We had the good fortune of connecting with Olivia Carmella and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Olivia, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Models of Authenticity was born out of a rock-bottom experience. After being fired from my corporate job, I closed the book on years of code switching and dulling myself down in the name of professionalism and survival. I had maxed out my tolerance for conformity.This left me with deep-seated imposter syndrome and major depression. I had to completely rebuild my own definitions of “success” and “career” at that point, from the ground up.
I grew up in southern Ohio, and was raised by a white, single mother without any representation of the many types of Black women that exist, or what I could become.. Everything I did was to survive in a reality where I did not see myself represented; a reality that was already a little hostile to me as a young Black girl. For example, I pursued hobbies to be included and feel a sense of belonging amongst my white peers, not because those hobbies brought me joy.
As children, we are taught to conform and assimilate at a very young age. I remember quickly learning that when I do what feels natural to me, people don’t respond well. But when I do what everyone else is doing, I am liked. So primitively, I start to associate assimilation with a sense of belonging and inclusion. Like belonging, community is fundamental to our sense of happiness and well-being. I hadn’t truly experienced belonging or community because I had no connection to my authentic Self.
That disconnection continued into adulthood.
I pursued a career in a field with financial security and prestige, not because I had a true passion for the practice of law. I chose that career path so that I could survive with certainty. A sense of security is a primal, human need. My upbringing did not provide for financial security, so I pursued it as if my life depended on it as an adult. My autonomy to choose the career path I wanted, both inside and outside of the legal field, was extremely limited because of the need to make enough of a salary to survive, and pay off my six figure student loans, of course. On top of my limited autonomy in my career choice, I was trying to thrive in an archaic industry that required and demanded that I assimilate and code switch to be successful (read: survive).
All of those decisions made out of survival left me nothing. My soul was starving. My joy was not prioritized. I had nothing to show for the daily sacrifices I was making to assimilate into a predominantly white and male industry that did not want me, an unapologetic Black woman, there. Rather than stay and fight that fight, which is a noble one, I chose to prioritize my connection to Self, my joy, and the pursuit of my purpose. I retired from the practice of law and created a business centered around following my passion, which is nurturing the authenticity within others and myself.
In adulthood we find ourselves in more dynamic situations, where different Selves are needed at different times. We start to disassociate from our authentic Self and create other selves to fit the occasion or do the job. I did the same– professional Self, white Self, Black Self. None of these are our own depictions of that descriptor, they are society’s definitions of those descriptors– what society says is Black, or white, or professional (whatever that word even means). This breeds code switching. Code switching paves a neat path for imposter syndrome to brew.
In creating Models of Authenticity, I am creating the Community and the hub for resources solely dedicated to authenticity that did not exist when little Olivia– I call her “little me,” was evolving into a more developed human. Authenticity is the antidote for conformity and code switching. Authenticity is the antidote for imposter syndrome.
Models of Authenticity is for people of all ages, in all stages of life, who want to connect with their most authentic selves and present as that person more of the time. And we’re not stopping there. We’re going to guide parents through how to cultivate authenticity at home with their family members, including with kids! Shop our self-discovery products and apparel at www.modelsofauthenticity.com.
What should our readers know about your business?
Models of Authenticity™ is a platform empowering all ages to connect with and express their most authentic selves. MOA is Black woman-owned business based in Southern California.
MOA believes that practicing authenticity is the only way to end oppressive habits like code switching, conformity, and “professionalism,” –whatever that word means.
The practice of authenticity is integral to the pursuit of purpose in this lifetime. For those who choose not to embark on this journey, you miss out on you. The world is forever deprived of the art, creations, and ideas that can be created when we are uninhibited and connected to Self.. It’s too great a tragedy to bear, so Models of Authenticity decided to do something about it. To that end, MOA arms their Community with self-reflective tools and resources to empower confidence and facilitate an unshakable relationship with Self. The goal is big but it’s simple: for you to be your MOST authentic self, MORE of the time!
Models of Authenticity is founded and curated solely by Olivia Carmella out of Los Angeles, California. Olivia Carmella, Esq. is a high-vibrational leader who began her dual careers in law and fashion in 2020. Educated in Ohio, she graduated from Miami University in 2016 and the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in 2019. Last year, Olivia was practicing law in private practice until the pandemic hit. Olivia spent 2020, our collective year of shared trauma, executing a cross-country move from Ohio to Los Angeles, where she now lives with her dog, Ovie. She began professionally modeling at the beginning of this year and landed her first major commercial for Cadillac’s celebration of Women’s History Month soon after.
As Olivia progressed in her careers as an attorney and a full-time model, she continued to find herself in spaces that demanded conformity, code switching, and that she make herself smaller, across both industries. Often choosing between authentic self-expression and a continued living wage led Olivia to create Models of Authenticity, a purpose-driven Community that exists to nurture our authentic self expression in a world that is constantly telling us “be you, but not like that.”
Olivia is available for one-on-one authenticity coaching, consulting, speaking and media engagements, and more. Visit www.modelsofauthenticity.com to book with her.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Other: tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@modelsofauthenticity?