Women in Hip-Hop: Kia McIntyre Shares Her Secrets to Self Made Success
What did you aspire to be as a child? For many of us, it would be something conventional like doctor, lawyer or teacher. For Kia McIntyre, it was to be an English teacher. "Writing was always my strong suit and I figured that it would be the easiest job in the world for me. I think it would be cool to teach kids how to express themselves through creative writing." Today, the 30-year old entrepreneur and single mother does a different kind of teaching. As Editor- in-Chief of The Mixx Magazine and Marketing Rep for Warner Brother Records' Urban/Pop Division, Kia says her biggest accomplishments were achieved while wearing a pair of Chuck Taylors and a pair of jeans—proof that our talent don't lie in our ASSets.
The reputation of women in hip-hop has long been plagued by images of big booty "video heauxs," gold digger trophy wives and those who "sleep their way to the top." The role of a female hip-hop executive is shrouded with mystery until now. Where do you start? Just how important is networking? And how do you avoid becoming a groupie? This Kentucky native answers it all.
How do you balance being a single mother and a career simultaneously?
I started the mag when my youngest was 2. She’s 7 now and the oldest is 14. I got criticized all the time by family members and others about how my priorities were all screwed up because of the lifestyle I was living. I would travel on the weekends, be on the scene at every party taking pictures, spent countless hours on the internet and used money to fund the mag when I could’ve spent it on something else. Sometimes I would feel guilty about it, but this was something that I was really passionate about and didn’t want to give up.
Now that the girls are older, they understand what I do and they love all the perks that come with. The key to everything is balance. I haven’t mastered it yet, but I’ve got a pretty good system going.
Kentucky's hip hop scene isn't popular. Was that part of your reason for starting The Mixx Magazine?
Yes and No. Before I started the magazine I wrote for a local hip hop magazine called KY Standup. When the owner decided that he no longer wanted to keep doing the mag, I rounded up a couple of people, got a business license and boom, we were back in business. I was working a 9 to 5 during this time and didn’t make enough to fund the whole thing so I had someone to help out with the printing costs. Besides providing an outlet for the small market of hip hop that we do have here, I provided myself an outlet to write. All I wanted to do was write. But when someone offered me a thousand dollars for the cover, I said, “There’s money to be made”.
Did you go to college? If not, do you think it would’ve made your journey easier?
I went to college for three years and got a good job in what I was going to school for which was Health Administration. If I had finished school, I don’t think it would have made a big impact on anything. I went to one business class and that only helped me get an investment deal. Everything else was trial and error. And trust me, we had a lot of errors in the beginning. If I would have been more educated on what it took to start a publication, I would have saved myself a lot of time and money.
How did you end up working with Warner Brothers Records?
The Mixx and Warner always worked closely together because we would cover a lot of their events and do features on their artists. Over the years, I built a good business relationship with someone who worked in the marketing department. When an opportunity came, I was asked if it would be something that I would be interested in. I was willing to take on the opportunity without even getting paid just because I wanted to add it to my resume, but they informed me that this would be a paid job and that made everything even better. I had a couple of conference calls and proposed a couple of marketing plans to them. I come up with creative marketing strategies for the hip-hop and pop accounts. Part of the deal was that I could bring The Mixx team on to help with research, which made things a lot easier.
Would you say you're "built" for the industry? What did you have to readjust about yourself to move forward?
I’m built for it now. If you would have asked me several years ago, I would’ve said “No”. There’s been plenty of mornings where I woke up and wanted to quit. I had to keep pushing myself. I had to become somewhat of a bitch because you have to have a backbone working in this industry. There are literally no days off when working. None. And if you don’t find that balance in your life, you’ll mess around and have a nervous breakdown. This gets overwhelming.
Is there camaraderie between other women in your same position?
With me, personally, no. I have personal relationships and respect other “industry women”, but none of which are in the same field as me. This industry is really a male-driven industry and I felt that if I could succeed doing the same things that men were doing and do it the right way, then I won. I was always the girl who wanted to sit at the round table with the men. I like that whole “Boss” feel.
My objective is to get money and live good. I don’t have time for anything else. However, when I do see young women who are passionate about living out their dreams, I will reach out to them and do whatever I can to help them. Especially those who have a child(ren). Because I know exactly what they are going through and I wish I would’ve had someone to help me out like that during my struggle.
What's the biggest mistake you see young women make in the industry?
Taking the “by any means necessary” route. Success is not an overnight thing. It takes years if you do it the right way. If you do it the wrong way, you’ll fall just as quick as you made it to the top. You have to be patient, even when you get discouraged.
Are you currently dating? What are your rules?
Dealing with men can really get you off focus sometimes. Am I currently dating? Let’s just say, I’m not accepting any applications [laughs]. I’m content with where I’m at right now. When you find someone who compliments you rather than just a supplement, then you might want to hold on to it. It’s even better when that person was there before Nakia became Kia. One thing that I have learned is that I’m not exempt from bullshit, so I just take it day by day and live life. I used to think that I would want to date in the industry because our lives would be parallel. We would understand the lifestyle. But, no, I want no parts of the industry dating game. I’m a regular girl, I like regular guys, except (NBA player) Thomas Robinson [laughs].
What are the biggest mistakes you see "amateur" entrepreneurs making?
1. Thinking that just because they went into business, people owe them something. Though your idea, product or service might be exactly what your customers need, its up to you to seek them out.
2. Taking days off.
3. Being afraid to ask for help.
4. Rushing the product or cutting corners.
5. Not setting realistic goals for a company.
What are five things every aspiring business woman should have?
1. Nice corporate attire including one bad ass pair of heels.
2. A purse big enough to carry everything you need.
3. At least three genuine friends. Every woman needs a good support system.
4. The bible app. Gotta keep the faith for all the bad days.
5. Sunglasses for the days you have bags under your eyes from lack of sleep. No days off!!
What are five networking tips:
1.When dealing with men, keep it friendly and keep it moving.
2. Exchange business cards as often as possible.
3. Always follow-up.
4. Have a 30-second elevator pitch to drop when you meet people.
5. Be confident in everything you do.
Staci Marie - Photographer (@StaciMariePho
Pink - Makeup Artist (@PinkerzdoO)
Heather Leigh - Wardrobe Stylists (@__TheGlory)
Roni Gentry - Hair Stylist (@eyecandy_4U)