Ariel Lopez

Image of Ariel Lopez c/o Innov8tiv.com

Image of Ariel Lopez c/o Innov8tiv.com

Ariel Lopez is a career coach at General Assembly – and founder of 2020Shift, a social enterprise that is designed to educate black and latino millennials on careers in the technology space. I was most impressed by Ariel’s work with 2020Shift – dedicated to setting students and recent graduates up for success, but most importantly filling the diversity gap with talent by providing resources and professional development. As an avid public speaker, Ariel enjoys sharing her expertise in digital media and technology and loves connecting people to opportunities. Luckily for Ariel, the things she loves the most is reflective of her day job, which allows her the freedom to cultivate her passion into profitable and innovative ideas to inspire others to pursue their career goals. 

ARIEL LOPEZ

CAREER COACH AT GENERAL ASSEMBLY & FOUNDER OF 2020SHIFT 

NEW YORK, NY

“I think it’s just about putting yourself out there. A lot of business connections have happened because of a tweet or a LinkedIn message. You have to find what channels work best for you/your brand and be active in them.”

How does your craft reflect your personal aesthetic?

My craft reflects the things that matter to me the most. I’ve always had a passion for helping people and as a coach I get to do that. 2020Shift is designed to help people elevate in their careers so I’m doing the same in that regard as well. I would also say I fell in love with tech as soon as I started working in the industry. It’s extremely important for me to be a catalyst to help others find success as well.

How have the women in your life been instrumental in your life and career?

I would say my mom has been the most influential person in both my life and my career. My drive and work ethic are a reflection of how I was raised. My mom always said that you can be whatever you want to be and that your current circumstances don’t define your future. I held on to those words and it helped shape the determination that has carried me through my career thus far.

“In terms of finding a mentor, network as much as you can and don’t force any relationships; let them happen naturally. You’ll have a gut feeling on who should be a mentor or not.”

Cultural trends constantly change. What do you do to stay relevant, connected, and ahead of the curve?

I think it’s just about putting yourself out there. A lot of business connections have happened because of a tweet or a LinkedIn message. You have to find what channels work best for you/your brand and be active in them.

2020Shift

How do you keep track of your personal and business goals – and stay creative at the same time (even when you’re exhausted)?

I make a point to have vision boards for every year; you’d be surprised how things magically come into fruition. I also recently went Being Mary Jane-ish in my apartment – hanging up small affirmations. Success is definitely a mental battle; if you can stay positive and on track, you’ll accomplish your goals much easier.

How important are mentors? Who is your mentor?

Mentors are super important and I have a few. I have advisors that are mentors, students and friends. I’m usually giving people advice, but learn the most about myself in those conversations. In terms of finding a mentor, network as much as you can and don’t force any relationships; let them happen naturally. You’ll have a gut feeling on who should be a mentor or not.

“I have a love-hate situation with NYC, but it’s the most inspiring city in the world. When I wake up I automatically think: hustle. It’s becomes a way of life.”

What is your advice for women entering creative fields or starting their own business?

Go after what you want and negotiate what you deserve (for those entering creative fields). For women starting their own business, keep your purpose and mission top of mind; that helps with riding the crazy roller coaster that is entrepreneurship.

Place that inspires me the most…

I have a love-hate situation with NYC, but it’s the most inspiring city in the world. When I wake up I automatically think: hustle. It’s becomes a way of life.

I feel most powerful when…

I’m teaching or speaking in public. I love engaging with people and hearing their feedback; it’s also an amazing feeling to hear, “You inspired me to do XYZ.”

I love what I do because…

I live in my purpose and I make an impact at the same time

Best advice I have ever received…

“You attract what you believe you’re worth.” I make an effort to shift my mindset to things that I want and believe I’m capable of doing.

Connect with Ariel Lopez on 2020Shift, General Assembly, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

Darling Chuck

DARLING CHUCK

ANDREA “DREA” RAMOS AKA DARLING CHUCK

DJ

QUEENS, NEW YORK

I met Drea at a mutual friend’s Ugly Christmas Sweater party in Brooklyn about three years ago. Back then, she was a fashion casting director who juggled a couple of DJ gigs after work – but despite her hectic schedule, Drea kept it going. As we kept in touch over the years, her hobby evolved into a career; she continued to cultivate her love for music and eventually left her 9 to 5 to pursue DJ’ing. This move for Drea was now… or never.

There’s just something about women that feed and empower your soul, and it should be reciprocated.

How does your craft reflect your personal aesthetic?

My professional background for the past 10+ years has been in fashion, but it wasn’t until recently that I decided to turn my hobby and love of music into my craft. I had a pretty cool job as a fashion casting director, working with the biggest designers, brands and talent around the world. Through casting, I was able to meet a lot of awesome folks, and make some lasting connections. I was lucky to be in the position I was in. But I think the stress to maintain and keep up with the industry finally caught up with me so I decided to pick up DJ’ing on the side. The newness of it felt so exciting, that I found myself inspired to make moves with it. A year later, I quit my day job and dove into this new world of DJ’ing that I barely knew anything about. I’m a lot happier and lighter these days, and it’s because I feel like I can be more like myself.

How have the women in your life been instrumental in your life and career? 

I grew up in a single parent household, having been primarily raised by my mom, my grandmothers and my aunts. My mom worked multiple jobs, and made a ton of sacrifices just so I could live comfortably and have a proper education. In this man’s world, my grandmothers (R.I.P. Inang) are the most emotionally and physically strongest women I know, not letting life’s road blocks stop them from achieving what they’ve aimed for. My aunts have always offered advice and lent their care whenever I needed it without question, teaching me the real definition of friendship. Their teachings are a reflection on how I am towards other women. There’s just something about women that feed and empower your soul, and it should be reciprocated. I’ve been so lucky to share connections with so many other strong women because they inspire me to be better. If it wasn’t for these women in my life, I really believe I wouldn’t have the guns to be where and who I am today.

Use your resources and research people in the industry that you admire and are doing what you want to do and reach out to them. Make connections with them. People are generally willing to help if you just ask. Stay curious. Realize you don’t know it all, and have an open mind. Consume as much as you can, and make it work for yourself. Take risks.

DARLING CHUCK

Cultural trends constantly change. What do you do to stay relevant, connected, and ahead of the curve? 

Working in fashion taught me to keep up with trends, and with the help of social media, it’s made it much easier for us to stay connected. I pride myself in having good taste and knowing how to cut the fat with all the extra crap out there, so the real challenge is being able to mute the noise while managing to staying relevant. I love pop culture, and I stay curious. I like to keep it moving. Nostalgia is good, but there’s also so much cool, new shit out there – especially with artists and music!

How do you keep track of your personal and business goals – and stay creative at the same time (even when you’re exhausted)? 

It can be way challenging to keep track of both personal and business goals as a creative, but being freakishly organized while developing good habits has helped. I own stacks of notebooks and jars of pens because I like to physically write things down, and if I don’t have a pen and paper on hand, I’ll write it down in my phone or in my laptop. It’s the only way to regulate all the chaos going on inside my head. You can have a long list of goals, but having the discipline to formulate and execute those goals is how you’re really going to achieve them. Understanding that if you’re hungry enough and have the drive to want to see your ideas come into fruition is essential. Being a DJ nowadays is more than having great taste in music and having the technical skills to back it. You sort of have to be a “social personality” to add value to your brand; you almost have to treat it like your business.

Staying creative is an ongoing struggle, but I’m fortunate to live in a city that inspires me every day. A lot of people in NYC have this “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” mentality, but sleep is fucking awesome! I think it’s important to stay in tune and listen to your body. As long as you eat right, stay active and allow yourself to be open, you’d be doing your future self a huge favor. You can’t create if you’re feeling restless or exhausted. The stress just isn’t worth it in the long run. Disco naps are fun, too. It’s all about maintaining a balance.

DARLING CHUCK

How important are mentors? Who is your mentor? 

Mentors are extremely important. I’m smart enough to know that I don’t know it all, and it’s silly to think that you don’t need anyone to make it in life. We all need each other to get by. Embrace the people that inspire and challenge you so you can grow. I learn something different from each and every single person I keep close in my life – young and old.

My main mentor is my mother. She’s my number one. She is everything.

Shawndub and TAP.10 have been my DJ mentors since the very beginning. They’ve pretty much taught me everything I know about DJ’ing, and the ropes of industry. I admire those two so much. They’re possibly the most patient and intuitive people I know.

My boyfriend, Mike Baker has been my life mentor since we started dating. He’s really helped me through a lot of shit, and has shown endless support with what I want to do and who I want to be. He is literally my best friend, and I can’t imagine life without him.

DARLING CHUCK

What is your advice for women entering creative fields or starting their own business? 

Figure out what exactly it is you want to do in the creative industry because there is so much to contribute to this world, whether it be in fashion, design, marketing or music. Use your resources and research people in the industry that you admire and are doing what you want to do and reach out to them. Make connections with them. People are generally willing to help if you just ask. Stay curious. Realize you don’t know it all, and have an open mind. Consume as much as you can, and make it work for yourself. Take risks.

Place that inspires me the most… 

The beach and being near the ocean. It reminds me how small I am, and allows me to open my mind to immeasurable possibilities.

DARLING CHUCK

I feel most powerful when… 

I can help empower other women.

DARLING CHUCK

I love what I do because… 

It makes me feel good, and it allows me to make others feel just as good.

DARLING CHUCK

Best advice I have ever received… 

Nothing is free. Everything comes with a price.

Connect with Darling Chuck on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud!

Rana Campbell

Rana Campbell

RANA CAMPBELL
CONTENT STRATEGIST & FOUNDER OF RANACAMPBELL.COM
ORANGE, NEW JERSEY

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting Rana Campbell, Princeton University alumni and Founder of lifestyle website: RanaCampbell.comRana and I instantly bonded over our passion for bridging the gap between vision and reality – as she shared her website’s mission to help individuals shine in their personal and professional lives. Rana’s work has been featured on FOX 5 Good Day New York, The Huffington Post, Princeton Alumni Weekly, and many more.

I tell this to everyone: be a student of your industry. Understand the space well. Understand your future customer’s pain points and work on building relationships with them. No one can want your dream more than you want your dream. A lot of people talk about this in terms of “passion”, but I think this goes beyond passion. If you want to enter a field and create something that you actually want to see some tangible results from, you need to really be involved in the system and process of figuring out how to see something from ideation to execution. I think that’s where a lot of people have it wrong. They think talent alone will cause success. It may, but I think that having a larger bird’s eye view of the industry and the little intricacies can help insure long-term success.

How does your craft reflect your personal aesthetic?

I’ve always been a storyteller, talker, and question-asker. These parts of my persona have definitely translated into what I do now. For me, my site and brand is all about empowering and sharing the stories of others. That’s always been intriguing to me. I’m the type of person who admires and wonders “Why?” How did things get to be the way they are? At the same time, I’ve always wondered, “What’s the best way to share this and share with others? Perhaps that’s why I love marketing so much.

How have the women in your life been instrumental in your life and career?

The women in my life have shown me resilience and strength. I think one of the most influential women in my life has been my mother. When I think of her I think of sacrifice and resilience. My mother went through alot in her life, and despite almost dying when I was a baby, she is still here with us. All along she has supported me and through her sacrifice I have been able to accomplish so much.

Other important women in my life such as teachers, mentors, and even former bosses have been instrumental in my life because they both believed in me and pushed me. They showed me new possibilities for my dreams and also showed me the ways that I can navigate those open waters as a woman.

Cultural trends constantly change. What do you do to stay relevant, connected, and ahead of the curve?

I’m obsessed with reading. I always try to have a book in tow, if possible. I’m always trying to find new information to consume via blogs, news, film, social media, networking events, music, etc… I am like a sponge and revel at opportunities to learn new things. I think if you’re constantly seeking new knowledge, staying ahead of the curve is easy. This is where my love for asking “why?” comes in.

Rana Campbell

How do you keep track of your personal and business goals – and stay creative at the same time (even when you’re exhausted)?

This one is a bit hard for me. Personally, I try to make sure to write everything down and revisit my goals from time to time. By keeping myself accountable, I’m able to keep track. For me, keeping track of my goals and staying creative don’t always go hand-in-hand. I feel that sometimes I have too many creative ideas which can cause an overload, which may cause me NOT to focus on my goals. There you have it… staying focused is what I find to be the most important thing. At the end of the day, I always try to remain positive. Burnout is real.

How important are mentors? Who is your mentor?

Mentors are everything. Having someone who did it already and can show you the ropes can save you a lot of time and also guide your own journey. Mentors are another part of your support system- which every creative needs. One of my mentors is Gabrielle Simpson, who is a director of Communications at NBC. I’ve known Gabby (as I call her) from when she worked at CBS Corporate and I as an intern. She’s always been a great support to me and has pushed me to pursue new opportunities. She also helped open up alot of doors for me, which I would have a really hard time gaining access to (quite literally.) Gabby sees greatness in me – having someone who sees that in you and wants you to achieve that is the best thing ever.

Rana Campbell

What is your advice for women entering creative fields or starting their own business?

I tell this to everyone: be a student of your industry. Understand the space well. Understand your future customer’s pain points and work on building relationships with them. No one can want your dream more than you want your dream. A lot of people talk about this in terms of “passion”, but I think this goes beyond passion. If you want to enter a field and create something that you actually want to see some tangible results from, you need to really be involved in the system and process of figuring out how to see something from ideation to execution. I think that’s where a lot of people have it wrong. They think talent alone will cause success. It may, but I think that having a larger bird’s eye view of the industry and the little intricacies can help insure long-term success.

My dad once told me, “As long as you’re awake and have the ability to think, you should never be bored.”

Place that inspires me the most:

I get a lot of ideas while driving without the radio on. There’s something about being on the move that gets my mind going. Honestly, I can get inspired from pretty much everywhere. Everything is a story to me. You just have to want to see it. My dad once told me, “As long as you’re awake and have the ability to think, you should never be bored.”

I feel most powerful when:

This may sound crazy, but I love being naked. I think there’s power in loving your body in its rawest form. True power comes from within and I think that moment of nakedness where you have nothing to hide behind is where we can start to build that power.

For the more politically correct answer, I’ll say, I feel most powerful when I’m looking good, feeling good, and am prepared. Those things give me confidence.

I love what I do because:

I get to meet so many different people and hear so many different stories. At the same time, I love inspiring others and helping others accomplish their dreams. This may be because I’m an ENFJ, but I really enjoy seeing other people smile and feel good about themselves. I also like presenting ways that individuals can start challenging themselves to open their eyes to something new.

I read a quote the other day that sums this up perfectly: “If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.

Best advice I have ever received:

Don’t let what others think weigh you down. I say this is the best advice because it’s something I find myself working on every day. Having courage to pursue a journey that others may not fully support or understand is hard, but if you believe in yourself and start to care less about what “others” may say the possibilities are endless. I read a quote the other day that sums this up perfectly: “If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”

Rana Campbell

Connect with Rana Campbell on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram!

Melissa Mercado

WITHLOVEMELISSA

MELISSA MERCADO
ARTIST
PG COUNTY, MARYLAND

Behind every artist is a muse; behind every successful man is a hardworking woman – and it takes a strong foundation for couples to thrive together in an ever-changing industry to help each other grow and stay on top of their game. I met Melissa through a good friend of mine, L aka Naturel, a couple of years ago – and I have always admired how she balanced motherhood & family and hustle as an artist. Melissa’s artwork – “clean lines, minimal content and solid colors” – also reflects her energy: avant-garde – a modern woman who is not compelled to “choose”, but “juggles” different aspects of her life, and never settles for anything less than great.

“I am inspired by all women, I feel like I celebrate who we are when I create – it’s for us.”

How does your craft reflect your personal aesthetic?

I love to clean and organize pretty much everything. I’m a little bit of a minimalist as well. Those habits are such a big part of who I am that it carries over into my work. My artwork and design usually reflects clean lines, minimal content and solid colors. If you ask my family and friends, I’m a total Virgo! Even though it’s not always achieved – I crave some type of perfection in anything I do.

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How have the women in your life been instrumental in your life and career?

My mother is the reason why I even pursued art and design. When I was young, my teachers, principals and my mom created avenues for me to water my talent – they were all women. My mom pushed me to go to art/design school for college and showed me I can make a living off of my creativity. I am inspired by all women, I feel like I celebrate who we are when I create, it’s for us.

http://www.withlovemelissa.com/

“I don’t think too much about staying relevant because that tends to fog up creativity.”

http://www.withlovemelissa.com/

” Artwork comes from within, and it’s hard to create if you are thinking about what everyone else wants from you – staying ahead of the curve is putting a piece out with a “fuck it, take it or leave it” attitude.”

http://www.withlovemelissa.com/

Cultural trends constantly change. What do you do to stay relevant, connected, and ahead of the curve?

I love pop culture and fashion, so keeping up with trends doesn’t feel like a task. There are so many resources available like social media, blogs and just walking around your surroundings. I don’t think too much about staying relevant because that tends to fog up creativity. Artwork comes from within, and it’s hard to create if you are thinking about what everyone else wants from you – staying ahead of the curve is putting a piece out with a “fuck it, take it or leave it” attitude.

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How do you keep track of your personal and business goals – and stay creative at the same time (even when you’re exhausted)?

I’ve said it before, I’m a Virgo but I’m also a mother – staying organized helps me achieve those goals; it’s a part of who I am. My king and I made a culture of creativity at home and so as tired as I am, it’s always in my face. Hanging out with our daughter stirs up all types of inspiration for us.

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“We’re not built to know it all, so we constantly learn from everyone around us.”

How important are mentors? Who is your mentor?

Mentors are very important. We’re not built to know it all, so we constantly learn from everyone around us. My very first mentor was my mom, instead of introducing me to a conventional career path, she introduced me to art & graphic design. College had a very intimate setting so I had a lot of one on one time with my professors – too many to name but they all made a good impact on my career path. There was a point in my life where I entered the world of makeup artistry, beauty & fashion. I learned so much from the artists and photographers I worked with. Currently, I am blessed with loving and living with a huge inspiration, my king –Naturel. I can’t wait to work with and learn from other artists and designers – my list of mentors will never end!

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What is your advice for women entering creative fields or starting their own business?

No matter how difficult things get – because it will get pretty unbearable sometimes – push through! Faith, hard work, and passion breed good results even if the results aren’t immediate. You can plan life all you want, but you can’t control what happens. Everything you go through – good and bad – leads up to your dreams and goals… so don’t give up!

http://www.withlovemelissa.com/

Place that inspires me the most… There isn’t a specific place but where I grew up (PG County, Maryland) has a lot to do with the pieces I cultivate; some are inspired from the music, street culture and experiences I’ve had. As far as art and style, I find inspiration traveling, decorating my home and even shopping – as crazy as that sounds! Lol.

http://www.withlovemelissa.com/

I feel most powerful when… I feel good, look good, and hold it down for my family!

WITHLOVEMELISSA

I love what I do because… I can wake up every morning and decide what I am going to do with my day.

http://www.withlovemelissa.com/

Best advice I have ever received… Love and take care of yourself first and you’ll be able love and care for others.

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Connect with Melissa Mercado on Twitter and Instagram!

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