Written by: LoveJFab
(Original post by Kori Winters )
I can relate to this story so much because I’m on an amazing journey myself right now. Much like Tomeka Kolleh, it took me a little minute to 100% put my faith and energy into God and his favor. I’ve always had plan B’s and C’s. It wasn’t until recently, I began to walk by faith and not by sight. You can read my personal story HERE.
Twenty-six-year-old Tomeka Kolleh, Associate of the Chairman’s Office at Combs Enterprises, can personally attest to the Twentysomething Struggle — that horrifying stage of adulthood when you have no frigging clue what your next move is gonna be. That crucial moment in life where you either choose to step out on faith or fall by the wayside.
For Tomeka, a first-generation Liberian American from Detroit, stepping out on faith meant quitting her $10/hour gig at a small coffee shop — her first job after graduating with her bachelors degree in public relations from Bowling Green State University — and moving to New York without a job or dollar to her name. It meant going hard or going home. Literally.
Tomeka’s older sister Deconte, who was living in New York at the time, agreed to help her get on her feet under one condition: Tomeka would have one month to find a job in New York, and if she didn’t, she would have to return home to Detroit. Within a month of moving to NY, Tomeka held up her end of the deal and landed her first job as an admissions counselor at a post-secondary school called Plaza College. A few months later, she wound up picking up an internship at a small PR firm.
“It was a start-up agency, but they had big accounts… We had the money (and) we had the budget, but we had little manpower,” she said. “So I was an intern working maybe 11- to 12-hour days.”
That small amount of manpower gave Tomeka just enough room to shine.
“I knew Photoshop from back in college,” she said. “They didn’t even know I knew Photoshop until one day (when) they needed these edits. I’m like, ‘Hey, I know how to do it!’… And so that’s when I first learned how to build corporate equity — you have to bring something to the table, or they won’t even think twice.” #MajorKeyAlert
Tomeka had saved up enough money to move into her own place right before she turned 23. But just when things were starting to look up, her situation took a turn for the worse.
“I got fired from Plaza College a week before my birthday,” she said. “That was the same time I moved into a bed bug-infested apartment in Brooklyn — the worst experience of my life.”
Frustrated and defeated, Tomeka decided she would leave New York and move back home. But her sister convinced her to stay another week and she wound up picking up a temp job at a media company. Her career took a major turn not long after that.
Tomeka was offered a position a few months later at Remy Martin Cognac as a PR Assistant. While working there, she attended numerous industry events to familiarize herself with industry leads. One of the events she attended was honoring her now boss and mentor Ericka Pittman, who was Vice President of Combs Wines and Spirits at the time.
“I knew who (Ericka) was before she could even speak to me. Back then I was obsessed with the industry and what the women of Ciroc had done for the brand,” she said.
A huge admirer of Pittman, Tomeka took the opportunity to congratulate her and introduce herself. After chatting briefly, Pittman gave Tomeka her card and informed her that Ciroc was always looking for new talent.
Tomeka came across a job posting from Ciroc on Instagram not long after that. She immediately sent Pittman an email expressing her interest in the position and was invited to come in the following day to interview with Pittman and a few other executives at the Bad Boy headquarters. After three months, Tomeka was finally offered the Marketing Coordinator position at Combs Wines and Spirits, the company that houses Ciroc Vodka and Deleon Tequila. She got straight to work on her very first day.
Tomeka channeled her inner Yoncé and fell right into formation. Under Pittman’s direction, she helped manage the company’s national accounts and new business. Then, in January of 2015, Tomeka was called into Pittman’s office to speak with her about something important. Pittman had just been awarded a huge promotion from Mr. Combs himself and accepted the position on the terms that Tomeka would be promoted as well. But there was a catch — the new position would be based in LA.
A day after returning from her 25th birthday trip to the Dominican Republic, Tomeka said her good-byes, packed up her things and moved straight to LA to begin her new role as the Associate of the Chairman’s Office for Combs Enterprises. In this position, she assists Pittman on a daily basis to synthesize the vision for all of the brands housed under the Combs Enterprises portfolio: Revolt TV, Sean John, CWS (Ciroc Vodka & Deleon Tequila), Blue Flame Agency, Bad Boy Records and Aquahydrate.
“As cliché as it sounds, every single day is different,” she said. “Some days we’re updating Mr. Combs on the activity of his companies and other days we have two weeks to plan and execute an event.”
“I would say challenge yourself to be committed to your passion and purpose as much as possible. No, it might not come with the most money right now. No, it won’t instantly be gratifying and glamorous. But if you stay committed to your passion and purpose, all your dreams will SLOWLY come into fruition. So many times I see my peers bouncing from one hustle to the next without ever allowing one to every truly manifest. Be committed and love it until it hurts.”