Excited to get the New Year rolling on my blog, I asked my friend Waverly (I just realized how many of my friends have really cool names) if she was free to catch up. We first became friends on Twitter and I have photographed a couple events for her over the years. While I have known her for about half a decade, I realized so much has changed for her and I didn’t know the details! She’s lost and kept off weight and started her own event company, United We Function… both very inspiring things. And if you see United We Function‘s logo (it’s an F with an exclamation point) you know I’m all about it. We caught up over sushi and walked around some lofts in the Arts District to snap some pictures.
When I first met you, you were working with a magazine. How did you make that jump from doing that to United We Function? When I was working with Yoo-N-LA, I also had a day job. I was in that 9-5 and I was super depressed. I was going through a mini depression almost. Life is so short and I just don’t have time to be depressed. The president of the last company I worked for is driving a Tesla like it’s nothing (paid cash for it!) and traveling all the time. His assistant was making 120k and he bought her a Lexus. When she was about to quit, he bought her and her boyfriend a 2 week trip to Paris. I can’t be bribed but…. [laughs]. The fact that she was making all this money but always asking me to help her with this or that and what was I making? PENNIES in comparison. What is going to make me happy?
I got fired on July 17, 2013. Best day of my life.
A blessing in disguise! What was the next step? My friend Catherine introduced me to a manager at this promotional agency called Cornerstone. Cornerstone does the promotions for Fader. I did a lot of stuff for them, like the street team stuff, and then I got promoted to varsity rep. I work the majority of the Fader related events in LA and I’ve worked the SxSW “Fader Fort” for the past few years. With that, I’ve always known I’ve wanted to do events. My mom’s always doing different dinner parties at the house growing up. I’m the only child so she would always throw me these huge birthday parties. She and I enjoy watching other people have fun. With all these other jobs I’ve had, I was always in charge of company dinners or providing lunch for the companies gifting and stuff like that. I’ve worked with other people and I’ve seen how events are put together. For me it’s easy because I love it.
When [United We Function] first started, I started with 3 other people: Tony, Catherine, and Markius [who are no longer with me]. Cornerstone had hooked us up with doing promotion and for The Weeknd‘s Trilogy album release party. We realized we worked well together for that specific event. I was like, “I wanna start a company.” While at Fader Fort 2013, we played with a bunch of names. Tony had said, “at our parties, people just get down! They’re functioning!” Then Catherine had come up with United We something… I forget the last word. We had them all written down and I was like, “what about United We Function? That’s kinda of cool cause it’s a marriage of both of what you guys picked.”
Who’s on your team now? I have two interns. One’s in DC but she’s from here. I haven’t met her in person yet. We were introduced cause she goes to school for event management. When I had the Editor in Chief of LA Canvas magazine speak at my brunch, her intern came. She was like “oh, this girl would be perfect, I don’t know if you are looking for help, but can I introduce you two.” That’s just how it happened. I’ll meet her at the end of this month for her birthday. She’s super cute, I love her. She’s really great. There’s my other intern as well. She can do the press pitches way better than [I can]. If somebody wants the experience and can probably do it a little bit better than me, why not? I’d rather grow WITH my team.
What was your first event? The first event was a day party (Brunction). I also planned Issa Rae‘s screening for The Choir. That was really fun! Then earlier [in 2014] I was like, “I wanna do something for women specifically [and], well, women love brunch.” But I didn’t want it to be like these other women who love brunch events, cause they’re much more seminar-y. I don’t like that feel. I want it to be more intimate with girlfriends. Whenever my friends can’t go to brunch with me, I have 30 other girls that will and we can learn from someone: another female in the industry, someone doing something remarkable, and you know, drink mimosas and eat yummy food. So that’s how it started. And then this last September I did my first United We Sweat.
Speaking of United We Sweat, tell me about you losing weight. I was just heavy and tired. I was lazy and didn’t like how anything looked. I’m very small. I’m 4’10”. I shouldn’t be that big. I was like 200lbs. I said to myself, “what am I doing.” I did not like how I looked in anything. When I would see myself in a photo I would be like “who is this girl?” If Rick Ross was losing weight, I gotta lose weight.
I met my friend Danielle at a bar. I’m like “let’s get shots!” She was like, “I’ll just have some wine. I can only have one glass of wine.” I’m like, “girl! Ok, whatever!” She started explaining this diet. There are 4 cycles of 17 days. The first cycle is just cleansing. You can lose up to 20lbs in that first 17 days. And it’s all healthy. What you do is mostly eat a lot of vegetables. For protein you can have salmon, catfish, tilapia. For meat you can have boneless skinless chicken & ground turkey. So all that just cleanses you. You have to have one probiotic a day. I would always just have Greek yogurt and put fruit in there.
The 2nd cycle you start incorporating red meat. You can have steak or bacon. You can do some starches: black beans, sweat potatoes, brown rice. You kinda up your fruit intake. Like instead of 1 you can do like 2. But I never made it to the 3rd or 4th cycle because, because in the 3rd cycle you can have pasta. And I’m like, “no. I don’t want to eat that crap. Because that’s what helped me gain all this weight.” If I go and eat that I’m gonna get used to having that with every meal. If I do treat myself it’s like I’m having sushi one day and that’s all the starch that I need. I actually enjoyed creating cool soups or salad or different things to do with chicken. It’s not really a diet. It’s really at the end of the day a lifestyle change.
As I started losing weight I just felt better. I felt more confident and comfortable. I noticed a difference in my skin and my energy was a lot higher. I felt a lot sharper. You know sometimes when you eat you’re like “omg, I’m so full I need a nap?” I never had it. It sucks now cause now, I’m [living] with my mom and she is a chef. She is like “let me make this” and I’m like, “I cant really eat this… but let me just have a liiiiiitle bit.” So I need to get back on it.
What about working out? I did work out a little bit. But it’s not fun to work out by yourself. I don’t like to work out period. I actually hate it. I hate the gym. I think the gym is just like a regular office with work out equipment. [I] would hike every other day or so. I did yoga a little bit with my mom but she’s like the worst work out partner ever! We’ll just giggle the whole time. We’d do yoga in the house but then she’d get distracted and we wouldn’t finish. That’s what prompt me to start United We Sweat. I said ok, why don’t we just do a traveling work out class? Everything that I wanted to do, I’ll just get a big group of girls and we all just do these together.
Love it! Now for the brunches you had one across the country in my favorite city, New York. How did that come about? New York brunch happened because I love New York. If I could be bicoastal, I would be between LA and NY with a little bit of Miami mixed in. For me, it was just a personal goal. How dope would it be to have this brunch in NY? I’m actually working right now to have the next one in NY. It’s very scary because I don’t really have a presence out there. What if up until the event, nobody buys tickets, you know? But the last brunch there was 11 girls. For me, that was a success cause that is 11 girls out their that know about me.
How do you pick the people you want for your brunches? I choose them cause some of them I just wanted to get to know them better and I figure why not have a brunch with them! I’ve had head of the female division at Stussy, Lena Waithe, Nina Parker, Lisa Nicole Bell, Melody Ehsani, Numa Perrier from Black & Sexy TV, and more! All exquisite women!
It’s fun for you, and it’s something you like to do, but what is your ultimate goal with United We Function? I think the ultimate goal would be to plan a wedding cause I’d love to plan someone’s wedding. I would love to plan another charity event as big as Rihanna’s Diamond Ball. I would love to grow. Do apparel collaboration. I always say to people I want to be like June Ambrose. She’s a huge celebrity stylist. She’s so well known. All she wants to do is do her job, hang with her family and cook. I just want to be known and respected. At the end of the day that would make me the most happiest.
If planning events didn’t plan out, what would your next venture be? I don’t know cause I don’t think it won’t… I don’t even know how to respond to that. This is what makes me happy. Do I have enough money right now? Absolutely not. But I’m so happy. I couldn’t be happier. Even if I end up not being a successful event planner, at least I tried, I enjoyed my brunches, and I inspired myself. You know. I’m just happy!
What would you say to people out there in a slump? I just tell people all the time, just follow your heart, follow your dreams. If you need to work a regular job, work a regular job until you are able to be in that comfortable space where money is not an option stopping you from doing what you love to do. But if you’re going to take a job, make sure you’re learning and make sure you are able to grow… From the people that you are learning from, the company you’re at, whatever it is. You always have to be learning. And always reading.
F-Stop questions here!
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