Cherisse ‘Kells’ Jamison, professionally known as “Aye Yo Kells,” is enjoying her success now running The Jamison Agency, the boutique entertainment PR firm she founded. She has a long list of awards, and she has worked with many big names in the entertainment business, but it has not always been this way. A few years ago an abusive relationship resulted in a stint of homelessness. Kells took some forgettable jobs to get stable financially, move into her own place, and lay the foundation needed to begin working toward her dream of a career in the entertainment industry.
We asked Kells about getting through tough times without giving up on your aspirations, and how hard work is so often the solution to problems in life.
You’re succeeding in the entertainment PR business now, but I understand that right after you graduated college in 2017 you went through a very rough spell. Can you tell us about that, and how it ultimately came to motivate you to succeed?
Yes, I relocated to Charlotte, NC where I experienced some traumatic experiences with my mom at first. Eventually, that trauma contributed to me ending up in an abusive relationship right after leaving her home. I was in that relationship for a year before I finally had the strength to leave and I ended up staying with a former friend, where we shared a one-bedroom apartment. I slept on a floor for almost a year and was in and out of hotel rooms before I saved enough money to finally move out. After, I moved out I was able to get a 2-bedroom apartment with a roommate. I started back working on my entertainment business shortly after and was working a call center job. My clientele was picking up and started doing well so I quit my job and launched what is now The Jamison Agency two years ago.
Going through all these experiences has motivated me to want more in life. I was always afraid of failure and felt like I failed during those times. I want to have a successful career, I want to help take care of my family, and I have other business ventures I want to be apart of. Once I fully launched my company full time and quit my job, I knew there was no going back.
Based on your personal experience, how do you counsel women who are in abusive relationships?
I share my story with them, and I give advice based off my personal experiences. Being a victim of domestic violence is something that’s very sensitive to talk about so I’m always empathetic to my best abilities. I’m working on teaming up with some sort of organization that helps victims of domestic violence.
How did you get your PR business started? Who was your first big client?
I’ve been working in the entertainment business overall for almost 12 years. I started off as a journalist with my entertainment blog Lets Talk Hip Hop and transition it to Keeping Up With Kells. Having my own platform allowed me opportunities to cover numerous red carpets, movies screenings, and exclusive events. I also was able to connect and network with so many different people so when it was time for me to fully transition into PR it was easier for me. I’ve already worked with so many big names by the time I launched The Jamison Agency. My first time working on a PR campaign was on Boosie Juice by the rapper Lil Boosie but my first client as The Jamison Agency was TV personality Masika Kalysha.
PR is very much a person to person business. How did the pandemic affect your business?
That’s one of the biggest misconceptions because it’s fully not. My PR firm allows me to work with many different clients bi-coastal from home. With the pandemic, there was no traveling, limited events, and no shows going on but if you’re a great publicist you found several ways to move around this. I also give credit to my clients; I have some awesome clients who were doing so many different things that kept me busy. Rather, it was having a grand opening for a new business, getting married, or throwing community events, there was always something for me to still headline. We made six figures during the pandemic, which is our most successful years of being in business so far.
What goals did you set for yourself when your business was new, and what are your goals now that you are better established?
The goals I set for myself when I started my business was to hit $100k in sales by the time the new year began and to open our agency to work with more entrepreneurs and brands as clientele. We reached both our goals and ended up hitting $100k in sales in nine months along with several businesses under our belts. We’ve also partner with sprinter and hotel companies. Our new goals are to hit seven figures in 2022, become the official PR agency for a movie production, sign on more major clients, partner with big corporations so that our clients can benefit, and also open and run a headquarters office for The Jamison Agency in Atlanta, GA.