The Two Gay Geeks want to highlight one of our good friends in the PR business, Mona Elyafi. Mona is not only the CEO of ILDKMedia, she is very talented and just achieved a milestone in her life by becoming a Champagne expert via accreditation of the Comite Champagne.
Read about her PR career and have a look at her new video series about Champagne.
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Mona Elyafi: Publicist and Champagne Expert
Mini Bio and Public Relations Business
Mona Elyafi was born in Beirut Lebanon and immigrated to Paris France in 1975 when the civil war started. She was raised in Paris benefiting from a mix of both a European and Middle Eastern culture. With a muslim father and a catholic mother, she grew up exposed to both religions – its traditions, celebrations and beliefs. She moved to Los Angeles in 1990 to pursue a BA in Political Science. I left LA to for New York City where she attended New York University to complete a Masters in Liberal Arts (with a minor in Journalism). She then returned to LA and started her PR career at the Lee Solters Company with the famed Lee Solters (credited to have created the field of PR).
Following a back surgery, Elyafi battled a drug addiction for three years. As a crack cocaine addict she spent most of her days in her car getting high – venturing through alleys in Venice Beach and downtown LA to score more drugs. At the age 33 she luckily hit rock bottom, picked herself up and commenced the long road to recovery which led to the launched of her own PR firm, ILDK Media, in 2004.
ILDK Media is a one- woman owned business created 17 years ago with one tiny seed and over a decade later, turned into a widely respected expert in LGBTQ+ PR strategies with a focus on diversity & inclusion as well as global Women Empowerment campaigns.
Staying at the forefront of change, ILDK has been instrumental in making LGBTQ agendas move into mainstream culture.From transgender activist Michaela Mendelsohn (Transcanwork.org), to internationally known queer women festival such as The Dinah Shore Weekend (Thedinah.com), to ClexaCon Las Vegas (Clexacon.com) – all LGBTQ PR campaigns that sparked more than a dialogue about diversity and equality and have led the mainstream headlines making front-page news.
The drive in Elyafi to amplify women’s voices runs in the family, starting with her maternal grandmother who was her mentor & role-model as well as her great uncle, Abdallah El Yafi, on her father’s side. Abdullah El Yafi, former Prime Minister of Lebanon, was a pioneer in defending women’s rights & equality. He was at the forefront of the struggle to give women the right to vote, which he was able to achieve with his cabinet in power in 1952. This is a man who had quite an ‘avant-garde’ ring to conservative Muslim ears.
As she celebrates 17 years in business this year, 16 years of sobriety, 6 years married to her wife, she is beyond grateful for the trials and triumph that have paved her journey to date.
Locked up and Uncorked
Editor Note: Mona has spent the last several weeks studying up on something that has been a passion for her most of her adult life; Champagne. In these times of isolation, she decided she would sit down and go for her accreditation as a Champagne Expert form the prestigious Comite’ Champagne.
She passed with flying colors and received her certificate.
Locked Up and Uncorked, produced by Aude Thouret for A Lord Pupuce Productions, retraces through short (5-8 minutes) episodes the history of Champagne, France, and its milestone moments from the coronation of Clovis (the first King of France) in the cathedral of Reims, to modern-day events.
In the face of the disastrous economic effects of the Coronavirius that saw the majority of her business gone in one day, Elyafi took that opportunity to bounce back, and put all this new free time to good use by turning to her passion, Champagne.
On top of completing an extensive course with Comite Champagne to officially become an accredited Champagne expert, she also decided to share her knowledge and expertise in all things Champagne related. Teaming up with her wife, she created and launched an entertaining, bubbly, educational, instructive and fun docuseries appropriately titled “Locked Up and Uncorked”.
Check out Mona’s video series on YouTube. ILDKMedia
Here is Episode 1
“Locked Up and Uncorked” is a project born out of love and passion in a tragic backdrop that involves fear, panic and great /grave challenges in the face of the global Coronavirus pandemic.