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Vanessa Santiago-Jerman-"Entrepreneurship is in my blood."

Vanessa S. Jerman has soared in all art forms for her continuously growing business from written poetry, children's books, arts and crafts, to even health and fitness. She is a woman's woman who wants to see her fellow black woman not only be strong, independent and witty in their craft, but she takes on the entrepreneurship badge with high remarks, support reviews and most of all love for what she does. She shares with readers what made her enter entrepreneurship, the writing industry and how she keeps her business going.

You've written poetry before, what was the initial thoughts behind wanting to be a writer?

I have loved writing ever since I was 8 years old. I may not have been the best grammatically but writing was my first love. I used to make up stories and write poetry. As an adult, actually already in my 30’s, I decided I wanted to publish a poetry book. So, I went and googled how to publish and there you have it, my very first published book was birthed.

Becoming a writer isn't easy process, how did you prepare yourself on what to know and do before releasing your first book?

I googled, watched videos from others who did it, took notes, read books on self publishing and just to a stab at it and my very first book was birthed. I was blessed because almost all my family and friends supported me an purchased copies.

What was the first novel that you ever wrote?

My first book was in fact a poetry book: "Love Thoughts and Poems" followed by "Love, Storms and Solace" which was also a poetry book. Lol, can you tell I love poetry? My first non poetry book didn’t come along until later. It was an anthology with Author Sharnel Williams "Living in the PJ’s".

You've participated in many anthologies with various other authors, what was the inspiration behind the first one you were apart of-"Living In the PJ's"?

The inspiration behind living in the PJ’s was that she and I both were raised in the PJ’s (Projects, Public Housing). She was raised in Newark NJ, I was raised in Harlem NYC, (it’s Harlem, for me) otherwise known as Manhattan. We wrote stories that expressed our appreciation of growing up in the projects, from the fun we had, and the relationships we encountered. My journey was different from hers although we experienced many similarities.

Why did you begin doing arts and crafts?

I have ALWAYS since age 18 been a network marketer from working in Mary Kay, Passion Parties and Other companies. I have always been quite crafty so I have ventured out to create things with my hands and sell them and from there, it kind of took off. I have been an entrepreneur since I was 18.

In terms of selling, has your audience/customer response been more than expected?

I was always blessed because I received lots of support. I went from part time to full time as an entrepreneur very quickly. Consistency is Key. The customer response was definitely above my expectations. I have realized after crafting for so long that everything isn’t for everyone.

It is challenging for you to have to constantly create? Does it become tiring?

I have tried my hand at many areas of crafting and although I may have been good at it, it was enjoyable and seemed more like work and not something I enjoyed doing so I stopped. I stick to shirts, personalized items such as mugs, wine glasses, pillows, gift sets, baby gifts and bling apparel and sneakers.

What is some advice you would give to others who are looking to go into entrepreneurship?

First I would say learn your craft before selling anything. Some people make one thing and then jump into putting a price on it and. Selling it. You should first master your craft and become as close to an expert at it as possible. Know the in’s and outs, all the back office stuff involved.

Do you think it's hard to finish once you get started? Many business fail, what other advice would you give?

I have seen people jump in because they think it’s easy. Then they reach out to others already doing it asking what should I charge, where do I buy supplies, how do I package, what should I charge for a bill order etc. You don’t jump in with both feet, take orders and expect others to give you all the answers. Research and setting up key components in the back office of a business is key. This is not an over night, easy money, option. This takes work, knowledge, investing in yourself and so much more.

Can you give more insight to the books you have written thus far?

I have written many books children, poetry, anthologies. I have books for children that touch on sharing: "Kennedy Loves Cupcakes", Autism Awareness: "My Friend Jarred", Racism: "In a world with No Color", Bullying: "Standing up to Lori Green and Allen the 4th grade bully", Self esteem: "Yancy the dancing Giraffe and Kinky Curly Me", and more.

Why these particular themes? What do you want children to learn and gain inspiration from your books?

Children and having diverse books were the inspiration for me to go into writing children’s books. Many characters are children of color but all my characters feature a diversity of children because the problem isn’t just seeing children that look like us but it’s about seeing children of all races interacting. We need to teach acceptance of all races.

Do you have any upcoming projects-books and business wise?

I am working on helping a few people with their publishing projects at the moment. Coronavirus has slowed down some of my projects because of death, sickness and some other challenges that arose, but I am praying that at least two of the projects get completed this year. One of them being the anthology “Cancer”.

Give readers a snippet of what's next for you!

In all honesty, after my next 3-4 projects that need to be completed I will be taking a long break from publishing others to focus on my personal books. I have a bunch of books I have written, and currently writing, that I want published and that is children’s books ages 3-5, chapter books 7-12, and some books that have been on the back burner for a while.

What should readers know about owning their business?

I stand for womanhood, woman helping women, for diversity and bring up children to love all. I am always here to help another woman ( for a fee), business help/ advice isn’t and shouldn’t be expected for free because this is a business. I am a business woman and anyone wanting to venture into any type of business should be willing to invest in themselves enough to pay for help/ advice.

What does it mean to be a black woman author/writer and business owner for you?

I would say that as a woman of culture I want to work with and help as many women of culture as possible, black, and brown. Women should always help other women. Being an entrepreneur for me is everything, GOD led me to this. It wasn’t that I saw someone else do something and followed, of course I may have been inspired by some but my Aunt Dorothy Bonneau who passed away was always one of the most amazing and supportive factors in my life.

The business mindset seems to run in your family, who else owns a business? Is it a family affair?

When my aunt was younger she and her husband my Uncle Bonneau owned a candy store ( entrepreneur’s), my late cousin Ulysses owned a popcorn shop (entrepreneur), my aunt on my fathers side of the family, Titi Sandra owns her own Greeting Card Company (Entrepreneur). Entrepreneurship is in my blood. It’s who I am and it’s what I do best. It’s truly my JOY.

What has the health and fitness lifestyle meant to you thus far?

Health and fitness to me, well I am by far NO health guru haha, I just try to maintain a healthy weight and exercise at least 4-5 times a week whether it’s taking a walk or lifting weights at home. I am now 50, and I am diabetic so I have to take care of me so I can be here for a long time to enjoy my husband, grandchildren and children.

Does this include meal changes?

I watch what I eat, cut out meat

( a personal choice). I only eat sea food, veggies and I limit my carb intake and drink only water, tea and coffee. These are not the practices of my household but mines alone.

What made you begin this personal health journey?

When I was diagnosed with diabetes I made major changes, at first I was doing Keto and it was great, I was losing lots of weight and it was beautiful BUT then I felt sluggish eating so much meat. So I research other diets and lifestyles and chose more of a pescatarian ( flexatarian) lifestyle. I eat mainly veggies and maybe 2-3 times a week seafood/ fish. I make plant based meals for the most part. When I stopped keto I gained back 10lbs of the 25lbs I lost, then I switched to the plant based lifestyle and I have lost most of it back. I am really not in it for weight loss but to better my sugar levels, and maintain my health.

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