Alex Harris and Raquel Sanchez of the Kiss the Monkeys popular events group and community.
I am sure you are asked this all the time, Where did you come up with the name Kiss the Monkeys?
When Alex and I sat down to brainstorm about forming an events group and community, we wanted a name that captured the essence of the members of our combined Facebook networks. We considered the group’s common likes and goals.
As social media specialists, this was the easy part. We knew that our offline and online friends were socially conscious people. Cause-driven global citizens, open and fun-loving. Our friends have diverse backgrounds but there were certain values that we all shared. Other top common interests were art, fashion, nature and last but not least…..ANIMALS.
Let me complete the thought with the fact that I, (raQuel), always thought of the word “monkey” as a term of endearment. It is the pet name for my daughter Madison. I selfishly attributed our company name to Madison unbeknownst to Alex. :)
Where did Kiss the Monkeys originate and what is its current membership?
Alex is originally from England and lived in NYC for 10 years before he moved to LA where he reunited with raQuel.
I, raQuel, am from the Philippines, raised in Chicago but had yearned to live in Los Angeles since my first visit to California as a child.
Our first event was a modest gathering on our roof deck just days after we moved into the home we are currently still living in. We knew we had something special when we realized that guests came in from not only all parts of Los Angeles but also flew in from different states.
Our first featured performer was Julius Cowdrey. Julius came from a further distance. As a dear friend of Alex, he made the distance from England. He crooned the guests on our roof deck with the beautiful backdrop of the sunset. That was only 2 years ago. Julius is now a famous reality star on “Made In Chelsea” and some of his music has hit number one on Itunes. Julius has been a repeat performer for Kiss The Monkeys.
To date, our membership is nearly 10,000 people from all over the world.
Can you tell us briefly about your backgrounds Raquel and Alex?
Alex grew up in England in Kent. At an early age Alex decided that he would be the one of his two brothers to carry on the family business in fine estate jewelry.
When he moved to New York City, he started a social media company with over 250k members that did some of what the kTm brand does today. Twice divorced, he eventually decided to move to the other side of the coast to start with a clean slate and began Kiss The Monkeys with a woman he met in his previous social group, me. Today he holds close his most precious jewels….there’s me but mostly, his two children.
Angus his eldest gem, is now in college in England. Alana is a pre-teen that is gifted with her dad’s social skills and charm.
I, have a diverse background in hospitality, real estate, interior design and staging, performing arts (as a dancer and dance company owner), costume design, charitable community service, social media. Currently I am developing my portfolio as a motivational keynote speaker on the topics of women’s empowerment, social media, brand building and startups.
Alex and I take different roles in Kiss The Monkeys. Alex is the ultimate host with the most. Alex’s methods of getting the kTm message to the masses challenge very conventional methods. He acts on pure instinct and miraculously they work better than traditional marketing strategies. Perhaps because he genuinely gets a charge out of bringing people together.
I do the laborious stuff like spreadsheets, contract negotiations, business development and strategies. While he is on the red carpet, I am usually in the back of the house running the production.
When we first started out, Alex and I ran everything. This was adequate for the first couple of seasons, but we grew so fast that there was no way for us to move forward without the fabulous team we now have.
Ali Fateh and Tanuja Benni, are our East Coast Directors. Meghna Kothari and Tom Jannak are our West Coast Directors. They all dedicate so much time and heart to our mission. Kimberly Clark Ashmore, Diane Clarke and Valerie Sherrington are the women that run our Facebook Interactive page. On a daily basis this power-trio monitor all membership requests and posts. Vincent A. Chavez, official kTm photographer. We have many other collaborates like Roxanne & Kamile Stone, Phyllis Spielman, Shantaya Pace, Davi Davenport, Pamela Quinzi, Michelle Grey and an entire army of Monkeys and Mermaids that have made kTm what it is today.
I must also mention Steve Jennings best selling author among many other monumental achievements. Steve believed in our organization and invested his time, money and heart in kTm. We lost a valuable silent partner and dear friend when he recently passed. We will be having an annual memorial for Steve Jennings.
What are the requirements to become a member and how do people join?
While we do screen who we bring into the group as much as we can, we have an open door policy to anyone that wants to join as long as they are in it to connect, and for the right reasons. Many people join other groups to market and promote themselves without giving any effort to to help others. What has made us so successful is that many of our members have an altruistic desire and act on it.
Kiss The Monkeys/Mermaids created a platform for people interested in taking advantage of the best thing that the internet was made to do…..ERASE BOUNDARIES.
What types of events do you host and what should members expect?
Kiss The Monkeys/Mermaids hosts so many type of events. So far we have hosted events such as music concerts, fashion shows, charity missions, film premiers, festivals, entrepreneurial workshops, gallery openings, mansion parties, etc.
Expect the unexpected…..
Do not be surprised when you step onto our red carpet, you may already be recognized and greeted from someone that has previously engaged with you online, via our Facebook or Instagram platforms.
Why join Kiss the Monkeys?
Join Kiss The Monkeys if you enjoy attending galas.
Join Kiss The Monkeys if you are a entrepreneur/solopreneur and you want a chance to compete with long established businesses through relationship building.
Join Kiss The Monkeys to open dialogue on topics that builds bonds not divisions.
Join Kiss The Monkeys if you are looking for a Tinder version of friendships and/or business relationships without having to swipe left or right.
On your website, you state that Kiss the Monkeys is not just a network it is a movement. Can you elaborate?
My belief is that networking has changed because of technology. The way we relate or connect to one another is often dependant on initial online introductions or constant contact via social media. Whether you like it or not, that is the direction we are headed. Many businesses, clubs and/or organizations have not evolved to keep up with the new way we connect to one another.
Kiss The Monkeys/Mermaids aims to inspire social changes through the powerful impact of online engagements and memorable, one-of-a-kind events.
Which events are the most popular and why?
Our most popular events? Hmmmm…..I’m not sure. That seems to be a moving target since we aim to meet the changing desires and requests of our members.Alex thinks our huge Charity Galas have been our best ones though.
Which cities hosts Kiss the Monkeys and do you plan on expanding?
In California, we have a strong presence in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco but we have already launched in New York, San Francisco and Miami. Next year we are looking to expand in Chicago and Tampa, and if the winds continue to guide our sails, we look to bounce across the oceans.
How does philanthropy fit into Kiss the Monkeys?
Alex and I are driven to build a community of the best of the best with the bonds of PASSION, PURPOSE, and PEOPLE. Our events highlight different charities. Many foundations are founded by actual kTm members.
Your slogan is JOINTHEEVOLUTION- Can you elaborate?
Our logo represents the evolution of man. There is a new evolution happening and it is coming in a big wave through technology. The kTm Evolution leaves no MONKEY behind.
How significant has social media been to the success of Kiss the Monkeys?
There are numerous event organizations and there are countless social media groups but as far as I see, there are no two with the close ties between the two that kTm has. Kiss The Monkeys/Mermaids relies heavily on social media to keep us connected and allows us to grow our network through the use of algorithms.
Where do you want to see Kiss the Monkeys in 5 years?
In 5 years??? I want to take a nap just after thinking about it!
Soon we will be rolling out a membership and in 5 years we hope to grow that exponentially.
There are a few people and organizations we are working with that we want to help develop.
Look out for us working with the non-profit group, Sweet Progress
We are working on our having our own TV channel, magazine, and an online store of ours and our members merchandise and services.