Interview: Karen Civil

She is unstoppable. She is driven. She is Karen Civil. Media maven by day and entrepreneur by night, Civil does it all. Since getting her start by interning at Hot 97’s Funkmaster Flex show in New York City, Karen has racked up an impressive resume of job positions, including Arist A&R for Dipset as well as being the Social Media Manager for Young Money. Not to mention her self-titled hip-hop blog that gets over 1 million views per month. It’s almost mind boggling to think that she has the same hours in the day as everyone else. It’s even more astounding to see how much she has accomplished at the young age of 29.

Civil works hard in silence- her success makes the noise.

Karen Civil’s 9 to 5 is working at the Beats by Dre offices as the Director of Entertainment, a position she was recently promoted to after working with the company for two years as a Marketing Manager. When I asked her about some of her responsibilities, Karen explained that she focuses on making sure that “the brand’s voice is continually sent throughout the cultural space.” She oversees all efforts to ensure that the company is touching on every aspect of society. “Beats aren’t just for LeBron James or famous soccer players,” Civil explains. “They’re for everyone, and you can see it when you look at the advertisements.”

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Among several accolades, including an MTV 2010 Hip Hop Award, Civil was recently named one of Karmaloop’s “ikons.” You must be asking yourself- “an icon at 26 years old?” But if you know how hard Karen Civil has worked to get to where she is, then your reaction is something along the lines of “Damn right she is!” To Karen, an icon means “someone who is valued and an influencer in society.” Needless to say, the award was well deserved.

Civil has managed her hip-hop blogosphere that is appropriately named KarenCivil.com since 2008. Here you can get exclusive, curated stories from interviews with the hottest rappers to things that are happening in today’s society. The difference between this website and others is the “Civil voice.” Nothing is written in a negative tone to bash a person’s reputation. Karen focuses on telling the story behind the song, not just analyzing the lyrical content, something that had never been done before.

Karen works with Civil Clothing , which is also owned by Omar and Michael. Karen says that she gives a tremendous amount of “credit and respect to them” because they hold down the fort at all times. The clothing company recently relaunched in Pacsun as well.  Karen explains,

“The message of Civil Clothing is about celebrating the difference and being an individual. It encourages you to be yourself and love your own sense of style.”

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As for Civil’s own personal style, I asked her which three items in her closet she couldn’t live without. Her response was:

“my Phillip Lim Sweats because they’re so comfortable, Isabel Marant sneaker wedges because they make any outfit look good, and my Alexander Wang stingray bag which is self-explanatory.”

For someone who runs her own digital marketing empire, penciling in relaxation can be challenging. When The Blair List asked Karen Civil how she balances her work life with her personal life, she gave a truthful answer. “You know, it’s hard. There are a lot of family events that I miss. I’m close with my niece and she knows that I love her. I am very family-oriented and any time I can spend with them, I do,” Civil said. “Even if it was for a few hours, like recently, when I flew home just to have a movie night with my mom. I put in as much time as I possibly can.” You can also spot Karen giving back to her community, whether its feeding homeless people on Christmas Eve for Hashtag Lunchbag, or supporting charity events in her spare time. Behind the cameras, Karen Civil is a selfless, giving human being.

Unlike most women in the entertainment industry, Karen Civil actually wants you to be successful too. (No, seriously). Take her annual Live Civil Brunch for instance, an annual event held in Los Angeles that empowers women from all walks of life to come together in a comfortable setting. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I didn’t know anyone. I felt so disconnected and wished it were easier to meet people. So, that’s when I came up with the idea for the Live Civil Brunch,” Karen exclaimed to The Blair List.

“We are all women at the end of the day, and although we might not be exactly the same, we all have something in common- we’re striving towards a goal. It is to reinforce commonalities in a positive way.”

With sponsors such as Pharrell, T-Mobile and Dior Cosmetics, this brunch has proven to continue to be a successful force. You’ll have to wait for her positive affirmations book to come out next year, but you can take an exclusive look at some of her favorite quotes below, read from the Live Civil Brunch attendees this past November.

It’s incredible to see someone like Karen, who has such an impact on the digital sphere, keep such a levelheaded, optimistic outlook on life. You can catch Karen in a yoga class or on a hike at Runyon Canyon in Topanga, California. She keeps her home filled with burning candles, frequent “sagings”, and walls covered with artwork of encouraging words to reinforce her faith on a daily basis. “This society can be an ugly place,” Karen tells The Blair List.

“My goal is to put as much positive energy into the world as possible. I want to paint a beautiful picture.”

Another amazing idea? Before she goes to sleep at night, Karen makes sure to write down five things that happened to her that day that she is grateful for. She takes the two most important ones and puts it in a jar that she will continue to fill over the course of the year, that she can look back on in December to put things in perspective.

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When I asked Karen who she looks up to, I was sincerely curious to know who could possibly inspire the one woman who inspires everyone else. “I respect Carson Daly more than anyone else,” Karen replied. “If you go back and look at his TRL tapings, you can see that he just knew how to make his audience feel comfortable. Everybody loved him. On the N’Sync episode, he actually dressed up to look like the sixth band member! I thought that was amazing.”

When The Blair List asked Karen Civil where she sees herself in five years, she replied with “hopefully along the lines of what Ryan Seacrest is doing. To be able to build a media outlet with TV, online space and radio like he has would be absolutely incredible.”

I asked Karen about her favorite aspects on what the Internet has brought her. “The best part of today’s world is that you no longer have to be in a box,” Karen explains, “Job descriptions and careers are so different now than when we were kids. We truly have all of the resources to dictate whatever we want out of life. The Internet makes anything possible and people should really take advantage of this free opportunity.

Whatever you set your mind to, no matter how crazy it may seem, is possible. All of your dreams are at your fingertips.”

 

3 Comment

  1. Inspired!

  2. Jessica P. says: Reply

    Karen Civil has always been an inspiration to me, but after reading this article, I love her even more. Thanks for sharing!

  3. @Robb405 says: Reply

    DOPE

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