We had the good fortune of connecting with Mia Valenzuela and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mia, how do you think about risk?
Risk Taking. What an interesting concept. I think this is a rather personal question that can be applied to other areas such as career. However, I think when most people consider the term “risk” they automatically connect it with the concept of courage. And rightfully so. Risk implies danger or the potential for loss; something most humans have a hard time confronting in any capacity. Though embracing risk results in courage, I think the root of risk is actually vulnerability — and we are not a culture who embraces that readily. Risk is not about expecting hardship and going forth anyway. That’s bravery, sure. But risk is about removing your barriers and exposing yourself to the potentials of hardship, or criticism, or failure, or loss. It also means you are exposing yourself to the potentials of expansion, empowerment, recognition, and success. As a creative I understand that my poetry or my prose, when shared, might not be celebrated. Any writer knows the inquietude of sharing their personal work. However, art is open to interpretation, which is what makes it both beautiful and timeless.
When I consider how “risk” has impacted my life or career, there is in fact hardship buried there. I have experienced loss both personally and professionally. I have experienced betrayal. I have experienced uncertainty. But what I draw from these experiences, as hard as they may have been, is that the true reason there was any loss at all was because I made myself vulnerable to that possibility in the first place. As a minority, LGBTQIA-identifying, female entrepreneur, there is a different level of risk taken. We have not, traditionally, been the most supported groups, and so pursuing a career that relies heavily on engagement creates a level of risk I had not previously confronted. And I believe it has been my authenticity and vulnerability that has allowed my company to thrive despite the risk involved. The fact of the matter is: I love people. That’s the bottom line. And creating a company that is primarily rooted in building relationships has required a level of intentionality, authenticity, and vulnerability (all risky) that resonates with others. I’m not interested in pursuing success for the sake of success. I am far more interested in establishing a human connection where my sole investment is in creating moments that will be etched on the hearts and minds of those we work with. That is the risk. And that is why reward is so meaningful — because vulnerability is never easy.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Mia’s Martini was born out of a desire to connect with people in a crafty but personal way. Our work is deeply relational, and because of that I believe it’s our authenticity and intentionality that have allowed us to thrive in a market that is oversaturated. I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of clients who I remain connected with in some capacity, and I am completely honored to continue sharing in their journey! It is this connection that has given me the privilege of being included in celebration of our couple’s newborn, or a celebration of life for a client’s loved one, or even a college graduation turned wedding a few years down the line. Every moment counts. Even if I were to ever change careers, it would have to be something that is equally relational; it just runs in my blood. But these are things I take pride in, as do my staff. We haven’t compromised on our purpose.
I don’t think any entrepreneur would say creating a company and then building it in such a way that is consistent is “easy”. There is a lot of competition in our market and it can be easy to get distracted by what everyone else is doing. Remaining focused on OUR niche has been paramount. Creating relationships with other entrepreneurs has been so encouraging because it has allowed us to create a space where we can share stories and experiences and find ways to support one another. There are so many lessons I’ve had to learn: in trust, in vulnerability, in authenticity, and in risk. At the end of the day there are a few very simple truths: (1) We were made for community, not competition; (2) Every company has something unique to offer, and we can celebrate those differences; (3) There is plenty of business to go around, and (4) Authenticity and intentionality are key. We are passionate about these truths and we are so excited to continue creating moments for those whose paths we come across!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Although I’m born and raised in So Cal, Los Angeles is a big city! And I live on the outskirts, so I know some dope little spots. We could be here all day but I’ll share a few of my favorites!
1. Breakfast at Blu Jam Cafe (Melrose) – Hands down the best French Toast and Fresh Squeezed Juices
2. Shopping on Melrose and then hit Pink’s for a midday snack
3. West Hollywood for Some Tacos at Marix Tex Mex and a night at the Abbey
4. Breakfast at Egg Slut and some browsing at Grand Central Market
5. The Fashion District for a combination of Shopping and Eating – LA Dog anyone?
6. Dinner at Perch Cafe to catch a 360 degree view of the sunset (top it off with live music at Mrs. Fish?) Closer to me:
7. Breakfast at Flappy Jacks in Glendora – Even their Gluten Free pancakes are to die for! But their omelettes?!
8. Hike in Azusa Canyon with Lunch at at Max’s Mexican Cuisine.
9. An Evening at Downtown Claremont to catch a movie and enjoy some Tapas at Viva Madrid (yummmm!)
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My mom has been my rock in more ways than I could ever put into words. She has always encouraged me, supported me, even helped me when I absolutely needed it. She has been so selfless and my success has been, in part, due to her willingness to journey with me and invest in ME… my heart, mind and spirit! Another huge shoutout to some of the women who have believed in me, even when I’ve struggled most: Lorie Lau, Laura Armendariz, Heather Baguyo, Rhonda LaParry, and Jamie McClintock Sherwood. Without these women, I wouldn’t be where I’m at. They’re constant love, support, and friendship has been a shining light! Lastly, but certainly not least, my team. They work HARD, and they do it with their best foot forward every time. They make what we do possible.
Meg Darling Michelle Bongirno