Throwback to December 2011. I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with my Masters in Advertising, under the school of communication. I also received my bachelor’s degrees in advertising, which fell under the school of communication too.
For my day job, I’m a digital media strategist. Due to COVID19, my work hours are reduced. Naturally, I fell back into writing. It’s therapeutic. I’m thankful I’ve rediscovered it, and I’m creating something positive out of it.
Additionally, I am grateful I consider hiking and being outside as therapy sessions. I want everyone to view being outdoors as a place to heal.
However, not everyone has access to parks and preserves as I do in Santa Cruz. And there is a vast population (primarily BIPOC) that does not have the outdoor education, experience, or gear to go hiking or backpacking.
As an outsider, I saw the flaws of outdoor branding, marketing, and inclusivity. As a result, my new goal is to breakdown all the outdoor stereotypes and elite-sense of hiking, camping, and backpacking to make it more approachable.
I think there is a misconception when, in reality, hiking is like any other sport. It will require practice, research, preparation, water, snacks, common sense, shoes with traction, and breathable clothing. Hopefully, with my education, experience, love for writing, and being outside will translate into making the outdoors a more welcoming place.
Additionally, I have been reflecting a lot on how I got to this exact position. I want to be transparent because not my life is not all sunshine and lollipops. People who seem the bravest, positive, and unstoppable – they do have a hardship backstory. It needs to be shared.
Let’s go into a glimpse of my life.
You may notice that I am writing more than ever. Some may find this not surprising since writing has always been my love. Some may think this is new and a fad. It is not. Here is my story how, with a positive support group, I believed I was going to be a writer. Then all it took was two people who crushed my spirits and closed my creative portfolio.
At the University of Houston,
I had excellent teachers, friends, and support systems.
I wanted to be a copywriter. My amiga and I were national qualifiers for creative we did. I received lots of praise and positive feedback from advertising professionals. I went to several organization meetings and met as many professionals in the creative ad industry as possible. I asked for advice, which is where I receive a lot of praise and positive feedback. I was excited to break into the advertising world as a creative.
But in 2010, creative agencies paid copywriters $18k per year. I made more waiting tables part-time. I decided to go to Portfolio School in Chicago or the University of Texas to pursue my master’s degree in advertising.
Yes, I had to work and go to school. I worked 30 hours each week, went to school 15 hours a week, and portfolio school for 3 hours a week. Note: Financial Aid barely gave me any money for school.
At the University of Texas,
A professor, advertising professional, and death of a friend crushed my creative spirits in the fall of 2010. All my hard work went down the drain. I still cannot believe it took two people to close my portfolio, which I poured hours. It is what happens when you are BIPOC and when you are the second person in both families to finish college. It takes only two people to crush you at the age of 21. I decided to pursue media planning & strategy instead. Rationale: I’m good with math, it pays well, and you can’t question math, 1+1=2. No biased perspective. It’s all facts. Numbers and correlations don’t lie.
At that point, I was finished with agencies who do not see the benefit of diversifying your team. As a result, you hire like-minded people who produce the same work and reject anyone else who thinks differently. It goes everything against creative advertising. It made no sense to me.
I found an internship with events and marketing, which I loved so much. I managed its social media page, group, and email blast too. It opened a brand new door of opportunities, and I loved how my boss allowed me to be creative with its social media accounts. The events and marketing internship changed my life forever. I am forever grateful I received that valuable experience in the early ages of social media marketing.
I completed grad school in 1.5 years because I felt that crushed not getting into the creative program at UT. I felt I needed to leave Texas & and move on from my past.
I’m thankful for my friends and family who saw straight through me and my pain in 2010-2011. They were a fantastic support group, and I’d never been here without them.
Despite the turn of events, I am grateful I saw the positive out of it and moved forward with my life.
I got into events & marketing. Instead of pursuing creative classes, I found a love for the School of Information. I took classes on privacy, community relations, the psychology of media, and etc. I felt well-rounded, which that education has been more applicable in my life and until this day.
In February 2012, I moved to San Francisco and got into media, which stuck around because I am great with numbers, stats, analytics, and I love using that data to create a solid media strategy. It all made me a bold and robust person I am. I would never have the courage and tough mentality without all the obstacles that led me here.
In all, to have love analytics, strategy, media, education, and creativity – that’s a unicorn in the industry. I’m so excited to put it all together and see what I can do to advocate diversity and inclusion in the outdoors. I feel it is in my soul and fingertips that there is something, and I can’t wait to see it all unfold.
If you are an outdoor brand striving to make it an inclusive, safe place, please use me as a resource. I can help, and I want to help.
REMINDER: LEAVE NO TRACE BEHIND
Lastly, please remember to leave LEAVE NO TRACE BEHIND and leave it better than you found it. Pack your trash. You brought it in, and you can take it out and properly dispose of it.