Pepper Talk With Valencia Garden

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we’re doing a deep dive with Valencia Garden. Valencia has been with Eleven Peppers Studios for nearly two and a half years. She plays an integral role on an award-winning team by developing marketing content for innovative technology products.

1. Do you have any nicknames?
Not really—I kind of take pleasure in making people say my whole first name. Blame it on a childhood full of mispronunciation and laziness, lol.

2. What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Look at the clock to see how late I am! Then I debate whether I’ll meditate or take the dogs out first; that usually depends on how well I slept.

3. How would you describe your design style?
I’m a writer, so…”honest”? lol My writing style is deeply conversational, if you couldn’t tell by now.

I do have a deep appreciation for design and art, in every form. My interests change often, so some days I’m feeling minimalist and neutral, and other days I want to be around the boldest and brightest things ever (coincidentally, that’s usually when my hair is the biggest). I love honesty in words and in art, so if I’m able to feel anything when I look at it, I’m all in.

4. How did you get started in this industry?
I’ve been writing my entire life—I recently found a few stories I wrote as a kid, along with some letters I wrote to my older self back when I was 8, 9, and 11 years old. I’m glad I kept them; I gave myself some pretty great advice!

I actually started out in college as a computer science major because that’s “where the money was.” That was a mistake. I hated it! (I should’ve found those letters a few years sooner…lol) I ended up in Virginia Tech’s English program because the journalism program was full. Being in the company of great expressionists like Nikki Giovanni made me realize how much I enjoyed the art of written communication.

The semi-perfectionist in me hates to see good things done terribly, which lends itself perfectly to helping other people express themselves more effectively!

5. What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Favorite? Google, even despite its faults and flaws. I can find anything on there (or anyone, *cue suspenseful music*), and that ends up helping me quite a bit when researching for a writing project. Wordpad and also tie for a close second.

Worst is Microsoft Word, hands down. It should die and not come back as anything else or appear in any sequels, ever!

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
I spend a good amount of time researching before I write anything. My initial process depends on what information I’m given, so if I don’t have much, I end up doing more legwork on the research side than the actual drafting side. If you give me “who” and “what,” I can usually find the “why” on my own. I know immediately how hard a story will be if it takes me forever to come up with a good introductory sentence. If I don’t know why this story is interesting, then obviously there’s a lot of work to be done! Once I get a good handle on it, I’ll outline how I think it should go and start filling in the blanks from there.

Also, post-it notes. Lots of post-it notes.

7. What do you draw inspiration from?
Life stories. Hearing about other people’s experiences, no matter how small it may be, usually makes me want to go do something of my own.

8. Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Heavens, no!

Sweet or savory: Both (Lindor Sea Salt Milk Chocolate Truffles? OMG)

Favorite movie: Coming to America

Guilty Pleasure: Cheese

Hobbies: Serving at my church, traveling, eating pizza, concert hopping, working on my townhouse, fake house shopping, real shoe shopping, dog mom-ing, and (thanks to the hubbs) aviation. *whew!*

9. Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
Instagram. Who knew a place to post lackluster food plates was going to take off as well as it did?!

Thanks for meeting Valencia. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!