We had the good fortune of connecting with Tracey Sykes Ambrose and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tracey, how do you think about risk?
Risking the comfort of a corporate paycheck every 2 weeks to pursue my talents as a Crochet designer and entrepreneur has changed my previous definition of plot twist. My journey as a crochet designer, business owner, and entrepreneur was birthed from the effects of corporate bullying and systemic racism. This unfortunate, deeply rooted, CULTural way of doing business as usual resulted in major depression, anxiety and panic attack disorders. The risk in deciding not to return to the comfort of traditional income (with corporate bullying and unethical practices) and pursuing a career as a black business woman is rarely a positive topic in my family and community. The risk was not only walking away from financial support but also private and public support. A risk of this magnitude helped me redefine the impression of this risk from crazy to courageous. Because not only does this risk CONTINUES to show me my inner strength, it also gives my children a front row view of integrity, character, and legacy building in the making.
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.
My art is the gift of crocheting… Tracey Ambrose W.R.A.P. Where Crochet Meets Classy and Chic. I am a crochet designer with a nontraditional approach to my designs. 98% of my hand crocheted accessories and wearable fashions are free hand (not crocheted from a pattern). This alone sets me apart from other fiber designers/crocheters. Traditionally, when you hear of crocheted items, most assume blankets, baby wear, home accessories, crafty items, etc. My designs are bold and eclectic… A fashionista, fashion blogger, stylist, influencer’s dream.
This road of crochet designer/fiber fashion artist has not is not easy by NO definition. I had no idea when obtaining both my Bachelor’s and Master Degrees in business management and business administration I would apply them in entrepreneurship. My initial reason for obtaining both degrees was to apply them towards corporate America to move up in the ranks. I was devastated to be constantly looked over in a culture of tokenism and status quo. Not to say these systemic cultures do not exist in other industries, I’m finding more acceptance of my artistry, creativity, and business savvy amongst liked minds. African Americans (specifically African American women) are rising to be successful new businesses and I’m aiming to be a member is this new sorority.
Starving artist is my humble status. The challenges of starting over without a steady income as a single mother (head of household) of two young men (Kirk and Kerrington) is at many times embarrassing. A silent corner of strength emerges one step at a time (accompanied by lots of tears, screaming why me, self sabotaging, prayer, therapy, grounding, and sitting still). I’ve learned to recognize and accept what’s not in my control, failure or a loss is an opportunity for a do over, timing is everything, don’t take no’s personal, forgive myself and show myself Grace.
I want the world to know my brand was birthed from searching for purpose. Tracey Ambrose W.R.A.P. (with revelation and purpose) a brand for most and not a deleted few. There is nothing wrong with designing tailor made items for a customer, however my collection serves the body shape of many without limitations or restrictions.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If a best friend was visiting Los Angeles area our intenarary would look something like this:
Eat and drink/hangout at The District by GS in LA
Visit the African American Museum in LA
Visit Downtown LA/Staples Center
Shopping in Leimert Park in LA
Shopping in Inglewood
Hopefully a concert or 2
Spend time at the beach
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I can’t imagine listing all those who have attributed to my ‘success”. However, it’s without saying my mother Wanda was the most beautiful spirit I have ever known. The strength she displayed so effortlessly while fighting metastatic breast cancer showed me endless courage. I cannot say enough about my mother who was a single woman with integrity, style, and a gift to live life in the moment no matter what life throws at you. She was in her 5th year of remission and 8 days after her 42nd birthday when she gained her wings in 1990. As an only child, my mother had a village like no other… Grandma Vada, Aunt Clarice, Uncle Curtis, Aunt Jerrie, Aunt San, Uncle Cornell, Cousin Sonny, Cousin Sandra, Godmother Liz, and Godmother Deborrah.
In addition, the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, gave me insight on biblical practices to remain consistent in character and the integrity of God. Although this book is not a religious or business book, it helps to expose one’s strength and how to recognize areas of improvement. As an entrepreneur, I have to be at peace with who I am, clear on what I bring to the table of business relationships, and also remain open to correction…personal growth.
Brene Brown, The Gift of Imperfection, allowed me to begin the journey of letting go of who I thought I was supposed to be. This is an ever challenging journey because after being diagnosed with major depression, anxiety and panic attack disorders, and complex PTSD resulting from corporate bullying and systemic racism, I no longer was sure of who I was. I could not believe my medical retirement status during a pandemic and not knowing where a steady income would come from, this book helps me to shift and pivot.
I cannot end without acknowledging church family from Bethel A.M.E (Los Angeles), Pilgrims Hope Bible Church (LA), and Grace Place Church (Lancaster CA). God is still in the midst of it all and He has blessed me with church family and friends who are in the praying business and continues to be nonjudgmental.
Support, mentorship, love, and encouragement of others are far and few however those who are true and transparent I can never thank you enough and I Love You!