With a spirit of a leader, Jenelle started a business with nothing but a cellphone, laptop, and strong work ethic. A successful Girl Boss, Jenelle Hamilton handles global PR for many large brands, such as; Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning costume designer Bob Mackie, The Shorty Awards, Mented Cosmetics and Andre Walker (Oprah’s personal hairstylist for 25 years). Prior to starting this agency, she consulted with Tom Ford, for the launch of his first fragrance, Black Orchid. She has worked closely with many many awesome VIPs and celebrities including Madonna, Tyra, Gwyneth Paltrow, and HRH Princess Anne.
Jenelle’s career has taken her to London, Milan, Paris, LA and now New York City where she is based. The secret to all her success? Jenelle’s approach is to treat each client as unique and does not work on a “one size fits all” basis. Not only does she think outside of the box, but she understands how branding, social media and PR has shifted over the past decade and has made adjustments to work and service her clients’ needs to reflect this change.
How did you become a publicist? Have you always been entrepreneurial?
I was getting ready to apply to colleges and I truly had no idea what career path I wanted to take. I had trained to be a professional dancer since I was 2 years old, but decided that wasn’t what I actually wanted to do for my career. I read a book listing hundreds of different careers, from cover to cover. I didn’t know anything about public relations, but it sounded like the kind of job that wouldn’t leave you stuck behind a desk all day, so I knew it was for me.
I have always had a spirit of a leader and not a follower. I am not very good at being told what to do and I think very big dreamer. My Dad is an entrepreneur always instilled in us [my siblings and I], that if you want to be free and make real money, that being an entrepreneur, was the way to go.
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
In the beginning, I had no life. You work so many hours, to get things done. I worked from 6 am until midnight every single day, when my friends were out having fun. I couldn’t afford to hire staff at that stage, so I have to do the jobs of four people. I didn’t take a vacation for two years and for years, I didn’t get to go shopping for fun things like clothes and shoes. Looking back it was worth it, because now 7 years later, I get to reap the benefits. But it was not easy. I spent many a night working through tears.
As an entrepreneur, we all have our good days and bad days. What is your typical bad day and typical good day look like? And how do you stay motivated all the time?
A good day for me is making the time to get my 2 hours, Tracy Anderson Method workout it. It clears my head and gets those endorphins flowing. I take 20 mins read a bible scripture and meditate on it, which gets me focused for the day ahead. If I can get through all my emails, touch base with staff on the plan for the day and confirm lots of media placements for my clients, then that’s a great day for me!
A bad day would be me waking and not making the time for myself to workout and breathe. When I start my day with no structure, the morning gets away from me and is just a little bit harder to get caught up on everything. I still get the ‘PR buzz’ from generating a new media placement for a client. So a bad day would mean I have no leads each day for my clients.
Knowing I have to provide for my daughter keeps me motivated. I have to keep a roof over her head and she is watching me as a businesswoman, so I can not fail. Also, knowing that my clients are investing their hard earned money into my services, means I take it very seriously, and work to deliver on what we discussed. I always work to the best of my ability and with absolute integrity.
They say creatives and entrepreneurs live life on the edge of joy and depression, can you relate to this?
Totally. People have said to me, you are so successful you must be so proud. And of course, I acknowledge my achievements thus far. But I think that A-Type personalities such as myself, will never feel truly successful and I don’t mean in the monetary sense. There is so much I still want to achieve and I know that I can do it, so I will always keep pushing myself to the limit. I think most successful people would say the same thing.
How would you describe your work style as the Girl Boss?
Super easy going and definitely NOT corporate. I have great relationships with my clients and staff. I am honest with them and tell them the truth. I don’t BS, raise my voice or give feedback that isn’t constructive. There is definitely no “Devil Wears Prada’, vibe with me. Everything I do is to help take people in my life [business of personal] to their next level.
What is your relationship like with your clients?
I am their biggest cheerleader and no one wants them to succeed as much as I do. I take any work failures personally because I truly want to do my best with everything that I do. Some of my clients have been with me since the start of my company, like the celebrity hairstylist Nelson Vercher. After working together for many years, we have a great friendship. I understand him and what he wants. If we are backstage working at a NYFW show, he doesn’t have to say anything, I know what he wants and I get it done. I feel like, after all this time, we are completely in sync and we have a lot of fun together!
How do you want to improve yourselves in the next year?
I want to continue to grow my company, take on larger creative projects and continue to expand my clientele, globally. On a personal note, I am currently learning French, so I’d like to be fluent within the next 12 months. Ce serait très bien – it means; ‘that would be very good!. *laughs*
What’s the one thing you still want to do in life, something you think of every day?
I really want to see more of the world, Venice, and Fiji in particular. I would love to tick those off of my travel bucket list, I research both destinations regularly.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Freedom. Regardless of how much I do or don’t earn, the ability to; structure my day how I want, work where I want in the world, and choose whom I want to work with, is priceless. It’s such a blessing to be able to live a life I actually enjoy. That’s why I always share my motto on Instagram “Create the life you want” because you should. This is not a dress rehearsal, you only get one shot at life.
If you had one piece of advice to our readers to those just starting out a business, what would it be?
Do not give up. You are going feel like you can’t go on. You’re going to ask yourself, what’s the point when you are not making money or the bills are piling up. Believe me, I have been there.
But persevere and find a way to make it through. For everyone that quits, it makes your chances of succeeding, even better. Keep on going!