebony Magazine
Candace McDuffie – Multi-media Journalist (Forbes, Glamour, Teen Vogue)
Chasity Cooper – Community Director, Her Agenda

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.

A Look Inside BET’s Museum Of Memes

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.

There was the Milly Rock (that we do on every block — Shout out to Quinta B)

An ode to the gif of Michael Jackson eating his popcorn (I used to use this every time someone said something juicy in a group chat)

Why You Always Lying was a song and video that went viral in 2015

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

Pretty Powerful You Vision Board & Manifestation Workshop

Create it.
Believe it.
Manifest it.

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.

It was truly a special day!

Catch a video recap of the event below:

Join Me At The Glow Up Wellness Retreat In Grenada

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.

Click here to find out more!

We hope to see you in October!!

“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

Why I Didn’t Sell My Former Site + 5 Other Important Topics I Covered At Empowerher17

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.

As I stated at the conference:

 

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.

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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.

 

Below is video and pics from EMPOWERHER17:


Highlights from my fireside chat

A great recap courtesy of Aquillia Mikel of Rebrand Chicago

 

 

Keep in touch with me!  Instagram: @hellonecole | Twitter @hellonecole

From Castles With Love

There’s nothing like a good black tie affair to end out the year.

On Thursday, December 8th radio personality Natasha Castles held her 2nd Annual From Castles With Love event at The Croft in downtown Phoenix and I can’t tell you how uber excited we were to get cleaned up for a night filled with good music and good vibes.  A live jazz band provided the soundtrack for the night, which also included a silent auction with proceeds going towards Child Crisis Arizona and other charities.

When I asked Natasha (who I met for the first time at the event) what inspired the occasion, she told me that there weren’t many black ties held in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area since she’s been here, so she decided to create one.  Bossy!

Truly a night to remember.

00002089Oh, and that blue gown!!

Everything!

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I Was A ‘Strong Woman’ At The WEEN Awards

There is nothing I love more than an empowering event….and wearing a piece that makes a strong statement.

On Wednesday, November 16, I attended the 6th Annual WEEN Awards which honored Meagan Good, Teyana Taylor, Dia Simmons, Sandra Bland’s mom Geneva Reed-Veal, Music Executive Ethiopia Habtemariam, actress Yara Shahidi, Teen Vogue EIC Elaine Welteroth, and Lil Kim. The theme of the night was solidarity, but as soon as I stepped in the building, I felt as though Trump winning the election resulted in even more unity, sisterhood and support among women of color — you could definitely feel it in the room.

I was there to honor actress Yara Shahidi, who I love and admire for her strong sense of self-awareness, courage and confidence. And she’s only 16!

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My dress of choice for the night was the “Strong Woman Afro Dress” by Woman’s Touch Apparel, an Arizona-based feminist clothing line.

Necole Kane Strong Woman
Necole Kane WEEN Awards
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I ran into Meagan Good
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And flipped my hair with Keri Hilson and Ethiopia!

I also cried a few tears!

 

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Thank you Yara for the shout out!

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This piece is currently sold out but I’m talking Jenesis into restocking. We need a whole line.

P.S. Here’s an exclusive recap and peek into the WEEN Awards


Edited by Patrick Neree

If you love the Woman’s Touch Apparel dress, peep their website for more female empowerment clothing. If you see something you like, use discount code ‘xonecole’ for a discount 🙂 

The Black Weblog Awards ‘Blogger Of The Year’ Dinner

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Necole Bitchie Black Weblog Awards

On November 2, I was honored as the ‘Blogger Of The Year’ by the Black Weblog Awards in Houston, TX. Before I was presented with the award, they played a video tribute that featured my friends, business associates and those closest to me, and I was an emotional wreck afterwards.

In my speech, I talked about how it was always my dream to go from city to city and inspire people, but that was cut short when I went to college and people teased me for the way I talked. I also addressed how people can discourage others from following their dreams, and how we never know how our words will affect people.

It’s crazy how one person can say something that kills your dream. You really have to be careful with the way your words affect people and I think as celebrity gossip and entertainment bloggers, we don’t really realize how one thing we may say about a celebrity can really affect their dream. And I don’t want to be that person.

“I believe when someone gives you a platform to speak, you should always say something meaningful”

Catch my speech below:

XONecole: Laughter, Tears & Wisdom With Tamar Braxton

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As 2013 is quickly coming to a close, I constantly look back on the things that has given me joy this year and one very big highlight for me was the xoNecole: Girl Talk With Tamar event. Back in February, after first posting on the success of YouTube blogger Beat Face Honey, I realized that I loved not only telling inspiring women’s stories, but giving them a platform to tell their own. So, I came up with the idea to create a site where myself and other women could share their personal stories on love, life, and relationships, with a little style and beauty thrown in the mix. That site would be xoNecole.

In August, right in the middle of the site being plagued by our web development team missing the mark on our vision (and us losing tons of money in the process), we decided to go ahead and launch an event series to kind of brand what we were trying to do. The first one was with Tamar Braxton, and she really didn’t hold back as she discussed her career, motherhood, her marriage, insecurities and more to a select group of women I picked from contest entries. Most of the women were either transplants to New York, new or expecting mothers, engaged, or newly married, and that event really was a special girl bonding moment for all of us. Everyone came alone but left with a new friend. We didn’t invite any press because we didn’t want to take away from the overall experience of the women in attendance.

It was that day that I realized, this is what I want to do.

Executing the official launch of xoNecole has been a bit of a struggle but I am determined not to lose site of my vision. Things that are really worth having don’t come easy.  That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned on this journey.

Watch the “Girl Talk recap”, plus photos below:

A Private Dinner For Cassie In Photos

Cassie Ventura at Dinner
After landing in LA two hours late, hours in the rental car line and opening my suitcase to realize I didn’t bring any clothes with me for BET Awards weekend (except for panties), a nice drama-free night with cocktails was just what I needed.

On Friday night, I attended an intimate, private dinner for Cassie Ventura sponsored by Ciroc in celebration of the success of her mixtape and her new Forever 21 campaign. It was really a good night of girls bonding over drinks, good conversation and showing mutual love, respect and appreciation for one another.

In attendance: LeToya Luckett, Lola Monroe, Adrienne Bailon, Julissa Bermudez, Karen Civil, Eleven 8 (Baller Alert), Eniko Parrish (Kevin Hart’s girlfriend), fashion designer Shateria, Mecca Moore and Valerie Lora.

As for my outfit, my good friend (who’s also a stylist) rushed me over a pair of pants from PRSVR, and a top and necklace from Top Shop. **sings** That’s what friends are for…

Necole Bitchie, Fallon and Lola Monroe
Necole Bitchie, Lola Monroe, Stasia, Adrienne Bailon and Julissa Bermudez Attend Cassie's Private Dinner
Eniko and Adrienne Bailon attend Cassie's Private Dinner   Lola Monroe and Cassie Eniko, Adrienne Bailon, Marilyn, Necole Bitchie, Julissa Bermudez, Lola Monroe and more attend Cassie's Private Dinner Mecca Moore, Adrienne Bailon, Julissa Bermudez, Shateria, Karen Civil and more attend Cassie's Private Dinner