Meet Carmen

Carmen swimming with Dolphin Fiona in Bahamas January 2017

I created Brown Skin Women as a personal blog, to document my journey as I transformed my life through natural hair, self-love and mental wellness.  Post navigating anxiety, depression and owning my truth I decided to design my life through creating a bucket list, I discovered a life of living intentionally and desired to encourage black women and girls to do the same.

Since then, it has grown into a supportive community of women who are committed to pursuing similar goals. Here is my story.

 

FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS… 

I was born and raised in a public housing project in Hartford, Connecticut, with my single mother and many siblings.  My parents split when I was young and our family was very poor.  My very strict mom and mostly absent dad did what I now realize, was the best they were capable of doing to take care of us.  I wound up struggling with my own identity and eventually pregnant at the young age of 17.

TO A CAREER I DIDN’T LOVE… 

“Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you respond to it.” I remember reading this on a mouse pad at a part time administrative job I had.   It immediately became the bridge between where I was and where I wanted to be. ​

In 2005, I was living in a space of clutter and confusion.  I was working a job in Corporate America that didn’t offer any room for growth, battling the news of my daughter’s Autism diagnosis and coping with the sadness I was feeling from my damaged, relaxed hair.  It took me to a place of depression, disguised as severe sadness and isolation for an entire year!  I didn’t know who I was or how I got there.   Then, one day it hit me!  What got me here doesn’t have the power to keep me here.  This is when I took a step back and did some serious self-evaluating.

Carmen with Autistic daughter Sania

I finally admitted out loud that I was depressed, hurting and suffering and no longer deserved or wanted to be in that space.

I was sick of feeling like a robot, working a miserable job, neglecting mine and my daughter’s well being, and on top of that, struggling with our ethnic hair.  As if this were not enough I found out my daughter had developed an intolerance to high fructose corn syrup.  I remember like it was yesterday, when the Nutritionist told me to “just pay attention to labels and eliminate foods with it.”  What she didn’t tell me was that high fructose corn syrup was literally in everything processed.  This started my journey of spending A TON of money on organic foods, not to mention the time and skill it took to become a better cook.

Naturally, I began to question every aspect of my life.  Why so much at once and more importantly, WHY ME?!  I knew there had to be more to life than this.

EXHAUSTED AUTISM MOM MEET THE NATURAL LIVING JOURNEY & VIRTUAL WORLD 

“Operation Live,” intentionally commenced.  I began with tapping into my never ending creativity pool.  I always had a desire to sew and so I read books and watched videos to polish the skill my late Aunt had inspired within me.  I took private lessons to help perfect the craft.  I started a clothing line in 2009 and enjoyed making clothing for myself and my clients. I also started creating events and doing marketing campaigns to actually make some money.  I was also in college at the time completing my degree in Psychology and decided I would venture into the medical field.  I landed an entry level administrative job as a Unit Secretary in the hospital that I was actually born in!    To support my mental well-being side of existing (I was still carrying a load of confusion and clutter), I started to see a therapist and practice yoga, and autism specific therapy for my daughter.  Last thing I had to address was my hair.  I remember walking into my bathroom, grabbing a pair of scissors and chopping off ALL of my relaxed hair!  It was both painful and liberating.

I hid my natural hair for close to a year, as I didn’t want to look like a boy.  I wore weaves and braids until I reached that point of in between removing an old style and preparing for a new one.  I had just taken out my braids and my family decided that we should go to the World’s Largest Pancake Breakfast in Springfield.  Rushed, I decided that since I was going to the next state over, I could quickly shampoo, condition my hair and toss it in a high bun.  No one but my family would know, at least that’s what I thought!  During the ride, one of my sisters lightly tugged my hair and said,  “Carmen your hair is so curly, what did you do?”  Confused I looked in the mirror and replied, “uhm, nothing…are you sure you see curls?”.  LIFE CHANGING MOMENT.  I realized this was something I needed to investigate the instant I got home.  Could black girls really have curly hair?  If so, why on earth am I just learning about it and how can I make them stay?!

​Hello local beauty supply store!  I instantly became a loyal product junkie and fell more and more in LOVE with my ethnic hair.

IT WASN’T LONG BEFORE I REALIZED SOMETHING WAS MISSING 
I wasn’t fulfilled.  I craved the connection and support of women fighting my battles.  Specifically, I needed a few questions answered so I could know for myself and then share. Some of these questions were:

  • What are other women doing with their hair that may be able to help me with my own?
  • What are the best products to use and how?
  • How fun would it be to share space with fellow autism mom's who can relate!?
and finally I wanted everyone to know how amazing seeing a therapist and practicing yoga was.

The questions continued to flow, so I began to research autism and natural hair.  There was so much on the internet at the time but none of it existed in my area, Connecticut.  An AHA moment!

Considering I had managed myself and my own business for the past few years, I knew I could apply my abilities and skill to create what I knew was missing.  I would create an autism community as well as a natural hair community for women of color.

With this in mind, I founded Hope 4 Autism in 2010. It was a draining, yet rewarding accomplishment!  I started Carmen Veal Events, a Special Events & Marketing Firm in May of 2013.

BRINGING IT IN FULL CIRCLE…
I realized the real value of growing my brands and networks came as a result of sharing my story and growing WITH others.  Additionally, my passion for natural health and the healing power of yoga and meditation naturally combined with my love for living intentionally and savoring my passion for bringing people together.  Things serendipitously fell into place and a growing network for women and children of color was born also in May of 2013.

Today I am so happy to have a network, my Three Level Membership Club that supports women with their natural hair journey.   The launch of my Entrepreneurs Club provides an outlet for current and aspiring entrepreneurs.  The club allows me to share what I’ve grown and gone through while supporting women on their journeys too.  Additionally, I offer consultations necessary to guide others on how to execute successful events, market and offer business support. I love nothing more than to use my creative talents and my business oriented mind to create programs that will support life and enhance growth within the community that I love so much.    I absolutely love the women I am blessed to meet and work with.

FUN FACTS… 

  • I’m 1 of 11 children.  I have 9 sisters and 2 brothers, and I’m the “middle” child.
  • I attended Modeling School while in High School. It has taught me A LOT of what I apply in my life today. 
  • I left my heart in Monaco, while vacationing in Europe- it was everything.  Until I went swimming with Dolphins in Bahamas…I left a part of my heart there as well. I schedule mental health days a few times per month.  It’s like hitting a life life restart button. 
  • I was a chosen volunteer during the 57th Presidential Inaugural Ball.  I got to meet President Obama and First Lady Michelle- an amazing experience even though I wasn’t allowed to take a picture (phones weren’t allowed).
  • If you would like to read my official bio, you can do so on my Events & Business Consulting firm’s website here.

I share loads of awesome goodness weekly in Brown Skin Women’s email list which is also my Memberships Club CLASSIC level members (it’s FREE!). 

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