Blaring TVs, the smell of breakfast tacos, and weary-eyed students were all-consuming upon entering the Union Syndicate on Thursday morning. I scanned the area for the friend that I was meeting when I locked eyes with a girl leaning back in a lounge chair. She was surrounded by several other students who were particularly chatty and giggly for 9:00 in the morning. They were a sharp contrast to the rest of the students still sipping their morning coffee and barely able to keep their eyes open. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the girl jump out of her chair and skip over to me.
She quickly handed me a pink business card glossed with floral designs. Before I could say a word, she explained that she is a converged broadcast media major starting a jewelry business. The bracelets she wore resembled wind chimes moving up and down her arms as if instrumentally guiding her story. In this moment, I forgot about meeting up with my friend and began digging into her life. After our conversation, she skipped right back to her group of friends, made a silly face, and they all began laughing again just like clockwork.
After taking a few moments to say goodbye to her friends, Jade led me to a table overlooking the Syndicate. As we watched students catch up with friends and drag themselves to class, Jade easily painted a picture of the kind of student she is. “What pushes you to start a business as a college student? What is your inspiration?” I inquired. Even though we had just met, it wasn’t hard for her to keep eye contact with her deep brown eyes. “My father passed away, and he was an entrepreneur. I always wanted to own a business like him,” Jade said. She launched her jewelry line on November 1st, which was her late father’s birthday. Family is very important to her, she wants to start her own business to make her father proud and also prove others wrong. “Sometimes people will discourage me,” she said. Faith is also an important part of Jade’s life. Her Christian-based company is called ‘Ver(NI)sha Unwoven,’ and the bracelets will be named after women from the Bible that have inspired her throughout the years.
It didn’t take long for Jade’s mother, Shirley Valentine, to start bursting with pride for her daughter. The Indianapolis native had a soulful laugh, one that made me giggle a few times. “I think her future is very bright. She likes to work hard. She has a business-like mind. She follows in [her father’s] footsteps,” Shirley said. However, like mothers usually do, Shirley told me something that Jade failed to mention. Jade was adopted at 18-months-old. “The obstacle is that she was adopted, she was close to her adopted father,” Shirley said. To Jade, there is no distinction between biological and adopted. “She was very close to her adopted father. He owned a motel in Indianapolis. He would sit and talk business with her when she was a little girl, and we love her like our own,” Shirley said.
The co-founder of the UNT chapter of Her Campus, Kayla Charles, flashed a big grin when asked about Jade. While sipping coffee at the campus Starbucks, she used her hands to illustrate Jade’s personality. “Jade isn’t scared to talk to anyone, her confidence is out here,” Kayla said while stretching her arms as far as possible. Jade is a writer for the website and has played a large role in the organization. “When we need someone to recruit new members or get something done I know I can count on Jade,” Kayla said.
Almost every college student complains about being busy, but Jade really has the commitment to back it up. “My planner is my best friend, and I just plan it all out. I have work, then school, then organizations, then I plan my business. It’s pretty hectic,” Jade said. In addition to being a writer and PR head for Her Campus, she is a blogger for the National Association of Black Journalists, a member of the Broadcast Education Association, a part of the Black Women’s Initiative, a member of Faith Filled Women on campus, and has a full course load. Jade also has a YouTube channel where she is starting a “build your brand” series. “A lot of channels do the fashion, beauty and lifestyle, but I want to add business. As a college student I have a lot I want to share. I’m going to talk about the different suppliers and people I work with for the brand and what that process is like,” Jade said.
Jade has overcome many struggles in her journey to UNT, but her mother is truly supportive of her dreams. “I’m constantly on her. I want her to do her best. An education is first. She doesn’t mind working hard, but she’s also my baby,” said Shirley.