Jenice Armstrong: She dials the A-list

Carmena Ayo-Davies (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer)
Carmena Ayo-Davies (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer)
Posted: July 25, 2011

I WAS CHATTING with Carmena Ayo-Davies about how the Daily News needed some bold-faced names for our annual singles roundup, and she immediately went to work.

Before you could say Sexy Singles, she had lined up several hunky professional athletes, including a member of the Eagles whom I had been trying to recruit for weeks. I was impressed.

And curious.

Besides players such as Seattle Seahawk Raheem Brock, she represents Kijafa Frink, fiancée of Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. How did Ayo-Davies become Philly's go-to girl for professional athletes and local artists? Who is she and what's the story behind the story?

I got a chance to ask her last week over beauty services at Spa East, a full-service spa in Northern Liberties and another one of her clients.

A Bucks County native, Ayo-Davies graduated from Bensalem High School and studied business at Cabrini College. When we spoke last week, she was wearing a minidress by designer Marco Hall and was covered with jewelry from Frink's PINKElephant line.

"I'm 32 . . . you can put down 28, though," she told me.

The younger of two daughters (older sister Jacqueline is a budget analyst for Amtrak), she credits her parents - banker dad and caterer mother, both from Sierra Leone - for her entrepreneurial drive. She grew up planning to be a linguist but stumbled upon public relations/event marketing after Adventure Journey, a travel operator, asked for her help.

"I was 28. That was my first client. Just the fact that they believed in me was awesome," said Ayo-Davies.

Other early clients included Philly-based fashion designers Walish Gooshe and Chi Chi Enigwe, and jewelry designer K. Louise. But Ayo-Davies' big break into the close-knit world of Philadelphia sports came in 2008, when Renee Reese, wife of former Eagle Ike Reese, hired her to assist with a fashion show at G Lounge.

"I got in the circle and people liked me," Ayo-Davis explained.

She must have done OK because before long, Eagles players and other athletes were using her to organize their lavish birthday parties and other events. Call it the MTV "My Super Sweet 16" effect, but Ayo-Davies is known for going all out - a four-tiered, pink birthday cake with a Philly skyline (by Dana Herbert of "Cake Boss") for a birthday party at a Philly nightspot for Vick's fiancée last year, for example. At that party, guests nibbled on filet mignon sliders, crab puffs and chicken wings before the show-stopper - Vick's gift to Frink of a black, $90,000 Porsche Panamera.

At February's 30th-birthday bash for Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel, an aerial performer poured drinks while hanging upside down at Christine's Cabaret & Steakhouse. Last month Ayo-Davies planned Brock's three-day birthday/charity blast, which included a cruise on the Spirit of Philadelphia hosted by radio personality Kendra G and a flag-football tournament with talent such as former Eagles Brian Westbrook and Hugh Douglas and Eagles safety Jaiquawn Jarrett.

The day Ayo-Davies and I chatted, she was finalizing plans for an elaborate event at Daniel C. Shoes, an upscale shoe boutique in Germantown, to be hosted the next day by Frink and Power 99's Jonesy (Tarsha Jones). Besides arranging the valet parking, Ayo-Davies was setting the menu - seared salmon with spicy mayo, wasabi tobiko on wonton crisps, crab spring rolls, shrimp purses, fresh fruit shots and minicakes.

"I'm not a meatballs-and-cheese kind of girl," she admitted.

And next week, she's throwing a summer soiree for Jonesy.

Would the Daily News want to feature Jonesy as a Sexy Single? she asked.

I'd told her that I've been sweating over our annual roundup of Sexy Singles. We have some fabulous regular folks but needed a little more star power.

"You asked about DJ Active. I know DJ Active. I can get Active on the phone just like that," Ayo-Davies said.

She dialed the phone and after chatting with his girlfriend for a bit, handed the phone to me. DJ Active was on the line.

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