Kahshanna Evans is this divine being who radiates uncanny wisdom. She was meant to nurture and guide people to speak their truths and tell their stories in the most creative and unique ways possible.
She stumbled into wellness and public relations after working as a high fashion model for both print and the runway for over a decade. With Kissing Lions Public Relations, her boutique media hub she founded five and a half years ago, she found a way to merge being well and storytelling under one roof.
Her message is loud and clear: tell a story that’s as unique as your business in order to grow, but also check in with yourself to get centered and focused so you operate from your highest, most innovative self.
If that means sipping tea or a mimosa, or coaching you through a creative exercise that opens you up to new ideas, she has those tools to help you find your ground while also building a name for your company, which has been her secret sauce in helping to groom and make brands like Punto Space and a private tech project, which featured Wyclef Jean, a success.
Who wouldn’t want her on their team? She’s worked in some of the most coveted industries: from wellness, tech, and fashion, to film and television, and music and entertainment. She currently writes for Huffington Post and Industry Rules Magazine, and has an affinity for approaching brands from a holistic perspective.
During out interview she was open and candid about the lessons she’s learned along her journey, and the challenges she faces in her personal life and as an entrepreneur. She has a knack for unpacking those issues, examining them at the root, and working through them to refine and improve her life and her business, which spills over into helping the clients under what she calls, her “Kissing Lions Zen Den”.
Her story is invaluable – she shares some of the most heartfelt words of wisdom, like how to nurture patience when you want everything now, what it takes to find your passion when you have no idea what you want to do, and what it’s like working in an industry that’s constantly evolving and being disrupted by new technologies. She dishes on what it was like working as a model, and she shares her perspective on life and taking on the personal obstacles we face when going after and making some of the toughest decisions in our lives.
Watch a snippet and read the entire interview below.
AP: Where were you before starting Kissing Lions? How did you end up here?
Kahshanna: I actually was studying wellness before Kissing Lions. I really wanted to be a wellness practitioner. And one of the teachers in this course I was taking said, “You’re never gonna have to wonder what you will do for a living. All you have to do is slow down and look at what you’re already doing.” And it wasn’t wellness. It felt like wellness, but it was me compulsively helping small businesses. So I think that’s how I got here. And before that, I was in the fashion industry.
AP: Tell me about that, because you were in the fashion and modeling industry for many years.
Kahshanna: Fashion was this impossible, little kid fantasy come true in a way, mixed with mean girls bootcamp and fashion divas and divos that were perfect for the craziness, for lack of a better way to describe it.
I did high fashion, runway, and print. It was super exciting because it was something that I thought I could never do. I thought I was never cool enough or pretty enough. But it was really a lot of work. I loved the travel – that’s definitely one thing I will take from that, is how much I traveled – but it was a lot of work.
You have to love yourself enough to be a muse and to accept that someone wants you as a muse. But you always have to look at business and negotiate with grace. I would say if there’s any secret formula to the faces we enjoy out there, that are working, they know how to negotiate with grace. That’s what I learned.
AP: But how did you shift from fashion to public relations?
Kahshanna: Years ago I was working a lot. There would be five or six days a week where I was running around modeling at a different shoot everyday and a different location every other week, and I got burnt out. I was exhausted.
You have to be a social butterfly. You have to show up with bright eyes and a fresh face, and well rested, and manage lots of personalities. But I was so exhausted, and there wasn’t really a place that recognized a working girl to be – that’s what they call models, “working girl” – burnt out. It was like, if you’re working and you have a problem with it, then it almost made you a snob, or someone who’s like, “Oh, you think you’re too good to work now.”
I was burnt out from traveling all of the time, and all of the focus was on fashion. It wasn’t the same as relationships where people went to a four year college and they have all of these relationships they’ve developed. I got really burnt out spiritually. My heart was exhausted. My body was exhausted.
I knew I had to show up and do a great job for some of my favorite clients, but it was all of this touching you and fixing your hair. It was so much. After a certain point, I just thought: “I need a break.”
I had a couple of interesting spiritual experiences when I was studying acting around that time. I started doing a little more yoga and doing a little more exploring. And I guess that role playing and some of those deeper experiences from just walking in the shoes of someone else during my acting scenes, nudged something deeper.
I studied wellness. I studied shamanic healing. I studied reiki, and I started to shift. It was gradual. At first it was a little bit of that, and mostly still the fashion, film, television and entertainment industries. But eventually I was giving them the news like, “Hey. I’m pretty exhausted.” And by then, you kind of have to make a choice, because unless you’re a super duper star, they’re gonna be like, “Make up your mind. We have other people we can play with.”
It went from fashion, overlapping wellness, and into Kissing Lions Public Relations. I would attend events hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and at the Javits Center, and eventually I got my big first client with a civil engineering firm.
AP: How important is storytelling when building your brand?
Kahshanna: Storytelling is crucial when building your brand. It’s everything. How you tell your story is what allows you to be more visible and more appreciated for being unique.
Dry, engineered marketing doesn’t work anymore. People are too smart. You have to tell a story and you have to tell it on multiple platforms. And fall in love with it. Don’t just do it because it’s your job. Fall in with your story because it’s delicious, and people can pick up on if you love what you do.
AP: What’s the one thing you struggle with most?
Kahshanna: Being patient with myself. I have ideas, ideas, ideas. They are nonstop. I want to do everything right now. It’s so magic and it’s so exciting. It drives me. I love building, but building is a process. Planning is a process. Shaping strategy is a process. And I’ve just wanted everything at once. So it’s definitely been about being patient and nurturing patience.
AP: What’s the key to developing more patience?
“It was really important for me to understand why I’m impatient.”
Kahshanna: My formula for developing patience came from the wellness world. It was really important for me to understand why I’m impatient. Why, when I get so excited, it’s hard for me to slow down.
The process of slowing down and recognizing why is what I took away from my wellness program before I started Kissing Lions. When you discover why, compassion is the next step. It was like: okay, now that I’m clear why I might be so excited that I’m just driving like a runaway train, I can be compassionate towards myself. Being compassionate means you’re opening the door to slowing down and being more mindful, and also taking care of yourself.
AP: How important do you think perspective is in our lives?
“Perspective is invaluable in our lives. It changes with maturity. It changes with intention. And it changes with the willingness to see through a new lens to transform situations that are uncomfortable for us, or even unfair or unjust.”
Kahshanna: Perspective is invaluable in our lives. It changes with maturity. It changes with intention. And it changes with the willingness to see through a new lens to transform situations that are uncomfortable for us, or even unfair or unjust. Perspective is also a great way to be fierce and fearless without making excuses for why you have to be soft and acceptable.
Perspective to me means: Here’s why I need to kick butt right now, and here’s why I need to inspire you to kick butt right now. Here’s why I need you to believe in yourself. And here’s why I need to throw on my superwoman cape and feed and nature brands and influencers that are really building amazing projects right now.
Without perspective we have excuses and opinions, which can oftentimes be obstacles and they can also be excuses to be complacent.
AP: What do you do to get perspective, because we’re not always walking into a room bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
Kahshanna: I try to identify where I’m feeling blocked or frustrated. Once I identify it, I stop feeling anxious. The anxiety comes when you don’t know what it is. If someone triggers you or someone upsets you. If something disappoints you on a larger level in your environment, your workplace, or in your social circles.
Once you identify where those obstacles are, you have to check in with what you want based on who you really are. It’s a map in essence. You have to ask: Who am I? And in order to get perspective, I need to look at this map and I need to return to it every time I feel lost.
Once I return to it and I identify those things that are in my way, then I can reach for my resources. I can reach for my favorite meditation. Friends, family, coworkers, mentors. Supersheroes and superheroes who are in my network that are there to champion me, to help me be a bright mind and a bright thinker.
I also have to make the space in my heart, in my body, and my mind to be open to the answers. You have to be open to perspective, even if you don’t know what it is.
AP: Knowing what you know today, what advice would you give your younger self?
“Be who you are.”
Kahshanna: I would tell my younger self, you are in a world with people who are incredibly reactive and unpredictable. The world is not always safe. It doesn’t always feel good, but you are so fierce and so special. You’re special not just because you’re strong, but you’re special because you’re soft and you’re creative, and you have a story.
I would tell her to never forget what’s in your heart and what you’re made of. And if you wanna be in love with rainbows and unicorns, and you believe in best friends until you’re 90, that’s okay. If you want to hold hands because you’re friends with people and you want to be unusual, you don’t have to live by anyone’s rules. Just be who you are.
AP: For people who don’t know what they want to do in life – where they want to be in their careers or businesses – how do you find the passion that drives you?
Kahshanna: You have to listen to yourself. Oftentimes we’re trying to force ourselves to be successful based on what everyone told us success looks like. It looks like a banker. It looks like a lawyer. It looks like three MBAs and graduating with honors, which, oftentimes it is and that’s incredible.
But you have to look at what you’re already doing. If you’re not sure what that is, the first thing you need to do is have an intention for clarity. You want to aim for clarity and you want to aim for peace. Those are two great things that can remove anxiety and remove the pressure, and help you get clear.
“Think about what causes make your light bulb go on. That’s a real sign as to where your passions are.”
You have to explore, and exploring isn’t perfect. You may have to kind of get your hands dirty. But I think it’s also what my mentor said when I was studying wellness: “You will never have to wonder what you will do for a living. You’re already doing that.”
Then it becomes a matter of asking specific questions about something that has started as a seed and has continued to grow. It’s more important than ever to listen to what you’re already doing: Are you that person who’s staying at the PTA meetings? Are you that person who’s at the soup kitchens on the weekends and you just can’t get enough?
Maybe you’re supporting another team because you’re not sure what it is. Volunteering isn’t a bad idea. You might want to go to a nonprofit organization if they’re working on something special. Think about what causes make your light bulb go on. That’s a real sign as to where your passions are.
AP: What does having an Amazing Perspective mean to you?
Kahshanna: Having an Amazing Perspective means on any given day – no matter how much mayhem, no matter how much upset – I can reconnect and refocus. I can ignite faith and start again working on what I’m working on.
It’s access to inspiration. It’s access to compassion. And compassion can really open the door to resolving anxiety and lots of other things that can come up in our atmosphere on any given day.