Month: July 2019

Ayo Haynes

Ayo Haynes Backstage at the Apollo

Some say the world of real estate is a man’s world, but Ayo Haynes proves it would be nothing without a woman who is on top of her game! With a background as an actress and voice-over artist, a BA in Business Communications and a MBA in Marketing, Ayo is definitely making her mark in the world of real estate. As a Real Estate Broker in NYC for 13 years, she is now breaking into the Connecticut market and loving it! She is dedicated to helping her clients find the perfect place where home and wellness meet!

Definition of Success:

Success for me is when people call to ask me to be their exclusive agent or to work with them as a buyer without me having to go pitch them; your talent and experience speak for themselves. Pitches are like auditions in acting. You know you’ve made it when someone says here’s the listing. 

I love this time in my career because I can make my own schedule which is especially needed as a single mom. Initially, getting into the business you work about fifty to sixty hours a week, especially if you’re on a busy team like I was. Starting out you have to be prepared to not get a check three or four months which can be hard for most people. People see these reality shows and think that real estate is easy and that you only work with a client for a few days.

The real reality is that it is difficult, requires a lot of continuous education and experience, and is very time consuming. Sometimes the time you put in doesn’t match up with your commission check. You have to be willing to put in the work and be persistent. Most importantly you have to love working with and helping people.

Healthy Self Esteem:

I am a true believer in guarding what I take in whether it’s what I’m watching or listening to. I’m in two industries that require people to pick you based on your personality and experience. I need/require positivity around me all the time. If you are coming to the table with something heavy on you and being negative, it will affect your bottom line. 

I also think it is important to use trusted friends and mentors as your mirror, from time to time, when needed. I can be hard on myself so I have to remind myself to treat me like a client and to be gentle with myself. We all have insecurities – physical or other.  If someone I trust can be the voice of reason I listen or at least take what they are saying into consideration.

Speaking of a voice of reason, my 4 year old daughter keeps it real with me all the time. Her bluntness is hilarious but insightful. She’s lucky she’s cute and my daughter! But seriously, I learn so much from her. How she gets over things quickly, she speaks her truth without malice, she’s kind, she apologizes when she’s in the wrong, she shares and she easily tells the important people in her life how much she loves them. I try to take a page out of her book all the time!

Dating Advice:

I probably should be the one taking advice but I think if you are on the fence about someone,  go on three dates to see if there is really something there. Nowadays three dates can take weeks or months to happen so you have to rely on your instincts to gauge if the spaced out dates are happening naturally or because someone is playing a game of avoidance. We are living in a swipe left – swipe right world based mostly on pictures. Pictures don’t tell the whole story. I say the same to my clients when I show them what I know to be a great home but they dismiss it because the pictures didn’t grab them. Sometimes we have to slow down, go deeper, and take things offline when we normally wouldn’t.

What’s in the future:

My business partner and I are working hard on crafting our brand which is all about where Home and Life meet Wellness. For us, that point is WELLNEST. We work with our clients on finding all the ways to make their home and all the other NESTS of their lives as comfortable, healthy, green and empowering as they want or need to be. 

I’m excited to be expanding my 13 years of experience in real estate to the Connecticut market. It’s been a fun challenge to learn a suburban market compared to New York City. My team partner, Ivonne, will be doing the same in New Jersey so the Haynes-Velasquez Team will be able to work with clients in the New York Tri-state area. That, of course, will mean adding to the team which is exciting.

I am also looking forward to more opportunities where my acting and real estate worlds get to play off each other. I recently was asked by the executives at my firm to co-host our semi-annual meeting at the Apollo Theater – it was amazing and a dream come true that I never would have never expected to come from my work in real estate. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next on that front and developing a few ideas of my own. A woman’s work is never done!

Favorite Shade of Lipstick:

I’m more of a gloss person versus lipstick. But for special occasions and business meetings that’s when I put on lipstick. For me, I like a red that has a touch of brown. There is one from Arbonne I love called Dahlia and it’s the perfect combination of gloss and lipstick. Their products aren’t tested on animals, and are paraben and phthalates free which is all right up my alley! 

To contact or learn more about Ayo please visit

https://www.halstead.com/real-estate-agent/ayo-haynes

Dear Society We Define Beauty

Dear society…we don’t care about your unrealistic beauty standards! You for so long have told us women that we have to look a certain way. You have created this unrealistic box and made women who don’t fit into it, feel like they aren’t beautiful. Women of color especially know this to be true, because we have never fit into your closed minded standard of beauty anyway. Your standards are lies and they are harmful! They are putting pressure on our young girls and women, making them go to desperate measures to try to fit in your beauty box. A box that is unfair, unrealistic, and unattainable. A box that doesn’t allow room for women of all different shapes, sizes, and complexions.

So from here on out…we are taking your standards and putting them back in your box. We are taking that box and throwing it as far away from this universe as possible so it can never return. We will create our own standards of beauty. Where each woman is encouraged to be her best self, and not try to look like what she sees in a magazine. Where dark skin will be considered just as beautiful as light skin. Where imperfections will be celebrated instead of condemned and ridiculed. Where the definition of beauty lies in our hearts and not in the hands of the media.

Dear society we have decided to define beauty. You will no longer define it for us!

The Art of Not Caring

Are you ready to get to the point in your life where you no longer care about what people think? I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean it in the way of not letting other people’s opinions or judgements hinder you from living your best life. The reality is people will always have something to say. Some people run their mouths because it’s all they know how to do. A lot of times the ones that talk the most are the most miserable. You can’t stop people from talking, judging, and being who they are. What you can stop is how much you let their chatter and opinions hinder you. Sometimes you have to just tune out their noise and turn up that inner voice that speaks to your heart. So again the question is… are you ready to get to the point in your life where you no longer care what people think? My answer is definitely yes.

Zoe Hennessey

Photography by Jeffrey Alberts

Achieving the perfect look may be a challenging task to many. For Freelance Fashion Stylist and Personal Shopper Zoe Hennessey, it’s more like a calling. From styling celebrities to fashion editorials, Zoe has an extensive resume and portfolio that definitely speaks for itself. With clients like Bravo, MTV, and VH1, Zoe’s future in the fashion world looks so bright we all may need to put our shades on!

Definition of success:

For me, success will be when my name becomes a brand that is widely recognizable. If that doesn’t happen, then when I can retire happily, and financially secure! As far as sacrifices, being a freelancer means never having a reliable, steady paycheck, and that is really scary at times.

Self esteem: 

I always try to remind myself that everyone has problems, even the people who appear to have everything. It’s normal to feel jealous and depressed, but to try to not stay in that place for too long. I try to keep in mind everything I have accomplished and the things I am thankful for in my life. Exercise and fresh air help get me out of funks.  

Dating Advice:

Don’t be too picky and give everyone a chance.

What’s in the future: 

I hope to continue to grow – more jobs and more opportunities!  

Favorite shade of lipstick?

– YSL lip stain in #105 Corail Hold Up – I’ve worn this for years. It’s light, peachy and the perfect amount of color for the daytime.

To learn more about Zoe and her services please visit

https://www.zoehennessey.com/

Me Time Please

We as women have the tendency to take care of everybody else but ourselves. I think that’s just part of our nature. The only problem with that is while we are busy taking care of everyone else, who is taking care of us? We get so caught up in everyday life that everyday we neglect ourselves.

When was the last time you did something for you? Doesn’t have to be anything major like a trip to France or a Caribbean cruise. Just something you did exclusively to put a smile on your face and joy in your heart with no one to interrupt or interfere.

Whether it’s reading a book, watching you favorite t.v. show in peace and quiet, or a long bubble bath, daily take time out to do something for you. Life is too short not to!

Julia Bendis

Most single women will probably agree that in 2019 dating is pretty tough! Trying to find the right guy, and sorting through all the bad apples can make any single girl want to give up and throw in the towel. Luckily that’s where Julia Bendis come in. As a matchmaker and founder of Match by Julia, she is dedicated to helping hopeful singles find love in all the right places!

Definition of success:

My definition of success has less to do with your social media following, and more with how many people you have helped along the way. It really doesn’t matter what business you are in or what job you have, success is when you have helped others along the way, supported them and been a mentor. One of the biggest sacrifices I had to make in my life was letting go of a steady paycheck when I decided to start my own Matchmaking and Coaching business. I started it on my own, without a loan or help from anyone.

I had many people along the way who not only doubted my success, but flat out told me it couldn’t be done and that I would most likely fail. That negativity actually gave me the fire to persist! My whole life I have used negativity as my fire and fuel to prove those people wrong, and it worked. I encourage people to stop listening to others as it pertains to their life and career. Only you know what can and will work for you, so stop listening to everyone! Nobody knows you and your goals like you do, that’s the only opinion you need.

Self Esteem:

Self-esteem is something every woman needs more of, and we have all battled with low self-esteem at one point in our lives, myself included. It is something that has to come from within, as cliche as that sounds. No matter how many people tell you that you are beautiful, or smart or worthy, if you don’t feel it on your own, you will never believe them.

It’s not an easy challenge to overcome, but my self-worth and self-esteem has always come from being able to accomplish tasks or goals. For example, when I match a client with another single person and witness them develop an amazing relationship, it makes me feel good about myself, not to mention when they go on to have children! Knowing I helped create a life, that in itself is a huge self-esteem boost. Helping people that are in need or being an advocate for human trafficking victims is another crucial self-esteem boost. Help others and it will make you feel so much better about yourself and who you are as a person. 

Dating advice:

Stop listening to your Single friends! Like I said above, nobody knows what’s best for you, only you know that. What does your gut tell you? Listen to your instincts, watch out for red flags, do not go against your gut. It is hardly ever wrong. Another big piece of advice is have common sense when out there dating: only meet in public places, take your own car or Lyft/Uber, do not overshare on the first date, listen more than you speak. I know the last one is tough because we like to talk, but you will walk away from the date knowing nothing about him if all you do is talk. Ask him questions about his life and his passions, and he should do the same in return. 

What’s in the future: 

I am in the process of publishing my first book about my life in the former Soviet Union, and funny stories of growing up there and immigrating to America, called ‘No Smiling Allowed’. My second book is also in the works, which will be about my clients and all the crazy things they ask for, including strange fetishes, unrealistic expectations and much more!

Favorite shade of lipstick:


I don’t really wear lipstick often, usually just a light-pink tinted chapstick, but  I would rather tell you about my favorite books instead. One of my favorite books is by Esther Perel called ‘Mating in Captivity’, everyone man or woman should read it! My other favorite book is by Elizabeth Gilbert called ‘Committed’. I encourage my clients and my friends to read them both, it will help you understand relationships, and see things from a very different perspective.

To learn more about Julia and Match by Julia please visit https://www.matchbyjulia.com/

What Would You Do?

I came across the question what would you do if you were not afraid? I don’t remember where I saw this. A Twitter post, a T-shirt, I cannot recall. I just remember seeing those words and it stuck with me. It made me think about my life, and how I have allowed myself to becomes fear’s victim. I have allowed fear to hold me back from so many things. Fear of what others may think. Fear of failure. Fear of this and fear of that!! As I pondered on this and those words kept speaking to my spirit, I knew that I had to make the choice whether or not to continue to be fear’s victim. So I ask you this…what would you do if you were not afraid?