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Conversations with the Inspiring Valeria Rodriguez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Valeria Rodriguez.

Valeria, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
“We must reject not only the stereotypes that others have of us but also those that we have of ourselves.” – Shirley Chisholm

Through my journey in creating Shine In All Shades, this quote by the late and phenomenal Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm stood out to me. I constantly fought imposter syndrome despite my bubbling creativity as a graphic designer and a hidden artist – mostly because art was/is my escape from my reality. The only time I found myself drawing or painting was when I was deeply depressed, dodging my anxiety and figuring out where my identity fits within cultural/societal complexities. I am a first-generation Dominican American woman from Miami, FL, first to graduate from an HBCU, a child of immigrants who dared to dream.

Being in diverse cultural spaces, I’ve been truly inspired by the resilience and unapologetic magic women in my life take in empowering themselves and fellow people of color. Yet, I can remember as a young teenager, I sat with my beautiful dark Dominican aunt as she combed my hair, she stopped and said, “Ay, your hair is kinky… it’s better than mine. Mine is ugly, Soy negra, soy fea.” I am black, I am ugly- she said to me in Spanish. Moments like these continued to occur through different experiences with my family, friends, and circles as a student at Florida A&M University. Witnessing their self-discovery and celebration of their beauty also inspired me to take my passion for art out of the realm of depression and anxiety and into a space of positive healing and empowerment.

I may have created this coloring book with my own hands but who I am today and what is known as Shine In All Shades is all powered by our community who resonate with the need for true representation and empowerment of our own amazing leaders.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” – Lena Horne

It took nearly three years to get out of my own way and develop Shine In All Shades. The biggest challenge I faced was rushing the process, which caused heavy anxiety. Initially, selecting powerful quotes + affirmations and drawing diverse women of color was healing, then the vision evolved. Being so eager to share this book, I pressured myself to create faster–to meet unrealistic deadlines. My struggles festered with self-doubt, followed by imposter syndrome and not giving myself grace.

I had to stop and reflect. In being true to Shine in All Shades‘ intention, I forced myself to take a step back and revisit this self-care-based initiative with a clear mind and a refreshed heart.

What should we know about Shine In All Shades Adult Coloring Book? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Shine In All Shades Adult Coloring Book is part of a series of coloring books accompanied by Empowerment Workshops and Adult Coloring Experiences. This creative wellness tool is a symbol of our magic, our greatness, as well as a reminder that: Wellness starts with how we treat ourselves, speak to ourselves, and how we celebrate ourselves!

Whether I am sharing stories/quotes of dope women of color or connecting with customers, communicating through creativity, passion, and celebration of our best selves is what I believe I do best.

Shine In All Shades shines a light on the act of self-care through art and the positive representation of people of the African diaspora. Though coloring may seem like only a child’s activity, this coloring book serves as a tool, cultivating safe spaces to address our powerful presence, colorism, and connection with our mental wellness.

For good reason, society often focuses more on the problems rather than the opportunities that exist, because the problems need to be solved. However, we’d probably also benefit from looking for and recognizing the opportunities that women are better positioned to capitalize on. Have you discovered such opportunities?
“The difference between a broken community and a thriving one is the presence of women who are valued.” – Michelle Obama

We are in such a magnificent time where, as women, we have no shame in following our passions and advocating for what we desire – in a way that wasn’t always supported publically or culturally. First of all, women are able to capitalize on whatever we set our minds to and opportunities are not solely gender-based that qualifies us in receiving them.

Creating my own lane and business has truly been an opportunity I’ve found the most valuable and fulfilling. Being able to pay homage to outstanding, brilliant, and trailblazing women of color of our past and present unapologetically is an honor and a privilege that should be magnified.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Mena Darré Photo & Video
Michael Baker, Jr., Grades 2020 LLC

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