Finding work-life balance for black business women can be challenging, especially when the stakes are high. But for Necole Kane, whose women’s lifestyle Website, XONecole, was acquired by Hollywood heavy-hitter Will Packer in January, seeking just that was what boosted success in both her personal and professional life.
Kane, who transitioned from heading a salacious celebrity gossip site to launching one that empowers women of color, had a special motivation for focusing on her health. “My parents passed away when I was in my early 20s. My father passed in 2002 [at 42], and my mother in 2004 at 41,” Kane, 37, recalls. “That’s one of the reasons I left the gossip site. When I was about to turn 35, I was short years from the ages when my parents died. I thought, ‘Are you really going to spend the rest of your life being a spectator to other people’s lives?’ I think that was me thinking of my age and how short their lives were. It pushed me to live the life I really wanted for myself.”
A renewed commitment to put self-care first led the XONecole.com editor-in-chief to pursue bodybuilding, and she’s already won first place in the Bikini Open D and Masters 35+ C categories at the 2018 NPC Northern California Championships.
Black Enterprise talked with the savvy entrepreneur—on the heels of competing to become a professional bikini pro at NPC Universe—about how putting self-care before business helped her prep for one of the biggest boss moves of her life, and how other black business women could benefit from doing the same.
How has getting into bikini fitness competitions and bodybuilding enriched your life as a businesswoman?
[After I left Necole Bitchie], I’d launched XONecole but it wasn’t making the money fast enough. More money was going out than was coming in. … I felt like I was failing. It took me to a deep, dark place, and I was questioning whether I made the right choice. Launching the new brand so soon after closing the old site, [was stressful]. One day, I got up, and said, ‘You cannot lay here in a fetal position and feel sorry for yourself every day. You need to get up and do something.’ I got into the gym and started focusing on competing. I felt like, if I’m losing at one thing, let me go win at something else. It took my focus off of things I couldn’t control at the moment.
During that time of competing, I was approached by Will Packer, and it kind of all worked out in the end.
[Training to compete] changed my life in so many areas: the discipline, the commitment, the consistency. It spills over into your personal life and into your business. If I didn’t start competing, I don’t know if I would’ve been prepared to go into acquisition [talks]. It mentally prepared me for more than just getting up every day, going to the gym, and competing on a stage.
What was your first step in transitioning from just working out to prepping for competitions?
I ended up leaving my [previous personal] trainer at the time, and I got a coach—a woman who trained women for competitions. She had the body I wanted. She started teaching me about [how to contour] my body parts, and how important nutrition was. I had to go from eating one time a day to, at the time, eating five times a day. I had to go from drinking one bottle of water a day to one gallon a day.
How have you been able to balance the demands that with competing—the strict diet, the exercise routine—with the business demands of running a newly acquired site?
I thank God for Will Packer Media. They realized how much this fitness journey means to me and how much it plays into my self-care and who I am as a person. When it’s competition time, it’s little things I see that they do, like not scheduling major meetings that require me to fly [cross-country] to LA. That’s big to me.
I [recently] flew 6 1/2 hours to go to a big show, and when I landed, I had a text from the COO telling me good luck on my show.’ A lot of people don’t have that sort of support. I couldn’t have found a better situation for my brand.
I believe that if anything costs my peace, it’s too expensive. This [acquisition] has not cost me my peace. I think they have a lot of respect for me and how I gained my audience in being very authentic. I don’t think they ever want to change who I am. … You want to make sure it’s a good situation for everybody and everybody’s happy. [I’m happy] working out, getting up at 5 [a.m.] and getting on that treadmill, working toward [fitness goals.]
It’s important to take time for ourselves. A lot of women in business—in the hustle—are a lot like the old me. [They] get up every day and the first thing they do is roll over and start work. I’ve got a whole [self-care] morning ritual I do before I even log into social media or start work. I need to pour into myself first before I give myself to the world.