When her alarm goes off, Bianca Monica hits snooze just a few times—she anticipates a big day, every day.
“It’s a struggle to get out of bed when your boyfriend is spooning you and you’re spooning your cat,” she laughs. “I light some Palo Santo, feed Lamb [said cat] and sit on the rug and rub her belly for a little while until I get to pour some coffee. I try to not let looking at my phone be the first thing when I wake up, but it’s so hard because the first thing I think about is work.”
With copious candles lit and D’Angelo or The Rolling Stones emanating from the record player, Monica works from the Chelsea, New York City apartment she shares with her boyfriend. Fridays, in particular, are filled with client calls she takes from home, though other days are booked with coffee meetings, photo shoots and “straight-up work.”
Monica is a singer-songwriter, entrepreneur and sometimes-actor. Before she started her own business at just 25 years old, she’d interned for Steven Van Zandt’s record label, where she learned a whole lot about rock and roll, and she interned for Parkwood Entertainment with Yvette Noel-Schure, Beyonce’s publicist, where she says she learned a lot about being a woman in the workplace. Her last hurrah working in music was as a publicity assistant at Island Def Jam, but she ultimately decided that her passion for music wasn’t behind the scenes; rather, Monica was an artist herself.fdr
She started singing around the house when she was 13 before taking lessons in New Jersey, where she grew up. She’s since sung at the Met’s Citi Field, and her music is now even available on Spotify.
“I then followed one of my lifelong dreams of being a journalist and landed a job at UrbanDaddy, which inspired me to start my own business,” she says. “But I left my job after two years of working at UrbanDaddy. I was rundown, always getting sick and finally realized that I had zero time for my music career and me. I knew it was the right time when I started crying after work. I just didn’t feel myself anymore and, as much as I loved the place and the people, I knew in my gut that the right thing to do was leave. I was ready for the next step. So I left and then I got a tattoo.”
Monica started her own business, Limone Creative, shortly thereafter. It’s a “one-stop-shop,” she says, offering brand management, social media and creative direction services.
“If you just need your website spruced up, we’ve got you covered,” she explains. “If you need a logo or an entire brand makeover, we do that, too. As far as social media goes, we create and curate content for clients, work on community management, analytics. With creative direction, it usually entails us creating a photography treatment, hiring the photographer and directing them on set.”
She’s thus far worked with the likes of The Chelsea Market, The Plaza Hotel, Triscuit and much more — but these clients didn’t all come easy. I caught up with the entrepreneur who shared her advice on taking that leap from a secure job and steady paychecks to pursue her passions and start her own business. Here are the most major takeaways…
1. Talk to other successful people about your plans, and welcome feedback.
“I talked to a lot of successful people that I look up to about my plan of starting my own business. Some discouraged me; some encouraged me. It was a really depressing time for me in between that transition phase. Knowing I was leaving but not for another few weeks and then after that, as well, still having to work for another company part time until I got enough projects under my belt to really go off… It took me two years to stop freaking out about not having a steady paycheck, which included talking about it nonstop with my therapist and also eventually realizing that things will work itself out.”
2. Be willing to put in the time and effort.
“If you’re willing to put in the work and really hustle, you can do it. If you’re going into it half-assed, don’t even bother… Be real and be nice because everything comes full circle… Don’t sweat the small stuff!”
3. Fill your day with hobbies and not only work.
“I always have concerns about pursuing music — probably like once a week on average! The more serious I get, the more stressed out I am. It’s nice to have a balance between Limone Creative and my music career because, although I do take it seriously, it still stays a passion of mine instead of my main source of income. Sometimes I’ll go to the studio… and I also try and go to the gym most days for some clarity.”
4. Stop comparing yourself to others.
“I also realized that everyone has their own path and there’s no need to rush… Everything that doesn’t come easy is the most rewarding.”
5. Understand that being your own boss means having to push yourself.
“Just because you start your own business doesn’t mean you’re any more powerful than you were before. If anything, it’s like starting up in the workforce all over again. Having my own business is the most difficult yet most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. It is not easy at all. You will fall, a lot. And it’s up to you to get back up again. There’s no one to help you up, put deadlines on your projects or give you extensions, etc.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.