401: This NYC Native Runs a Luxury Fragrance Boutique Out Of Her Harlem Brownstone

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401: This NYC Native Runs a Luxury Fragrance Boutique Out Of Her Harlem Brownstone

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This week in the guest chair we have ​Kimberly Waters, founder of Modern Urban Sensory Experiences, or MUSE​, a luxury boutique fragrance house based in Harlem, NY. When Kimberly realized her role in corporate America was not providing her room to grow into her potential, she launched MUSE out of the parlor floor of a friend’s brownstone on Convent Ave in Harlem and has been growing ever since.​

  • Why tapping into her community of mentors and entrepreneurs was the right direction 
  • How she has self-funded her business since 2017 with no outside capital 
  • How she has partnered with hard-to-find global brands, become a sought-after destination for emerging brands

Highlights Include: 

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 04:19 Gathering expertise in fragrance
  • 09:50 Challenges in corporate America
  • 13:46 Small-scale beginnings
  • 22:46 Self-financing her side hustle 
  • 28:03 The unique customer experience 
  • 35:26 Revenue streams
  • 39:18 Target audience and marketing 
  • 51:13 Tips for entrepreneurs 

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Nicaila Matthews Okome 0:02

You're listening to side hustle Pro, the podcast that teaches you to build and grow your side hustle from passion project to profitable business. And I'm your host Nicaila Matthews Okome. So let's get started

Hey, Hey friends, welcome welcome back to the show. Today I am joined by Kimberly Waters. Kimberly is the founder and owner of Modern Urban Sensory Experiences. Muse is a luxury boutique fragrance house based in Harlem, New York. In 2017. Kimberly founded muse on the parlor floor of a friend's Brownstone on convent Avenue in Harlem. What started as a humble beginning has evolved tremendously. Today, Muse has been featured in numerous media outlets partnered with global brands and has become a sought after destination for emerging brands, especially those seeking to enter the US market or establish themselves in diverse communities. And can you believe Kimberly did this all while side hustling? In fact, she's still a side hustler. And it's so much fun to be joined by someone who is at that pivot point where they have a plan. They have a timeline, and they're working towards a bringing the leap from side hustle to full time entrepreneur into fruition. So I really enjoyed our conversation. I loved hearing what inspired her to initially pull the plug and start working on muse for real, you'll be surprised to hear what it is. And I really enjoyed just having her in the guest chair. So let's jump right into it.

Welcome, welcome, Kimberly to the guest chair. Thank you. Thank you for being here. All right, Kimberly, I am so intrigued by what you have created with muse, the modern urban sensory experience. Now, what does it all entail? So

Kimberly Waters 2:09

Muse is a perfume destination, here in Harlem. And I have been in business officially since 2017. Business in Harlem business in Harlem. Yep. And I've been in the fragrance space, probably almost a decade now. So if not a little bit longer, I don't want to age or date myself. But I've been doing this for a minute. But yeah, so 2017 I launched Muse because I wanted a place in my neighborhood and my community, where folks like myself to shop for perfumes and fragrances. And at that time, there wasn't anything that exists uptown. Most people when they shop for fragrance, they will have to go, you know, downtown, jump on a train, Uber, whichever way to get around, and they will have to go elsewhere to shop. So my vision at the time, trust me was humble beginning was just to create a safe space for us to be ourselves, for us to explore fragrance in a way that probably hadn't existed at the time. And also to be a partner. You know, I think we are such were consumers when it comes to beauty and fragrance. But oftentimes, we're not a part of the process. So I wanted to kind of change that. And that's why I created news, modern, urban sensory experiences. So many of you already know what a muse is, and amused as a person who, you know, who serves as inspiration for an artist, and I wanted to serve as an inspiration for others when it came to fragrance. So that's kind of how I started what my why. And fast forward to 2024 I'm still in Harlem, and I'm still you know, introducing people to luxury in niche fragrances, my neighbor. So tell me

Nicaila Matthews Okome 4:18

more about how you got your expertise in fragrances. Where did you work or intern to really hone your skills? Absolutely.

Kimberly Waters 4:29

Great question. So, you know, the whole purpose of you know, side hustle is, you know, I didn't do this automatically. You know, it was something that came about, because I had a career which I still do, and I wasn't getting promoted, or it was hard for me to elevate in my career, and I thought at the time, but if I just do the work if I perform. If I raised my hand, if I'm a leader, all of these amazing characteristics and behaviors that we display, then I would be seen and I will be seen, and then therefore I will be chosen. And to elevate in my career, and that wasn't the case. That wasn't the case. And I, you know, it wasn't easy, you know, and that that elevation in one's career should be easy. But again, I was just, I thought that I was doing the work. So there was kind of a challenge for me, because here I am, I know my talents. And I know my skill set. I know that, you know, God put me on this earth to do amazing things. So why isn't corporate America acknowledging all of this greatness, right? That was kind of the question that I have pondered over for so long.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 5:53

So many of us were listening to understand having those moments, of course,

Kimberly Waters 5:57

yeah. So those moments turn into kind of like this kind of search, this kind of internal personal search. And I like to say that I went through like a quarter life crisis in my mid 20s, to let a part of my 20 as I didn't know, I was searching, I just didn't know, you know, you ask yourself a lot of questions at that time, like, what's my purpose, you know, what my future is going to be? And, you know, you have this vision of what you want your life to be, and sometimes that doesn't flow, right. It's not a flow. So I started to question a lot of things. And in the midst of questioning stuff, I said, God, you know, I know, you instilled in me talents. And I know that I am talented, because I'm a child of God. So please help me figure this out. And I, you know, I was reading books, honey, I was everything was self help, I was trying to find inspiration, then I started to see certain aspects of my life kind of amplified my lifestyle, you know, you put it out there, you tell God what you want, and you expert discernment. And that's essentially what I did. And I've always been a lover of fragrances, period, like, whether it was berries sprays in high school, that Victoria's Secret body sprays, the lotion, Bath and Body Works. You know, I grew up implementing sense into my life, you know, we all seen, you know, our aunts and uncles, and dads and moms, you know, provide this kind of, you know, creative expression through scent in some capacity. And I did to you know, my mom had her favorite fragrances, my grandmother, so I kind of grew up around since, you know, in a lot of ways, and I incorporated fragrance into my life. And then you know, I started thinking to myself, Okay, we have something here, you know, that amplification that light was coming on, but I just didn't know where it's gonna take me. And then I kind of started exploring this fragrance journey and it started off with me still working my full time career, and then also freelancing for different companies like Cody. And then I was that woman that when you come into the department stores, I was like, Look smell I got a new fragrance smell smells, I was that woman. I had to learn not, I knew that there was something there, but I kind of had a submerse myself, right. So that's kind of where this immersion, this immersion happened, which is kind of learning that kind of five foot against retail component. And then I started blogging because we didn't have Instagram, maybe it's on the cusp of coming out. But yes, blogging and writing and I just really wanted to take people along this journey that I did not know where I was going, but I knew that there was a spark there was something there and if I can take people along for the journey that may be in that time, I'm inspired and then they're inspired to so that kind of mindset took me you know, not only you know, working for Cody, but it took me traveling in the name of fragrance working for French perfume company called by Kellyanne I'm at Saks Fifth Avenue and also the Meatpacking District. I put in the work so it was

Nicaila Matthews Okome 9:48

so you mentioned you're working in corporate, what was your original career path outside of fragrance?

Kimberly Waters 9:54

So outside of fragrance I was in healthcare and pharmaceuticals and my career paths are. So I thought at the time, I was in sales, and I wanted to kind of be somebody's, you know, VP, you know, maybe kind of have a marketing role know, kind of this global marketing role. And, you know, so that was kind of like my vision that I thought for myself. And that kind of obviously didn't happen. But you know, I kind of created my own scenario in the mix.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 10:28

Now I want to break down a little bit. Sure what it looks like to start a company on the parlor floor of a friend's brownstone? When did you come up with the idea for it? When did you say I need to open a physical space? It's going to be this.

Kimberly Waters 10:49

So let me tell you, and 2017 I knew I still have my career. And I knew that I wasn't ready for a traditional brick and mortar. I knew that I had to learn business, although I knew it from perspective, working, and healthcare and pharmaceuticals. I didn't know it for real pain. So I didn't take the leap into traditional brick and mortar. And I have a good friend, family friend. I like to call them my sisters who own a family brownstone, and Harlem convent Avenue. It's been in their family at the time, well over 85 years. And their grandmother purchased that 1.3 brownstones in Harlem. So she had this kind of entrepreneurial spirit, way back when, and I was trying to funnel and channel my entrepreneurial goals. And I found that the time girl, she said, you know, why not try to create Muse here? And I was kind of like, wow,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 12:01

so your friend said, why don't you start it here? What did you say? I said,

Kimberly Waters 12:05

Absolutely. Because her home, you know, represented a place for me. So I'll give you a quick little insight about this. Not only was her grandmother, an entrepreneur, and I was trying to challenge my entrepreneurial desires, but she and her sister, were instrumental in my upbringing. Her sister, was my fourth grade teacher. And I grew up coming to Harlow from upstate New York, and that's where I was raised. I was born in New York City, but I was raised in that state. And I will come down to the city and visit this house, you know, because her sister was like my big sister, my mentor, and also former teacher. And she, you know, was like my big sister from my fourth grade all the way up until today, she's still in my life. Both of them are still in my life. So I grew up coming to this house on carbon Avenue, right down the block from City College, this amazing home, this massive home. So it meant something to me, because I grew up watching these two women who I wanted to emulate, you know, and they live in this fabulous house and Harlem, you know, Sugar Hill, like it was like their thing, and I grew up around that energy. So for you, it was a full circle moment when she said I can't use heart parlor. Because I remember going in there and looking out the window and you know, hanging out when I was a teenager. So I took full advantage of that opportunity when it was presented to me.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 13:46

I love that. And how did you start it out? Were you buying and then merchandising the perfumes? Were you just doing like a small table? Or did you like fully, like build it out as a full storefront?

Kimberly Waters 14:01

Now, so this was very incremental, and the perfumery space, you know, this was like some years ago, so things have changed the community has grown nowadays, but when I started first of all, there were few black women and perfume in this capacity. So that was kind of a starting point. And then, you know, prior to 2017, I probably spent five or six years building rapport, you know, establishing my name establishing my brand, traveling, connecting because fragrances is different from skincare and beauty. You know, I'm trying to retail I'm trying to introduce a different level, a higher level of perfumery to a unique community. And oftentimes, people if they don't know who you are, they're not going to just give you Do their creation, right, they're not going to just hand over their creations to someone who they don't know, or they may not have a connection. Well, so I started with probably four brands, you know, of people who saw me evolve in this space over time and believed in what I was doing. They gave me some fragrances to jumpstart news. So it wasn't like I had a full flesh, no storefront in the beginning, I kind of had to start from really kind of humble beginnings. And that was like maybe four or five different brands. And that's kind of how it started this meeting. Okay, you know, me, I know you, you know, we've established this connection. I want to start this space here in New York. And Harlem, particularly, this is my vision. And my goal. I know, you know, there's a little bit of risk for you, but trust me and believe I'm committed and so can you let me you know, put your brand and your collection into Muse. And that's really how it started.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 16:18

Have you ever seen an example of a perfume parlor before?

Kimberly Waters 16:21

So I did. So I used to work for a French perfume house at the time. And they still call it to this day by Killian and Kellyanne was probably one of the first luxury niche brands that really kind of had a cult following early on. And I worked for freelance for him, you know, at Saks Fifth Avenue first. And then when he decided to open up his freestanding boutique in the Meatpacking District, I left Saks and I went over to the boutique setting. And having that experience and that exposure, for me, made me feel like this is what I want to do, you know, but uptown in Harlem, and a really kind of unique setting. And that experience and setting an environment really inspired me to start noose and not do it in a way where it's a traditional brick and mortar. So yeah, that was my early inspiration. First,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 17:28

a lot of us know the by Kilian brand, because it was rumored to be like really honest, signature sent one of them. Right. It's so interesting, the power of a signature scent and the power of really understanding this space. And that's why I was so fascinated by what you do, because I think fragrances nowadays, it's become a bit more popular. I see YouTubers doing like perfume hauls, and talking about signature scents and layering and all of that. And so it just didn't used to be a thing. What are you finding?

Kimberly Waters 18:03

Um, I agree. You know, I agree on a couple of ways. I agree that this community has grown over the years, I think we saw a big influx of interest and curiosity and expression, Darren COVID. I think that people probably tapped in to themselves and their interests and their passion, Doron COVID. And because privates or COVID, there was a community, you know, but there wasn't such a robust community that we see. And I'm happy, I'm happy, because beauty is oftentimes, like, everything is kind of grouped in to beauty, right, you know, everything's grouped in every fragrance has never had its own independent, you know, category per se. So I'm glad that, you know, there's an amplification of this space, because when I started, you know, it was very few women of color, whether you were an influencer or a blogger, no, tic tac wasn't there. It just wasn't. So things have definitely changed. I think COVID really, you know, allowed people to tap into themselves and, and express themselves in a way that they just maybe never paid attention to prior before then.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 19:34

Once you started the business, when did you start to think about growth and like, Okay, this is something I couldn't really scale. It's

Kimberly Waters 19:44

something that I think about every single day, whether it's 2017 or 2024. It's a thought that continues to evolve. And I started reading style in 2017 with five brands. Not really Much of brand recognition just kind of had a vision. And I had some people who believed in me, you know, I had a couple of followers, we call him out. So I know, I still know people who started with me in the beginning, you know, they have followed my journey. When I think about 2020 now, and it's just like, I'm no longer on convent Avenue, I'm still in Harlem, I'm on edge comm Avenue, still in the parlor space, but vision, you know, in 2017, and to see it now, I'm like an aha, because I'm like, yo, the power, that you have to just envision something that you want, you may not have all of the tools, you may not have all of the resources, you may not have everything in alignment, I tell you to see news today to see me today, as you know, the news. And not now I have a community, you know, I've had some great features and different media outlets. I have recognition and have respect, I have a perspective that's valued. Sometimes I have to remind myself a par five calm, because I don't think we do that very often as entrepreneurs and my work kind of focused on what's next, what's next. But sell flowers. Exactly. And sell flowers and give ourselves grace, because it's not overnight is definitely not overnight. This is years in the making. And I think about, you know, music and scaling news. And this is kind of where things become a little bit of a challenge, right? For me, because I'm a solopreneur. And from time to time, I have amazing people that, you know, come into my life that help continue to push me along this journey. At times, I may have an intern to to help with the logistics and the operational needs. But I really am a person who's still juggling, you know, the business aspect of MUSE. And you know, right now there are some questions that I have that I'm trying to seek answers to. So it never stops, like, even if you arrive at a certain position.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 22:33

Now, and as you said that I'm like, Well, of course you have questions that you're seeking answers to, I feel like we're always as entrepreneurs, seeking answers to something trying to figure out something in our business get better at something. And speaking of that, let's talk about the aspects of what it actually took to start this right. So your initial investment, given that this was like a friend's place, and all of that. So I'd love to know more about the financial aspects. You know, I try to be as candid and open as possible with that with our guests. And I'd love to know more about like, what it took for you to start no investment wise, and then how you earn money given it's such a niche and boutique business? Yes,

Kimberly Waters 23:17

good question. When I first started music, I had a career so often time and still to this day, how I find Muse is because I have this career that has been allowing me to build my vision, and hopefully my legacy simultaneously. So any money in the resources, it comes from my career, so I'm self funded, if that's the terminology, but I first started off with news, you know, I had to buy a product, you know, so again, self funded, you know, at the buy the stock to kind of happen us, I have really good friends in my life. So thankfully, Gil, the owner of the home, one of the CO owners of the home, she, you know, charged me kind of a small amount, you know, couple $100 or so, a weekend. So it really wasn't a huge risk for me. And I think that's one of the reasons why I didn't jump into initial like, you know, brick and mortar, because, again, I had to take the time to learn what it's like to generate revenue, which is required to generate revenue, and I just wasn't in that space to take such a significant risk. So couple of $100 a weekend when nice was open convent Avenue, some investment, McCain says stop, you know, I was fortunate. It wasn't a significant amount of money at the time. So fast forward. Now, you know, when I have an intern that comes in, you know, so I have to pay that and turn out that you know, more things when it comes to like taxes and accounting, you know, I gotta pay for that I gotta pay it pay for stock, you know, inventory, I gotta pay for different marketing things. So my expenses over the years have, you know, increased. I'm still self funded, I have been fortunate to receive some grants over the years from different, you know, organizations committed to supporting women owned businesses, black owned women owned businesses, some good partnership. So I'm not at the point where I am knocking on doors, no angel investing, you know, venture capital, that's something that I aspire to have, you know, in the immediate future, because I do have big goals. I have big dreams or for news right now, everything is pretty manageable. But I do have big goals, so I'm gonna need some big funding

Nicaila Matthews Okome 26:05

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so what is the experience at Muse understand it's by appointment only. Why is that

Kimberly Waters 28:05

experience is focused on some key areas, education, community, and culture. So when people come in to meet us, and I'll give you an example, I just had a crew from Fort Worth, Texas that just came to muse. And prior to coming my client, Google black owned businesses and Harlem, they were very, very intentional about how they wanted to spend their time. So Kimberly are Muse kind of popped up, and they saw a fragrance and he said, Okay, well, it's four of us, this can be kind of a different experience. This was the first time and New York City, it was the first time ever in New York City. And they sought us out. So that to me, is significant, because it shows me that I'm offering something that people want and they want a localized experience and they want something that is different than going to traditional fragrance boutiques or locations looking for are discovering a new fragrance. So that was something that happened recently. So when they came, we had a good time, you know, before we jump into the experience, it's all about you know, who are you Where are you from, you know, let's have a conversation. Let's kind of you know, learn from each other and get to know each other so it's like building camaraderie. And then I have like a mini questionnaire that they go out and it's so funny to kind of watch my clients fill out this questionnaire because yes, i Everything is digital now but I'm old school to three and I want people to write out their responses. I am watch the write out their responses there, pull out their phone and try to you know, figure out you know what fragrances that they last Bible study name of it, you know, so it's kind of interesting to see people kind of pause, think, reflect, and then converse, you know about their connection to fragrance? Or what fragrances that they recently purchased? Or how do they want to wear their fragrances? Or do you want it to be noticeable? or soft? Or what's your dream vacation like all of these questions inform me and create a conversation around the experience. And then from what they share, I'm able to connect them with some brands or, you know, collections that I carry, that may be aligned to their interest, how they want to wear their fragrance, you know, how many compliments they want. So it's all about introducing people to fragrances that they may not be familiar with, and a setting that really reflects intention and community and just allowing people to free themselves. You know, that's huge. Because if you go to a traditional department store, and you have no clue what you're looking for, you know that you want something different, you know, you've been wearing Clemmy Academy. And you're like, I want something different, but I don't know what I want. And it's hard to have those conversations, those vulnerable conversations, those kind of conversations with people in a traditional department store setting, you know, so I allow people just to be themselves, even the home, like when you walk in, you feel like you and your friend's house, you feel like you're visiting a friend. It's a very relaxing environment. And people walk away, feeling empowered, they feel a little bit more educated. And I have some people at least, and put something on my social media. And one of the women who came with the Texas crew, she said, you know, thank you for teaching me about, you know, aspects of perfumery that I didn't know, and they can take that information, and they can go back to Texas, they can take their new fragrances that may not be available. And they can work on, you know, so it's a really communal destination for fragrance. Yeah, right.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 32:25

And I don't know if this part is a secret, but I mean, it wasn't the New York Times article on you, right, like, so this is actually so the parlor. And if you don't know Harlem brownstones, I'll let you explain it a little further. But like this parlor division, that is the Boutique is actually in your home, right? Yes. Oh, the brownstone. Yeah,

Kimberly Waters 32:48

I live here. And I'm able to welcome people into my home and to my perfume parlor. And you know, it's always nerve racking, right? Because, yeah, you're welcoming strangers into your space. And it's something that I'm very conscious. Yeah, it's very unique. It's a big house, thank God. It's unique. And that's something that I forget, like, again, I operate from a place of intention. And if my intention is to put out good into the world, if my intention is to connect to other human beings in a way that they may not, you know, do so on a daily basis. If I'm coming from a good source, it is my hope that the people who I welcome into my home, first and foremost, are bringing that same energy and respect. And I have never had any problems. I will say that people are truly amazed when they walk into my home because it's aesthetically it's beautiful. And I've never had any issues, negative issues, you know, being the fact that I do live here. And like you mentioned, you know, parlour floors of townhomes in Harlem, they play a significant role. You know, they play a role for culture and community. It's where, you know, the Harlem Renaissance, you know, kind of started, people didn't have many places that accepted them, right. So they had to create spaces, in their communities, in their homes, in their apartments that they could kind of be themselves and express themselves. So that was super important to me. And that's why I wanted to stay in Harlem. I wanted to stay in the brownstone setting, because I wanted to kind of redefine or kind of modernize the parlor floor and make it about fragrant and community and culture, because that hasn't historically been a part of the conversation before. So it's kind of like putting a more man Don't spin on a roll that pilot for is playing in our communities

Nicaila Matthews Okome 35:11

with these experiences, so you're providing it is a true experience, like you have cocktails, you have smacks, you also charge for the experience itself, or is the revenue solely from when people make a purchase, there's a couple of revenue

Kimberly Waters 35:27

streams that I have. So I have a full fledged website that people can shop, explore, discover. So there's a good chunk of my revenue that comes from online sales. If you are coming to Harlem or coming to the city, you live in an area, and you want to smell things firsthand, you can kind of hear is by appointment only because I kind of like, you know, again, this is my home. So I have to kind of keep that in mind. But I kind of like this kind of speak easy if you know, you know, type of vibe, describe these as like the fragrance speakeasy of Harlem. And I was it's kind of like, Oh, I like that, you know, there's a level of discretion and there's a level of, you know, people wanting to feel like they are part of something that's truly unique, you know, so you can come by appointment, you could come and you know, the appointments, depending on what type of appointment, I have three types of appointments, you could just book an appointment for browsing, it's very much like an art gallery, you know, you come in you look and you smile, you know, and there is no obligation to you could have a one on one experience with me where I actually, you know, guide you through a curated collection, so that it's much more intentional, it's much more hands on, and it's much more educational, that's an option. And then the third option, which seems to be like lately, the most popular person is groups like small groups, so people who want to bring their friends and their, their significant others and their children or what have you, I create that experience for you, too. So three options, you can learn more of that on the website. But let me just make something clear to it's never any obligation, right? What I mean by that is, this is not a very transactional experience. It's all about just really connecting to the experience of connecting to a fragrance that you may enjoy. So it's never the pressure of you having to buy something, you know, my goal, when you leave Muse is to feel like you've you learned something so that if you leave muse and you go downtown, or you go to a department store, or you traveling around the world, and you see a perfume boutique, you're able to confidently go in and explore and speak the language, you know, it's a part of this industry. So that's first and foremost, I want you to discover a fragrance or a scent or a smell that you may not be used to or you may not have initially connected to, I want you to kind of feel like you have an open nose when you come here to kind of open nose right open mind open, though, is the kind of just receive which have been introduced to, you know, and if you happen to find something that's awesome. If not, and you say what can we get some samples of this or that I gladly provide samples so that you can take it with you and discover it on your own time in your own environment under your own circumstances. depending on whatever mood you're in, you kind of have your own time with the fragrance that you're exploring. So never any pressure and you do have options when it comes to this thing news.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 39:18

So I'm curious who your ideal customer is like who is your target market?

Kimberly Waters 39:23

I started news with consumers who look like me who have similar aspirations as me whether it's men or women who appreciate originality and access who work hard for their money. You know, and they're intentional about how they spend it. I created news for people of color, who have aspirations who appreciate originality through set at the time, you know, Still state stick to this motto is to inspire your lifestyle ascent. And I wanted to do that for the community. Yes, inspire lifestyle extent and that live by that from a music perspective, because at one point, we weren't a part of this community. We weren't, you know, fragrance was always kind of like this kind of distant thing, but yet we consumed so much of it. So I wanted to change that. And that's why I created music. And to this day, you know, my consumer still stays the same. You know, I live in Harlem, although Harlem is I embrace change. My clients, you know, are people who have similar experiences, have cultural connections and look like me in various capacities. So, yep, anybody can come. But you know, my wife was more for, you know, people of color, comedian that live and an excerpt.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 41:02

And how do you go about marketing news these days, and ain't easy. It's so unique. Again,

Kimberly Waters 41:15

I keep referencing God, by the grace of God. My success has been up until this point, has just been just through authenticity, you know, allowing my brand and my journey to speak for itself. I have a five star rating on Google. So that makes me feel like, you know, people appreciate what music is offering to the world. The articles that I've been featured in a new segment featured in or the partnerships that I've acquired has just been through word of mouth, and just doing good work, right, like just not trying to be like, another company in the same space, not trying to pivot away from my Wi Fi to kind of keep up with, you know, the change that's happening in the evolution that's happening in this community or in this space. It's kind of sticking to my core, and making sure that I acts for help when it's necessary. I remain true to my brand and to myself, and relying on the people who haven't experienced news to share that with their friends and their family. Because word of mouth, I will tell you like the value of word of mouth. And still, that kind of human interaction is still remains paramount for people and businesses like us. Because that's invaluable. So

Nicaila Matthews Okome 43:00

what is your goal for muse? So right now, you know, because it is a sign up. So right, it's a side hustle, you're still working? You have a full time career? Do you feel that it's something that you have aggressive business goals for? It's something that is kind of a passion project that earns money, but it's like, it's not something you want to grow, grow? I'm trying to get the vibe of MUSE like, what kind of business is it? You know?

Kimberly Waters 43:34

So I am shining and smiling bright right now because I love this question. Yes, question allows me just to kind of go inward and just dream and really conceptualize, you know, noose down the line. You know, one thing I want to tell people is, I started out, mu started out as a passion project. Right. And I think it's important to stay at say this because all ideas come from somewhere. So my started out as a passion project. And when you start paying taxes, and you get that LLC, and there's certain requirements that you have to remember and be responsible for, and yeah, you know, you got in the business now, it's, it goes from passion project to business is incorporated, it's LLC, I pay taxes, you know, I am running all of it intricacies, maybe at a smaller scale than a full traditional business would do. And I honor that because I've seen the growth over the years. So I do have aspirations to transition fully to me. And I do not want to leave this earth, not fully realizing my potential when I started, I would be so disappointed in myself. And I don't want to get emotional now because I feel like this is what's going to be the next step for me. I do have goals, however, that I need to make sure I meet an art in place. And I'm being aggressive with that. And I'm not giving myself 10 years, you know, before I transition now, that's not going to happen. Yeah, I feel I've proven to myself that this is worth leaping full fledge with two feet. I think the universe has proven to me that there's a need for this type of perspective, you know, this type of business, you know, so I will transition. There's no if ands or buts about that I do have a timeline in my head. I would love to see nooses in different parts of the country. You know, yes, maybe different parts of the world. I see news evolving, not only in New York City, but in other communities where they can welcome a space like this. I don't have all the answers. I do put out my desires and my dreams and my thoughts to the universe. And I hope that, you know, as time go on, I meet someone or encounter someone that can help strategize around my future. Because, you know, everybody can't play a role,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 46:58

right? Any of us have all the answers? Yes. We can't grow. That way, we can certainly get to a certain level, doing a little bit of this little bit of that, obviously, to grow beyond that we do need to do something different. And whatever different looks like for you, but I appreciate you sharing that with us. Because sometimes people don't like to talk about the future, what they're planning what they got in there up their sleeve until it's done. And it's always nice to hear the refreshing perspective of a current side, Hustler, who's building like a really viable business thriving, beautiful, unique concept, amazing experience that guests love and rave about. There's this exclusivity aspects of it that I love as well, like, man, what you can't just come up with keeps rolling, you know, open up the door.

You know, there's some stipulations and some rules to this. I love that concept. It's so original. And I wish you so much luck, and I can't wait to see how it develops. And I definitely have to get in there before it blows up, blows up and I

Kimberly Waters 48:18

can I just share with you. And please forgive me if I'm having a moment. But I haven't been a fan of you and what you create it and I believe that? I don't know if we did you follow or have a conversation with my lead to way back when?

Nicaila Matthews Okome 48:37

Yes, yes. I did. Yes.

Kimberly Waters 48:40

I believe that I was introduced to you. And I don't know the year or I don't know the specifics. I've been thinking about this ever since we reached out to me, my

Nicaila Matthews Okome 48:51

Lika my spoken 2016.

Kimberly Waters 48:56

That's where That's where it started for me. Right? It started for me. And I remember driving to Philly, and listening to your podcast, and just kind of listening and just to know that fast forward. I don't know how many years later, I'm having this conversation with you. Because muse was a side hustle. It was a passion project. That's why your podcasts and your conversation with her kinda like resignated with me, and it's just a full fledged moment for me and I thank you for seeing me and seeing you and reaching out. I want you on a podcast that I listened to drive in a Philly one weekend to two episodes on that journey and it's just so so. So happy so thank you.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 49:54

I have to shout out Carmen when I was put Remote interview comment was like, Oh, you have to, you know, I can make the intro if you haven't already. So shout out to Carmen. You know, Sharon use Yasmin.

Kimberly Waters 50:17

She's she's just for sports into Muse to the person that you know, one of the people that I tend to bounce ideas off of, and just keep showing up for me and it keeps showing up for me. So thank you. All right.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 50:36

I love this, because it's just, it's leading up to the lightning round, where we're going to talk about more awesome black women. But I just love hearing things like that, because that's the whole reason. And you know, it makes me emotional, because that's the whole reason I started this show. And we all have moments where, in the day to day of doing the work, you kind of forget, or you just you're not as close to the why every single moment that you're working on your show. So just to be reminded of that, and that, wow, this really does impact people. And it really is helping someone start their side hustle and grow into a viable business. It's just amazing. I've never taken for granted. So thank you for that. All right, now we're gonna transition into the lightning round. So the first thing that comes to mind, are you ready?

Kimberly Waters 51:21

I'm ready.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 51:24

All right. Number one, what is a resource that has helped you in your business that you can share with the side hustle pro audience, Spotify,

Kimberly Waters 51:32

because it's such a resource for podcast. It's where I go to spot for all my podcasts. And just for information.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 51:44

Number two, who is a non celebrity black woman entrepreneur, who you would want to switch places with for a day and why

Kimberly Waters 51:53

so I then mentioned my leak, I know that she has transitioned to other things. But has she still been here at this moment? Running her business? I would want to switch places with her because she has been instrumental for me as an entrepreneur, like I will kind of want to be in a day in the life of Miley, too. Yeah,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 52:15

that's one part. All right. Number three, what is a non negotiable part of your day these days? I

Kimberly Waters 52:23

have to eat something that is a non negotiable, or you're gonna get a hangry part of

Nicaila Matthews Okome 52:30

Oh, yes. Oh. Number four, what's a personality trait that you think has helped you be successful in business,

Kimberly Waters 52:40

my tenacity, you know, my tenacity to follow up with brands, my tenacity to, you know, see something that may not come to fruition yet, but know that it's on the verge. I think you have to be a tenacious person to be an entrepreneur, especially knowing that there's really no overnight successes, you have to kind of stay the course. And that takes tenacity.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 53:13

And last but not least, what is your parting advice for fellow Black women entrepreneurs who do want to bet on themselves and do that side hustle, but are worried about stepping away from a steady paycheck?

Kimberly Waters 53:27

Doing that your time. And what I mean by that is, definitely commit to yourself that you see something bigger than your current role, your current responsibility. So keep that perspective in that vision at the forefront, but don't allow the nuances around you was a kind of forced you into doing something prematurely. Be intentional. Yeah, you know, like I said earlier, like I do have a exit plan, and some goals. And that's that intentional part of it, right? That keeps me kind of flowing and going along with MUSE knowing that there's something that I'm going to do that I committed to. However, you have to kind of take these incremental steps, and you can't be forced to kind of do things, trying to keep up with someone else's pace or journey. or acknowledge where you are right now. Be mindful of where you want to go. Set the steps so that you can get there and believe me, it all works out for you. In the end. I believe that and just enjoy the journey. Enjoy the inspiration that comes with the universe conspiring to make your goals and your dreams vision Coming to reality enjoy it. That's

Nicaila Matthews Okome 55:02

the perfect note to end on. So where can people connect with you and Muse after this episode?

Kimberly Waters 55:09

Go follow me on Instagram at Muse M u s ee underscore experiences. You can find me on my website www.us expenses.com My email away very approachable. So definitely don't hesitate to reach out to me with any questions.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 55:31

All right guys. Thank you so much for being in the guest chair and guys, I will talk to you next week. Hey guys, thanks for listening to side hustle Pro. If you like the show, be sure to subscribe rate and review on Apple podcasts. It helps other side hustlers just like you to find the show. And if you want to hear more from me, you can follow me on Instagram at side hustle Pro. Plus sign up for my six bullet Saturday newsletter at side hustle Pro, that CO slash newsletter. When you sign up, you will receive weekly nuggets from me, including what I'm up to personal lessons and my business tip of the week. Again that side hustle pro.co/newsletter to sign up. Talk to you soon

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Meet the host:

Nicaila Matthews-Okome

Hi! I’m Nicaila, the Creator and Host of the Side Hustle Pro Podcast. I started Side Hustle Pro when I was a side hustler myself. I was a digital marketer at NPR by day, side hustler by night. Through the powerful stories shared on this show and the courage to launch my own initiatives, I was able to quit my own job and go full time with Side Hustle Pro.

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