We had the good fortune of connecting with Aña Monique and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Aña, why did you pursue a creative career?
I come from a very creative and artistic family. Having musicians and artists on both sides of my family created the perfect environment for me to develop my creative qualities. My father is a singer and record producer and owned his own record label as well as had one of the top spanish language radio programs in the united states and my mother was an acclaimed dancer. From childhood, my parents were very keen to enroll me in art classes and music classes.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I always say I have an extensive hat collection. I wear many hats. I am a professional hair and makeup artist, a photographer, talent manager and own my own production company. Entertainment has always been my passion and is my focus in everything I do.

Growing up in Hawaii and being multi-racial (Hawaiian, Mexican among many others), it was difficult to generate any kind of opportunities within the industry that I loved and at the level I am aiming to reach when you are from the most secluded land mass in the world. But desperation is often the inventor of creation, and with my parents also being in the entertainment industry, they supported my desire to move.

I attended art school as a child. You could say I was brought up as a renaissance woman. My mother had me in art, I took and played the violin, my sport in school was fencing (very Three Musketeers) and I was surrounded by languages, so being confined on an island felt very suffocating.

Starting off as a model, I moved from Hawaii to Italy at 17 years old. At that time, I was very interested in becoming a designer so for me, it was an amazing experience being able to meet some of the most iconic designers in the business, many who have left us. But it opened my eyes to the world, culture, and hard hard work. I was always impressed by how much work it took to create single garment from its birth from a sketch to the countless hours of work it took to produce the final product. That was my introduction into the world of business and creativity. Of elevated culture and lifestyle and modeling was a way I could be a sponge and take it all in. I am a very visual learner, so being able to really sit and observe and be quiet was very instrumental in the early years.

After my stint as a model, the natural progression was for me to get into doing hair and makeup. And once I moved back to the states, I had began to dabble in that world as the artist while also trying to become a singer in Los Angeles. I was trained and immediately started doing red carpet gigs, again, being lucky enough to network with the right people. Powerful business people, people in the entertainment industry, and I quickly found mentors who would take me under their wing and were very giving of their time and tutelage. From there, photography came to me naturally and I was able to still meet and rub shoulders with interesting people.

I met an extremely powerful businessman who is very well known worldwide (who I will keep anonymous) who gave me the one bit of advice that changed my life. He said to me, “I want you to write this down and keep it on your mirror. Look at it. Everyday. Who’s dream did you make possible today?” That one bit of advice, that one question, made me rethink my entire life. He said that either I can clock in to work and make others dreams come true, OR I could go out there and make my own happen. That is what made me start my own company.

I quit my job, and realized that I loved the entertainment industry, my family is all in the entertainment business and it was the one thing that I could work on to try to go for my goals. About 5 years ago, I started my creative production company and we have been slowly working on projects and are in the pitch stages of a few. I have branched out and opened a management division where I am working with a handful of clients. Its a slow and steady pace I move at, but I keep that question still on my mirror and I have added that with whatever I do, I must do it with integrity.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My favorite spots in Nashville? I am usually quite busy working from home but here are a few places I recently did take my best friend when she did visit from New York.

Anything with culture:
Belle Meade Plantation
Andrew Jacksons Hermitage
Hermitage Hotel for High Tea (Where be beginnings of the Women’s Sufferage movement started)
Jack Daniels Distillery
Arrington Vineyards
Ryman Auditorium
The many museums
Broadway

Food & Drink:
5th and Taylor
Geist
Once Upon A Time in France
Electric Jane
Any of the rooftop bars
Barcelona

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Niche Models and Talent owner, Shawna Altfeld

Website: https://www.dadirricreative.com/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anamoniquevelazquez/

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.