What Services / Products Does Your Business Provide?
I design, paint, and bind journals for teastained woman (WoC).
How Long Have You Been In Business?
5 or 6 years, I believe. Since 2013.
Why Did You Start Your Business?
At that time in my life I was going through a bunch of changes and difficult circumstances. An avid journaler since childhood, I naturally looked for a journal worthy of penning my current narrative. It was around the time when "Keep Calm and Carry On" was inscribed on everything, journals included. For the first time after YEARS of shopping for journals without a second thought I noticed how blatantly stationery products excluded the image of WoC while also giving me frail phrases like "keep calm" to be my journal title. Like I really noticed and it hit me hard. Fed up and indignant, I refused to purchase a journal that day. Instead I began drafting what I would want my own journal to look like; what I'd want it to say to me on the cover.
To say there was a gap in the market is an understatement. And though I was mentally exhausted I was not such creatively. I prayed about it and felt led to make my own line of journals. That summer Yah began teaching me how to paint, and the rest is collective histories strewn across thousands of handmade journals...
What Has Been The Toughest Part About Being In Business For Yourself?
Knowing when to rest. I believe that a business is a dialogue with humanity, but in order for your dialogue to remain strong you have to replenish and refill yourself on a daily basis. For me it means outlining everything I CANNOT do if I want my business to be a consistent, substantive representation of my conviction. I'm not a marketing maven. I'm not a brand whore. I refuse to collaborate with corporations. I've had to learn my own language with business so that I don't end up replicating the very inhumane system that chews the life out of people and leaves them without creative energy.
Also, divvying up time so that I can do the tactile work and the digital work evenly. Stationery design happens on my laptop and then there's coordinating the pricing for production, printing, etc.
But the main thing is knowing when to stop, and separating myself from my business so I can maintain my rhythm.
What Was Your Dream Job As A Kid And Why?
Anything design. For me design has always represented agency and assertiveness.
What’s Your Greatest Professional Achievement?
I don't know how to answer this. I never really had a real job before Vagabroad. I guess I'd say my customer relationships. I love how organically they've shaped and how I have a genuine connection to the women who buy my journals.
What Woman Inspires You And Why?
My mother. She represents everything I want to be. Resilient, multi-generational-minded; close to Yah, wise, ever-learning, a risk-taker, independent, youthful. She's also so transparent about her transformations and with where she is in life at the moment. I always feel like I have a sound foundation because she speaks truth and only truth.
What Will Be The Biggest Challenge For The Generation Of Black Women Behind You?
Unearthing the lies of the system and truly, truly cutting away from its deleterious, unoriginal, life-sucking, soul-draining culture. They will have to fight more than ever for their organic state of being: no technology, no influencers, no ubiquitous amounts of information dumping into their minds being mistaken for "inspiration" etc. They will realllyyyyy have to fight for their essence so that their work does work beyond "now" and so that they are creating for the right reasons.
Where Can We Find You And Your Business?