A few months ago, Ada Rojas, better known as All Things Ada, announced that she was having an event in the Bronx, New York. It was going to be free and most importantly, on a weekend. I didn’t even know what the basis of the event was going to be, but I knew I had to be there.
I have been following Ada for about two years at the recommendation of my sister, Dahiana. (Side note: Dahiana legit puts me on the all things Dominican and dope, like The Peralta Project.) I instantly fell in love with Ada. She was tall, gorgeous, Dominican, funny, and just so down to earth. While her content was beautiful (a mix of makeup, fashion, travel, and curly hair stuff,) the real heart was in her insta-stories. Whether it was her getting ready to go out or coming home an event at 1am, Ada was just herself and it was refreshing.
While it took a few tries to mentally convince myself to go, once I was on the way, there was no stopping me. As soon as I walked into the venue, my heart eased. The place was filled with strangers, but I felt so connected to all the girls there. So many beautiful girls, mostly Dominican, with all different skin tones, body and hair types. Even though I left not having spoken to anyone, I felt like I was among family.
I felt that this event couldn’t have happened at a better time for me. Everything was exactly what I needed to hear and I walked about of there feeling so inspired to continue on my “The Wonder of Ivy shit.”
You often hear “representation matters” but you don’t understand the magnitude in which it does until you see three beautiful Dominican women on a stage, speaking the way you speak, their words falling off their tongues in that undeniable “dominican accent,” sharing their stories which sound like yours in another lifetime, and feeling so close to them. A lot of the times, when we admire “celebrities” or influencers, they seem so out of reach. But in that room, I couldn’t have felt closer. While Ada, Carolina Contreras (Miss Rizos,) and Julissa Calderon (La Julissa,) have been in the game longer than I have, they made me feel as if I wasn’t that far behind them and that as long as I grind my ass off, I can achieve success too. They too understood that my success wasn’t just going to be mine, but that of my tribe, my family, and my ancestors.
To be honest, I can write an entire novel on the impact this event had on me. But instead, I’ve picked 5 things that impacted me the most to share with you all.
“Do It Afraid”
One of the first topics discussed was fear which was so fitting considering how much fear I had leading up to this event. Carolina of Miss Rizos shared that often she just has to “do it afraid” and that resonated which me so much. A lot of the times, we want to put on pretend we aren’t fearful or if we are one of the lucky ones, we have no fear. But if we do, that’s okay too! We just have to do it anyway. She also added, “The biggest risk is not taking one.” Woo, what a damn word.
“What Can I Do for You”
“I always build relationships with ‘what can I do for you’ and not ‘what can you do for me.” Ada shared with us an amazing story on how her and Carolina have helped each other in different ways throughout their careers and throughout the entire time I was smiling ear to ear thinking of the dope people in my tribe who have always come to me trying to help me. In this “creative” world I find myself in, a lot of people will try to collaborate with you with the sole purpose of using your name to build their own. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, (business is business) it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth people I want to help build someone for them not for myself. I was thankful that when Ada shared this note, I had a running list of people in my head that we help each other with the purpose of wanting to see each other win.
“Don’t Worry About the Numbers”
We all know that social media is a numbers game. Everyone is trying to have the most likes, most reach, most engagement, and most followers. Ada shared this important note on making sure you are serving your followers. So many people want thousands of followers but can’t even engage the ones they have right now.
“Find a mentor and pay it forward.”
Aisha Ceballos-Crump, founder and owner of Honey Baby Naturals, had such so much great advice on the business side of things but what hit me the most was her advice on mentorship. Y’all know me, I can’t shut up about my mentors so I love any information on maintaining those relationships. Aisha shared with us the story of how she ended up connection with some of her mentors who were industry vets and basically her competition. She drove in the point that you must seek those relationships out and work hard to maintain them. Carolina added, “Mentors like to mentor people who are doing the work. So, do the work. “
No One Is Your Competition
Julissa shared one of my favorite points from the entire event. Even though you may not be *intentionally* trying to compare yourself to someone else, you may end up having a secret competition in your head. Julissa said it best- we’re all in this together. These types of industries can make you feel that you need to be better than everyone but the reality is you only need to be better than your past self.