1071Today, we are thrilled to have Shameeka Ayers, aka The Broke Socialite, joining us as our FACE of Atlanta. This dynamic speaker, writer, social media guru and conference producer gets more done in a day than most of us accomplish in a week, and her legions of loyal fans and great success in the marketing world remind us that when you pursue work you love, everything else falls into place. Welcome, Shameeka!

Tell us about your brand, The Broke Socialite.

The Broke Socialite is TRULY my alter ego. She was born out of a need to express myself creatively as a counter to a highly technical corporate job at the time and my mission to empower others who may have been cursed with champagne tastes and beer budgets to take a little pressure off. The Broke Socialite’s platform was a blog for the first four years and the brand is now the bedrock for experiential events, a social media consultancy and publishing.

A part of your brand are your dessert tours, Sugar Coma Events. Tell us about the inspiration for starting such a delicious event.

I REALLY wish I could take credit for the Sugar Coma concept. Back in 2009, it was actually my husband’s idea to lead a pub crawl-style dessert tour of Atlanta’s best bakeries and restaurants with desserts. I simply matured the idea and built a framework around which it could be produced. We have since expanded to a festival model and contract social and corporate Sugar Coma events.

If you could only have one dessert for the rest of your life, what would it be?

The irony in my “story” is that I really do not suffer from a sweet tooth much at all. However, Sylvia Hollingsworth Shy’s (that was my mama) Southern banana pudding got me every single time. Though we lost mama to breast cancer last summer, her recipe still lives on. My younger sister, Chanci, has nearly perfected her very own version that she makes a few times a year now.

We love that you use the word “solopreneur” to describe your work life. How did you make the leap from the corporate world to running your own successful business?

Though we had been planning for a transition, I felt I was ready to leave corporate about six months earlier than I had anticipated. So I left. Cold turkey. Was it the right thing to do? At the time, I thought it was. In hindsight, though, I would have tied up more loose ends. My business (which I worked nights and weekends after leaving my demanding day job) was booming creatively and financially so it became increasingly difficult to sit in a cubicle every day when so many exciting things were happening in The Broke Socialite’s and Sugar Coma’s universe.

Why do you think women can be hesitant to take on life changes or reinventions?

Change is sometimes uncomfortable and uncertain. Who in her right mind would opt in for all of the emotional ups and downs associated with pushing the envelope, trying something a little different, stepping outside her comfort zone, living her dreams? On top of already being any combination of mom, wife, professional, daughter, sister and friend? It’s easier to wish without action and allow the notion of dreams to run us ragged. The good news? We cannot run from what is meant to be. It may not catch up with us today or tomorrow, but all dreams must be reconciled.
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What is one piece of advice you give women who need a “little push” to make a change in their life?

Do not overthink it. There’s a chasm between preparation and paralysis.

When you were a little girl, what did you imagine yourself doing when you grew up?

It’s quite bizarre, because now that I think about it, I never had designs on being or doing any one particular vocation. When I would play with other children, I was most always the teacher, the doctor or the manager of our make-shift Rich’s department store (complete with our very own cash register, might I add). What I DID know is that I wanted to be the leader–I think we used to call it being “in charge.” These days, those tendencies seem to have translated into my ability to be a strategist, a visionary, an influencer and all-around big thinker.

Where did you grow up? If not Atlanta, how did you make your way here?

I’m an extremely proud daughter of Covington, Georgia, a quaint town (and home to “In The Heat of The Night” and “Vampire Diaries”, thank you very much) about 30 miles east of Atlanta. After leaving college in Tallahassee in the early 90’s, I lived in most major markets between Miami and Seattle due to careers in healthcare finance and pharmaceutical marketing. As it turns out, the allure of a slower pace, porch swings, REAL sweet tea and the true love of family and friends drew me back to Atlanta at the turn of the millennium.
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What activities do you do when you want a break from your phone and social media?

As my phone, iPad and tablet are tethered to my hands, it is tough to not ALWAYS be in work mode. Over the past 8 months or so, though, I have developed an obsession with Zumba. I take 5-6 classes per week and can not get enough it; I love to dance. As soon as I feel like it’s exercise, it’s a wrap! The good news is that I’ve toned up a bit and lost about 25 pounds since I started.

What is your favorite thing to do on a Saturday night?

Because I work 16-18 hour days, Saturdays are usually Date Night for my husband, Eric, and me. We are very much nesters so we enjoy trolling Pinterest for great cocktail recipes and new dishes to chef up together. We occasionally catch a movie but I am typically so exhausted that I am zonked out about halfway into the movie.

What are a few of your favorite restaurants in Atlanta?

Atlanta is such a great food town, right? I love JCT Kitchen, Barcelona and the sandwich bar at Star Provisions. The common thread is that all of these places are so laid back and offer a great environment for relaxing.

What are you most looking forward to this summer?

As it turns out, I will hit my biggest stage this summer at the Essence Festival Empowerment Experience in July. Set in New Orleans for four days and approximately 100k attendees, I will sit on a panel that focuses on reinventing your life and pursuing your dreams. Most attendees are women, and any time I am presented with an opportunity to engage with folks who might have been at occupational crossroads like I was, I truly consider it a ministry.
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What can be found on your bedside table?

iPad, iPhone, earbuds (I’ve the worst sleeping patterns ever so I can usually be found watching/reading/journaling something at 3 AM and trying not to disturb my husband) and a bottle of water. I’d love to say “flowers” but I’ve THE worst allergies.

Do you have any irrational fears?

Absolutely. No judgment, right? OK. The two that are usually on repeat in my psyche are that a) I will become creatively stifled (it happened after I lost my mom for a little while but I now know that I was processing the grief) and permanently so, and b) that I will lose my life on the dangerous highways of Atlanta. Morbid but true. I loathe driving. Thank goodness for planes, living my life in a 7 mile radius, my husband acting as my valet on weekends and Uber. Ha!

What are three things you can’t live without (besides God, family, and friends):

iPhone, my wedding rings and an obnoxiously large square-ish tote bag. All lend to my being somewhat polished.

Thank you, Shameeka! To learn more about The Broke Socialite, visit the website: thebrokesocialite.com.

And thank you to Amy Lesesne for today’s beautiful photographs.