ABOVE PHOTO: Kaylah Gooden
By Danae Reid
Unlike prior generations, millennials and Gen Z’ers are much more likely to move further away from home. Not necessarily because we want to get away from our families, but because we tend to believe that nothing should hold us back. Although that is true for many like myself, that doesn’t mean that the decision is an easy feat.
Model and influencer Kaylah Gooden moved from Philadelphia to Atlanta a little less than a year ago on an impulse, and she wants you to know that you can do it, too.
SUN: Unbeknownst to many, you made the decision to silently uproot your life in Pennsylvania and move to Atlanta with a plan that wasn’t so concrete. What factors played a part in that decision?
Gooden: I moved a lot as a child, so moving again after school felt natural. Last summer after graduation, I had a lot of paid promotional model opportunities in Philadelphia. I was able to network and connect with so many people that I started to think about what it’d be like to live on my own in a new city. I had the initial plan of going to grad school, but I knew that spending two years working towards a degree that I wasn’t sure I wanted was not a smart decision and chose to follow my dreams instead. I knew the owner of a modeling agency in Atlanta and also knew that I could find events through networking and through social media to continue building my platform and get into the modeling industry, so I went for it.
SUN: Since moving to Atlanta, you’ve been invited to some of the hottest parties, worked with some of the hottest stars, and you’re really making a name for yourself out there. Tell us your secret; was that your plan?
Gooden: I work with a lot of different casting directors and agencies in Atlanta, so I’ve done so much in the eight months that I’ve been here. I’ve been fortunate enough to model different luxury hair, clothes and makeup companies, featured in a nationwide commercial, hosted the PGA Golf Tour Red Carpet Kickoff Event, attend or model at the private birthday or holiday celebrations of celebrities, and appeared in popular music videos.
At first, I was intimidated, but I learned the secret is to wear your confidence. I got to observe. I realized that they are people just like me, so as long as I’m confident and myself, I shouldn’t have to worry. That, paired with the fact that I have an ambiguous look, has played to my advantage.
SUN: You’ll soon be coming up on your one year anniversary of living in Atlanta. Have you learned out there that you wouldn’t have learned in Pennsylvania ?
Gooden: Being in spaces with people who are all mainly entrepreneurs opens your eyes to a lot of different ways to make a living, business ideas, and financial freedom by establishing multiple incomes. It’s refreshing to see successful people of color owning their own brand or business and have money without being just a rapper or athlete.
It is empowering for me, because it’s rare to see that where I grew up. I’ve learned more about how to earn residual and passive incomes, and how to become a better investor… I am a firm believer of the phrase “you are who you hang around.”
SUN: What’s been the most difficult thing about moving away from home to a foreign place by yourself?
Gooden: The most difficult thing about moving to a foreign place alone is figuring out who to trust. Working as a model, you are exposed to a wide range of people, and not all of these people have good intentions. Also most of the time, people will do things for status and attention, which makes it hard to find people to be friends with. I always have my guard up and am on defense, because I know how crazy people can be. I take no chances and only have two solid friends that I’ve made here, and I’m okay with that. Everyone else is either business or surface level relationships.
SUN: You’ve accomplished something that a lot of people would’ve been too afraid to do which leaves a lot of room for haters. What misconceptions do people have about you or your new life now that you’ve made the big move?
Gooden: (Laughs out loud) I love this question! This move has certainly shown a lot of people’s true colors. I’m not where I want to be and I’m just getting started. I don’t really reflect on what people think of me. However, a huge misconception is that I’m just a video girl who just parties all the time. Though I definitely party, I rarely go out unless it’s business involved. What may seem like another night out on Instagram is a night where I’m actually getting paid for my attendance [and] building a connection. Everything is done with intention; I can see how this lifestyle is fast-paced and a lot of people get caught up in it.
SUN: What advice would you give people who may be hesitant to make an impulsive decision out of fear that it wouldn’t work out?
Gooden: For the people hesitant to make an impulsive decision out of fear that it won’t work, really ask yourself — what is actually stopping you? Eliminate all of those excuses [and] thoughts, because willpower is harbored in your mindset. People get locked in their comfort zones and never leave. As time passes, they settle into a job or life they may not have a passion for, which just makes for a cycle of dissatisfaction. But before anything, do your research.
A lot of people also don’t invite change into their lives because they lack the confidence to do so or they may consider too many opinions of others.
“I know I can do [this] as a career but I doubt people will take me seriously.”
“I would do [this] but I don’t have the time”
Even now, these thoughts always cross my mind but I do not entertain them. The faster you start something that makes you feel afraid, and the more consistent you are with it, you and others will begin to see results.
Another important piece of advice I’d offer is definitely think about what you choose to be influenced by. Think about the types of people you like to keep up with on social media. Do their posts align with the goals you’ve set for yourself? Does the content on your feed motivate you to keep pushing toward or distract you? If the answer is no, you should follow more influential people and pages. If you only follow Instagram accounts that show twerk videos and gossip blogs, that’s all your mind will fixate on because you are what you entertain. I follow some of my favorite artists and business moguls, and I follow a lot of positive or entrepreneurial quote pages to continue to remind myself of the goal I set in place for myself. I will be successful because I remind myself each day with my daily habits and goals — you can do the same!
Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, The Philadelphia Sunday SUN, the author’s organization, committee or other group or individual.