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Destined for Greatness | The Monique Kennedy Journey

Published:Thursday | September 15, 2016 | 12:00 AMKimberly Goodall
Monique Kennedy
Monique Kennedy

Monique Kennedy is a free spirit with strong determination. However, in her teenage years, by her own admission she was a "weirdo" who never fitted in with her peers.

At just 27 years old, the CEO of MOKEN, a brand-experience company, has many stories to tell about her journey.

Kennedy is reluctant to define herself, as she believes she is constantly changing and is always in a state of self-discovery. "At my core, I always knew that whatever I did in life, I wanted to make a difference and do something of purpose. I remember when I was younger, I wanted to be a teacher, missionary and nurse. I wanted to do something that would allow me to help people," Kennedy said with a chuckle.

She has had different experiences in the working world, including being hired without a specific position; and having one created just for her. She admitted that she was never comfortable staying in one post for very long. Why? "Kennedy is much more than being confined to one set position," she told Flair.


Change of path


From the age of 15, it was clear that Kennedy hated stagnation. After being transferred from the Victor Dixon High School to Ardenne High School in St Andrew, Kennedy struggled to find her place. She studied sciences in fourth and fifth forms, hoping to some day become a gynaecologist and obstetrician, but wanted to change paths when she arrived at The Queen's school for sixth form.

Recalling her urge to switch paths, Kennedy remembers watching Caribbean Fashionweek in third form and hearing a designer she admired share that she attended the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Kennedy has always loved fashion and would have switched courses then, if her parents allowed. When she got to sixth form, she was set on taking art classes. Though she could not change courses at that time, her persistence and determination - which included her sneaking into art class - led to her sitting Art and Design in the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).

She did not stop there. While attending the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Kennedy also took Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) classes part-time. This was not an easy task, but with the support of her parents, she had one goal on her mind - getting into SCAD. Her hard work paid off when she received a scholarship to SCAD.

While attending SCAD, Kennedy was selected as the only underclassman to be placed in Barnes and Noble's journal. She also got an internship at Twentieth Century Fox in her third year.

Unfortunately, Kennedy's internship took a turn for the worst. She fell ill, losing control of her hands and feet. Even after several visits to numerous neurologists and doing a spinal tap procedure, the cause of her illness remained a mystery. Nevertheless, she pressed on.

The following year, SCAD opened a campus in Hong Kong, China, and she got the opportunity to go there and be one of 20 students to do a collaboration with American Greetings Company. For 10 weeks, Kennedy was happy to be designing and working with the company.

When she returned home from Hong Kong in 2010, she completed her studies online and graduated in June of 2011 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design.


The Rocky Road to Self-Discovery


After graduating, Kennedy was a freelance designer, testing out the world of designing with different companies. After a number of experiences in an office setting, she realised that she did not like redesigning someone else's work and not being able to express her own thoughts and creativity.

She started a fashion and lifestyle blog called 'MARKologie' in September of 2011. In doing so, Kennedy discovered that blogging was her new love. Four months in, she won best fashion and beauty blog award. With her blog, Kennedy was able to learn who she was as a person and transitioned from a girl to a woman.

From her work on the blog, she scored a part-time job with eMedia Interactive Group Limited and after two months was promoted to a full-time graphic designer. Still on her path to self-discovery, Kennedy resigned from the post after eight months. She admitted that after leaving the job, she had some very low points but considers it all a learning experience.

"I regret leaving the job because I had no means of paying rent; my laptop was destroyed so I had nothing to do my freelance work on. It was a very low point in my life. I left the job because I knew it wasn't right for me. But I felt like it was just my personality. I remember the day I got home and my electricity was disconnected. I decided that whatever it may be, I was going to apply for a job, suck it up and save so I could make ends meet," Kennedy shared.

While applying for jobs and operating her blog, Kennedy had the idea of becoming an image consultant with a camp that would empower women and help guide young girls. This would prove to be a turning point in her life, with that thought creating 'Generation G - Empowerment Christmas Camp' for girls between the ages of three and eight. This seven-day camp changed Kennedy's life.

"Every time I remember the camp, I want to cry because it was the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. My real passion is to do something with purpose. I had lost that passion for a while but I know now what my purpose is," she said,


Finding her way


In January 2013, Kennedy started working at Prism Communications Limited as a creative writer and conceptualiser. She loved her job and the people she worked with, but said she wanted to do something with a greater purpose. Again, she decided she needed a career change.

In March 2015, with the help of her employer, Kennedy began taking business courses that would help her to start a purpose-driven business. After attending a networking event for one of her courses, Kennedy saw the need for events that would allow persons to connect with each other. From this, 'Thriving Artist' was born. In May of 2015, Thriving Artist hosted its first networking dinner for creative entrepreneurs that got the support of 16 attendants. From there,Thriving Artist became a brand and a highly anticipated event that still continues today.

Today, Kennedy is a woman of many skills as she hosts 'Tuesday Together' in St Andrew, a programme that focuses on community over competition. She is also the founder of MOKEN design studio that helps businesses to build brand experience.

Kennedy said her goal is to the change the world through education and use her creative mind to make a measurable difference. In her efforts to carry out this mission, she will be a speaker and an adviser at the Women Economic Forum in Delhi, India, in May, 2017.