I’ve succumbed. I’ve fought the rise of cyber space for too long and have finally recognized the need to embrace life online. So here it is Jessica Huie’s blog. It’s been an amazing year. No make that a fabulous decade, but it’s been no joy ride. So I’m going to briefly take it back before whizzing into the present.
My career started as a fluke. I was a junior working in a hairdresser on Westbourne Grove, London. Disillusioned with life and lacking aspiration and purpose I’d decided that cleaning skirting boards for a horrid Greek boss called Irkan, was bearable, but only because it enabled me to buy gaudy Moschino jeans (with the label left attached) at the end of each month.
An Italian PR Guru called Connie Filippello saved me from a fate worse than blow-dryers. As I soaked Connie whilst attempting to wash her hair, she picked up on my failings in the barnacle department. “You are too intelligent to work here daaarhling; you should come and work for me.” With just the knowledge that Connie ran “an office” I trotted off to her Holland Park establishment to start work the next Monday, figuring filing had to be mildly more glamorous than sweeping up hair.
My first day at work was the day I discovered Connie was superstar publicist to George Michael, Mariah Carey and Versace. Talk about strike it lucky! I worked hard and Connie loved me, hard work met opportunity and the rest is history.
My passion for the fast pace of this glamorous, wealthy wonderful world of entertainment which I'd had an insight into, ran deep. I was in love with the media and all its facets and suddenly life seemed full of possibilities.
Then I got pregnant, up the duff at seventeen. My mother called Connie and told her, but Connie was cool “I will support you” she said and she did. I continued to work for Connie right up until I was ready to pop, making the journey to her office each day a little less sure about the future. Then on 30th October 1998, my daughter was born. I named her Monet, totally apt considering the beautiful, incredible and spiritual work of art that she is.Living on the fifteenth floor of a tower block in Ladbroke Grove (which is now famous as it’s where they filmed Kidulthood, props to Noel Clarke) was depressing. I was one of many teen mums caged in the concrete hell.
Ten years after I worked for Connie I'm still in contact with her. She sent me to New York in March 2008 to interview Mariah. By the time the 3am interview at the Hudsonb studios was over, we were both seriously tipsy. That said MC never even hinted about her romance to husband Nick. Gutted!
I was broke, ill educated (4 GCSEs to be precise) and in my dad’s words “a statistic.” But Monet’s birth changed everything. Desperately unhappy with my situation I saw a councillor and her advice of “go back to college” changed my destiny. I often wish I could meet her again just to explain the massive impact those four words had on both mine and my daughter’s destiny.
Just goes to show what happens when somebody believes in you. The rest of society and even my family and closest friends had written my whole life off at the tender age of eighteen. Yet here was a stranger who perhaps felt I may have something more to give, even with a little baby in tow. Society makes me furious sometimes. The way it writes off a generation of a sector of society. Negative self-fulfilling prophecies preside over Britain and I hate it.
This is part of the reason I’ll be leaving Britain for America in the next two years. What is life without hope and dreams? Enterprise rules in the USA.
Quite ironic that the Prime Minister Gordon Brown invited me to a round table debate on enterprise in Britain at No.10 Downing street. It was surreal, Peter Jones on one side and the head honcho from Glaxo Smithkline on the other. Considering my strong feelings about the topic I’m sad to admit that nerves got the better of me on this occasion (a rarity) and I don’t think I made much sense at all. Damn it. Gordon if you are reading please invite me back, I honestly have some pertinent points to make. I would also appreciate the opportunity to pose for a pic by the No.10 front door as I forgot my camera last time. I’m sure you understand the importance of this for ones photo album.
The Prime Minister presented me with my Daily Mail 'Enterprising young Brit' award in November 2007. It was a totally AMAZING 48 hours as I'd picked up two awards 'Entreprenuer of the Year' and 'Best Business' at the Precious awards the night before.
If I'd known that I was going to win I would't have gone for a sheer top, it was inappropriate for the occasion.
Anyway A-levels then University. Three years of hard graft and lots of tears (both mine and baby Monet’s) ensued. I worked seven days for 1095 days straight. Three days at uni, commuting 80 miles to Harlow College (where Piers Morgan and other national newspaper editors had also studied), a day was spent at Max Clifford Associates and another at Pride Magazine. I spent my weekends harassing customers selling shoes (and matching bags they didn’t want) at Russell & Bromley.
It paid off and I’ve had a ball of private jets, superstar interviews, business trips to Monte Carlo and St Tropez. I have genuinely lived it up for the last ten years. To all the haters who wrote me off, apologies for not accommodating your haterisms, it would have been far too easy.
To the person that wrote ‘Jessica looks like Michael Jackson and is never going to get a job’ on my locker in the fourth year, unemployment is paying beautifully these days lol!!!
Now you’ve got the history lets fast forward to 2009…
I’ve just got back from Jamaica where I decided to start this blog. I was out there with best friends Nana Fosu, MD of Fosuism http://www.fosuism.com/ and Julia Huie-Martin (Cousin, partner in crime and all round honey who now lives in New York) for the Air Jamaica Jazz Festival.
Lionel Richie was headlining and Estelle, Robin Thicke and Maxi Priest amongst others were also performing. Only trouble is we didn’t actually see much of the performances. This is because there weren’t any available chairs in the press area of the festival.
I am a self confessed diva. I have spent years working for free in the name of work experience, survived on 3 hours sleep forever, and missed out on the whole emergence of garage music on the club scene in the pursuit of career success (and happiness). In short I’ve paid my dues, so I reserve the right to be a diva. It wasn’t just the lack of chairs that was the issue; Nana got glass wedged in her foot which also prevented me fulfilling my journalistic duties.
We had an amazing time though; I always do in Jamaica. I was last out there in June 2008 for Caribbean Fashion week which takes place each year in Kingston. I travelled out with the crème of London’s ethnic media, Shevelle of Pride mag, Janelle of The Voice etc, and it was fabulous.
The most fabulous thing is that Claudia Pegus designer extraordinaire asked me to model, and so at the grand old age of 28 I made my catwalk debut right after Nia Long. The adrenaline rush was totally AMAZING and akin to the childhood feeling of waiting in the wings of the many theatres I danced in as a youngster.
Eve was there modelling her Fetish clothing line, as was Mashonda who’d allegedly just discovered her husband Swizz Beats was cheating on her with Alicia Keys.
Me before I did my catwalk strut! It was totally out of this world. Just wished Monet had been there as she'd have been consumed with pride at her hot mumma!
Eve and I
This year’s trip was spent hanging out at the Ritz Carlton where we stayed, learning to play golf (always handy for business meetings on the golf course lol) and generally regressing to the age of about fifteen before responsibility, pressure and motherhood kicked in.
We flew out to Jamaica two days after President Obama’s Inauguration. My company JH PR was handling the media for the event which was put on by Hill Davenport and was held at The Intercontinental Hotel, Park Lane- it was manic.
We flew the gorgeous Kelly Rowland in to perform and it was a seriously exhausting three weeks in the run-up to the event. Everyone from CNN, the BBC to London Tonight covered our event, it was a resounding success. Apart from a woman that complained about me “Can you explain why there is no goodie bag at my table?” she cussed. “Bad luck?” I responded. She didn’t see the humour and filed a complaint. I was consumed with regret. Not.
The Lovely Kelly and I
I try to get away as often as possible if I’m honest. Mainly because as I explained I find Britain limiting. There’s something about the sea that awakens the ambition that Britain sometimes quells in me. So I try and recreate that feeling as often as possible. Thankfully business takes me abroad often.
I’m digressing again. So it’s practically March already, I’ll be turning 29 on the 20th March which is officially the Vernal Equinox (First day of spring.) I finally resigned from Max Clifford Associates two weeks ago. For the past year I’ve been doing two days each week in an effort to retain the old safety blanket that has kept me supported for so many years.
Whilst lazing on a sun lounger in Montego Bay two weeks ago, I realized it was time to cut the safety net once and for all. I needed to get brave and steadfastedly move into the new phase of my life with confidence. I run two companies for goodness sake, it was long overdue.
I’ll always be grateful to Max. Like Connie he gave me an opportunity that I grasped with both hands, and I still have the card he gave me nine years ago which said “You are a credit to yourself, welcome to the MCA family” after two weeks work experience when I was still at university. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Maximus. Don’t believe the hype. He rocks!
Me and the M.C.A girls
I'll always have a special place in my heart for Maximus!
So here I am. This year is going to be huge on every level. I’m currently investigating merging JH PR with an exciting new company, so expect to fly to New York next week for meetings. I’m bursting to shout about it from the roof-tops but will have to hold my tongue until next week’s blog. Off to get Monet school shoes now, I’m starting to enjoy this blogging lark!
Jessie From The Block