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Here’s How Publicist Kiki Ayers Juggles A Pregnancy And Her Six-Figure PR Agency

"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."

Finding Balance

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:

Friends?

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/Relationships?

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.

Dating/Marriage/Kids?

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."

For more of KiKi, follow her on Instagram. And check out past women we've featured on Finding Balance women by clicking here.

Featured image by Jen J Photo.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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