Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Kelvin Mensah
Been Around The World: Here's How Luxury Lifestyle Specialist "PJ Kev" Is Making Waves In The Travel Industry
Serial entrepreneur Kelvin “PJ Kev” Mensah is redefining what it means to work in the travel industry. From the recent release of his book, How To Get Funding For Your Startup, to his experience as a luxury lifestyle specialist, Mensah has a lot under his belt and is only getting started.
Born in the Bronx to Ghanaian parents, Mensah was guided by his parents to be a leader, resulting in him becoming one of the youngest African American private jet brokers in the world.
Mensah has worked with celebrities like Young Thug, Tyga, Scott Disick, and The Kardashians and has booked over 75 jets, totaling over $1.6 million in sales.
We had the opportunity to talk to Mensah about his background, his journey as an entrepreneur in the travel industry, how he gives back to the children in his community, and his plans for moving forward in the times of COVID-19.
Travel Noire: In what ways do you think being Ghanaian-American impacted your love for travel and entrepreneurship?
PJ Kev: Being Ghanaian-American impacted my love for travel and entrepreneurship in many ways. With my family’s roots being from Ghana, the humble beginnings we experienced truly provided me with the drive and will to succeed, which translated into entrepreneurship.
Traveling is something that I have always been fond of. Being Ghanaian-American afforded me the opportunity to understand the importance of travel as that was always one of the primary ways to connect with my family in Ghana.
Travel Noire: How did you get into the Luxury Lifestyle business and is it something you’ve always wanted to do?
PJ Kev: I got into the luxury lifestyle industry by leveraging connections with close friends of mine. The luxury lifestyle business was not always something I wanted to do, but rather something that I took a chance on.
In life, it’s important to be flexible enough and have a mindset that is malleable enough to adjust to life as opportunities present themselves.
I have always loved to travel so I parlayed my passion for travel into an insatiable desire for knowledge about jets and private aviation.
Travel Noire: How did you build your reputation in the travel industry as a go-to person for luxury travel?
PJ Kev: I established my reputation in the travel industry by connecting with people and building a brand based on adding value to my clients.
Most of my colleagues in the private aviation industry are far too transactional. There’s absolutely no personal touch. Nevertheless, I try to give my clients more than a service but rather an experience.
I made sure I connected with and built relationships with prospective clients who were ascending in their careers with hopes that a mutually reciprocated drive would [result in] foster growth for us both.
Between building authentic relationships, adding value to my clients, and treating people with respect; it built trust and made me the go-to point of contact for all facets of the luxury travel sector, especially within private aviation.
Travel Noire: You booked your first jet at 21, when did you know that this could be your full-time career?
PJ Kev: I knew being a jet broker could be my full-time career when I chartered a jet for Neymar – this was truly one of the key highlights of my earlier years as a jet broker. He is one of the most well-respected soccer players in the world and an opportunity to charter a jet for him was surreal.
Travel Noire: What advice do you have to others wanting to get into the luxury travel space?
PJ Kev: First thing’s first, learn about the industry. Take the time to conduct in-depth research about the industry and understand whether this is a pastime or a passion for you. As people, we are naturally drawn to what excites us. However, it takes a very calculated person to have the ability to separate a pastime from a passion.
If you can’t see yourself waking up every day and being happy about researching new trends in the private aviation space, new aircrafts, the top private aviation companies, new technology in private aviation, brokerage houses, and building a robust network of operators, owners, and prospective clients, then this business is not for you.
It can be very rewarding, but the groundwork and barriers for entry in this industry are quite demanding. If you are one of the very few who are fortunate enough to leverage your tenacity and dedicate your time toward mastering the luxury travel industry, stay consistent and invest in yourself.
If you do the previously mentioned, there is no doubt in my mind that you will be successful.
Travel Noire: Can you tell us more about the KJM Foundation and how we can be a part of this initiative?
PJ Kev: The KJM Foundation is a very important initiative. I have always believed that symbolism and action are the two big components of life.
At the KJM Foundation, our primary focus is to ensure that the people of West Africa, more specifically Ghana, have access to clean water and other resources. Being Ghanaian-American, this is important to me because everyone should be leveraging their resources to give back to their home country.
The KJM Foundation is symbolic and represents philanthropy for one’s native land. In addition to the symbolism, we are extremely adamant about putting things in motion. I am a firm believer that if there is no action, there is no resolve, hence why we (as an organization) have remained action-oriented through our programming.
You can get involved by donating monetary resources or by giving us your time and volunteering.
Travel Noire: In what ways do you think the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the luxury travel industry?
PJ Kev: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people are not traveling. However, I am confident that after the social distancing guidelines become less stringent, there will be a peak and spike in private aviation due to the convenience that private aviation offers – saving time, a significantly higher rate of productivity & efficiency for business professionals, and overall less hassle.
As the needs of business professionals will become more demanding due to the world resuming “business as usual” practices, that demand will translate into an influx of requests for charters within the luxury travel space. There is no better time to be learning as much as possible about private aviation if you are considering entering the industry in the near future.
Travel Noire: What are your top 3 favorite cities to visit and why?
PJ Kev: My top 3 favorite cities to visit are Accra in Ghana, Nassau in the Bahamas, and London in England.
Ghana is rich with art and culture. I love the people and of course my family is there as well.
The Bahamas is a great place to relax. The water is crystal blue and the food is amazing.
London is wonderful. It’s a great place to go sightseeing. The nightlife is great, the people have an awesome sense of style, and the regal architecture is breathtaking.