The Funemployed: Stephanie David

DCFunemployment: Tell the people – Who are you?

My name is Stephanie David and I’m the founder and CEO of POPNOD, a marketing strategy studio that champions brands with purpose. In 2013, I took the plunge (DCF: whooooo, sometimes you gotta take the leap) and left corporate life at Microsoft, where I led teams in business development and partnerships. Inspired by a memorable trip to Thailand, where I witnessed the powerful work of a humble family rescuing elephants, I decided that I wanted to help the powerful stories that matter be heard. Our team at POPNOD helps brands grow through marketing strategies and creative campaigns that amplify their stories. We are based in DC, but our clients include fashion and lifestyle brands in DC, Nashville, and LA. This is my dream job, because I’ve always loved storytelling!

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DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?

SD: Being funemployed means living life with purpose and vitality, no matter what everyone else is saying or doing. I’ve often fallen into the trap of comparing myself to others, even more so when I first started my business. I realized that it is my unique journey that defines who I am. My journey to now has not been a straight-forward one: I received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, supervised a manufacturing floor, met with international dignitaries, helped win large Navy contracts, did technology sales, and now running my own marketing business for fashion and lifestyle brands! The one common thread? Everything was done with passion and intention, and that’s how it feels to be funemployed.

DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?

SD: My parents. They came to the U.S. from the Philippines in search of a better life. My father joined the U.S. Navy because he wanted to see the world. I remember as a young child, looking at his old Polaroid pictures of Rome, Pompeii, Jerusalem, etc. and being so enamored by the exotic places he’s visited. It was because of him that I was inspired to seek out a world that was much bigger than I can ever imagine. My mom had ingrained in me a disciplined, strict work ethic while I was growing up. At the time, I hated it but that discipline and perseverance have stuck with me ever since. They have always been my cheerleaders. My mom still shares articles and photos of me with her friends to this day!

DCF: What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?

SD: Even though my journey seems unconventional on the surface, I bring with me everything that I’ve learned in each of my experiences. Through my work in business development and partnerships, it’s learning the importance of developing meaningful human connections. Through my work supervising people on a factory floor, it’s inspiring people and cultivating a positive culture every day. Through sales, it’s delivering rich experiences and upholding transparency, honesty, and accountability. As a matter of fact, my life experiences have molded our team’s manifesto.

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DCF: Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?

SD: Traveling and exploring new places inspires me (DCF: Travel is so important!!).  Traveling has always opened new perspectives for me, especially through the people we meet and the stories we hear along the way. Our clients, at the end of the day, are also my ultimate inspiration and motivation. I’m truly grateful to have worked with brands that have amazing stories behind what they do. In some cases, they don’t realize how powerful their stories are (DCF: Storytelling is so magical, we learn so much about each other and the world through sharing). It is at the point during our session with them when I see their eyes light up, their A-HA moment, and sometimes emotions building up as if they’ve discovered something they never knew about themselves … those are the moments that motivate me every day.

DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?

SD: To me balance is finding happiness in all parts of my life. It’s easy to get consumed by work, especially when it is something you enjoy. However, it’s important for me to stay healthy – physically, mentally, and in my relationships with friends and family. At the end of the day, those are the things that really matter.

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DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?

SD: Having worked in large Fortune 50 corporations for 11 years, I miss being part of a large team, the kitchen and hallway talk, and the closed-door conversations. Especially in the early stages, entrepreneurship is a lonely profession (DCF: So true!!). However, being in a lonely profession forced me to reach out to people and develop new relationships. My former government-centric, Washington, DC-based world became filled with a community of passionate business owners, creative individuals, and other game-changing people from across the country.

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DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?

SD: I feel like my entire career has been about breaking the stereotypes about women. From being one of the only women in my Mechanical Engineering classes, to supervising a male-dominated manufacturing environment, and to meeting with international dignitaries from countries where women are treated differently – I’ve embraced every opportunity as a challenge. Yes, gender inequality still exists, but I’ve been meeting more women each day who are breaking barriers and saying f*it. I am inspired by the many female business owners we’ve come across, and am drawn to their anything-is-possible attitudes! (DCF: Amen to that!!)

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DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?

SD: Don’t let what people think about you – positive or negative – shape who you are. My husband was always the voice of reason! (DCF: So important to have that voice helping to guide you! Sometimes we get lost in our own heads).

DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?

SD: This is a tough one. There have definitely been a lot of struggles, mistakes, and obstacles in my life, but I wouldn’t call them failures. To tell you the truth, they’ve opened new doors and perspectives for me.

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DCF: What is your proudest moment?

SD: Within two months of starting POPNOD, I was floored to find out that I was named one of “10 Female Entrepreneurs Who Inspired Us in 2013” by Business News Daily (DCF: A great read and honor, well done!) . I was recognized alongside women that I admire: Angie Hicks of Angie’s List, Mona Bijoor of Joor, and Kathy Savitt of Yahoo. It was at that point I thought, “Hey, I must be on to something good!”

Also, we love our clients like family and friends. When we see them get picked up by an awesome retailer or creating a lot of buzz, we get smitten! Their successes are proud moments for us!

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DCF: What’s next?

SD: At POPNOD, we thrive on creating fun and meaningful experiences as we work with our clients. Based on positive feedback, we recently launched new sessions and offerings to help clients cut through the marketing overwhelm.

This fall, we also have some exciting projects in the works. We’ll be partnering with art galleries in DC to host a series of events that marry DC’s most talented designers with artists for an elevated experience. Stay tuned! (DCF: We’ll definitely be watching out for this!!).

Follow Us:

Website: https://popnod.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/popnodshop/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/popnodapp
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PopNod

Posted in Entrepreneur, Founder, GirlBoss, TheFunemployed | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Funemployed: Arielle Weinberg

DCFunemployment: Tell the people – Who are you?

My name is Arielle Weinberg. I’m the founder of Arielle Shoshana, D.C.’s first niche fragrance boutique! That means unique, artisan fragrances you don’t find in department stores. (DCF: You’ve definitely succeeded with unique scents like burning leaves, a new personal favorite – don’t knock it to you smell it – and Lady Vengence).

DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?

AW: “Funemployed” is a job that’s so fulfilling that it doesn’t feel like work. I’m currently very lucky to find myself funemployed at Arielle Shoshana!

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DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?

AW: My dad was the first person who encouraged me to open a perfume shop. I wasn’t convinced at first. I’d just clawed my way through a Natural Sciences degree at Johns Hopkins University, so I was hoping to work on the chemical side of the perfume industry.

DCF: What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?

AW: I had the enormous privilege of working at two different perfumeries in New York. I paid close attention to what they were doing well, and what could be done differently. That information was absolutely invaluable when opening our own shop later on. One of my dad’s favorite sayings is, “A wise man is one who learns from everyone.” Every single person has something important to teach you.

DCF: Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?

AW: The perfumes themselves. Their stories and their beauty. Perfume is wearable art; I think of the shop as my own little art museum.

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DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?

AW: I don’t think I have a good answer for this question yet! I’m in the shop 6 days a week, so I don’t think I’m particularly balanced. My cat is probably the main source of any balance that I have. Who knows what time I would get home at night if I didn’t have to feed her?

DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?

AW: I miss New York sometimes. NoVa is a very different pace! But you have to go where the demand is. New York definitely didn’t need another perfume shop! And now I’m only 20 minutes away from my family, which I absolutely cherish.

DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?

AW: Perfumery has been a male-dominated industry for the vast majority of its history. In the last two decades, the perfume industry has been shamed into becoming a little more diverse, but it’s still very difficult for anyone other than a white French male to become a perfumer. I consider it my responsibility as a shop owner to push the pendulum forward by actively seeking out female perfumers and brand owners.

DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?

AW: Be yourself, but be the best version of yourself. The most polished, the most gracious, and the most competent. Don’t be self-deprecating in professional settings.

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DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?

AW: After making it to the final round of applications, I was rejected from perfumery school. It was crushing, but it was an important moment of truth. I was trying so hard to become a perfumer, but I just wasn’t a very good scientist. It’s very painful when your goals and your skill set don’t line up. It’s important to push yourself, not to play it too safe, but it’s also important to acknowledge and value your natural skill set.

DCF: What is your proudest moment?

AW: It would have to be the Arielle Shoshana launch party. We made our rent in one evening, and everyone went home smelling amazing!

DCF: What’s next?

AW: We’ve just passed the 8 month mark since opening, so we’re coming up on Arielle Shoshana’s first birthday! One year of making D.C. smell a little better.

We would love to see you on our website (arielleshoshana.com), Instagram (@arielleshoshana), Facebook (/arielleshoshana), or Twitter (@thescentsofself)!

Posted in Art, GirlBoss, TheFunemployed | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Funemployed: Virginia Arrisueño

DCFunemployment: Tell the people – Who Are You?

My name is Virginia Arrisueño and I am the owner and designer of DeNada, a DC-based knitwear apparel and accessories brand for men and women. I received my BFA in fiber art from the University of Maryland in 2002 and transitioned from fine art to designing in 2005, when I founded DeNada. The brand blends contemporary elements with traditional knitting techniques to offer unique, handmade pieces. Our merchandise offering includes a variety of knit and crochet wraps, shrugs, and tops, as well as scarves, gloves and hats. I draw on my Peruvian heritage a lot when designing DeNada knits, and work alongside skilled Peruvian artisans to bring each collection to fruition. I work and live in Washington DC with my husband, artist Kelly Towles (another great DC talent!), my son, and our two dogs, Mia and Kobi.

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Photo by Emma McAlary

DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?

VA: Being funemployed means doing what it takes to follow your passion. For me that has always meant not being afraid of failure. Truly living your most authentic life can be scary, because it usually means living unconventionally, and that always means taking risks. When I started my career I wanted to be an artist, which is the opposite of a traditional 9 to 5. But I went to art school and when I graduated I truly felt like I had all of the tools to succeed, and I went for it (DCF: and we are so glad you did!). As my career progressed, I realized I wanted to try something different and I transitioned from fine art to designing.

DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?

VA: My parents were my first cheerleaders. They immigrated to the states from Perù. Growing up, I saw how hard they worked to create a life for themselves and for me and my siblings (I’m the youngest of four!). They instilled such a passionate work ethic in me from a young age, and I always felt so encouraged by them to follow my dreams and to work towards my goals to the fullest extent possible. My parents were also the inspiration for what I’m doing now. My father always loved the arts and my mother has always had incredible sense of style. They are my cheerleaders and my inspiration! (DCF: They sound like wonderful people, you reflect them well!)

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Photo by Emma McAlary

DCF: What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?

VA: Studying art and being an artist early on in my career gave me the artistic backbone that it takes to bring each DeNada collection to life. Designing our knitwear takes me back to my roots in fine art, which was my first love and my first dream before stepping into the world of fashion. My experiences as a young artist are at the core of DeNada’s aesthetic, the core tenets of which are minimalism, functionality, style, and ease.

DCF:  Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?

VA: Family has always been really central to my life. My husband is a fellow artist and has supported me throughout my entire career, from when I was pursuing art to when I decided to start DeNada. He and my son, as well as my parents and my siblings are what keep me grounded, motivated, and passionate about making DeNada succeed (DCF: It is so important to have those people that keep you rooted).

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Photo by Moonrise District

DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?

VA: To me balance means living harmoniously. I have a 4 year old son, own a small business, and also take on creative projects outside of DeNada; I’m always busy! Finding balance between business and personal time takes work, but making time for family and for just living in the moment is a priority. Productive mornings are key for me when it comes to balance. I wake up really early, I run, and try to get the absolute most out of each day. Staying active is integral to the way that I maintain personal balance.

DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?

VA: Any free time I have that is not spent working is spent with my family. Family is the most important part of my life, and I love what I do, so it isn’t a huge sacrifice in the grand scheme of things. But my social life is definitely affected by my busy schedule. If I want to go out to dinner or do brunch with friends, that’s something that I have to plan out in advance.

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Photo by Emma McAlary

DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?

VA: I have faced struggles that unfortunately are really common for women in any industry, but especially for women who are entrepreneurs. When DeNada first started it was essentially just me, along with much help from my wonderful husband, Kelly. But for the most part I built this brand from the ground up and I have always been intensely motivated and passionate about making DeNada successful. And while I have always received support from family and friends and from many fellow artists, there are always going to be people who don’t like women who are “too” intense or “too” passionate. All of our products are handmade by skilled artisans in Perù. While I love working with such talented people there, I have also been faced with a lot of “machismo.” We’re doing a series on our blog now called #ChangeMakers (DCF: Love it) and all of the women we interviewed talked about this double standard a lot. This concept of being considered “too much of something” is mind-boggling to me, but I look past it and carry on.

DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?

VA: When I was a kid my mom used to always tell me to enjoy my childhood, and to not stress. Looking back, I wish I had reveled in that childhood freedom a little bit more. I get it now.

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Photo by Moonrise District

DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?

VA: I can’t pinpoint a specific failure. I try my best not to look at mistakes as failures, but rather as opportunities for growth!

DCF:  What is your proudest moment?

VA: When I see people wearing DeNada products on the street or on Instagram, or hearing from one our retailers that our products are selling well. Seeing that my designs are valued is an amazing feeling. It’s wonderful to have people who are excited to contribute to the brand from customers to team members who are excited about the work we do here.

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Photo by Moonrise District

DCF: So what are you Currently Conquering?

VA: DeNada has always been known for its Autumn/Winter collections. I have wanted to do a Spring/Summer Collection for a long time now. I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and debuted our first ever Spring/Summer Collection at the beginning of this month (DCF: Soooo excited to check it out in person and worried I’m gonna buy everything cause it looks so good). I want to expand DeNada to be a brand that offers collections year-round, and it’s finally happening! The Spring/Summer Collection features light, airy, and open designs created with a cotton-blend fiber. The new collection is all about knitwear that’s perfect for summer but still has the signature DeNada aesthetic. Includes a range of lightweight shawls and jackets that are effortlessly stylish outerwear for summer nights, and a selection of knit & crochet tops perfect for any daytime look. All styles are handmade in Perú by amazingly skilled artisans whom I’ve been working with since starting DeNada back in 2009. Shop the collection online at here or stop by our studio to shop in person at 52 O ST NW on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays from 12pm-4pm.

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Photo by Emma McAlary

Follow Denada on the interweb:

Denada Design Website

Denada Design Instagram

Denada Design Facebook

Denada Design Twitter

Denadaknits Pinterest

Posted in Art, Designer, Fashion, TheFunemployed | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Funemployed: Latoya Lewis

DCFunemployment: Tell the people – Who Are You?

Latoya Lewis, Founder & Executive Director of EnventU.  EnventU is a nonprofit hands-on educational program for underserved teens that explores and expands the career interests of youth through the event production industry. Students produce real-life events by collaborating in the classroom and on-site with industry professionals which fosters an environment for career guidance and mentorship.

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Here’s the Bio with ALL the info:

Latoya Lewis unknowingly tapped into a passion for event planning and design at a very young age. Initially drawn to the intricacies of the event creation process, Lewis has come full circle in not just perfecting her craft, but rendering it into an art form. Originally from Los Angeles, she graduated from California State University, Northridge with an emphasis in music, media and the arts.

Latoya began her career at Universal Music Group (UMG) in 2005, where she oversaw and purchased over $1M+ in media ad buys and advertising campaigns for a majority of today’s biggest names in entertainment. Her notably creative campaigns ranged from TV, to print, radio, outdoor and digital web presence. After a long and successful tenure with UMG, Lewis returned to event planning, her longtime calling, and dually enrolled in the Accelerated Masters of Tourism Administration program at The George Washington University (GWU). Upon completion in 2010, Lewis’ talents were sought out by the nationally recognized special events firm, Events by Andre Wells (EAW).

Lewis currently excels in all event platforms, with ongoing experience and expertise in large-scale conferences, conventions, corporate, charity and non-profit occasions; to include weddings and social events. Lewis plays an integral role with EAW, overseeing and executing complex and detailed event logistics with ease, while maintaining and managing vendors, budgets, and all bottom-line aspects of event production.

After over five years with EAW; Latoya decided it was time to bring to fruition a personal dream and start nonprofit organization; EnventU. EnventU is a unique educational initiative designed to explore, nurture, and support the career interests of disadvantaged youth through the multiple components of the event industry. Born as a result of a genuine passion for the events industry and a deep desire to make a difference in the community; Latoya vows to make EnventU the premiere nonprofit organization of the event planning industry.

A leader within her community, Latoya has devoted countless hours volunteering within inner city schools in the Washington, DC area, serving on many boards and working in the community.

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DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?

LL: Being funemployed means you have found that “sweet spot” where your passion and your purpose intersect perfectly. You are doing what you love in life, it makes a positive impact on this world, and you are compensated for it…in many different ways! For me, the root of “funemployment” is entrepreneurship. (DCF: Love this, so well put and definitely in line with our beliefs on funemployment!)  My path to funemployment began with the BELIEF that I was meant to “run something”! I believe in many ways we create our own paths in this life. I have always known the path of entrepreneurship was for me. The first concept for EnventU began during my graduate program at George Washington University when I was encouraged to dream without limits. My assignment was to construct a business plan for my “dream business” and right then the seeds for EnventU were planted. I vowed to take that leap by 35…I turned 35 this year!! (DCF: Happy birthday!!). Once this business plan was written, it was all a matter of holding myself accountable and deciding when to “plan my work and work my plan” as my mother always says. After working for and observing an entrepreneur for over five  years, I knew my next step was to become one.

DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?

LL: My family, with my parents leading the charge, have ALWAYS been my biggest cheerleaders and support system. I have said, and always will, that I am just the product of Aletheia and Tommy Lewis and that will never change. Everything I do and all that I am is because of the blessing I have been given to be their daughter.  My father in particular was the first person I shared the revamped nuts and bolts of EnventU with. I was visiting my parents in Los Angeles when I had that “A-Ha” moment and the name came to me along with a flood of other ideas one night. (DCF: I love those moments of inspiration and clarity).  When my father drove me to the airport the next day I shared with him and he said “write it all down on the flight…every last detail.” When I landed in Washington, DC I had the blueprint of EnventU on paper. I sent my father a photo of my papers and have been building off those notes ever since.

DCF: What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?

LL: My time working at Events by Andre Wells, and so close to my mentor Andre Wells, has prepared me the most for entrepreneurship on a number of levels (DCF: I believe it, he is awesome and generous and I imagine would make an excellent mentor). First, by working along-side Andre I was able to observe the triumphs and challenges every business owner experiences on this journey. This allowed me to learn first-hand what obstacles I might encounter and anticipate solutions in advance.

Second, by working with one of the most well respected event producers in the city and across the country I have been exposed to the best of what this industry has to offer. The scale and scope of the projects I have been privy to lead honed my skills as an event producer and instilled in me the knowledge and confidence to start this unique program initiative not seen anywhere in our industry.

Lastly, the relationships I have made have naturally carried over to where so many of my most respected industry colleagues have turned into the biggest champions and partners for EnventU which is extremely reaffirming and humbling.

DCF:  Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?

LL: My motivation for EnventU has always come from a deep need to have my life impact  others in a positive way (DCF: Amen to that!). I have often thought about what my eulogy would include and for me producing amazing events wasn’t enough. My father always said “When you “make-it”, reach back and help others the way someone helped you.” EnventU is my father’s words in action…to actually do something worthwhile is motivating. To provide opportunities to those without one inspires me beyond measure. I have a philanthropic heart…I’m a giver by nature. If EnventU was the only thing I did while on this earth it would be enough…and I would be very proud.

DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?

LL: It’s so easy to get caught up in a never ending “to-do” list; especially in a city as driven as Washington, DC. Thus, a balanced life is something I consciously strive for on a daily basis. It is always a challenge that is on the forefront of my mind. Balance amounts to a complete person…it’s everything! For me, balance means taking time out for the ones you love and the things you love to do. Whether it be a weekend road-trip, Happy Hour with friends, or taking in some live music or a comedy show; all of these feed my spirit and keep me grounded.

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DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?

LL: Everyone sacrifices and that means something different to each of us. I have no doubt that Washington, DC is the best place to start and grown a nonprofit organization. However, I have sacrificed my core support system of family and friends in Los Angeles to do so. Granted, my initial relocation to DC was not to start EnventU. But the decision to plant roots here was heavily influenced by what was best for EnventU and that comes with a hefty price tag as it relates to my personal life.

Additionally, as the saying goes, “every entrepreneur is their first major investor”. But it goes so much deeper than financial. Every successful business owner and nonprofit founder has sacrificed their time, money, and energy to foster their dream and bring their vision to life. It’s almost a rite of passage and I’m no different.

DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?

LL: I cannot recall any specific stand-out struggles that I have faced as a woman. However, it is very clear to me that though my industry is female dominated, as you climb the ladder of “success” many of the individuals at the top given the most exposure are male. Thus, on this journey, when the opportunity presents itself; I will do my part to afford women the chance to not only step onto the ladder but also climb past the invisible ceiling that exists in society across far too many industries.

DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?

LL:  My mother is infamous for sharing many sayings and quotes throughout my upbringing. They were all so ingrained in my sisters and me that I think I follow them without even knowing. However, I wish I would have been taught the concept of “true freedom” while in college. True freedom in this life is to own our time. Time is our most precious commodity which once gone, can never be regained. In order to own our time we need to be financially free…not tied to a job or debt that no longer gives us a choice about what we do with our time. When we own our time, we own our life’s journey and experiences while on this earth which is priceless. That is a major goal for every entrepreneur but you can’t get there unless you have the financial freedom to chase your dreams freely and you can’t chase your dreams if you’re burden by debt. I learned this concept in my late 20’s and it has been life changing. I only wish I had known earlier so I could change my mindset sooner!

DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?

LL: I’ve always been someone that once committed, through unyielding work ethic and focus, I’ve been able to achieve what I set my mind to. I knew no professional limits and recently learned quickly that I too have one! While launching EnventU, I was/am still working a full-time job, as well as consulting on the side. This was in efforts to create an ideal financial transition for myself as a nonprofit Founder. But I was simply doing too much! (DCF: So important to recognize this sometimes).  I was worried about money, security, and the unknown as an entrepreneur to the point where I overextended myself and hit a wall….HARD! I spent months stressed, barely sleeping 2-3 hours a night, running on coffee, floating through tasks, and barely recognized myself. My work on all three-fronts suffered severely and I was left completely drained and embarrassed. I was trying so hard to create a perfectly seamless transition with little-to- no risks involved and I learned that that simply does not exists.

I know that EnventU is my passion and purpose in this life. It is rooted in love….it is God’s work through me….and through this “failure” I learned not to worry about money or having the “perfect transition” to this next phase in my life. I’m creating something so much bigger than myself…that will change lives and yield nothing but good. When this defines your life’s work, there’s nothing else to worry about. I had to surrender myself to the process….embark on that “faith walk”…trust and believe that everything will always work for the good…and I do believe that!

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DCF:  What is your proudest moment?

LL: My proudest moment to date occurred last October, when EnventU was invited by BizBash CEO and Founder, David Adler, to participate in BizBash’s DC Plan-A- Thon event.  As the premiere media publication and certified “Bible” of our industry, I have been a longtime fan of BizBash and subscribed to the magazine for as long as I can remember. To not only have my students invited to participate in this premiere event, but also to have the enthusiasm and support of many veteran industry colleagues in attendance, reaffirmed for me that this program is truly needed in our industry as well as in our communities. The evening culminated with BizBash making a spur-of- the-moment decision to elect EnventU as their official charity donation for the 2015 holiday season. I was overjoyed, overwhelmed, and so very proud.

DCF: So what are you Currently Conquering?

LL: We’re always looking to identify potential partnerships with corporations and other organizations for donations, in-kind sponsorships, as well as event collaborations in advance of our Fall 2016 program session.

Also, EnventU is just wrapping up our Spring program session which concluded with the production of Frank W. Ballou High School’s Academy of Hospitality and Tourism “End of Year Celebration” Reception on June 7. With many of our program’s participating students being a part of this academy at Ballou, the students are able to plan and produce their own event which has been an exciting process to foster.

Lastly, we’re gearing up to celebrate our one-year anniversary with a Launch Reception event on June 29th . At this event, we’ll share our progress to date with our industry peers, potential donors, and other supporters. We have tons to celebrate and I am looking forward to it.

Social Media!!

Sign-up for our newsletter on our website at Enventu.org.

Facebook: EnventU  Instagram: EnventUOrg  Twitter: EnventUOrg  Snapchap: EnventU.

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The Funemployed: Anchyi Wei

DCFunemployment: Tell the people – Who are you?

Hi! I’m Anchyi Wei of Anchyi Adorned – Fashion adventurer, visual designer, photographer and mom to a toddler (DCF: Who is the cutest little button!!). I see fashion and styling as art, and Anchyi Adorned is an outlet of my artistic creations. I’m also bit of a “pro” at online shopping, and want to share the fruits of my labor. The goal of the blog is to entice your creative juices – whether you’re restyling an existing piece in your closet, or putting together a new look with the latest trends. The looks are unique, bold, and fitting for women with individuality and want to stand out from the crowd. (DCF: Yassss Queen, give us all the inspiration!! I feel like I learn something new with every outfit you put on!)

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DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?

AW: Being funemployed is about executing your passions and finding something that makes you feel alive, happy, and motivated everyday. It’s very much like dating – you may try a bunch of different options until you find The One that makes you click. Outside of my day job as a Visual and User Experience Designer, I’m always exploring outlets for my passion for fashion, art, and design. Having developed a fashion “personality” in the DC area, being a style influencer have always been something that came natural for me – but it took a long time for me to finally dive in to the fashion blogging world. (DCF: Yes, and we’ve all been waiting!)  And once I did – it couldn’t have been a more perfect match!

stripe skirt

DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?

AW: My coworkers Leticia and Hai, who started taking pictures of what I wear to work everyday and put it on a tumbler called “Anchyi at Work“. They were my first champions, and soon after, I’ve gained tremendous support from the DC blogging community. Although I’m known for my style, I never considered myself as a blogger – until one specific conversation with Carla Sanchez of Spicy Candy DC. Within one short dialog, I decided it was time to rebrand as a true fashion blog, and that’s how Anchyiadorned.com was born. I couldn’t thank Hai, Leticia and Carla enough for this!

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DCF: What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?

AW: I am fortunate to have so many experiences that fall perfectly in line with what’s necessary to start Anchyi Adorned: My knowledge of the web design industry, having a husband who used to work in media and publishing, and a strong network of influencers whom I have came to know socially in the past several years. All of these have helped tremendously in building who I am today. (DCF: So wonderful when all of the stars align!).

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DCF: Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?

AW: I am greatly motivated by the many kick-ass women out there who have hustled and build a brand for themselves like you Morgan (DCF: Awww you motivate me too, I respect your hustle and hard work!). For style inspiration, I get most excited from photos of runway shows, Fashion Week street style, and magazine editorials. My style is not very pedestrian, so I tend to look for over-the-top looks to spike my creative juices (DCF: I don’t think you could be pedestrian if you tried love and that’s what makes you so fabulous!!).

cool

DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?

AW: Balance is achieving happiness while effectively prioritizing the important things in your life (DCF: Couldn’t have put it better myself!). I admit, this has been a struggle for me and I’m still finding ways to achieve it. With a full time job, raising a family, doing photography and design work on the side, AND managing a blog – everyday it seems like there’s never enough time to do what needs to be done. What has helped me is to rethink my priorities, and understand that it’s okay to not have to do everything.

no kings

DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?

AW: Sleep! There never seems to be enough time for it. And unfortunately for my husband – our “couple time” to catch up in the evening is now replaced with laptops and non-stop screen time. I am working on recuperating on both, and, as mentioned above – finding that balance.

white fur

DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?

AW: Fortunately the fashion industry is very woman-friendly. For my day job, however, I am surrounded by men and the barrier is definitely there. I’ve learned over the years to speak up more – something difficult for me as my culture taught the opposite growing up. Also I learned to stop overthinking and overanalyzing, and just “do”.

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DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?

AW: I should’ve started the blog earlier! (DCF: All good things to those that wait, and it was worth waiting for!!).  Now I look back, life before kids seemed like an eternal vacation and I didn’t even realize it. Finding time to work on the blog now is difficult, however, mentally I am much better equipped to do this now than earlier.

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DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?

AW: Fear of failure is my biggest failure! (DCF: Amen sister, that struggle is so real!). I have pursued many ventures without my full effort because I was afraid it wouldn’t work.  In reality, that alone is what made it not work.  Every pursuit is a learning experience, though – and what I learned is to just own up to what I am good at, and execute! A million great ideas don’t mean a thing without execution.

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DCF: What is your proudest moment?

AW: Being chosen by Washiongtonian as a Style Setter, and DC Modern‘s Women of Style were both great honors (DCF: and well deserved!!). I knew then I had made a little dent in the style scene and was very proud of it. More recently, of course, it would be all the encouragement and compliments I received when Anchyi Adorned went live. I am so grateful of all the support and love from everyone – including you Morgan! (DCF: Totally my pleasure!! Love you and this community and truly enjoy supporting others, especially rock stars like you! That’s why I started this series!!)

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DCF: So what are you doing next?!?

AW: I’m continuing to refine the blog into the go-to destination for the fashionably unique, trend and shopping tips, and abundance of creative inspirations. I have yet to throw the bangin’ launch party it deserves – so that’s definitely coming (DCF: Can’t wait!!) ! I’m also looking forward to collaborating with brands and becoming even more involved with the fashion industry, now legitimately as an influencer.

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DCF: So how can people follow you??

Anchyiadorned.com – please sign up for email updates and follow on Bloglovin‘ in the footer of the website.  I’m @anchyi on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest. On Facebook you can find me here.  Thanks!!

Posted in Art, Designer, Fashion, TheFunemployed | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Funemployed: Alison Carney

DCFunemployment: Tell the people – Who are you?

My name is Alison Carney, my artist name “ace ono.” The way I describe it, essentially, is my vibe is similar to Yoko Ono, but not. I’m my own individual, but one that embraces peace, love, and art in my daily practice. I am a recording artist/songwriter by day, artist liaison/stylist/creative director/producer/magical creature by night and I live by the mantra “art and love only.”

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DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?

AC: To me, being funemployed is finally being in a place where I am doing what I love for a living, and I am actually LIVING. I am coming to a place where I can really begin to enjoy my life and my art because everything I do encourages, sustains and almost forces both.

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DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?

AC: My mom and grandmother hold the tie for that one. But my grandmother loves to sing so she always encourages my artistic side.

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DCF: What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?

AC: So many. I don’t know. I think every single experience you have more or less preps you for your “moment.” Like, I wouldn’t be where I am without what happened yesterday…or five years ago. I believe it’s all in preparation.

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DCF: Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?

AC: These days, myself. I am one of the beautiful brings in this world that struggles with depression, so the highs and lows that I feel push me. The light at the end of a low recharges me. The knowledge that my story can help others pushes me to keep going, literally. I feel really blessed to be able to heal myself and others with the gifts I’ve been given.

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DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?

AC: Balance is kind of an unfamiliar thing to me, but not in a bad way. I just don’t look for it…or maybe try super hard to find it. Sometimes I am fully drowning in my art and I love it. Sometimes I am utterly drowning in my life. I love that too, but one couldn’t call that “balance” really. I’m just surviving and doing it in a way that feels so beautiful rather then forced. I feel really lucky.

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DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?

AC: Finances, for real. There isn’t as much security in this thing as most would wish. So it gets scary at times…but that’s been my sacrifice. I don’t live an extravagant life, but it’s become a really special journey learning that life can still be amazingly beautiful even with unexpected sacrifices.

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DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?

AC: Exactly that. Being a woman. In MY industry. at times there is a lack of respect, so you have to face it head on or get eaten alive. This industry isn’t for the soft. I am pretty soft, but I’m definitely not sneaking away from the industry simply because often men and even women can be disrespectful and dismissive of your quiet power.

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DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?

AC: “Don’t ever listen to or succumb to others opinions of you.” I didn’t listen. I should have. (DCF: AMEN SISTER AMEN!!)

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DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?

AC: I stopped believing in myself at one point. That was a failure on my part, and I learned that I was ridiculous for ever thinking I didn’t deserve success and happiness doing what I love. Not only do I deserve it, I’ll have it because I won’t ever count myself out or doubt my gifts again.

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DCF: What is your proudest moment?

AC: Proudest moment right now would have to be that I set a goal for a certain number of months of celibacy (for the purpose of refocusing myself and my energy), and I met my goal. During those months I learned how to channel sexual energy in other ways, sharing loving energy from the stage that people can actually feel inside of them. I want people around me to feel loved…wanted…amazing. I’m good at creating those feelings. I’m better now that I value the preciousness of that gift.

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DCF: What’s next?

AC: I have a new project coming out soon called “”i bet you think this song is about you”” and I’m pretty excited about it. I also recently started an artist liaison entity called “”artand❤️only”” because I want to spend some real time and attention making the experience that artists have when they perform stellar.

Lastly, I am getting back into styling and creative directing as it pertains to photography, film, & tv. Just wanting to jump back into some of my other passions.

Find Alison @iamalisoncarney on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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The Funemployed: Lorra Rivers

DCFunemployment: Tell the people – Who are you?

My name is Lorra Rivers, owner/creative director of LORRARIVERS, LLC. LORRARIVERS is a fine leather handbag and accessories company. Professionally trained as an interior designer, I received my Bachelors of Science degree in Interior Design with a minor study in Architecture from Howard University in 1987.

I’ve been a practicing interior designer for nearly 30 years and an entrepreneur for 22 years. In 2011, I started down the path of fashion accessories, honing my handbag design skills and business acumen for this industry. I officially launched the brand in 2015 landing a coveted brand feature on the hit FOX drama series, Empire (DCF: Cause they are FIERCE).  The journey continues.

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DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?

LR: Being funemployed means the freedom to express the creative passion within me and make a living at it.

My path to funemployment started when I was 28 years old. I knew that within the residential interior design profession, in order to make substantial earnings, I would have to start my own business. So, after 7 years of experience under my belt, I ventured out on my own and never looked back. It’s been 22 years and counting!

DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?

LR: My absolute first cheerleaders were my parents. They saw my creative potential as a child and nurtured it with creative toys such as pottery wheels (DCF: I used to love throwing pots, so fun!!) and weaving looms. They’ve never wavered in their support of me or my dreams. My Dad is still cheering me on from Heaven and my Mom continues to be my rock.

DCF: What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?

LR: Having been in business for 22 years now, I’m well-seasoned on the amount of sacrifice, patience and perseverance required to sustain a business. With each challenge comes growth. With each circumstance comes wisdom. The obstacles will always be there, but so will the amazing rewards. It’s a daily practice, but staying grounded in faith and knowing that I have something beautiful to contribute to society, keeps me in the game. It’s what gave me the courage to start a new venture at this late stage in my career. (DCF: I wanted to bold this whole paragraph, so true!)

Femme Fatale Collection

DCF: Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?

LR: Inspiration can be very elusive at times. So, I stay constantly connected with my surroundings because I never know what will spark something within. I thoroughly enjoy communing with nature and allowing myself to daydream. Permitting myself to clear my mind of life’s clutter frees me to be more focused, see more abstractly.

DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?

LR: At this mid-stage of my life, I’ve experienced a lot and I’ve made quite a few sacrifices. What keeps me in balance is God and family. I’m highly driven, and have accomplished many great things in my career. But, I recognize the importance of stepping away from it all every once and awhile. I’m currently in a loving relationship with an amazing man. His support along with my family and friends, keeps me grounded. They keep me sane.

DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?

LR: Sacrifice has taken the helm since 2008. The economic downturn in 2008 forced me to lay off my designers in order to keep my business alive. It meant having to go back to a one-woman operation. It was such a difficult decision, but a greater sacrifice was looming.

In 2014, I sold my home of 17 years. It was my designer showplace in the city! I worked from there, entertained from there, celebrated amazing milestones from there. But, it was time to let go and I did so reluctantly. I needed the capital that this home (aka investment) would provide me so that I could put this new venture of handbag design/manufacturing on the map. This ultimate sacrifice has opened up so many doors. I just had to let go and let God. (DCF: Sometimes you gotta go out on a limb!)

Jade Hobo

DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?

LR: In my first career as an interior designer, I initially struggled with gaining respect from my male counterparts. I worked primarily with male contractors, so seeing me as an equal took some work, but they came around. As a minority woman, the constant struggle was having to validate my professional experience. Over time, this became less problematic.

I’m new to the fashion arena, but I know that the primary struggle is establishing brand recognition. Fortunately, I have a history as a designer, so the validation step is much easier to achieve. At this point, my resume of work speaks for itself. (DCF: As it should! Let your work shout your praises!)

DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?

LR: I don’t know that there was any particular early wisdom imparted to me that I ignored. But, to spin this question, the reason I got into the handbag business almost didn’t happen because of resistance on my part. My design mentor suggested that I pursue this business after viewing my custom pillow sketches. It was my vision to expand my interior design business into furniture and accessories. So, I resisted and supported my resistance with facts about why I wanted to pursue my path. After several irrefutable points from him as to why I should pursue handbag design, I finally conceded. It was the best advice that I almost didn’t take!

DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?

LR: Not to sound cocky (DCF: Girl go ahead and blow that horn!), but I’ve been very blessed to achieve most things that I put my mind to. I’m a logical thinker/strategist. If I want to pursue something, I assess my current situation, skill level and access to support. If it all aligns, I go for it. If not, I table it for a later time. I’m a controlled risk taker. (DCF: Nothing wrong with calculating your risk!)

DCF: What is your proudest moment?

LR: I would have to say that my proudest moment is happening now. I’m experiencing a series of proud moments as I journey down this new path of handbag designer. I had a successful career as an interior designer with some notoriety, but didn’t get the exposure I felt I deserved. Now, so many doors are opening for me thanks to my amazing team. I’m so proud that I’m finally on the way to making Lorra Rivers a household name!

DCF: What’s next?

LR: Currently, the LORRARIVERS team is gearing up to launch our first Kickstarter campaign (DCF: Which is live now, see above) to raise funds for the fourth bag in the premier Femme Fatale Collection. To date, we’ve placed three handbag designs in the marketplace: Nikita clutch, Raven backpack/satchel and Chantal tote. It’s now time to introduce the Jade hobo. A sample of Jade was produced a year ago and she is appearing to be very popular with her utilitarian, yet modern edgy style. Unlike the other bags in stock, she will be produced in a color other than black for this first run. We’re very excited about getting her to the marketplace!

DCF: So how can people follow you and what you are doing??

Twitter: @lorrarivers1
Facebook: lorrariversbag
Instagram: @lorrarivers
Tumblr: lorrarivers.tumblr.com
Pinterest: lorrarivers
Website: www.lorrarivers.com

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The Funemployed: Loide Rosa Jorge

DCFunemployment: Tell the people – Who are you?

My name is Loide Rosa Jorge. I am an Afro-Lusophone (Portuguese speaking African) jazz vocalist and an Immigration attorney. (DCF: Thank you for adding a new word to my vocabulary!!) I’ve been singing practically my entire life, since I was 4 or 5 years old to be exact. Whether it was musical productions, choirs, singing groups, school bands, jazz ensembles, and now as a solo artist, music (singing and/or playing an instrument) has always been a part of my life. I consider it a total blessing to be able to cultivate a life long passion into a career. (DCF: Getting paid to do what you would do for free is definitely a blessing!)  Likewise, the other side of my brain has always been a-buzz. As an adult, for the last 12 years, my “day-time” career lead me into the legal arena, 10 of those years I’ve been a practicing immigration attorney. An equally rewarding field of work to be frank (DCF: It’s definitely good (and impressive) to cultivate both sides of the mind!). Although I’ve been in the US over 30 years and am now a US citizen, I too am an immigrant and it brings me absolute joy to help other immigrants navigate the oft ominous system of obtaining legal status in the US. As it were, I’ve got two running passions, and I’m determined to grow and do good things in both arenas.

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DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?

LRJ: Funemployed is exactly what the name says, having fun (and finding fulfillment) while earning my keep on this grand place we call earth! Funemployed is about waking up every day and even when the load gets heavy, and the tasks seem a bit too burdensome and overwhelming, finding the gusto to push forward because the reward makes the struggle all the way worth it. That reward for me ranges from that feeling when I’ve penned the lyrics and melody to a song that totally boosts my soul (honestly its my therapy), or when I find solution to a legal mind boggle, and a client gets to stay in the US and live their dreams out. Yup, that’s funemployment for me! (DCF: Sounds like a win!)

DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?

LRJ: My parents were definitely my cheerleaders from day one. It was always either my mom or dad who would drive me around as kid to rehearsals, lessons, practices, performances, you name it! Of course I had to keep my grades up to, but they never zapped the joy out of the whole experience for me. I have fun memories of my early days with the music. As time passed, I got older, moved out and far away (for college and then for work) the support from the home front never waned. I know my mom would love it it I just stuck to singing in church (smile), but with time she’s come around. After all, I get my inspiration from her. She loves to sing and she is one heck of a fierce psychologist. #igetitfrommymama (DCF: Yassss shout out to mom, and dad, for being such a great source of support and inspiration, that is some great parenting in my book!)

loide bc

DCF: What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?

LRJ: I can’t say just one experience brought me to the space and place in my journey that I’m at now, but I will say that the passing of my father in 2003 was critical in so many ways for gearing me up for the years to come. I was just breaking into adult hood, working, applying for law school, and singing in an Afro-Cuban band called “Milagro” when I got the call in the wee hours of the night that my father had been rushed to the hospital…he died soon thereafter. I was living in Takoma Park at that time and my parents were in California. That call was earth shattering. I was a daddy’s girl, and my dad was my anchor. He had always been, and to lose him so abruptly (he died unexpectedly in his sleep) was soul rocking (DCF: I’m a daddy’s girl too so I am welling up at the idea, I can’t imagine the pain you went through, so sorry for your loss!). The years that followed were a blur, but some how I made it through law school, found a job, built a career as an attorney and immigrant advocate, recorded albums, had some heart breaks along the way, and in one way or another kept at least one foot on the ground. Honestly, looking back, it had to be my faith in God and my belief system that something bigger than all of the pain and chaos was holding me, and my life plans from falling a part (DCF: Sometimes you just have to leave it to God to carry you through).

DCF: Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?

LRJ: My motivation is totally rooted in the work product of my passions! Releasing my joys and pain through music and then being able to share that with the world is a total inspiration. Helping folks obtain visas, or reunite with loved ones from abroad, avoid deportation, or get a work permit….and just being a part of the process of facilitating how it all comes to be, is just as motivating for me. In the end its the process of giving and sharing that fuels my passions.

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DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?

LRJ: For me balance is finding an equilibrium in all that I do, and balance has always been important to me. I totally believe in working hard, but not at the expense of living and experiencing life. After all, we only have one life to live, and tomorrow is not promised! So for me balance means knowing when to push pause and close files and just leave the office. Or, knowing when to say “no” because today its time to spend with my loved ones. Or, some times I’ll say to myself “in these hours I carve out time just for me.” I love to run solo, and if the weather permits, I’ll run through the park and trails and just soak up God’s handy work and let my mind be still for a second. I also started going back to church every Saturday, it totally helps me reset every week! It’s critical.

DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?

LRJ: A sacrifice to me implies something I’ve had to give up, something that suffered, or something that took a back seat because of my passions. I honestly cannot say I’ve experienced any major sacrifices in that context. However, I can say having two passions (music and law) that I’ve tried to cultivate simultaneously has proven to be a challenge that I’ve had to balance…and at times one has definitely taken a back seat to the other. Who’s to say that either my legal or music career couldn’t be that much more progressed if I only had one that I poured myself into? So perhaps, the “sacrifice” is that I am not at the top of my game at either…yet. But you know what, I’m OK with that. This isn’t a race for me….I’m comfortable that in due time all that should, will manifest naturally. (DCF: All about having faith and knowing that God has sometime great in store for you if you allow him to build you up to be ready to receive it! You are definitely on your way!)

Blues alley

DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?

LRJ: Hmmm, invariably the biggest struggle (in both the legal and music arena) is when folks underestimate me when I walk in the door. Whether it’s me trying to book a gig or entering the court room…it’s usually the same push back. I have actually turned that obstacle around in my mind though, and I see it as a challenge that I will over come. Period. That means I have to be that much more prepared, or that much more thick skinned to not take the hesitations and 2nd glances as an insult. It’s that much more satisfying when in the end I can prove the other person’s perspective or expectations wrong.

DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?

LRJ: To PLAN for tomorrow. Living in the moment is awesome, and I totally encourage and promote it! However, living in the moment does NOT mean that you do not need to set things up for a smoother ride down the road. There are building blocks I could and should have set up when I was just starting out as an attorney and as a solo artist, that I didn’t. Lucky for me, nothing I cannot sort out in the here and now, but I totally added layers to my every day living that could have been avoided. Yes, mom…you were right, I should have xyz!

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DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?

LRJ: Ouch! Failure? Hmmm. I’ll call them life lessons. Not a fan of calling experiences, not matter how heart breaking or disappointing, as “failures.” (DCF: I agree with that, I think failure has gotten a bad connotation because none of us would be successful if we had never “failed”). I’ve had many life lessons though. I’d say that ignoring the early advise from my mom (about planning for the future) would be the greatest lesson I’ve had to learn…the hard way. It’s OK though, I’m rebooting and pushing forward.

DCF: What is your proudest moment?

LRJ: Man oh man, I’d say my proudest moment was when I passed the bar and when I recorded my first full length album of all original compositions, In Time. It’s a beautiful thing to see all your blood sweat and come to fruition. Nobody can take that away from you when it’s all said and done because it’s the sum of that journey that makes the victory so sweet! (DCF: Yes sweet victory after the struggle is the best reward).

CD cover colage

DCF: What’s next?

LRJ: Right now, it’s about taking my music to the next level. I have a CD release concert at Blues Alley coming up on June 6th. I cannot WAIT for that performance. I’ll be joined on stage by some of DC’s best musicians. Janelle Gill on piano, Mongezi Ntaka on guitar, Kris Funn on upright bass, and a few guest artists who recorded on the album with me.

In the legal arena, I was just taped for a segment on Voice of America, discussing African immigrants and how the upcoming elections may impact us. Keep an eye out for that!

DCF: So how can people follow you and what you are doing??

LRJ: For the music, follow me on facebook, instagram, and twitter at @loidemusica or click on my website.  Oh and need if you need help sorting out your immigration status, go to my site (links to my facebook are on my website).

voa

Posted in Law, Music, TheFunemployed | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Funemployed: Tanvi Rastogi

DCFunemployment: Tell the people – Who are you?

My name is Tanvi Rastogi, I am the creative ‘head’ behind www.tanvii.com. I started this blog in 2009 as a spontaneous decision to connect with the outside world and now over the years it has become a source of inspiration, income and a tool to collaborate with like-minded people.  I am also a wardrobe stylist. I enjoy helping women find their personal style and have a wardrobe that they 100% love.

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DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?

TR: Being funemployed means doing something you are excited about, and willing to get out of bed for, even on days when you are not inspired. My path to funemployment has been self-discovery. Having the courage to listen to my head and heart and not give into the pressures of the society to follow a norm. Living life and ‘working’ on my own terms. This quotes defines me to a ’T’ –

“What do you do for a living?”
“I read. I travel. I love. I laugh.”
“No. How do you earn your bread?”
“Oh I work. But that’s not living.”

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DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?

TR: It was my brother who first encouraged me to start writing but in no time my cheer-leading squad grew. It included my husband, my parents, my friends and family. Everyone read, commented and encouraged my writing in the early days. It was a good boost to know there are people reading your stories when you have just started something new.

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DCF: What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?

TR: I believe you are a total sum of all your experiences. There is not a single moment in my life that I look back and think, “that was a bad experience” because each one of them made me who I am today – a strong, compassionate, creative woman who is not scared to follow her heart to any end. (DCF: So true, it’s not what happens in life but how you deal with it that shapes who you are.  Things happen, you have to deal and move forward!).  However, I would like to mention how much I value being exposed to many cultures and having lived in different countries in my teenage and early twenties. It broadened my world view and made me see things from various perspectives. (DCF: Exposure to the world is so important!).

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DCF: Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?

TR: A lot of my inspiration is drawn from people I come across in my everyday life. I enjoy reading biographies and listening to people’s stories. Everyone has a story and no one’s story is perfect but how some of us decide to change the narrative of our story is quite astounding (in a good way). (DCF: Yassss it is so true, we are the designers of our own lives, I completely believe that).

My source of motivation however, is within me. I can’t quite put a finger on it but when I decide to achieve something, I give it my 100 percent. What motivates me to do that is something I have not figured out yet. (DCF: Whatever it is, hold on to it!).

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DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?

TR: I remember my mother always telling me, “too much of anything isn’t good”. Her statement was in reference to food, but I had realized early on in life it could very much be applied to every.single.thing. That’s exactly what balance means to me – doing (and eating) everything in moderation. No one thing (or activity) should take over your life completely. Having a wholesome living experience comes from making time for everything including sleep and relaxation.

I find balance by being disciplined and following a routine (on most days). When you do something continuously for at least 21 days, you make it a habit. And as we all know, habits are hard to break, good or bad!

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DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?

TR: As a business student, I have always referred to “sacrifice and compromise” as opportunity costs. With every single act we make a choice and making that choice means giving up on something else aka opportunity cost. For example, when I decide to stay out at till midnight, I am giving up on my sleep. When I decide to have a pizza for a meal, I am choosing to not have pasta. So on and so forth. Are those sacrifices? (DCF: Well when you put it like that, it really is all about outlook, I will happily “sacrifice” certain things when necessary but it also goes back to balance).

But I know that you don’t mean to ask this question in that simplistic way but I don’t think I have made any sacrifices. I have made choices. Choices I have been happy with so far. (DCF: I made them open for interpretation and I like how you choose to interpret it!)

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DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?

TR: I have not had any sour experiences in my work life which I can call ‘struggles as a woman’. There have been struggles (while working) but they didn’t have anything to do with my sex. However, I have had many other struggles as a woman in society, which didn’t have anything to do with my work. Ah, the dichotomies of a woman’s life.

 

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DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?

TR: Oh! So many. I wish I had listen to my mother when she asked me to be more active as a kid, or when she asked me to not pick on my skin as a teenager. But I did listen to most of the advice I got while growing up. The reason to where I am and who I am today, because I always listened to the good advice my parents gave me.

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DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?

TR: This is going to sound like a broken record – I have not had any failures. Of course, there have been things that didn’t work out in my life, but they were not failures. They were stepping stones to where I am today. No bad experiences and failure here. Only – lessons! (DCF: That is actually part of why I ask this question, because while things go wrong in life, it is often those “failures” that push us to the success we later find).

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DCF: What is your proudest moment?

TR: When I moved to United States, my residence status didn’t allow employment. That is one of the reasons why I engrossed myself with my blog. Over the years the blog itself became my full-time job and has opened channels of other paid collaborations and opportunity.

I always wanted to find a way to work and travel at the same time. In the last year I pivoted my blog from being a ‘fashion blog’ to a travel+lifestyle blog’ which has given me various opportunities to collaborate with hotels, and travel boards as a part of my work.

I am mighty proud of creating something from nothing, on my own with just my cheerleaders behind me. Today my blog supports my way of life.

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DCF: So what’s next??

TR: At the moment I am trying to build my portfolio as a personal wardrobe stylist. So if you are a woman (or man) reading this and looking for a fresh perspective towards your closet, get in touch with my at info@tanvii.com.

You can Follow Tanvi online via Twitter  Facebook  Pinterest  Instagram  Bloglovin’  YouTube

Posted in Bloggers, DCTravelBlogger, Style, Stylist, TheFunemployed | 3 Comments

The Funemployed: DJ Neekola

DCF: Tell everyone who you are!!

I am DJ Neekola, pink haired DC DJ and CEO of Pelonkey, Inc. (DCF: If you go out at all in DC, you’ve definitely seen her, just think back to an event that you couldn’t help but dance to the great mix and chances are DJ Neekola or Pelonkey were involved).

Pelonkey is an entertainment marketplace, that allows event planners to find the right entertainer for their next event, quickly and easily online! We allow them to inquire, contract and pay online with ease. We also provide valuable business tools for the entertainer so they can take control of their careers independently, without the need of an agency.

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I founded this company due to my own experiences as an international DJ. I’ve had agencies take too much of a cut, steer my career in the wrong direction, and also I’ve had promoters and venues walk all over me when I tried to manage things on my own. Pelonkey is here to help keep this industry transparent, and stable. (DCF: Yasss to fixing problems, #GirlBoss).

DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?

Neekola: Funemployed — I think I daydreamed about this while working in cubicles and basements employed in Cybersecurity when working for various government entities. I was still building my DJ career, and I just thought gosh — if I could just DJ full time, I would LOVE what I do….(and not have to wake up so early!) ha.

So, I used that as fuel to the fire, and kept pursuing it…making it a reality. It meant taking a leap, and leaving government work behind forever…(my clearance expired)…and getting the HUSTLE on to make sure I had enough gigs to pay the rent. I also had to downgrade my lifestyle…get rid of the fancy car, couldn’t have as many shoes as I wanted…but boy, was I HAPPY when it finally came to be. (DCF: You can always buy the stuff back later but you cannot buy back the time or your happiness so good choice!)

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I’m going to be honest…finances were (DCF: are… lol) STRESSFUL. I wasn’t making bank right away. It took a while to get to where I am now as a DJ. And there were a lot of scary moments where I had to eat nothing but ramen from time to time…but, I was still very happy, doing what I loved!

Funny thing is, now that I am where I am in my career, I’m now pursuing another venture, and leaving the full-time DJing behind..(DONT WORRY! I will ALWAYS DJ, just not as much as I am right now)…

As I became as passionate as I was about DJing 5 years ago, about fixing industry problems. I really experienced, along with my peers and colleague, a lot of hardships, that none of us should experience, if we are hard working professionals. Hence, Pelonkey was born, and I am very happy to be where I am today.

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DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?

Neekola: First it would have to be my mother. I have been into music since I was pretty much in her womb.  She’s always pushed me to pursue my passions, even when others were like, you are crazy. I would say she might have been a lot on the dreamer side, like me…but I had realism from my Aunt and my father, which helped me navigate through college and professional goals first, before hitting the pavement for the stars.

DCF: What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?

Neekola: EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING I experienced in my past, good and bad, has brought me where I am today. I could write a book on this. But to sum it up, I’d say:

  • Living abroad
  • Past relationships
  • ALL work experience, from serving tables, to being a game-master at a lasertag place, to hacking mainframes, everything gave me the experience to manage the multitude of responsibilities I have now.
  • Eastern Philosophies
  • Friendships
  • Other cultures
  • Past relationships
  • Languages
  • TRAVEL

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DCF: Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?

Neekola: I get my inspiration from others. Everyone in my life has great impact to me, no matter how much or how little time I actually get to spend with them. I really try to understand people as much as possible to understand other perspectives. This is another great reason why I really love to travel, and love my international friends – because other cultures make me open my mind even further. (DCF: We all need to see more of the world to better appreciate and understand it).

DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?

Neekola: I learned a very good lesson from visiting my extended Taiwanese family in Taipei.  They took me to see Taipei 101, used to be the tallest building in Asia back in the day, 101 floors..in the center of it, is this HUGE ball. That ball is whats responsible for keeping the building standing straight up and stable through earthquakes, wind, and more stress.  We ALL need that ball. That ball represents what is important in our lives to keep us stable. Things like spirituality, health, love (Family, friends, relationships), and work / meaning. Each one of these important things to you should represent an even part of this ball, to keep it centered and weighted. As soon as one of these things takes up too much of the ball, it becomes off center, the balls weight changes, and it can cause you to collapse. It’s important to try and keep all of these things at a healthy balance at all times so you can keep standing straight, like Taipei 101 =) (DCF: LOVE this analogy!)

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DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?

Neekola: A lot of materialistic sacrifices, that I learned through the process really I don’t need any of it. Once I got rid of my fancy car, I didn’t have a car at all for almost 5 years, and was totally fine. I now have a silly little red roller skate with my sister, and its perfect for what we need.

I have had to sacrifice a lot of my personal life however, and that has been a very big struggle.

DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?

Neekola: I never let being a women add to my struggle. I am proud and happy to be a woman, and it has never kept me from achieving ANY goal I’ve ever set for myself.

From being a gamer, to a motorcyclist, to a hacker, to a DJ, to now a tech entrepreneur. I’ve overcome any struggle many women experience trying to get ahead in any of these fields, and I will continue to do so.

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I am now in the process of raising capital for my company, and I’ve heard I may have problems doing so as a woman founder, and I should have a male counterpart help me with these meetings….but I’m stubborn and I know I can do this on my own and I will. (DCF: YES!! Let them know who’s boss!!)

DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?

Neekola: You know I always live with the motto NEVER REGRET...there are some things I think about, if I’ve done differently, maybe I’d have a different outcome…but I’m pretty happy where I am right now, and the person I’ve become…so I really don’t care to reflect on what could have been etc…

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DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?

Neekola: Another word I don’t really like….failure to me is a word that I feel has a negative meaning. Everything I think that may have happened in my life that could have been a failure, has been a great success because of what I have learned from it, and how much stronger I’ve become from it. (DCF: We love “failure” for just that reason, it is what makes us).

To give an example, I ran a record label with a friend in 2012. We put a lot of money and time into it, but in the long run it didn’t work out and we had to close it up. Same thing with a promotions company I ran with a friend in 2013. Even though these ventures did not work out, I learned SO MUCH in those experiences…and although money was lost, I feel it was way cheaper than tuition for a masters degree for the real life lessons I acquired in developing my skills in business.

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DCF: What is your proudest moment?

Neekola: I’ve luckily had a lot, but one I like to talk about with my friends the most is when Rex Riot and I really worked hard for 6 months to produce an album together, called Playtime. It was one of the most fun projects I’ve ever had in my life, and he was the BEST musical partner I’ve ever worked with in my entire life. We would get together every Wednesday with goals to start one new song for the album, with the goal of completing the album by the end of 2011 with a big party. And BOY did we do it.

We had the BEST party – and some of the BEST music to show for it. We sold out of the album at the launch event, and had an AMAZING attendance….even as it was the day after snowmaggedon! My favorite soccer team from Switzerland, AS Calcio, even came all the way to attend. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, and my Dad was also there in attendance, ALL NIGHT. It was a day I was most excited about.

I’d have to also say the same feeling happened to me when we launched Pelonkey in Sept of 2015. I’d say the BEST party I’ve ever been a part of throwing….couldn’t have done it without my most amazing sister and partner, Ciera Gallub.

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DCF: So what’s on the horizon??

Neekola: Right now its all about Pelonkey. Pelonkpelonkpelonk. Come to us when you need entertainment, come to us when you are an entertainer, we have your back!

@djneekola
@pelonkey

We are ALL OVER THE WEBS!

Posted in Music, TheFunemployed | Leave a comment