GRAB A CUP OF SOMETHING WARM AND JOIN US AS WE LEARN HOW MONI JEFFERSON SEEKS TO CULTIVATE COMMUNITY THROUGH COLLABORATION AND CREATIVITY.
Moni, why don't you start by telling us a little about yourself!
Hi! I am a mother, Puerto Rican, an Air Force spouse, entrepreneur, and overall life lover. I was born in Connecticut, but grew up as a military kid so we moved a lot. I have three amazing kids that keep me sipping on coffee and wine, and a husband that makes life easy. I met my husband at 16, and we've been together ever since. We celebrate 19 years of marriage in September.
I’ve been an Air Force spouse for 15 years, and we're currently on our third deployment and seventh PCS. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke in 2006 and have volunteered and started numerous organizations to continue my craft. I love spending time with my kids and Papi Chulo — my husband. I am addicted to spin, travel, nachos, kisses from my kids, late night dances with my husband, and I enjoy a good Netflix binge.
You run two businesses. Tell us a little bit more about each.
Yes! I am a woman of many hats. I started my virtual public relations business in 2015. After many frustrating interviews and disappointments, I decided to advocate for and invest in myself. One morning in the fall of 2015, I logged onto my computer and created an LLC. I had started my own business! What that meant, I didn’t know. But what I did know was that I had the power to create the career I wanted.
My journey began by helping small business entrepreneurs with strategy and social media, and it has grown from there. As a PR strategist, I collaborate with clients to build their brand while reaching their audience in a way that is earned and trusted. I support my clients by creating PR strategies that help them launch their products or services to their dream clients.
This past May, I added app creator to my title by creating the MilCam app. It is the first and only military app that offers themed filters that are unique to our lifestyle. My team creates filters for companies in the military community who are hosting events, workshops, or conferences. When the app is utilized by attendees, it not only encourages social sharing but also provides brand awareness.
We love the values you have outlined in the MilSpouse Creative community. What was your inspiration?
As the founder of the MilSpouse Creative, my goal is to empower spouses and support them on their paths. As an entrepreneur, a whole new world had opened up to me that I had no idea existed. While there are several groups on Facebook supporting and inspiring members with helpful resources, tips, and motivation, few spoke to me. I was a milspouse entrepreneur and wanted to create a community where we spouses were doing what other small businesses were doing.
Members of those groups were hiring each other for work, making referrals, and bartering services. That is what I wanted to see more of in the military spouse community. I thought, “why are we not connecting, collaborating, and cultivating more? Why give someone else a job instead of a fellow spouse?” Our values stem from the desire to be connected to each other, collaborate with new audiences, and cultivate in ways that are unique and diverse by creating relationships that can last a lifetime.
Do areas of your personal, professional, and relational life overlap? If so, in what way?
Yes, all the time. I am not going to lie and say it does not, or that it’s easy to find balance. The truth is that it's hard to put my phone down and not check the email, pick up an after-hours client call, or sit at dinner wondering if that contract was signed. When you work for yourself, there is a tendency to always be on. Since I’m a creative at heart, wheels are always turning, whether it’s for myself, the community, or clients.
When I first started my PR agency, I worked from sun up to sun down, and it caused a lot of parts of my relationship and household to struggle. Since then, I had to learn to create boundaries. That means that I have to turn my business hat off at a certain time and turn my mommy hat on instead. I realized that I have to separate the two. I need to be present in my kid's lives because they are growing up quickly. I also want to make sure that I invest in my self-care and my relationship with my spouse. Having healthy boundaries allows me to thrive in each area of my life.
We’d love to know how you and your husband first met.
I will tell you my side since we have two different versions, lol! My dad was in the Army, and we moved to Ft. Polk, LA. I met Roy briefly in high school. I was a freshman, and he was a senior. We saw each other a few times in school that year, and then he graduated and went off to college. I ran into him around town here and there but never really talked to him. Then one day I went to Taco Bell for lunch with a girlfriend, and he took my order. I instantly fell in love with his eyes and his voice. I asked him for his number before I left because that’s the kind of girl I had always been. Within one year we were engaged and we married a year later. He will always add that he gave me his pager number, lol.
What were your impressions or ideas about military life before becoming a spouse?
Well, I thought it would be great. Growing up as a military kid, life was fun, exciting, and adventurous. My mom always created a home wherever we moved and provided support with the positive outlook on life that we needed. But, being a military spouse was a whole new world. There are a lot of stressors and logistics that go into creating a norm for your family. My mom made it look easy. She had a hard roll to fill, and she did it well. She was a great role model to have in preparation for becoming a spouse myself. Thanks, Mom!
I truly love this military life. The experiences, the people, and the places are priceless and irreplaceable. This life has made me resilient, empathetic, and open-hearted to those that are not like me. After all, we all just want to be supported and loved.
How do you navigate military life, family life, and an intentional career?
You just do it. I used to feel constricted by the military and my husband's obligations to service. But now we create and merge our calendars and use daily and weekly schedules. I have office hours, so the family knows when to expect me to be available. I also had to learn to ask for help. I can’t do it all and expect to be intentional in my personal and work life. So, I hired a cleaning service, a part-time assistant to help with home, and a virtual assistant to support my business. We also set aside daily time for family and weekly date nights to keep it saucy with BAE — my husband. Maintaining it all can be overwhelming, but it can be done with the right tools in place.
In a world that is often chaotic, what is one thing that grounds you?
My faith. When things seem like they are negative or spiraling out of control, I turn to the quiet of scripture and prayer. Reading scripture reminds me that nothing is in my control, the situations are temporary, and that my life has a purpose. It’s what I’m doing with that purpose that matters. Everything else is just noise. It helps me refocus my energy because it's my duty to walk in my gift. My husband is a very deeply rooted spiritual person, and I seek guidance in him. He always has a scripture that is perfect for my situation.
What have you learned from the most difficult seasons?
Recently I learned to go with my gut. Lots of times that gut leads you and it’s your job to listen. Difficult seasons have a purpose in your life. It's in those difficult seasons that character and faith develop. I truly believe that seasons of trial prepare you for seasons of success and purpose. I went through a challenging season my marriage in 2015 after a year-long deployment, and I thought to myself, there is no way I'm going to get through this. But, I did, and we did, and now we are in a most abundant and phenomenal place. I can’t say enough about the strength and courage it takes to get through those times, but if you stay steadfast and committed when you feel like giving up, you will come out on top.
Lastly, what are your favorite podcasts, books, or quotes?
Right now, I am crushing on The Goal Digger Podcast. My favorite book is Wild and Free. It is refreshing to know that “I am just enough and not too much,” as the message of the book reiterates. My favorite quote is “GIVE GIVE GIVE.” This season, I am finding my greatest fulfillment by investing in other individuals and their businesses.