Updated: Feb 2, 2019
So it took a year but I finally settled my lawsuit with AMEX.
Don’t look confused. Yes, AMEX as in American Express and yes they were suing me. But it's all good now! My name is Katya (aka Kat aka K4kreative aka MamaKat) for those of you that do not know me and this is a glimpse into my entrepreneurship journey.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am a 27 year old artist. I dance, I paint, I occasionally write, and I love people. I graduated from Howard University, HU!, in 2013 with my Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. From childhood through high school, had you asked me what I wanted to be, the most consistent response I can remember was a marine biologist. That changed once I noticed I had a fear of deep water. Yes, I now know that I wouldn't have had to be in deep water. I also know loving sharks doesn’t make you a marine biologist. From there, I always wanted to dance but it seemed an unrealistic career so my next response was psychologist and then more specifically psychotherapy. I’ve always desired and still do desire to bring understanding to the misunderstood. So, in college I became a psych major which made sense to both me and everyone around me and I loved it. I was an RA for two years which gave me plenty of practice as a listening ear to patients, I mean residents. And I danced. I competed with the dorm teams and joined a contemporary dance company on campus. I also did work study at a dance studio to get classes under my belt. It was also in college when God revealed a lot about my journey and purpose to me - that deserves a blog or 4 in itself.
One of my revelations was an art center that would include all of the components that I love: dance, paint, counseling, people and more. I wrote it out; all the details I had an in that moment. Then I put it away and finished out undergrad.
I know what you're thinking, “All of that is good and well Kat. Very interesting but why did AMEX sue you?” I'm getting there folks. Fast forward to life after college and I was working at a well-known sports and entertainment complex in Manhattan. I had worked there during the summers and knew I had a full time job on my return home. I made a plan; I’d stay for two years max working, saving, figuring out what grad school looked like and then move out. That sounds good right? Reality check!! I lived in New York City. I was getting paid a little over minimum wage after taxes. I traveled 2 hours to get to and 2 hours to get from work every day. I didn't have my license, after all I didn't need it. So, let's pause here and do the math. New York City living in 2013: public transportation Monday through Friday costed $2.50. For me that was $5 daily which was $20 weekly and $80 monthly IF you can make it with one swipe to and from. Realistically because I was traveling on weekends by mass transportation as well, it made sense for me to buy the $112 monthly metro card. Once I started paying for my own phone bill - yes I was spoiled - my parents paid mine through college - that added another $75 or so to my expenses. I was home, and did not pay rent which means I could save money. I would buy groceries here and there but nothing was required of me. Don’t grunt, I told you I’m spoiled.
Anywho I was making about $12 maybe $13 an hour that's $2,080 gross which is about $1,700 after all taxes are gone. $1,700-$112-$75 is $1513. Now keep in mind I’m guesstimating from memory. So let's use $1,500. Since I wanted to move out, that's how much I could spend on rent every month right? Awesome! I can make that work. I can afford an apartment for $1,500 except I'll have to buy groceries and pay utilities and keep my hours consistent at work because I'm not a salary employee. AND I need to come up with first month, last month and the security deposit. Ooooooookay! Everything I was looking for in New York at the time was over $1,200 of course so I decided to apply for low income housing. Denied! It seems I made too much money. Okay wait! Take a minute Kat. Just save. Save your money so one day you can rent an apartment. Does that sound as crazy to you as it does to me? Well, I began saving and eventually decided if I'm saving to rent, I should just save to buy. I started a new search. Condos! A condo for a single young woman in New York. A one bedroom, maybe even a studio - $120k and up. I can't forget to mention that the lovely shoebox studios in New York come with a mini fridge and sometimes without a stove. NO JESUS! This can't be life. I don't know how many of you who are reading this have done this search, but please let me know if I did it wrong. Don't worry folks, I have not forgotten AMEX. I re-calibrated all of life at that moment and figured New York City was absolutely insane. I considered (and still am) packing up and buying a home, an entire house, in North Carolina for $150,000 VS a shoebox in the big apple for $120,000.
So what was my final resolve?
I'm young – forget this, I’ll travel.
Here I come world! After all, saving to just pay bills IS the American way but not the life that I wanted. So I lived a little. I paid for trips, even paid for others and I loved it. Up until then, thanks to an amazing financial advisor, my credit was great. I had a credit card for about two years, paid on time, kept my debt low and was running with a 720 or 730 credit score. And then, one day, my eyes were opened. I went to a real estate investing class and my mind was blown. What is the phrase? Oh yes, wide-eyed and
bushy tailed! Yup, that was me ladies and gentleman. I decided to invest into real estate education and pour about 15k into learning! Ya’ll I jumped in which leads to the moment you’ve all been waiting for: AMEX!!
An entirely different world had been opened up to me about business, and money, and investment, and trading, and more. And I did exactly what I knew my adviser would’ve told me not to (had I consulted with him first) and paid for my education with credit cards!! I actually applied for new cards with my awesome credit just to pay for my education. YES, YOU READ IT CORRECTLY! I got an AmEx card with a 10k limit- and used it up.
So, what did I do next? Funny enough, I had put in 4 months notice at my job (which I had planned to do before real estate) and I hit the ground running. I dove in deep, partnered with my bestie and submerged myself in all things investment. I read, went to meetings, cold called, the whole nine. I became a new person. My commitment to success and wealth pushed me to stretch myself into who I needed to be for business. Every day for over a year I was up at 5am, setting aside time for personal growth, morning masterminds, appointments and so on. The problem was that, I wasn’t bringing in money yet and my lovely savings account was dwindling away slowly but surely. I also had the yearning desire (now that I was free from “the man”) to build my own. So I began splitting my time between real estate and painting and dancing.
WAIT!! But the bills Kat. Who is paying your 20k in debt? Oh, I didn’t mention that! 10k was AMEX but I also had two other cards which equaled another 10k. So to answer that question of who was paying- NO ONE! Yes you can laugh, I laugh now. I remember freaking out the first time I even missed a payment. I went from automatic payments to dodging phone calls. Finally, I decided no more borrowing, just suck it up and own the fact that you don’t have it.
AND GUESS WHAT? The world didn’t end!
That’s right!! I lived to tell the story ladies and gents!! And month after month, I just worked. I worked and focused on my grind until, AMEX got tired of me not paying! BOOM- you are being sued. There were other words in the letter that came but that’s the only thing I remember. HOLY COMOLY!! I’m not supposed to get sued. I’m a good, hard working, Howard graduate, dance-teaching, graduate student who USED to pay her bills on time. (Oh yea, I started grad school) COME ON!!! REALLY? Yes really Kat, the letter came from a law firm. YIKES! Alrighty, so let’s wrap this up shall we? I signed up for a debt resolution program which AMEX cared nothing about. The benefit was that it came with lawyers who worked on my behalf to settle my debt. (I got rid of the debt program recently and have completely different legal aid now but that’s a different blog). I AM still paying AMEX since I’m not banking yet BUT they did stop the lawsuit as of 2018. So, there it is, entrepreneurship in a nutshell. OK, not exactly but a little bit of insight for those of you who think it is all sunshine and rainbows on this side of Instagram.
Many folks have messaged me online saying “you’ve made it” or “you’re doing so well”. Ya’ll we are in this together. I’m not wealthy yet and I have a lot of big goals, including retiring at 30. I have made plenty of mistakes but I’ve learned from each of them. Regardless of the ups and downs, there is nothing I’d rather be doing. It is ALL just a part of the journey. God has kept me every step of the way and the strides I’m making now are exponential. Yea, I have some debt, yea I don’t always get it right, but every day I am one step closer to where I need to be and that is enough. I have multiple streams of income now, I’ve connected with investors who I will work with some day, and I’m doing what I love for a living. I have zero regrets.
There is so much more to share so stay tuned. Hopefully it won’t take me 4 months to put up my next post!!