Money Talks is an xoNecole series where we talk candidly to real women about how they spend money, their relationship with money, and how they get it.
Kris Christian began her career as a Wall Street analyst in New York City in 2009. She soon fell in love with the creative marketing side of business and transitioned into full-time entrepreneurship. Kris took the leap of faith to begin FAME Enterprises, an integrated marketing agency offering premium, full-service marketing and production services and specializing in multicultural audiences. Within three years, Kris built FAME into a seven-figure agency, working in partnership with blue chip brands such as BMW of North America, Forbes8, Nielsen, Bumble and Time, Inc. In 2017, Kris wanted to tap into her passion for coffee and created Chicago French Press (CFP). Being a lifelong coffee enthusiast, Kris founded CFP as a way to provide others with freshly roasted coffee beans flavored with natural ingredients to achieve the sweetened taste she enjoyed.
When you decide to become an entrepreneur, you first focus on making money. But what you learn along the way, is the power in tapping into your value, that is the true reward. Kris believes that everyone is valuable and when you invest in your ideas, you bring more than money in the bank. You bring wealth into your life. Entrepreneurship is not easy. It takes hard work, discipline, and an understanding that you cannot do it alone. So according to Kris, it is important that while being an entrepreneur, you must have the right people in your corner to support you along your journey. With over 10 years as a full-time entrepreneur, Kris is very adamant on empowering others to create wealth for themselves by sharing her story and encouraging others to start investing in their dreams which will allow them to sustain a life of prosperity.
In this installment of "Money Talks", xoNecole spoke with Kris about how community, staying humble, investing in your ideas and passions are the keys to maximizing your value into multiple streams of income.
xoNecole: What do you define as “wealth” vs “success”?
Kris Christian: I think that wealth is the total value you're able to create and sustain. Value can be defined in monetary ways, through resources, and how you leave your mark in the world. When you are born into this world, everyone has value. But when you build on your value by creating assets, utilizing networks, and leveraging accessible resources, that is wealth. Now with success, success can be whatever you create it to be. Success can mean you are a great mother or just being a great human being. Anyone can be successful because it's how you expand on what's important to you.
"When you are born into this world, everyone has value. But when you build on your value by creating assets, utilizing networks, and leveraging accessible resources, that is wealth."
Courtesy of Kris Christian
What’s the lowest you’ve ever felt when it comes to your finances?
Early on when I became an entrepreneur, I had a good amount of money saved starting off. I worked on Wall Street and coming out of that, I was used to living a certain lifestyle. Slowly but surely, the money started to decrease (laughs). I think it was year two [into becoming an entrepreneur], and all of my savings were gone. I remember I opened up the refrigerator and there wasn't any food left. I checked my bank account and it was -672 dollars. I thought to myself, 'Wow I can't even afford a sandwich.'
I told myself never again will I allow myself to get to the point. So from that day on, I started being more strategic with my spending habits, changed my perspective on money, and started planning for my future. I even enrolled myself into classes to get my credit score up, to pay down my debt and to live a more frugal lifestyle.
Would you consider yourself a spender or a saver? How did you train yourself to save money?
When I started saving more, I would save in small amounts. I also created a separate account that when I would get paid, 20 percent would be sent to this account that I never touched. As I started to see my savings grow into thousands of dollars, I would then invest in things that retained value. I don't believe in sitting on a ton of money. I believe in making your money work for you. I do have my rainy day fund, but I also would rather use the money I have and invest in assets where extra money can be generated with minimal effort.
"When I started saving more, I would save in small amounts. I also created a separate account that when I would get paid, 20 percent would be sent to this account that I never touched. As I started to see my savings grow into thousands of dollars, I would then invest in things that retained value."
Courtesy of Kris Christian
What are some unhealthy habits or unhealthy mindsets about money that you had to let go of to truly prosper?
I have learned to be a very frugal person. I know that I am a foodie, so you would catch the old me eating out almost every single day. But now I put myself on a budget to only eat out two days a week and hold myself accountable on days I have to cook. I also minimized things like frivolous spending on clothes and jewelry, that are only for show. A lot of us do these things for other people and I had to get out of that mindset.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned through being a business owner and running multiple businesses?
My biggest lesson has been "the know-it-all, knows nothing". You have to be humble when you are running a business or multiple businesses. When I was younger, I told myself that I could teach myself everything and I didn't need a mentor. You think everything you need to know, you can just Google it (laughs). But thinking that way was absolutely ridiculous, because there is always someone who can teach you something. So I make it a priority to always surround myself with people that know more than me. It's about having community and having that support to pour into you and your business. Nowadays, if I am the smartest person in the room, I am in the wrong room.
What is the worst money-related/business-related decision you’ve ever made?
One mistake I made was that when I started off as an entrepreneur, I wanted to be "seen" as successful. I wanted to look the part. I remember going and purchasing my first office space in the middle of downtown Chicago. I didn't have any clients to come to the space, mind you (laughs). I then hired an employee and contractors, with again, no clients! (laughs) I did all of this just to impress other people.
One thing I think society has messed us up with when it comes to entrepreneurship, is that you have to show the world you made it before you actually have the clientele, the case studies, etc. But that's what I did and that is the type of stuff that really hurts you in the long run.
Courtesy of Kris Christian
What were some of the early challenges that came with collaborating with a business partner?
When you collaborate with a business partner, there needs to be a lot of trust. The partnership also has to be mutually beneficial to both people. The biggest challenge I have experienced has been the difference in work ethic. I still have not met someone who can match my work ethic equally. I will wake up at 5 a.m. and go to sleep at 2 a.m. Not to say that that's how you should do things, but it's that level of commitment that is needed to establish a successful business. Both people have to be able to put in the same amount of time and effort.
What’s the best advice that you’ve received about finance during your first year of entrepreneurship?
If you are looking to become a serial entrepreneur, you can do it all, but you cannot do it all at once. If you want to have multiple businesses, they have to go hand in hand. They have to feed into each other or you will get serious burnout doing everything on your own. It is also important to understand the cycles of your businesses as well. For example, my businesses are all about lifestyle and creating experiences.
My event productions were really heavy in the summertime. Chicago French Press' peak season is in the fall and winter. In the beginning of the year, when people are looking more into marketing campaigns with their businesses, that's where FAME Production Group comes into play. So knowing the cycles of your business and being intentional on maximizing each of them at the right time throughout the year is key.
What is the money mantra you swear by?
I don't make money, I create wealth. My business is my canvas and I am the artist, creator and owner of my legacy." I believe my greatest investment is in my ideas which are abundant. Cultivating and shaping those ideas into products, services, platforms and real estate that help others, while also solving problems is how I create value. The return of that investment becomes streams of income and fruitful assets that generate wealth for future generations.
To learn more about Kris Christian, you can follow her on Instagram here.
Featured image courtesy of Kris Christian