My first love has always been writing, which was later coupled with the very fulfilling art of photography to tie all of my creative itches together in a neat bow. After a serious bout with postpartum depression following the birth of my firstborn, I picked up some old film cameras laying around the house, like I had done so many times before to keep busy, and began to shoot to my hearts content. Digital became more of a thing at that time, so I ordered my first DSLR (a Nikon D40x) off eBay, and attended “YouTube/Google University” to learn how to take better images of my growing child. Photography brought me so much joy that I started grooming this newfound gift into a successful photography business, launched in 2009. Oh, how I love my PBV (Photography by Valerie). I also recently ventured into filmmaking for the sake of documenting families and small branding projects. Stay tuned, as I will be sharing more of that in this space.
And I still want to write that book…(manifest, manifest).
I have worked in public health for over 15 years and, given my science background in biology and chemistry, and MBA in Healthcare Management, I knew that I wanted to further put those expensive degrees to use by eventually launching a health and wellness platform. Not to mention, I longed to help other women find the same joy that I found in my photography “side hustle”. In 2014, I was feeling deeply inspired by Serena Williams, but loathed the constant unjust scrutiny she encountered as a Black woman of excellence in her field. We needed a space just for us, where we could be ourselves and celebrate one another without apology. Where we could openly discuss topics that many women, especially Black women, were too afraid to make public – like depression, how we navigate the workplace, our natural hair and beauty, relationships, coping with loss and injustice, and the infamous myth of work-life “balance”. It was then that I became the proud Founder and CEO of Unapologetically Us, LLC , which has blossomed into a lifestyle, wellness and cultural community for Black women moving within a complicated world. And although it was created with the Black woman in mind, the audience and contributions are highly diverse with commentary from professional women worldwide. It has truly been a labor of love.
My gifts have made room for me. I listen. I study. I write. I speak. I create. I envision. I think outside the box (actually, there is no box). I run my own race (my race, my pace).
Welcome to my journey!