Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristina Ferris.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
As soon as I graduated high school, I moved out and pursued a career as a dancer in Dubai and it was the BEST thing I could have ever done! The “struggling entertainer” life is far more glam out there than it is anywhere here in the US and I was able to make an excellent living doing what I love while continuing to learn and grow within the entertainment industry.
I spent six years working full time as a performer, living the dream and getting to dance alongside some of my favorite artists while also helping grow the entertainment community in the Middle East pretty much from scratch. As more time passed, my role shifted from spending all of my time on stage to spending more and more time behind the scenes… costuming, event planning, talent management, bookings. You name it, I was doing it. We were lucky in that city, in that many entertainers were able to branch out and find other sectors within the industry that we could make a name for ourselves.
I found that I had a real knack and passion for the administrative side of talent managing, advancing shows, making sure artists had their presentation in top shape, and most importantly, advocating for my performers when negotiating with clients. My experience as a performer gave me the insight I needed to make sure my artists were always taken care of fairly and respectfully.
While on that wild ride, slowly moving out of the dance world and into the world of events and talent management, I met my Person! He was in Dubai on tour with a huge production as their bandleader and MD and we hit it off so well that the distance never phased us. We were profoundly connected but still very much living our own lives for a while, but then after one particularly… exciting… summer, we found out we would be making another little homie to join in on the fun!
We decided that I would move back to America so that we could start our family. I left everything I knew behind, my world, my work, my friends, and in a lot of ways (as so many new Mom’s can probably relate to) my identity behind. We settled in Long Beach and WOW what a culture shock! But I was so blessed by his circle of friends, their kindness, openness and face-melting talent that the transition wasn’t nearly as hard as it could have been. As I became more and more a part of the music scene through him, I realized that while SO many of our friends were overflowing with talent, many of them (him included) had almost no idea or desire to navigate the business side of the music industry. As is the case with most creatives, the administrative aspects of the business clogged their creative flow, so they just made their music and didn’t worry too much about the rest.
This had worked REALLY well for him up until we met, but with a family starting, and rent to pay (he had lived on the road for a couple of years at that point), things needed to change. As I readjusted myself to this new life and hunkered down with our son, trying to survive the sleepless newborn phase, I poured over courses in artist management, branding, copywriting… I mean the list is endless really. For two years, I sat and watched how my partner moved through the industry, how his friends navigated opportunities, and I learned as much as I could to prepare myself to step into a new role.
It was definitely VERY weird… unsettling… uncomfortable… going from a thriving career in a city where I was a well-respected member of the entertainment community to being “Eddie’s girl” and having my opinions largely falling on deaf ears. I couldn’t blame anyone, no one knew me. No one knew the life I came from or had ever seen me in action. This on top of the shedding of my old self and transition into motherhood was a heavy burden on my spirit and there were for sure moments where it almost broke me. I felt like a caged animal, unable to participate in anything or contribute to our household. I watched Eddie bust his butt to provide for us. I learned all I could.
Then, like clockwork, in 2018 just as I was gaining the confidence to speak up about some of the practices I had seen that weren’t serving him, he got an opportunity to play a show in Dubai! In my city! It would have been one week… he was playing the SOLEDXB festival with Nas that year. I siezed the opportunity and basically said “Let me pimp you out to my people while we’re out there… if you can trust me and give us some extra time in the city, I’ll get you the bookings.” He said yes, and that’s exactly what I did. I got his very first ever EPK together, I started reaching out for marketing opportunities, I reached out to everyone I knew to get him bookings and introductions.
We ended up staying for a couple of months and I was able to land him some really cool opportunities! And on our last night there, we had dinner with the festival organizer Raj (great guy!) and his crew. Kids and all! On the way out I said “Eddie, you’re going to be on the lineup next year. Not backing Nas. It’s going to be your name on the bill.”
We agreed to give it six months as a trial after we arrived home, with the goal being that at the end of the six months, I’d have his package put together enough that we could find him proper management if need be. It was the best six months we could have hoped for! We actually got a management offer from an amazing husband and wife duo. During negotiations, Linda Edwards (one half of that management duo), an AMAZING friend and mentor to anyone she gives her time to, encouraged me to turn the offer down and manage him myself. It was the push I needed! That was when we made things official. In that first six months, I was able to get him in front of all the right people, which eventually lead to a publishing deal, a producer credit on the first single off of Nas’ 2019 album Lost Tapes 2, and… a spot on the main stage of SOLEDXB just like I had promised him!
So much more has happened since then, and we’re only just getting started. I’ve really grown to love Southern California for the diversity of talent here. I also spend time doing pro-bono brand consultation for small businesses. I’m an aspiring birth doula. I’m a mom to 2 soon to be three super cool kids who are already the brightest little musicians and dancers! Since COVID, Eddie has gotten his certification to become a teacher and is now teaching Music Production/Engineering at a local high school which has really inspired me to find ways that I can help teach young aspiring artists how to navigate the industry so that they start out with the best possible perspective.
Life is good!
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Oh man… so many struggles, but how else could I learn? I’d say the biggest struggle has been readjusting to American life and starting completely from scratch after a ten years career on the other side of the world. It’s a totally different ballgame out here. I’m very lucky that I was able to cut my teeth in a much smaller but much busier market. I feel like Dubai is unique in that way. Had I been in a smaller market within the US, I wouldn’t have been as busy which would mean way less opportunities to learn.
Another big issue I’ve run into is the LACK OF RESPECCCCCT from *some* men in the industry. It’s tough being a woman in the music industry, but add to that the fact that my main client is my husband AND we’re working a lot within the hyper-masculine hip-hop world most of the time.
We were working with another artist and his manager literally said to Eddie “Nah man, I’m not dealing your woman. It goes against ‘the code'” in front of my face! Wouldn’t even address me directly. I’m not usually the type to keep my mouth shut when someone disrespects me so the need to keep the boat steady and not say anything when comments like that are hanging in the air has added to the struggle.
In most situations, we won’t share that we have any deeper connection than manager-client and honestly, it’s very sad that we have to guard that information. Hopefully, someday we’ll get to a point where it won’t be so taboo for a man to be managed by his wife if she has the qualifications.
On the other hand, the women we’ve worked with have been incredible! And ironically, when I’ve felt comfortable enough to share with them that we are a couple and have a WHOLE family together, the response has so often been “Oh my gosh! Us too! But we never tell anyone because when we do, we don’t get the respect we deserve.” Girl. Same! It’s wild to see that even in the top tier of the music industry, women are dealing with this!
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about The MngMint?
The MngMint is my baby! The main focus of the company is artist management and consultation. It’s just me at the moment, so my roster is small for full-time management clients BUT I do a lot of consulting to help budding artists find their place in the industry and get all their ducks in a row so that they have the best possible shot at success. The best summary of what we do and why we do it:
“Our goal for our artists is to give them complete control over their creative endeavors and to guide their product to people who will appreciate its inherent artistic value.
After seeing far too many quality artists fall victim to the corporate idea of what they should represent in their music and art, we decided to step up and step in with other boutique management agencies who are moving towards a more artist-centric approach to artist development.
We have a passion for connecting our artists with their niche and placing them in front of the RIGHT labels and venues, not just the most well-known.”
I know this niche within the music industry is small, but I think the message applies to everyone and anyone. Stay true to yourself and FIND YOUR TRIBE! It sounds cliche, but truly, there is a place for every passion. As a performer, I’ve shared the stage with people who are passionate about balancing on very tall stacks of chairs, balancing palm fronds, hula hooping with scorpions in their pants, hanging 10 feet in the air by their hair… they wanted to do it, so they DID it! You just need to find the right people! As it pertains to the music industry, I’ve seen so many friends and artists get the attention of a major label and then have to dilute their sound or change their image to be more “commercial”, only to find themselves at the bottom of the roster getting minimal label attention but being contractually obligated to ditch their true sound and spirit. I hate seeing this! And it’s my mission to get the message out there that if you’re willing to do the work to seek out the right people, this does NOT need to happen.
Basically, The MngMint is all about distilling your Youness and turning it into a paycheck!
We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
Success to me is when having a positive impact on someone else’s life is how you make a living. When my life is improved by improving the lives and experiences of others, this is when I feel the most fulfilled… the most successful.
For any photos on stage and for the family photo, the photographer is Ace Reyes