In xoNecole's Finding Balance, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, their life, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.
The first time I learned about Kiki Ayers, it was through stumbling onto her PR business Instagram account, Ayers Publicity. I found myself in this rabbit hole of research, and as I continued to read up on the brainchild of what I saw to be a successful agency, I realized that what was actually gravitating me to her was her undeniable hustle and drive — something I know firsthand can't be taught or sold, you just have to have it.
Ayers comes from a life that few have had to see up close — at 16 years old, she was homeless and living in the car with her mother and two siblings. She attended Howard University (heeey, Bison fam!) and immediately began breaking barriers, becoming a first-generation college student in her family. She's worked at some of the biggest production houses you can name, but it wasn't until she was sitting on the floor of a hotel bathroom, unraveling after leaving her job and becoming homeless as an adult, that the solution was right here: Start her own agency.
Though it wasn't easy, Ayers has shown us ALL that purpose and perfection don't always align, but that you have to take a step out on faith to ever see if you really have it in you. Her story is one that hits so close to home, that I am honored to have done this interview.
In this installment of Finding Balance, Ayers talked with xoNecole and dished on life, love, how she juggles it with a six-figure business set to hit seven marks by 2021.
What is an average day or week like for you?
As a publicist and entrepreneur, every day is completely different. One day, I might be on a press run with a client in a different city. The next, I might be on the red carpet for another client. One day, I'm pitching my clients for hours and not hearing anything back, and the next day, there's 10 articles dropping that day on different clients. A lot of times, I have to adjust my schedule based on my clients. They may have a song they worked on that had to drop early because it was leaked, or I have to fly into a city last minute to pull together a press run for them. They come first — eventually you learn to adjust, take on the challenge, and at the end of the day, deliver the results.
What do you find to be the most hectic part of your week? How do you push through?
The most hectic part of my week is typically Monday through Thursday. People get back in the office Monday, and the pitches are coming out from myself and my team nonstop. We're always writing different pitches for different publications, working with multiple schedules, and of course, different personalities. It's hard to get everyone's schedule to align and harder to get people to agree to write about your client. There's the hectic part of dealing with current clients but also handling new clients and making sure they get their roll out plans, invoices, and PR agreements handled. So there's the balance of making sure current clients get the best PR experience and more than their money's worth while also making sure you continue to expand and grow your company by bringing in new clients.
How do you practice self-care? What is your self-care routine?
I practice self-care by watching what I put in my body. I'm not a super clean eater, but there's a lot of things I don't eat to remain feeling clean and better. I had a bad habit of not eating nearly as much as I should have everyday, as well as not eating the rest of my food, but I'm currently pregnant so I'm always making time to put my baby first and feed him. I make sure to eat as soon as I wake up, pack snacks for the day, take all my prenatal vitamins and iron pills, etc. I also make sure to wash my face at least twice a day and workout as much as I can.
How do you find balance with:
With friends, it's not too hard to find balance. I definitely wish I had more time to spend with my friends, but most of my friends are successful entrepreneurs, so it's great to be surrounded by supportive friends who know what it means to be busy as well as understanding that they can't always see you and vice versa. We all have to work, and as entrepreneurs, we don't get to take days or just weekends off. Having that support system is amazing as well as motivating. I love that I have people around me that inspire me to do better, but I do need to get out a little more. I'm still learning but I'm progressively getting better.
Love and relationships are so complicated. Prior to my current situation, I hadn't been on a date in five years. I just think dates are awkward and I'd rather pay for my own food than to use someone for a free meal. I think a relationship can be balanced and it's not as hard as people make it, just as long as both people are working and making it a priority. It's important to find time to get to know people because you're always learning about the other person.
If a person can constantly make time for their friends and roommates and to go out and to travel but can't put aside a couple hours a week for you for at least one date night, then that's probably not a situation you want to be in. I've also had cases where I dated people who have endless time to try to discuss their business ventures with me but nothing outside of that. That's definitely a situation where someone is trying to use you and you should exit stage left immediately. Right now, my love life is nonexistent. I'm just focused on building with this beautiful blessing that's growing inside of me.
I don't have any kids yet but my first born will be here in December (this month). I'm beyond excited to be carrying a beautiful baby boy. A lot of people doubted me when I first announced I was pregnant. Women, especially Black women, are looked upon in a negative light when they announce they're pregnant, and people have a way of making you feel like your biggest blessing is a mistake. These same people didn't understand or believe in me when I left corporate, when I got into reporting, or when I started my own PR Firm, but being pregnant was the best thing that happened to me. It forced me to grow up in ways I didn't even know I needed to. My business is making 5x as much as before, I have much better clients, and I'm launching my second company.
The way I plan on balancing everything once he's here is by incorporating him into everything I do. I am fortunate to be in a position where my work will allow me to be with my son majority of the time. He's going to be my business partner and co-founder of my next company and I'm more excited than anything to set him up financially, teach him about business at an early age, and create generational wealth. I have so many ideas and plans that I just can't wait to unfold.
"Women, especially Black women, are looked upon in a negative light when they announce they're pregnant, and people have a way of making you feel like your biggest blessing is a mistake."
How important is it to you to exercise and how many times a week? What is your routine?
I hired an in-home trainer to help me prepare for the delivery. I have to give myself at least six weeks after birth to heal, so as soon as that time is up, I'll start back up with my trainer. I currently work out three times a week. I just have to get up extra early in order to fit it in my schedule. I usually work out from 6-7 am at the gym in my building with the trainer. Right now, I'm doing pilates-type workouts.
Do you cook or find yourself eating out?
I used to eat out a lot because I'm always on the go, but I recently moved into a beautiful spot and absolutely love my kitchen so I cook all the time. I meal prep for the week, and being a really hungry pregnant lady, I always take my cooked meals and snacks in my purse with me.
When you are going through a bout of uncertainty, or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?
At first, I take a few hours to process how I feel but I don't ever dwell on it. When I feel like that, it motivates me even more to go back to the drawing board, regroup, and try again. I can't ever just give up though. I don't know how to do that. I get more creative in those situations.
What does success mean to you?
Success to me means being in a position to not only help yourself but to help the people around you. A lot of times I see successful people who are rich but the people on their teams are struggling just to eat. That's not the definition of a boss to me. You have to take care of the people who are taking care of you. I would love to have a huge platform and to be in the position to help and motivate people. That means speaking out, challenging people, and being honest with the people that look up to you rather than putting on a show for the 'gram or portraying a fake image.
"A lot of times, I see successful people who are rich but the people on their teams are struggling to eat. That's not the definition of a boss to me."
Featured image by Jen J Photo.