Rebranding can be a difficult decision to make but can be the right decision when you want to lead a healthy and positive life. Blogger/entrepreneur, Necole Kane, knows how this feels all too well. In 2015, Kane shut down her award-winning gossip blog, Necole Bitchie, left behind a heartfelt letter to her fans and let go of the platform that started it all. Fast-forward to a few months later and xoNecole, a blog that inspires, uplifts, and motivates women of color, was born! It’s an outlet for women to share their stories and be inspired by others.
Kane is not shy when she tells her story and continues to drop gems along the way. PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT had the opportunity to catch up with the girl boss and learn more about how her transition has shaped her into the woman she is today.
1. Who or what influenced your decision to become a blogger and did you know that the hobby could turn into a career?
I don't think any one particular person influenced my decision to become a blogger. I will say, at the time, Perez Hilton was really big and I remember wondering why there were so few blogs that focused on black celebrities and there were none that had a face attached to the brand. Most bloggers at the time were blogging behind a brand name or we knew their names but didn't exactly know what they looked like. As I began to brand myself, my story and my blog over the years, I totally get why people would rather stay behind the scenes when blogging about celebrities and entertainment news. Being the face of a brand, there's so much more work involved as well as major security and safety concerns. People know who you are and when they know who you are, and there has been something on your site that was posted that they don't like, your safety is in jeopardy.
2. How do feel about professional journalists saying that bloggers aren’t “real” writers/journalist?
I believe they have a valid reason for thinking that way. If I went to school for years to study my craft and earned degrees or even multiple degrees in journalism and there were people who just started web sites without any former training and were getting the same perks, compensation, etc that I was, I'd feel a certain type of way too. I truly believe if you have a story to tell and you know how to write, you are a writer. You don't have to get a degree or certificate to be a writer. If you know how to blog, you are a blogger. That doesn't make you a journalist. There's a lot more ethical rules, regulations, and protocols that come with being a journalist that a lot of bloggers do not follow, and not because they want to break the rules or anything, it's because they just haven't been taught or had the formal training or education. When people used to call me a journalist, I felt it was disrespectful to those who were real journalists who had the experience and studied their craft. I always knew my place as a blogger.
3. In your “Dreams In Drive” podcast interview with Rana Campbell, you mentioned that your former platform Necole Bitchie brought a lot of negativity and started to affect your health. What are some of the ways that you practice self-care now and how has your new brand xonecole.com allowed you to do that?
My new brand xoNecole has been a major contribution to my self-care routine. When I read the stories submitted and eventually published to the site, I am always inspired and motivated to go harder for my dreams, and that's always been the goal. It has allowed me a peek into other successful women's lives who balance the things I desire like; motherhood, marriage, and career. It has opened me up to a world of books, podcasts, and helpful websites that I had no idea existed when I was reporting celebrity news every day. What I had to understand is that Necole Bitchie and having to digest all the drama that was going on in celebrity lives 24/7 was stunting my growth as a woman. It's almost as though it kept me in one place, one mind frame, and it influenced very negative thoughts daily. It was very unhealthy. I always say, you get back the energy you put out and now that I have a very positive brand, it has changed the type of people that I've attracted into my life; relationship wise, friendships and even mentors and business associates. I practice self-care by making sure I always have time carved out in the day for just me. This time is normally the first 2 hours after I wake up. I have a morning ritual of things that I do before I plug into emails, social media, etc. and start giving pieces of myself to others. It's very important to have those quiet moments to yourself every day where you are doing things that bring you joy, journaling, writing down your ideas, affirmations, going to the gym, eating healthy and those type of things that center you because that's ultimately going to lead to not only you being the best version of yourself that you can be, but it will lead to incredible success.
4. You have a personal blog (NecoleKane.com) and a professional blog (xonecole.com). When did you realize that your professional fans were also interested in your personal brand? How do you separate them?
I realized fans were interested in my personal brand when I first launched NecoleBitchie.com. I don't think that brand would have grew to be as big as it eventually became if I didn't push my personal story and myself as the face of the brand. I think that dynamic intrigued people because young women saw themselves in me. I was a woman who struggled tremendously, spent years sleeping on couches, lost both of my parents, and I have no living grandparents. When I started NecoleBitchie.com, I was broke, jobless and living in a small town with an aunt. I had no real industry connections and I couldn't sing, dance, or possessed any extraordinary talent. But I had the Internet. Everyone has the internet. There was a 1% chance that I was going to really make it at this thing I created, and I MADE IT. That's a testimony of perseverance and relentlessness. When you know no matter what obstacles are presented against you, that you have to make it by any means necessary. xoNecole.com is a multi-dimensional platform focused on women lifestyle and empowerment. It has beauty, career advice, relationship tips, travel, wellness, and inspiration and is driven by a lot of stories submitted by everyday women. A lot of those women aren't "writers" they just have a story to tell as we all do so that site is driven by women who are brave enough to be vulnerable and authentically share who they are. It's important for me to have NecoleKane.com as it's my personal portfolio site. If anyone googles me to find out who the face behind Necole Bitchie and xoNecole is, they will find out anything they need to know on NecoleKane.com from my bio, to press, my upcoming appearance schedule, a few personal blogs of my life behind-the-scenes and how to contact me. It's basically my online press kit. I know a lot of people rely on social media like Instagram to tell their story for them, but my advice to all the aspiring entrepreneurs, or anyone with a brand, is to create a presence on the web outside of social media. Make sure you are growing your own mailing list so that you have direct access to your followers, and that if anyone wants to know anything about you, they can find it all in one place on a website and/or in a media kit versus clicking through a ton of social media posts. Your website should give a well-rounded picture of who you are, what you have done, and why people should hire, collaborate, and/or partner with you. It may be the calling card to your next opportunity. I have hired a lot of people solely from visiting their websites, or their writing samples found on their personal websites versus outlets they've written for. The first page I visit is their bio page! It's your chance to tell your story and connect with the person visiting your site so do it well.
5. When it comes to achieving goals, people often say that they lack consistency. What advice do you have for tackling a to-do list?
Consistency is very difficult when you aren't seeing immediate results or getting immediate feedback on the things that you are creating or doing. I truly believe writing down exactly where you want to be in 6 months, a year and 5 years, and then working backward to figure out what small goals you have to achieve each month to get to that bigger goal is the best way to stay on track. When you think of the big goal before it's broken down into steps, it can feel extremely overwhelming and almost impossible. Those small monthly goals are way more attainable and you will start seeing traction a little easier so I tell people don't give up and don't overwhelm yourself. Limit the time you spend engaging on social media to a small chunk of time a day, because you literally can be sucked into the matrix and you'll come out either feeling even more discouraged, feeling like you just wasted a lot of time, or you will start comparing your beginning point to someone's ending point and not one of those scenarios is encouraging or productive.
6. Your transition to a healthy lifestyle and bringing home two trophies from a bikini fitness competition has been a source of inspiration for so many. What inspired your lifestyle change and how long did you train before you began to see results?
As of this interview, I've won four trophies competing in bikini fitness competitions. My first competition was in March and I took home a 2nd and 4th place. My second one was in July (just two weeks before I moved to New York City) and I won 1st place and 3rd. Honestly, I had no idea how I did it because I only really prepped for four weeks (and the average prep time is 12-16 weeks), but I knew I couldn't leave Arizona without proving to myself I could get a crown and first place win. I'm an overachiever in that way. That was my main goal for doing the second competition which I only prepped four weeks for because I wanted 1st place. I'm now qualified to compete nationally and have a chance at earning a pro card if that's the route I want to take. When I first moved to Arizona, I started working out at a gym called Independence Gym as a way to de-stress. At the time, I was transitioning out of NecoleBitchie.com and I had an unhealthy amount of stress that I was carrying but I felt so much better after I left the gym. So, I kept at it. To be honest, I didn't see any real results when I was working out for the two years because I was eating whatever. If you are working out at the gym, but have no real goals and you are eating any and everything, you won't see much results. Fitness is like 85% nutrition; the rest is the workouts. I noticed that everyone at the gym was super fit and major goals so I asked one day, “how could I get a body like that?”, and my trainer told me most of the people at the gym were competitors. That's when I got really interested in the sport. I signed up with a competition team in January 2017 called Pro Physiques. They train some of the top competitors in the world, and once they put me on a meal plan, and started teaching me what workouts and the cardio I needed to do to get the ideal stage physique of a bikini competitor, the changes started happening immediately. When you are a bikini competitor, the physique is mainly shoulder focus, small waist, glutes (booty) and hamstrings. If you have a lot of muscle definition in your quads and biceps, then you'd be better off competing in Figure (which is a step up). That totally changed the way I trained because I used to do leg presses, heavy lifting with squats and I'd totally skip arm day all the time, and that's not the physique that bikini competitors have. I had to really shift the way I worked out once I got into it. Now when I go to the gym, I know at one glance in the mirror if I need more pump in my shoulders, if I need a bit more cardio, or if I need to target my hamstrings more before a show and I isolate my exercises to focus solely on those parts that need developing in. Also, I noticed a lot of women focus more on their lower versus upper while working out because they don't want to look too muscular. I had this state of mind for a long time but when I finally started working out my arms, especially my shoulders, I felt like that really put the icing on the cake in terms of the fit look I wanted. Now I literally have people walk up to me every day and ask me if I compete, or they will make comments like, "You are really fit" and that's off the strength of my shoulders. lol!
7. Was it difficult to let go of bad eating habits? What are your go-to meals and snacks now?
It wasn't difficult to me because all the deaths in my family were health related. My parents died at the age of 42 and I'm almost sure their eating and drinking habits were major contributors to the health issues that arose. We don't really pass down diseases from generation to generation rather the eating habits that lead to those diseases. High blood pressure and diabetes run in my family because we grew up on a lot of fried, processed and sugar-filled foods. I have a cousin that's currently on high-blood pressure pills and it's causing all types of side effects and she wants out. I know for a fact if she's able to cut flour and fried foods out of her diet, and a bunch of stuff she eats daily, she wouldn't have to take those pills anymore. I'm currently pursuing board certification in holistic nutrition so I can help heal people (especially women) through healthier meal plans and eating options to rid them of some of the health issues they are currently facing. I personally stay away from all of that stuff now: (flour, fried and processed food, preservatives, tons of sugar, etc). My normal meals are a protein (fish, chicken, and/or turkey), green vegetable, and a carb (rice, sweet potato, or red potato). A go to cheat meal is normally Truffle mac and cheese. It's the only time you'll ever catch me eating cheese, and my go-to snack is normally a Reese cup. I'm doing good lately though because I eat Oh Yeah Protein Bars in Brownie Flavor. It's so good and it has 20 grams of protein. It boasts that it has 0 sugar but there is sugar alcohol so you have to be careful about that. I figure if I'm getting my chocolate fix, might as well get a good boost of protein with it.
8. What is one thing you can’t go to the gym without and how does it make a difference in your routine?
I have actually a few things. The most important are my Beats headphones. They are wireless and it makes working out much easier than when I was trying to use ear buds. It blocks out the noise and keeps me plugged into my zone. I used to listen to turn up music while working out but now I listen to audible books like Tim Grover's "Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable" and Matthew Kelly's "The Rhythm of Life: Living Each Day with Passion and Purpose." Listening to audible books while working out is like killing two birds with one stone in terms of self-care. I always leave the gym feeling good and with a very positive mind set, ready to conquer my day. The slingshot by Mark Bell and resistance bands are the other two things that have made a difference in my routine. I use both to activate certain body parts before and during my workouts. You really can feel the burn when you add resistance bands to your workouts, and it also allows you to achieve similar results as working out with weights if you don't have time to get to the gym and want to work out at home.
9. Which drugstore beauty products do you swear by?
Aveeno face wipes. It gets all my makeup off while leaving my face super smooth. I've been buying those as well as St.Ives Apricot and Grapefruit scrubs for years.
10. What does PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT mean to you?
I think there is this perception that black girls don't work out because we don't want to sweat or mess up our hair or whatever distorted notion that people have. I love that PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT, the brand, not only speaks to women but especially women of color and not only encourages a fit lifestyle but showcases various women who are doing it and doing it well. To me PRETTY GIRLS SWEATis about knowing that your body is the most valuable home you'll ever live in and so you have to make sure it's recharged, replenished, nourished and well taken care of through not only self-care and healthier eating habits but working up a good sweat and releasing endorphins in the gym. Your fitness journey, once you take it seriously, will change the way you view every aspect of your life. Even friendships and relationships. So, don't be afraid to sweat ladies! The results will be so much bigger than body goals!