Justine Monae, the owner of Justine Monae Management, has created her own business of talent management that represents influencers and talent ranging from Courtney Sanderson, Diana Maux, Ilo Musk, and many more. With each influencer having big collaborations with companies ranging from Bang, various clothing brands, and even musicians as big as Dababy and French Montana. Justine goes into a deeper meaning of what it means to be a woman and how femininity can rock the world of business.
Tell us in your own words what do you do?
I am a brand and talent manager. I represent different genres of talent such as models, artists, dancers, influencers, videographers, makeup artists & fashion designers.
What was your thought process behind starting Justine Monae Management?
Prior to starting my own company, I was working full time, going to school and managing a few talents and a brand on the side. I did this for about 5 years before taking the risk of starting Justine Monae Management. I always had a love for business and helping others. Working in the industry I witnessed how many talent in the industry were taken advantage of and I wanted to help those that I worked with to make sure they were given the credit and recognition they deserve.
How did you first become interested working for yourself?
I think many people love the idea of working for themselves, I know I did, but to be honest, it was a scary process at first. I was so used to going by “the book,” go to school and work a 9-5. Which there is nothing wrong with, but it took me 5 years of managing on the side to finally put myself first and take the risk. I never wanted to wonder “what if.” I told myself that if it didn’t work out, I know I could go back to work but I also knew that if I was going to do this, I was going to give it my all and work my way up to the top.
What was the hardest part of working for yourself?
The hardest part of working for yourself is that you really don’t have any days off. Yes, you can make your own schedule, but there isn’t any clocking out at the end of the day or taking a two week vacation without having to open my emails. There is no one to pick up your slack and my clients rely on me. I have a big responsibility with a lot of their careers in my hand so I can’t fail.
What aspects of education and training have been most crucial to your success? Give some examples of the day-to-day processes as an entrepreneur. Do you have to maintain continued education requirements?
As a woman in the industry I often felt that I had to prove myself more in a male dominated industry. I had to bring more to the table just to sit at it. Which was another reason why I decided to get my Masters Degree. It was interesting to see how the level of respected changed once they knew I had a Masters.
When I first started managing, I was going to school to get my bachelors. Though it was not required, I was working in the corporate world at the time and an education would have helped me move up. As a talent and brand manager, I learned a lot from those around me in the industry. My first couple of years were like a training phase for me. I was in meetings with big companies representing my client and I had to make sure I was making the right decisions. I was basically thrown in full force which made me pay very close attention to everyone around me because I knew I could learn something from them. I also did a lot of online research on my own and took additional courses to educate myself in the field. After years, I felt like I had the “street smarts” of a talent and brand manager but I wanted the “book smarts” too. I decided to get my Masters Degree in business to train myself in every area of business. I wanted to know all sides.
I often compare it to a trained dancer. A dancer may have trained in specific genre of dance for years but how can that dancer stay ahead of their competition? Train in more areas of dance. Maybe take ballet to help with balance or hip hop to add an edge to their moves. I myself wanted to stay ahead and know different lanes of the business.
What is a personal strength that has been useful to you in your career? How can new graduates develop their own strengths to further their careers?
Patience and learning to stay calm in unexpected situations. This is key. There are often times where something can go wrong on set or a client is freaking out over something not going right at a shoot. As a manager, you have to be the person that holds it all together and keeps everyone calm. As stressed as a situation may be, you cant show it. There’s been times where I wanted to cry because I wasn’t sure how we were going to pull certain things off, but I had to keep my composure, think of a resolution and act on it. Everyone is looking to the manager for a solution.
I look back and realized that I learned this through all the crazy situations I’ve been put in and how they all worked out. It has taught be to keep calm and know that it will all be fine.
How has your business grown to be where it is now? What has contributed to your success?
Relationships. Relationships are very important to me and its extremely important to keep good business relationships. I have been introduced to many of my clients from other business associates or people I have worked with. I have been fortunate enough to hold strong relationships that others will recommend me to clients or friends and that has played a huge part of my success. Keeping great relationships is what has helped me maintain success.
If you could give one piece of advice to future students, what would it be?
If it’s something you love then take the risk, work hard for it and don’t let anyone’s doubts hold you back. If anything, use that as fuel to push you even harder. Its not going to be easy, but its such a rewarding feeling as you start reaching goals in your career. In my beginning years as a manager I had someone tell me that I wasn’t a big enough name for them to give me the title of a manager, even though I did everything a manager did. I look back at that now and smile. Here I am with my own company, amazingly talented clients, great business relationships and a Billboard in Times Square, New York. Hard work, determination and sleepless nights is what got me here, but my clients are what’s keeping me here. I can’t thank them enough for trusting me with their careers and believing in me.
What tips do you have for those who want to renew their life as in new job, moving, etc.
Change is scary, but what’s even scarier is the unknown. It took me years to finally take the risk and work full time towards the growth of Justine Monae Management. I was so used to going to work and having a steady paycheck every two weeks with health insurance so working for myself meant all of that relied on me. I had to work hard to keep income flowing in. It was so hard for me to break out of my comfort zone, but once I did, it was a weird feeling of fear and relief in one. I didn’t want to look back 10 years from now and wonder what could have become of me if I just took that risk. Its not easy in the beginning because you’re adjusting, but when you finally put fear aside and put yourself first, its worth it!
How do you balance work life?
This honestly took me years to figure out. I think its very important to find a good balance between work and your personal life. You do have to work hard and there will be late nights but those late nights can’t be every night. Your health is also very important to run a business. I had to give myself “office hours” where I was available to take client calls and messages. Though as a business owner, your work hours are not the typical 9-5, you still have to have a boundary where you give yourself time at the end of the day to just relax and let your body and brain rest. Taking vacations is important too. Though you will still need to check your emails and work time to time, you still have a life to live. Happiness and Health are very important to succeed.
Who are your clients?
This is the part where I like to brag because I have some of the best clients ever. They are genuinely great people with true love for their art. To name a few, I have The Prince of Twerk himself, Jojo Guadz, which you’ve probably seen Twerking on some of your favorite TV channels. Model & Dancer, Cassidy Payne, who is known for her viral social media videos. Jasmine Shannon, professional dancer/choreographer, who is currently touring with Coi Leray and Moneyback Yo. Grammy award winning Singer and Songwriter, The Stalone. Ilo Musk who is a true socialite and talented model also popularly known as the “Shot O Clock Queen.” Liz Estrada whom you have definitely seen in a leading model role in some of the hottest music videos. Fitness guru and model, Kianna Vestuto. Award winning music video director, Monsee Wood. Sprites way Rapper and Artist, Eclipse Darkness. The infamous Hand stand Twerk Queen, Courtney Sanderson. Celebrity Makeup artist, Juliana Valencia. Fashion Designer, Heather Presley. Tik tok dance star, Lexi Nitz. These are some of the talented people I have the honor of representing.