Meet The Dream Team

Keil Elkins & Heather Jabornik

Guess what? I still can’t spill my guts on all the exciting crap that’s going down in my world. I’ve let just a pinch of it fly on Facebook, but most everything is still super under wraps. So what I’ll do instead is spill my guts on me and Keil as a couple – who we are and what we love. Personal interest stories are always fun, right?

I call this photo Indie Rock Mafia.

One of Keil’s besties snapped it a couple weeks ago for part of the super secret hushes I can’t share yet. I feel like an ALL CAPS BADASS BISH in this shot and it got me thinking about two things: 1. How powerful, confident, capable, loved, and supported this relationship makes me feel and 2. How genuinely special we are together.

Keil and I each have our own unique passions – writing, spoken word poetry, ideas, possibility, and prophetic prayer light me ALL the way up, and motorcycles and all things vintage and gentlemanly hold his endless attention. But we also have four major passions that overlap:

Jesus, fashion, fragrance, and music.

I never stopped to think about the beauty of this overlap until recently because interest in these things come so effortlessly to both of us.

Sometimes in my quietest and most introspective moments, I wonder what the Lord has in store for us to accomplish together and just how unfathomably badass it’s going to be.

I mean, you guys, take Candy Ass for example. I created the orig all on my own, but I have a perfume line because of him. We created Kiss My and Red Hot together. He pushed me to make another fragrance a month after the original launched back in 2015 and I thought he was nuts. But because we were scheduled to fly out to the East Coast for him to meet my fam and that’s where my supplier is, we went into her shop, played together (for hours), and BOOM. Fragrance line.

That’s special.

Keil’s got an incredible eye for fashion. He realized last year that he absolutely loves scouting out unique and gentlemanly pieces and The Gentleman’s Proper was born. Who knows where it’ll take him, but isn’t that exactly how Sophia Amoruso got her start? I love all kinds of fashion as well, but if there’s one particular niche in the industry that makes me weak in the knees, it’s lingerie. I DREAM of having my own rock & roll lingerie line one day under the Hiya Tootsie! brand umbrella to continue empowering the hell out of badass broads everywhere. I love watching him light up when he finds a threaded diamond in the rough and I’m pretty positive he’ll have zero qualms with me testing out and showing off my line privately before each piece goes public.

That’s special.

We’re both musicians. Keil plays guitar, drums, dabbles on piano, sings, and though he doesn’t read music, can rattle off the key and chords of damn near every song just by listening. I sing, play piano, dabble on guitar, read music, and write. He shines when he leads worship and has dreams of landing a gig leading a full band at a church. I would fall over and die to create a spoken word/song hybrid outfit in the vein of Listener and Hotel Books. Really, all I want to do is write, spit, and sing, and the music can be left to someone else. It’s been a long held dream of mine to meet a man and have unlimited potential to make music together, and now here we are. I gave my life to Christ at a worship concert back in 2002 and he’s excellent at creating instrumental music. The possibilities are endless.

That’s special.

We’ve both been believers for years. When I watch Keil explain deep things of the faith to his daughter like when we stood in the kitchen and she had communion for the first time with saltine crackers and juice that I drank out of a shot glass, when I overheard him explain forgiveness to her, how deeply God forgives us, and how that’s how he wants us to forgive each other, when I see her lift both hands all the way up during worship because she saw him do it first, I see his capacity to teach, love, and lead with excellence. I was a missionary for 9 years prior to what I do now and my heart of hearts continuously boils down to loving people into their right identity and showing them who they really are and who they’re capable of becoming. It didn’t matter then if it was a college kid, porn star, or heroin addict and it doesn’t matter now if it’s a woman who needs someone like me to watch to show her how to chase down her dreams. What Keil and I could do together because of the powerhouse of Jesus at the center of our faith makes me choke up.

That’s special.

Sometimes I think these type of overlapping passions and dreams are much more vulnerable than others. It’s one thing to have dreams for your own life, business, and bucket list, but the moment someone else’s beating heart enters the picture, shit gets real in the most beautiful way imaginable.

Keil’s a mailman by trade and I’ve been freelance writing to pay the bills (and am currently freaking out over the companies who’ve shown interest in hiring me!), but when I think about what’s possible and where we could land, I’m totally awed.

This is who we are and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Image by: Samuel Ross Novinger


I Dare You To Set A Big Ass Scary Goal

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Planned anything lately that makes your breath catch in your throat?

I have. It scares the hell out of me in the best way possible. I’ve set a goal around money that makes me sweat.

I’m a 9 year former missionary and lemme tell you, ain’t nobody go into ministry to roll around on a bed full of benjamins. I learned a ton of beautiful things about money during that time – like how wonderfully contingent it is on strongly forged relationships and how provision is around every corner. But I also learned of the unique-to-the-work shadow side – like how we very literally got rewarded for struggle and how there was a definitive cap on what we should and could make.

So want to hear my big ass scary goal? It relates to all of the above.

In 2017, my aim is to make over 3x as much as I’ve ever earned annually in my entire adult life.

No pressure.

But seriously, there is no pressure. I look at the number and think to myself, “Why not?” I know how now. I have the right training under my belt, the best people in my corner, technical and artistic vibrato in my skill set, and a genuine love for relationship-building to go ahead and smoke a celebratory cigar and call it a day.

It’s within reach. It scares me. Both are good things.

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Your goal can literally be anything.

My dollar goal is not about making money just for the sake of making money. I won’t throw myself into work I hate or even mildly dislike. I won’t earn dishonestly. And I sure as shit won’t sell my dreams out for the sake of a buck. I know myself well enough to know that I have to be all in with my life – and that includes my work.

This goal is about possibility. That is the real force behind my guns-blazing joy of “Why NOT??”

I love a good challenge. I love to rise to the occasion. If something sparks a fire in my belly, I’m all in. Possibility means that my dreams have a paved road to sprint down. Possibility means I get a chance to help make other people’s dreams come true. Possibility means I get to creativity partner with the wild heart that came with my divine design and LIVE FULLY.

THAT is the shit that drives the “why” behind my goal. And that’s exactly what makes it feel within reach. It’s still scary. But it’s only scary because it’s big, not because it’s unattainable. When do big things not strike just a little bit of fear and awe in our hearts? That’s the exact spot I want to be in to let my guts and passion stand upside down on their heads and shine.

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So what’s your goal? The big one. Pick something for this year. Make it measurable. Break it into smaller goals so you save yourself the freak out moment and can strategize how to get there. Tell someone about it. Hell, tell me and our crew about it and we’ll cheer you on and run with you!

Keep tucked away in the very front of your brain that you are capable of reaching big, scary goals. Where are you in life without vision? Even the ancient scriptures teach that people perish without vision. So sink into it. Go with your gut. Don’t back down. Give it a good hard look and RUN with it.

Making up your mind to try in the first place is half the battle. The other half is believing you can do it. Set your intentions. Put forth the effort. Allow it to be peaceful and easy. This big, beautiful, scary goal is not meant to cause you harm or spin you into struggle. Let the possibility of it wash you. I dare you.

The mind is a powerful thing, lovers. Now who’s with me?

Images from: Rankin via HungerLucie Brémeault via 500px, Hugo V Photography


Why My Divided Attention Will Make Me Succeed

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This is about to get controversial.

Tons of women have lived experiences that shout the exact opposite of what I have to say and you may be one of them. THANK GOD. In the dream chasing and girl bossing arenas, we all have vastly unique stories. There is no one-size-fits-all because there is no fingerprint, no design downloaded from heaven, no human being past, present, or future, who is identical to the next. This is magnificent. It’s freeing, joy-inducing, and hallelujah-holy-shit producing.

The problem comes when a one-way-best-way mentality is peddled as the only way to succeed. In this case, focused attention on ONE thing at all costs – even if that focused attention means the inside of your fridge becomes remarkably spacious and your bills suddenly sprout jangling chains to haunt you in the night.

I’ve personally encountered this one-way-best-way attitude multiple times recently as it relates to the freelance writing vs Candy Ass showdown. The advice comes unsolicited 10 times out of 10, but it’s always well meaning. I’m also put off 10 times out of 10, but my side eye is always well meaning…

The issue is that there is no showdown.

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I understand why I’ve gotten pushback when I’ve talked publicly about how I’m working to make a good living as a writer. I’m best known for Candy Ass. Y’all know I haven’t exactly been demure about it – I shout that shit from the rooftops because I BELIEVE IN IT. And so do you. I know that and I’m thankful beyond measure for it. But Candy Ass both doesn’t pay the bills AND she needs a lot of work. Bottles that spring leaks won’t sell. Sourcing new ones and testing them properly takes time. Designing and printing packaging costs money. Trademarking, more dollars. Website, green.

When I talk about writing, what I’m really saying is that I’ve figured out a damn good strategy to chase down my dreams. This includes pouring the financial resources Candy Ass deserves into the many facets it’ll take to lift her to QUEEN level, funding the many changes barreling toward me in my personal life, and for once, actually making a living. I don’t feel like throwing my hope and energy at grants anymore. You guys, I was a freaking missionary for 9 years and raised support the whole time. I’m in a space now where I want to do what I know I’m exceedingly excellent at and has unlimited potential. That. Is. Writing. Writing is what will fuel this journey.

To be fair, I see the point of focusing my everything on Candy Ass. It’s sexy. It doesn’t feel like a collective slap in the face to girl bosses everywhere if I go for it fully instead of splitting my attention. It seems like the smartest move to get where I want to go fastest.

But my argument to all of this is that Candy Ass is about badass empowerment. And frankly, I do not feel empowered when I’m nursing low-key panic over my “how.” I feel empowered having a strategy in place that I KNOW will kick ass and that will allow me the unmatched FREEDOM to actually do what I want on a time scale that is steady, calculated, and full of HELL YESES.

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My point in sharing this is that if you’ve got anyone up your ass for any reason (well meaning or not) about how your dream chasing journey should roll out, shake it off. Absolutely consider whatever wisdom they have to share, but ultimately, trust your gut. Consult your inner circle, sit with it, focus in on where you actually feel the most powerful, and fucking run with it.

Our journeys get to be unique because we are unique. We get to decide what is best for us. And if someone else has ideas about what’s best for us because it’s what’s best for THEM, God bless them. Maybe they’re right. But that’s up to you to decide. This is not about being above advice from people who’ve gone before you and this is not about being stubborn. This is about learning to trust yourself.

I trust myself that my writing gift will take me places I never DREAMED.

Get where you want to go strategically. Pursue your “how” in a way that feels powerful to you. Chase down your dreams like the lioness that you are. Above everything, grant yourself permission. And if it works for you at all like it’s working for me, toss your hair, cock a brow, and DIVIDE AND CONQUER, BABY.

Images from: Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott via Fashiontography, Matt Leach, Txema Yeste


I Am A Writer: This Is How I Plan To Fund My Dreams

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Many moons ago (aka last year) I decided to try my hand at winning a grant for Hiya Tootsie! and Candy Ass. Ultimately, I didn’t win. But Hiya Tootsie! DID rocket launch to the number one popular vote out of 1436 small businesses across the United States because I decided to just do what came naturally.

I wrote.

I shared stories with photos on Facebook to remind everyone to vote on the daily. There was no strategy or grand master plan behind it. It’s just what came out. People loved it. And then suddenly, everyone wanted me to write for them. It didn’t matter if it was social media copy, website copy, resumes, or interviews for magazines, my inbox blew up.

I began taking freelance clients in the summer of 2016 and upped my game like a bat out of hell this year. I stumbled head first into a bootcamp called Get The Gig! BOOTCAMP by Jenny Beres where we write cover letters and pitches DAILY, get feedback, and then send those bad girls out.

The confidence this course and crew bopped me over the head with caught the interest (and interview!) of multi-million dollar makeup subscription company ipsy founded by Michelle Phan AND the interest of Kendo, beauty brand incubator founded by David Suliteanu, former CEO of Sephora, that houses Kat Von D beauty, Marc Jacobs beauty, and Rihanna’s new line.

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It dawned on me when ipsy and Kendo came knocking that I have an extraordinarily clear path to take in earning an income to pave the way for both my personal and professional dreams.

Also, my mom is 100% rolling her eyes right now because she’s been telling me to write for a living for years.

I realized late last year that I LOVE infusing brand voices with pop, punch, and personality, and that truly, this is what I specialize in.

Ain’t nobody got the flair I got.

I say this with confidence in the very real gift I’ve been given, not with arrogant insecurity masquerading as bullshit vibrato. I’m amazed and delighted by this writing thing every literal day. It is my craft – language as art.

I’ve also just recently sunk into exactly how vibrant and beautiful (and profitable) this gift is because there’s a lot more on the line now than in years past.

Now there’s a life that’s starting shortly with my man. Now I’m getting closer to stepping into my role as stepmama. Now I get to co-choose where I want to put down roots. Now I’ve got a business and crew I’m in love with and a fragrance line that is just WAITING to change the game in the lives of badass broads across the globe.

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My biz mentor told me a few days ago that she thinks I have a $1000/hr writing style – that she truly believes I am that good. She’s based in NYC and has been slaying in biz for years. My bootcamp instructor, based in LA, told me on a group coaching call that my writing is “fierce as f*ck.” She’s been a six-figure freelance copywriter for 10 years.

I’m both humbled and COMPLETELY ENERGIZED by their words. How can I not be?

This is my new dream-funding strategy: Bring the linguistic noise. Lift other brands to dream chasing heights and in the process, rise to chase my own.

What’s your strategy?

I’ll be your ripped jeaned cheerleader if you’ll be mine.

Images from: Damien Lovegrove via Pro Photo Nut, Damien LovegroveDamien Lovegrove


How Fear Can Block You From Your Dreams And Badassery

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My fears are full of shit and yours are too. Why? Fear is something we concoct in our minds to stop us from doing what we want to do. We sabotage ourselves and give a million reasons why we can’t follow our dreams and badassery. But if we didn’t have fears, then how could we push through and get out of our comfort zones like the badasses we truly are?

I’m here to give a little insight on myself and to share with you what I have done to push through those barriers we so harshly place on ourselves – to be strong, independent women who have dreams and are working on making them a reality. I never thought I was a fearful person until I went on an emotional journey and wrote my feelings down on paper. I wrote down so many things that blocked me mentally and was surprised by how fearful I was, especially when it came to my dreams. There are things, even without realizing it, that I told myself that I COULD NOT DO. If I had not come to these conclusions, I would be stuck without progress and without feeling flipping awesome about myself.

Fear #1: Not Enough Knowledge

I thought I didn’t have enough knowledge to share with people. The truth is, I do! I have learned and experienced quite a bit and even when I may not have the answer to something, I can admit to it and learn from it. Honesty is a good quality to have, especially when it comes to being an entrepreneur. Believing in yourself is also important. Just by your energy, eye contact, and body language, your clients/customers will take note and form a positive opinion of you.

I thought I had to make huge strides in order to be successful, but the truth is that any step, no matter how small it is, is better than taking no step at all. Do not fear starting small or slow, we all have to start somewhere. Just start! Example: ask someone to write a blog post for their site or work on your own site for 15 minutes during the week. Any effort you put toward your dream is good progress!

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Fear #2: Don’t Know How To Ask For Help

So many people don’t know how to ask for help or find support. Just because you don’t know how to figure something out on your website, or how much to charge for your program, or even need to ask someone to look over your work, doesn’t make you a failure! It took me a while to grasp this concept. Asking for help will further your steps towards your dreams and push you to your next goal.

Fear #3: Comparison

Another huge fear-maker is comparing yourself to others. I myself have done this on multiple occasions. It served me no purpose and won’t serve you any purpose either! When you see that someone is where you want to be or they are “ahead” of you when it comes to their passion, remember that they were once where you are. They made it to their goal because even though they were afraid and doubted themselves, they didn’t give up. They pushed through those barriers like a bat out of hell. Why? Because they had dreams, and to fulfill those dreams, they did whatever it took!

Fear #4: Setbacks

Setbacks can be brutal. We all have things happen in our lives to make us get off track. Maybe a client can no longer do your program or you have to stop working on your site for some time. This can be discouraging and fear can grow from being discouraged. It’s very easy to get stuck in this fear mindset. What I try to do is breathe, seek support, and figure out another game plan. The longer you’re stuck in negative thoughts, the longer your fears will stay with you and grow.

Just because you have to backtrack, doesn’t mean you will never make progress. I had to stop saying, “I’m building my passion filled dream” (I use this phrase instead of “business”) because too much was going on in my head and I was skipping steps that were important. Some things are just good for us. There is no easy way out of building your passion. The fear here is “losing” what ideas you’ve had or what you’ve already accomplished. However, it’s hard to accomplish anything when you skip steps or goals to build and fulfill your dreams.

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A final important note: stop listening to other people! I get it. Some people share their opinions because they are looking out for our best interests and have experienced similar things in their lives. But we all experience situations differently and when you feel something is true to you, you just have to go for it. Other people’s opinions can cause you to second guess yourself and your fears can start to grow from it, which can stop you right in your tracks – especially when constantly surrounded by negativity.

Someone had told me, “Valerie, maybe you should get a desk job” or “work for a company,” but this isn’t me at all. Some have also said, “Valerie there is no money in coaching.” What? This prolongs the process because you begin to overthink things. When you overthink what someone says, this allows your brain to build up barriers. You also won’t be able to gain any experience if you don’t put your ideas or interests in motion. Figure it out and surround yourself with people who support your decision.

It’s the journey that makes you a badass and leads you to make your dreams come true. It’s pushing through the negative thoughts in your mind and the negative people around you. We’ve all lived through at least a couple of these fears, and I am sure you will push through and do whatever it takes to be an awesome, badass woman, rocking your dreams!

Images from: Yulia GorbachenkoSequoia Emmanuelle, Lucie Bremeault

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Thank you so much for your contribution to Hiya Tootsie!, Valerie!



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