Many entrepreneurs are known to be resilient, but Kilee Hughes stands out. She is a clear definition of starting from nothing to something worth celebrating.
There are some common ‘talks’ we throw out all the time, but only a few people actually go out to walk them. For instance, saying like “be the change you want to see in the world” or “if something ain’t right, then fix it.” Hughes is one of these few.
A Bachelor of Arts and Communications major from the University of South Carolina, Hughes has continuously carved a name for herself in brand marketing and Public Relations (PR).
She is the founder and CEO of Six One, a boutique public relations and brand marketing agency in New York City. How did she get here, though? Let’s dive in to analyze her rise, and pinpoint specific business and life philosophies we can learn from her journey.
Finding Her Path and Owning It
A strong and passionate woman of color, Kilee leaped to move to New York from South Carolina immediately after college. While in New York, she secured the first opportunity with Paul Wilmot Communications, an agency predominantly serving clients in the fashion industry.
Unfortunately, Kilee lost her job one year later, but her resilience and “never giving up” attitude catapulted her further. She secured another opportunity with L’Oreal within the marketing and PR team. Being someone who goes out of their comfort zone, she decided to move to Australia after securing her Visa. She didn’t know anyone, but the idea of being in a new setting, meeting new people, and learning new things excited her.
Returning to New York, she secured another position with Nike as the director of athlete publicity. Kilee lost her role with Nike in New York, but she secured another Nike opportunity in Melbourne, Australia. Eventually, she relocated back to New York, and this go-round got a job with Net-a-Porter, where she was tasked with launching beauty and wellness products.
Noticing an Opportunity and Seizing It
During her stint with Net-a-Porter, she got an epiphany. Kilee Hughes realized that most retailers within the Net-a-Porter’s portfolio lacked diversity. Specifically, the black and Latino dollars were both missing from the pile. When she left Net-a-Porter, she secured her first beauty client as a freelancer brand and PR specialist.
The lesson learned from Kilee’s epiphany is to always take the first step, especially when it feels so right. After securing her first client, Kilee launched her brand marketing and PR agency Six One in 2014. In this narrative, we can see clearly a story of someone who is bent on converting what drives her mad to a full gas tank of motivation and rode on it.
Building and Taking Six One to the Next level
Cranking up extra hours daily at the comfort of her living room, Kilee built Six One brick by brick to where it is today. She has lived up to her vision of infusing diversity, inclusion, and fostering community in beauty, wellness and lifestyle through the language of PR. The beauty and wellness industry historically lacks diversity and inclusion, and Six One showed up with a game-changing approach. Inclusivity has since separated the agency from the competition.
Currently, Six One is an established beauty and wellness brand marketing and PR agency both in New York and Los Angeles. This is a testament to the hard work, focus, and passion that has fueled this agency; from a mere idea to a recognized brand within the fashion space.
It is intriguing to see that Kilee keeps her love for the minority communities alive; unlike those ones who move up very slightly and suddenly “grow the pompous wings.” Her focus on these communities is evident in her brand marketing and PR strategies. Six One’s employees are mostly women of color; giving platforms to young and hungry women destined for greatness.
Kilee Hughes deserves her flowers to champion diversity and inclusivity in the fashion, beauty, and wellness space. Of course, she still has a lot more dreams to achieve in life, her tenacity and diligence do stand to inspire.
AfroGist Media celebrates Hughes on this day of International Women’s Day. Our conviction is that lots of inspiration can be drawn from her journey. She is another testament we have seen in entrepreneurship. Ambitious and dedicated women seeking to break ceilings in different fields can sure do.