I believe that great artists and entrepreneurs get better with age. Kinda like fine wine.
The amount of wisdom accumulated along the entrepreneurial road is invaluable. One of my favorite quotes is by Ernest Hemingway. “In order to write about life first you must live it." This is truth. No one can truly speak about the entrepreneurial journey, unless one has lived it.
This is one of the many reasons that I wanted to do a series on amazing individuals who have the entrepreneurial, artistic, and creative spirit and spark; who have persevered through extreme and not so extreme challenges; and have risen to the occasions presented. Life is filled with unlimited and amazing possibilities, and entrepreneurs and artists embrace this, and live in the utmost of the possibilities of life.
This interview is with Valerie Perez, Founder of Wrap Up by VP, an amazing, unique, luxurious, and exclusive collection of robes, wraps, and towels. The fabrics are soft, comfortable, exquisite, and luscious; and once someone experiences and wears one of Valerie's designs, it is hard to wear anything else in the robe/wrap category and space.
Hope you enjoy this interview, it is filled with wisdom, grace, amazing heart, love, and laughter.
Me: We have known each other for many years, and are so blessed to have reconnected with each other. You and your company have so gracefully evolved.
As we chatted a bit before the interview, many people think entrepreneurship is some 'fairy tale,' easy life. I am not sure where people get this perception from, but any entrepreneur I know (and I know many) will say how challenging it is, and does indeed require a certain mindset, discipline, resiliency, ability to flow and pivot, as well as the ability to stay focused on a mission and vision.
I know you started Wrap Up in a tent in your friend's back yard, and it has grown beautifully into a top notch amazing brand. You know the 'art' of the hustle and hard work, and what it takes to build, maintain, and grow a brand. Any thoughts on this 'fairy tale' entrepreneurship that seems to flood our society and culture?
Valerie: It is hard work. Nothing is 'easy peasy.' Everything is here for what one wants to accomplish. It takes a strong power of belief. There is nothing else I wanted to do more, and I did not waver. With hard work, opportunities come. The right people at the right time just seem to show up. People do want to help, and the universe delivers the right people at the right time
I agree with Valerie 150%. The universe does deliver the right people at the right time when one's intentions are pure and good. I do think this is one of the core principles (of many) of life. With hard work and good intentions, the right people do show up at the right time, at whatever stage of your path you are on.
Me: How do you remain so focused on your vision? I have seen many entrepreneurs start out with a clear focus and vision, and somewhere along the way, they lose their focus, and try to become 'everything to everyone.' Somehow they lose the control of their own narrative, and this I do believe leads to a downfall of a business endeavor and can ultimately lead to the loss of passion which was why they started in the first place. You are in a 'luxury' type of space, and you have never wavered from this. You have also remained steadfast to your mission to create soft, comfortable, beautiful, fashionable robes and wraps that are of the utmost quality. Were there times when others were telling you to go more 'main stream'?
Valerie: When I started out I wanted to create something that had no sizes and no seasons. I used to go to the gym, and the towels would fall off my body, so I wanted to create a shower wrap for the beach or for the gym that looked like a dress.
Everything is in the small and little things. The details. I do not want my brand to be everywhere. I would not even know how to do a cheaper type line, and I am a perfectionist. It is really a love story between me and my company. I use the best inks, amazing fabrics, etc... I am in love with the people in my company. Maria is the first woman I hired to teach me to do sewing, and it is 18 years later!
Me: Let's talk a bit about inspiration, peace, and the soul. I know you went through a period where you felt like you were on 'autopilot' which felt 'suffocating' to you. When entrepreneurs and artists get to this point, they usually do a lot of soul searching, and ultimately pivot into a new transformative and exciting direction. How did you deal with challenging times, and do you have any advice for others going through something similar?
As Valerie says: "Without faith, there is nothing." There really is nothing else to be added to this.
Me: You are one of the most lovely, gracious, and appreciative women that I know in business. I think many women can indeed learn a thing or two (or three) from you. What advice would you give younger women specifically, who are just starting out in their careers?
Valerie: It is important to believe in yourself, and what you are doing. If you are on the right track, don't listen to anyone. What you put 200% into will be a success.
Never despise small beginnings, and never go off track based upon the opinions and/or judgments of others.
Me: Let's talk a bit about introverts. You and I are both a bit introverted. Introverts can be confusing to others. You just got back from the Live Love Spa Show in Las Vegas. Most, if not all people, think that individuals like us who go to trade shows are extroverts. How do you balance being an introvert and being 'out there' with associates, colleagues, and clients?
Valerie: This show was so amazing, it is even hard to put into words. There was such a beautiful energy. There was great energy in our booth and there was such a deep sense of connection with people there. I love connecting with others, and then on a business level. It is all about human connection.
Valerie speaks my language. Energy speaks way louder than words, especially for introverts. People feel when they are appreciated, valued, cared for, and truly listened to.
Me: Last question, do you have any favorite books?
Valerie: One of my favorite books - 'The Artist Way.' My husband and I did this together. There is something about committing and writing in the pages that can help one to understand more and see more things. It is something between you and you, and by writing, one can become more focused.
'The Artist Way,' by Julia Cameron, is one of my FAVS! For anyone looking for greater clarity, self knowledge, awareness, and direction, this is a gem!
My Final Takeaway:
A great tag line for Valerie would be "delivering love." Her company is a true "love story." All her designs and creations are infused with love; those around her love working with her; and the people who wear her collections love them! What can be better? A triple threat in the "love department" of entrepreneurship and business!
Many times, I say that the "brand" is the person, and not the matter. In this case, the brand is the person and the matter!
For more information on Valerie and Wrap Up by VP, please check out: