On a Monday afternoon, Christina Rice packs up a little early to head to an impromptu yoga class. She's the teacher, not the student, with yoga being just one of the ventures that she has her hands in. As an owner of boutique PR and marketing agency LuxeLife Media Inc, and founder of lifestyle and adventure company LuxeLife Adventures, she's proof that when you're your own boss, you can make your own rules and create the life that you want—no permission needed.
In fact, Christina has always been one to not be confined by other's expectations of what her life should be. As a college student at Tennessee State University, she chose hustling over partying, and would spend her weekends in Atlanta to work with an artist management team. And at 21, when most college students were landing their first corporate job, Christina chose entrepreneurship instead. “I had graduated and I was like I don't really want to go into business information systems, I don't really want to work for a company because I had already had that taste of running my own business," she says. “So after three months or four months of figuring out what the next step was, I literally woke up one day and was like I'm going to start a boutique."
With limited knowledge about the fashion industry and running her own retail store, Christina made Barnes and Noble her office for the next eight months, spending eight hours a day researching and learning how to start a business despite what naysayers were saying. “People were saying to me, 'you've never worked in retail and you should get the experience with how to run a store' and I was like no, I believe in myself enough that I can do this. So I did that," says Christina.
With her newfound knowledge and savings from her stint in party planning, the then 21-year-old secured a line of credit to rent the space for her boutique, and also used funds to purchase her initial inventory from a New York trade show. Within a year she had opened the doors to what would be the first of many businesses.
Being her own boss was a dream, but it didn't come without its challenges. Running an inventory-based brick and mortar store with a small staff proved to be more costly than anticipated. “Anytime you open up a business, especially something that's product and inventory based, you want to make sure that you have six to eight months of financing saved up because you're going to learn that as soon as you purchase product and sell you have to replenish it and invest back into the business to help grow that business," she advises.
Christina's lesson in frugality helped keep her business afloat, but after three years of being self-employed she learned another lesson in entrepreneurship—that sometimes change is necessary.
“At some point I just got burned out because I had so much responsibility. I had staff, I had office rent, apartment rent, and I had even bought a condo to rent out as an investment property. I just realized I didn't want to live my life in Nashville, and I was ready for a change."
Reconnecting with the women who she worked with during her college days, Christina soon found herself packing up and relocating to New Jersey to stay with friends and assist with managing their artist, but after six months money was getting tight. She called up companies that she previously bought inventory from, and soon was working in the Frankie B. showroom. Two weeks in she realized that she didn't have the passion to continue the job, and once again found herself unsure of what her next steps would be.
At the suggestion of her friend, she began looking into public relations. She had all of the right attributes—great communicator, go-getter, and a background in fashion, but what she didn't have was the knowledge about what a publicist really does. “I started reading up on it and I was like okay, I think I can do this. Maybe I can go into fashion PR because at least I have a fashion background."
Browsing the classified ads of Women's Wear Daily—which she refers to as the fashion industry bible—she found three companies to send her resume to, one being a high-end cashmere sweater company. “I did my research and found out everything about them, and I went into the interview just very prepared. And they really liked me and hired me on the spot. Even when I got hired, I was still like I don't know what I'm doing."
Not one to make excuses, Christina became proactive and started developing relationships with stylists and publicists of notable celebrities such as Kimora Lee Simmons, Diddy, and The Olsen Twins, as well as taught herself about writing press releases. With an influx of publicity coming in, the company started growing and at 25, Christina was making a name for herself in the industry with no prior background or experience.
After eight months Christina was ready to take her talents into celebrity PR at the 5W PR agency—it was another area that she wasn't extremely familiar with but felt compelled to try. Over the next couple of years she learned the business, walked red carpets, organized large album release parties, and continued to build relationships that would later become vital when she would venture out on her own. By 2008, she had made another job change, this time becoming the Director of PR for clothing brand Akademiks. Being on the corporate side of PR offered her a new perspective of the business, but it also came with a new pair of bosses that clashed with her personality and made it difficult to enjoy the position that she once loved. After two years she once again started looking to transitioning into another role. “At some point I was just like it's time for me to go. I don't know what my next step is going to be, but I can't be here much longer because I clashed with the two [new] executives so bad and I just didn't care at the time. I was like I need to finish this project and then I need to go because I'm very unhappy."
The project was to launch a major event at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, which Christina hoped would be her last hoorah before turning in her resignation letter. But before she could go out with a bang, the company decided to let her go.
“I didn't know what I was going to do, I just knew I wasn't going to work for another company. I had gotten to a great place in my career to where I could strike out on my own. With PR, [people] wake up and they're like I'm a publicist, and you have no relationships or no formal training. Not saying you have to go to school, but working in an agency for me—as far as PR—I needed the relationships with record labels and I needed the relationships with editors. I needed that to be able to get good results for my clients, and over the years that's what my focus was."
Christina had built up a nice rolodex of contacts from her years working in the industry and freelancing, and within two months she had officially turned her side hustle into a full time gig under the moniker LuxeLife Media—a full service PR and marketing agency serving both celebrity, media and corporate clients alike.
For the next six years business was booming as Christina continued to build an impressive list of clientele. Days were spent meeting with clients, chatting with friends over cocktails, and working a job that she loved—all on her own terms. But something was still missing. Her weeks began to turn into a repetitive cycle where the lines between work and play were blurred, and she was doing little to satisfy her thirst for new experiences. One day, she took to social media to discuss her interest in indoor rock climbing and found that there were a handful of people equally lusting for life. She put together the details of the outing, and when 20 people showed up, it sparked yet another idea for the serial entrepreneur—a company centered on creating memorable moments.
Though the idea came to her around the same time as starting LuxeLife Media, it wasn't until the end of 2014 that she was able to make LuxeLife Adventures official. Throughout 2015 she traveled across the world, putting together itineraries with one-of-a-kind experiences that not even a camera phone could capture. “We want your experience to be like what the local does, not just what you see when you Google the top things to do. What are some of those hidden places or the beach where locals go? Or the hole in the wall restaurant that serves the best food in Colombia? I think people miss that because they're going to all of the cool places and I'm just going to take my photo and that's going to be the trip when it could be so much more. You spend a lot of money, so you might as well get more out of it than just cool photos."
For Christina, not being afraid of change has afforded her a life that she's proud to say she doesn't regret.
“I think you have to follow your heart," she says. “You have to really be in tuned with what makes you happy. And of course making a very smart decision, financially and things like that, but also having confidence in yourself that you're going to land on your feet is what's really important. I talk to quite a few women who are afraid to make that leap, and I tell them if you want to start your own business or you want to change careers or whatever the case may be, you're only going to get out of it what you put in."
Whether she's launching her own PR agency, helping others to get the most out of life through unique experiences, or simply teaching a yoga class for some much-needed stress relief, Christina proves that the root of fulfillment begins with fearlessness—and sometimes that means betting on yourself.
All images courtesy of Christina Rice
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and felt so deeply connected to them? Everything about the relationship was intense – good or bad? Then you might be in a part of a soul tie.
The concept of a soul tie binds individuals on a level beyond a relationship's physical and emotional aspects; it’s more than a mere connection. You can form a soul tie with anyone – lover, friend, colleague, etc.- but we are discussing romantic partners for this article. Think of you and your partner as an intensely burning flame. The flame can burn passionately to light the relationship’s way or chaotically burn everything in its path. Either way, it leaves an indelible mark on the souls involved.
A soul tie should not be confused with the term “soulmate.” The main difference is that a soul tie can be positive or negative, while a soulmate is a mutual, harmonious connection. Unlike a soul tie, a soulmate relationship is generally characterized by mutual understanding, support, and shared values.
However, the more we learn about soul ties, the more it becomes evident that they are not monolithic; they vary in nature and intensity. As someone who has experienced a negative soul tie, it is crucial to discern whether they contribute positively to personal growth or hinder you from flourishing.
If Your Soul Tie Is Positive
A positive soul tie creates a deep and affirming connection between individuals. One key indicator of a positive soul tie is effective communication. If you’re experiencing a positive soul tie, a shared understanding fosters open and honest dialogue, contributing to a sense of connection and support.
Mutual growth is another hallmark of a positive soul tie. When individuals in a relationship encourage each other's personal development and evolution, it signifies a positive and uplifting connection. This mutual support leads to an environment where both parties can thrive individually and together, contributing to the overall health of the soul tie.
Emotional security is a crucial element in identifying a positive soul tie. In such connections, individuals feel a deep sense of trust and comfort with each other. This emotional security forms a stable foundation for the relationship, allowing both parties to express vulnerability and foster a strong, positive bond. These three indicators—effective communication, mutual growth, and emotional security—underscore the positivity inherent in a healthy and affirming soul tie.
If Your Soul Tie Is Negative
A negative soul tie manifests as a detrimental and draining connection between individuals. One clear sign of a negative soul tie is the presence of emotional turmoilwithin the relationship. When the connection becomes a source of constant distress, causing emotional upheaval and hindering personal development, it indicates a negative soul tie.
Codependency is another red flag for a negative soul tie. In such connections, individuals may become overly reliant on each other, impeding their ability to thrive independently. Codependency often leads to unhealthy dependencies and can result in a toxic dynamic that hinders both individuals' growth and well-being.
A lack of effective communication is a third indicator of a negative soul tie. When there is a breakdown in communication, misunderstandings and unresolved issues can fester, contributing to a strained and unhealthy connection. In negative soul ties, the absence of open and honest dialogue can perpetuate a cycle of negativity and prevent the resolution of underlying issues. These three indicators—emotional turmoil, codependency, and poor communication—point to the negativity associated with an unhealthy soul tie.
Putting Out The Fires And Breaking Your Soul Tie
Unfortunately, my deep, intense connection only caused destruction. And despite the obvious red flags, it took a minute before I broke the connection. Why? Because I was addicted to the relationship, we both were. But it is possible to break a soul tie if and when you are ready because if you are not, pretending you are when you are not is a waste of your time.
Breaking a soul tie requires intentional and purposeful actions. Establishing clear and firm boundaries is a fundamental step in severing the connection. By limiting contact and emotional engagement with the person involved, individuals can gradually weaken the tie and create space for personal growth.
Seeking professional support is another effective strategy to break a soul tie. Guidance from therapists or counselors provides valuable insights and coping strategies. Professional assistance can help individuals navigate the emotional challenges associated with breaking a soul tie, offering a structured and supportive environment for healing.
Redirecting energy toward personal growth is important in breaking free from a soul tie. Engaging in activities that promote individual well-being and create a sense of independence allows individuals to refocus their attention on their own growth and development. This redirection of energy is essential for breaking the emotional bonds of a soul tie and moving towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.
The last step I advise everyone to go through is the mourning period. My partner and I did our song and dance for years before I walked away. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I mourned our relationship while I healed.
Recognizing the presence and nature of a soul tie in your relationship is crucial to understanding its impact on your well-being. Whether positive or negative, the intensity of a soul tie can shape the course of your personal growth and happiness. Breaking free from a negative soul tie demands intentional efforts, from setting clear boundaries to seeking professional support. Redirecting energy toward personal growth and allowing oneself a necessary mourning period are vital steps toward healing and liberation from the intricate ties that bind.
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Feature image by JD Mason/ Unsplash