I never thought a celebrity would show me that it’s ok to fail, recalibrate and return with purpose. But that’s exactly what I’ve learned from XO Necole founder, Necole Kane.
As a pop culture junkie, Kane’s former Necole Bitchie was the go-to spot for black celebrity gossip, and I lived for it.
Every day, I grabbed a front row seat and an empty cup for the latest tea on my favorite celebrities. I wanted to see what the hottest celebrities were wearing, which reality star was shading whom and who had broken up overnight. I lived for the comments section where similarly minded individuals would tear into celebrities with ease and humor. That was my routine for years.
But, somewhere along the line, it stopped being entertaining. I started to feel embarrassed that I was attracted to a platform that was so negative – one that fed my ego rather than nourished my soul. I started to feel a disconnect with the brand. I was beyond shocked to learn that its founder had, too.
In The Beginning
Kane’s story is well-documented. She created a blog to pass the time. That hobby eventually turned into the fastest growing urban blog site in the nation. She was paid, popular and living the life that most bloggers can only dream of. But, after years of glory, she hit rock bottom. She lost both of her parents, was jobless, penniless and forced to move in with her aunt. In the entertainment world, that’s an “L” of biblical proportions.
But, what surprised me most was that she didn’t hide her failures. At a time when celebrities and media personalities carefully curate their lives online, projecting the most beautiful and perfect images for the world to gawk at, it was refreshing to see Kane remove the mask and expose the tears.
Not only did she admit that she was unfulfilled and very unhappy, she started to do a lot of self-reflection and knew she had to make a change, not just for herself, but for the people who had looked to her for inspiration. It took her seven years, but she recalibrated. She rebranded her site into what is now XO Necole, a positive platform that uplifts, educates and empowers black women.
Several weeks ago, I saw a video of Kane’s journey on her Instagram page and I started tearing up for three reasons. Firstly, it felt good to see a black woman turn her life around after losing everything that meant the most to her and not become bitter in the process. Secondly, I wished that her parents had lived to see their baby girl not only get it together, but inspire so many women badly in need of positive role models. And the last reason I cried was because Kane showed me that no matter how far we’ve fallen and no matter how much we’ve lost, we can always get back up again and hit the reset button on our lives.
She also showed me that you don’t have to have your life figured out, but you have to listen to that internal voice that tells you, you’re off course.
I didn’t take that for granted. Truth be told, many people in her position would have continued feeling empty and unfulfilled to earn a dollar. But, she knew that that wasn’t enough for her.
I’ve Been There
I can relate to having feelings of emptiness when it comes to my career. I’ve done many jobs that I was really good at, but felt no connection to. I was making money, but it didn’t compensate me for the feelings of emptiness I felt.
I also know what it’s like to experience multiple failures. As someone who watched her brother die from gun violence, has been evicted, has had her car repossessed, been fired and came close to divorce, I can relate to the feeling of having the world bear down on your head and feeling the weight of embarrassment that comes with it.
Kane showed me how important faith is and that God has a purpose for all of us and is willing to give us the very things we want if we are willing to do them according to His will.
Another important lesson that I learned is that when you’re trying to elevate and evolve, you will lose some people along the way. Sure, I’d heard that before. But, it was different this time. In her case, it was longtime fans who had become accustomed to her Necole Bitchie brand. In the blogging world where viewers and numbers count, that could have been a disaster. But, Kane knew what had to be done, and guess what happened? She gained new fans who were more aligned with her purpose. She also won back fans who had left her platform, including me.
These days, I’m living with purpose. I look at Kane and see that she was able to bounce back better than before. Thanks to her, I and millions of other women, know that we can, too.
Rogan Smith is an award-nominated lifestyle blogger, radio talk show host, columnist and broadcast journalist from Nassau, Bahamas. Her blog, This Bahamian Gyal (www.thisbahamiangyal.com) features pop culture, career advice, book and movie reviews and travel guides. Smith is the recipient of the Most Influential Women in Business award and is a Bahamian Icon Award nominee.