I have to admit that I'm extremely biased when it comes to my friend and fashion partner-in-crime, Kosi Harris, of One Creates Oneself and of the smash new hit, Hunter Haute, a fashion-inspired comic book, as she's been a dear friend and a constant source of inspiration ever since our days of running in-between fashion shows back when New York Fashion Week was at the coveted tents.
Enjoy my interview with the lovely Kosi, publicist, comic book creator, blogger, and friend. I promise you that you'll leave feeling inspired, empowered, and ready to rock.
Kosi Harris: Publicist, Comic Book Creator, and Overall Awesome Chick
Hi Kosi! First, tell us a little bit about yourself on a personal level. What drives you and what do you wake up wanting to do?
I am the youngest of five siblings. I was raised in a home where my parents taught us to love ourselves, and our culture. I remember watching “Like it Is” with Gil Noble, every Sunday afternoon and celebrating Kwanzaa every year. There was always a lot of music in our home. My parents liked Jazz, blues, and rock n roll, my siblings hip hop and house music. I’m grateful to have a family that has eclectic taste.
My sisters inspired my interest in fashion when I was younger having management positions in retail and being image consultants. My brothers used to skateboard, watch Blade Runner, and taught me the secret codes to Sonic the Hedgehog that inspired my tomboyness I suppose. In three months I will have my masters. I am very excited about that!
Hmmm what drives me and what do I wake up wanting to do? Coffee.....Coffee drives me... Ha ha, seriously though, and it may sound corny, but being the best that I can be and doing my very best is what drives me. A publicist life can be challenging. I work long hours, but I am pleased to say that it can be rewarding. I am grateful to work with an agency that recognizes my creativity and knowledge.
What also drives me is my goal to own my own PR firm someday.
Before we dive into Hunter Haute, it's pretty impressive that you can juggle so many hats as a publicist, a blogger, and now a comic book writer. Can you tell us the highs and lows of each?
As a Publicist
Well a few days ago, I had to tell a client that a placement that was confirmed by a publication actually didn’t make it online. That always sucks and is very rare. There is always a more interesting brand or product. At times promoting is like Russian roulette and you have to accept the fact that sometimes, it’s out of your control. You always want to be upfront with the client and provide a solution after giving the bad news. Well that is what I do; find that it works then sugar coating.
A major high for me as a publicist is seeing the result of a placement help a client’s business become more successful. Cheesy to say you are helping them make their dreams come true. As I get older, I appreciate that high more. In my younger years, it was the thrill of knowing that a placement is in Harper’s Bazaar that has a 1 million-circulation rate, and I am the reason the placement made it to the magazine. And while this is fantastic, this is what is expected of you again and again. It makes me think about a quote I saw online: “It’s about today and tomorrow no one cares how good you used to be”. A lesson I learned when I was younger and a bit cocky. It’s great to celebrate placements but then you have to think about three days from now, three weeks from now, three months from now.
A major low for me is trying to make time to work on my blog and comic when I have a deadline at work or a homework assignment to finish.
A major high is networking and interacting with different types of people in fashion and geek Dom. I get inspired when I attend fashion shows and geek events.
What does a typical day in the life of Kosi Harris look like?
I work from home mostly so usually I’m up around 7, get dressed, grab coffee. Check first round of emails, look at the to do list. Make protein shake/breakfast, start first round of conference calls throughout the day, pitching projects for clients, snacking in between (I’ve been the worst at skipping lunch. It’s a goal of mine to just have healthy snacks at my desk). Finish work around 6:30 then head to the gym for about 90 mins, make dinner, do home work and catch Bob’s Burgers at 9:30 ha ha.
How did you get your start and what advice do you have aspiring entrepreneurs like yourself?
I actually knew I wanted to work in public relations at the age of 16. I went to high school as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (JKO) right near Times Square (yes I was an audience member on TRL). JKO is a business high school and our teacher Mrs.Gulston set up a job shadowing day. I will be forever grateful to Mrs.Gulston for setting up that day for us! I was paired with a publicist from Marina Maher Communications and she was in charge of Cover Girl. Dude, it was a candy store for me it just clicked! The publicist told me she went to the Fashion Institute of Technology major on advertising and marketing communications.
In my mind, I was like SOLD! The following year, I applied to FIT, St,John's, and Hampton all communication based got in and decided to go to FIT. During my years at FIT, I had internships at Ecko Utd, Bob Marley Music, LaRok/Elizabeth and James. After I graduated in 2006, I got a position a knitwear company called Qi Cashmere as the marketing/pr manager for 7 years. I wanted a change and I resigned in 2014 to head over to a blogger agency, got laid off a month into it and was lost not even sure if I wanted to have a career in public relations anymore. I took looking very young and being woman of color in public relations as a disadvantage when I now embrace it as my advantage. With my family and friend's support I kept going. 6 weeks later, I got an amazing contract job at the agency I'm at now and started doing my own public relations work independently.
The advice I would like to give to fellow entrepreneurs is the following:
NEVER GIVE UP
TRUST YOUR GUT
BE KIND TO OTHERS
BE KIND TO YOURSELF
SAY YOUR TRUTH
GIVE BACK TO A CAUSE YOU BELIEVE IN 100%
SET TIME FOR FUN
NETWORK LIKE CRAZY
SET GOALS in 1, 3, 5 year buckets.
CELEBRATE MILESTONES AND THE SUCCESS OF OTHERS
The success both personally and financially comes, trust me when you have these values in mind. Being good and doing good comes back to you.
I know you love to Cosplay! What have been some of your most memorable moments and costumes at Comic Con? How did you get into it?
Heck yes I do love Cosplay! I was in the second grade and there was a comic book shop on the way to school. After school a few of us would go to buy trading cards and comics. It was the same time as the X-Men and Batman the Animated series appeared on Fox after school at 4pm (nostalgia kick in right now) in the early 90s so that definitely got me into comic books. The first comic book I brought was inspiration for the Hunter Haute Cover it was Uncanny X-Men, #300 May 1993 – Direct Edition Silver Metallic Enhanced Cover. I think I fell in love with it because it was silver foil and Storm (an iconic comic book character) also a woman of color was on the cover. Years later I brought the comic book again and showed it to Candace (my illustrator) as inspiration.
I didn’t get back into being a nerd until I went to my first NY Comic Con 5 years ago, I can’t explain it something clicked. I think I felt a lot of pressure working in fashion at the time to have a persona. And looking back, I wasn’t happy. It is not authentic being something you are not just to fit in. That NY Comic Con inspired me to embrace that side of me, thus launching my blog One Creates Oneself, putting my love of fashion and comics together. There isn’t a law that says you have to give up one passion for the other, and merging them is so much rad then sacrificing one for the other.
Cosplay just came naturally after getting inspired by friends and family who have done it for years; I decided to give it a try. My first Cosplay was Phoenix from The X-Men Series. I was upset about the wig not fitting my head but learned from that incident, I can’t put too much pressure about a Cosplay looking 100% perfect.
Another great Cosplay I did was Catwoman from The Dark Night Rises, I learned the year before with my Phoenix Costume to put more time into preparing for it, and so I started looking at Etsy designers in August. Found a great designer gave her my measurements inspiration and fabric ideas and voilà! I know I rocked it getting my nephews seal of approval walking downstairs from my place to meet them to go to Comic Con and their mouth’s dropped!
Now let's dive into your latest endeavor. What is Hunter Haute and what was your inspiration behind the comic book series? Can you tell us a little bit about the main characters and their journeys?
Hunter Haute is a mix of Batman and The Devil Wear’s Prada all set in NYC! It is centered on Amina Williams, a fashion student/socialite who has returned to NYC from a Gap year. Her mother was killed a year before in an “accident” and Amina is trying to salvage what is left of her mother’s company while noticing the mysterious disappearances of her classmates. She decides to do something about both!
Amina Williams is as less angry Bruce Wayne meets Lisa Bonet, meets Serena Van Der Woodsen. She is loyal, fashionable, stubborn, loves a good party, and is trying to figure out what she is going to do with her life now back to NYC reconnecting with the friend’s (that she realizes in time are her family) that she left behind.
Where do you see the comic book series going?
Working on Issue 3 this spring. I want to publish Issue 2 online this summer and get issues 1 and 2 in print. I already have amazing ideas for packaging continuing to mesh the fashion and comic book concept!
What were the main challenges that you faced in producing the comic book and how did you overcome them?
Coming to grips to start slow and steady instead of fast and sloppy. I’m grateful I had a great team to help me (thank you Phil & Candace) but the challenge happened after Issue 1 was written and sketched. I was intending on publishing the comic online and also publishing it in print. Looks great on paper but after getting amazing input from other artists, I retooled the strategy to start online get the attention of publishers instead of attempting to do it all myself. Between being a publicist, grad school and my blog, it was the most realistic choice. I also got amazing advice to get a copyright for issue 1, I didn’t realize at the time it would take four months, but it was worth it!
What has your journey and evolution looked like? Both as a person and as a creative professional?
I used to second-guess myself a lot and not trust my gut. Cared a lot about what other people thought, especially on social media. I am mindful of what content I post but I don’t obsess. If I get one like for a blog post or twenty likes. It matters if I LIKE IT. The past 2-½ years I have embraced my intuition and instincts in my writing for the blog and writing press releases as work. I am less hard on myself if an idea doesn’t work. I think that was where I was having the issue with trusting my instincts. It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s what you learn from your mistake that’s important. I also had the bad habit of not wanting to collaborate and now I love it as it helps stimulate my creativity.
Where can we go to connect with you and learn more about Hunter Haute?
You can find me on Instagram @Kosi27 and Follow my FB page at: https://www.facebook.com/onecreatesoneselfkosi
To read Hunter Haute head over to Webtoons.com: http://m.webtoons.com/en/challenge/hunter-haute-/origins/viewer?title_no=47062&episode_no=1
Check out my co-writer Phil Buck’s comic at: https://tapastic.com/episode/485969
Check out my illustrator Candace Lee at: http://www.candaceaprillee.com/
Is there anything else you want us to know or that you want to share?
I am very proud of the person that I have become, but I could not have been as successful as I have been without my family and amazing circle of friend’s(Candy that includes YOU TOO). They are my rock.