How to Overcome Challenges,
Defy the Odds and
Live Your Awesomeness

The Inspiration Behind

Forty Dollars and a Brand

It was the summer of 1984 and I was a self-supporting Emerson College student living alone in a studio apartment in Boston's South End. One day I woke up hot, scared and hungry. It had been two weeks since I'd received a paycheck from one of my part-time jobs. A search of my fridge and cabinets turned up a canister of flour, onions and a bottle of cooking oil.

I cut up my onion, dipped the slices in flour and fried them. Onion rings for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The next day, I felt ill. I hadn’t eaten a meal in two days. And I didn’t expect any money for another week. Fear engulfed me. How was I going to survive the next seven days with no food and no one to ask for help?

My apartment buzzer sounded. It was Sammy, a friend’s uncle. Sammy entered my apartment and gave me $40 for groceries. I began to cry. I hugged Sammy like my life depended on it. In a sense, it did. Sammy was making an investment in me and in my future. That modest $40 gift strengthened my resolve to overcome my challenges and reinforced my desire to defy the odds and fulfill my dreams. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, that heartening experience began to form the person, the brand, I would become: Dependable, driven and compassionate.


Denise Starting Out


Denise Growing Up


Denise Today

Author Denise Kaigler was born in Huntington, West Virginia and grew up in Southeast, Washington, DC. Raised with her two sisters by their single mother, Denise was a shy introvert who was afraid of her own shadow. The victim of bullying and physical assault, she lacked self-confidence and had no self-esteem. In Forty Dollars and a Brand, her literary debut, Denise bares her soul as she chronicles the evolution of her personal brand and details how she overcame her challenges to build an exciting career that included working with numerous celebrities, including JAY-Z, Scarlett Johansson, Venus Williams and Pharrell Williams. After a 24-year career in corporate (Reebok, adidas Group, Nintendo and Boston Scientific), Denise is now a business owner. In 2015, she founded MDK Brand Management, a firm dedicated to helping organizations and individuals define, develop and market their desired brand to achieve their business objectives or reach their personal and professional goals. Forty Dollars and a Brand is available at the below online retailers.