Young Woman of the Month: Carmen Veal {December 2015}

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(Photo Credit: Humans of Hartford)

Carmen Veal

Age 30

Lives in Hartford, Connecticut

Q. Can you tell us a little about your life path? What are you doing in your career and community right now and what lead you there?

A. I was born and raised in the north end of Hartford which typically is full of low/no income families surrounded by drugs and violence. My large family didn’t have much money and very little resources so naturally, most individuals raised in this type of environment would end up a statistic. I started as one – having my daughter at age 17, but always knew my life would and could be different.  I got my first corporate job at 19, moved into a better neighborhood in my hometown and had a decent life with my daughter.  Until she was diagnosed with autism, and I realized working a typical 9-5 job with great benefits didn’t seem to be working, so I set forth to change it. 

Challenged with this reality, I sought out to follow my heart. I changed my major to Psychology so that I could work with families struggling with disorders with the hope of helping them.  Additionally, I tapped into a childhood desire to make clothing by teaching myself how to sew (thanks to YouTube) and eventually making clothing for myself and then others.

I started my first company at age 23, which was a clothing company I named after my daughter.  She gave me the courage to not only work hard for myself, but to also be an example for her.  At age 24 I founded nonprofit organization Hope 4 Autism to support families struggling with some of the same things as my daughter and me.

A few life changing experiences along the way influenced my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual growth which allowed me to share my experiences with the world.  I had no clue doing so would lead to my building a solid brand that people would grow and love.

Today, I have been in business for close to seven years. I own a successful and growing Events & Marketing firm that caters to the Beauty, Wellness & Corporate Industries.  I am what I like to consider a change agent, so anything that allows me to make a difference in the community is what I’m drawn towards. I am a proud Bushnell Park Foundation Board Member, advocate for women and girls of color (by way of my Brown Skin Women Network founded in May 2013) and advocate for my daughter who is challenged with a life changing condition.  I share my struggles (and story) because sharing the truth about our lives is important. I refuse to pretend life is all glitz and glam. It isn’t. And we are more alike than unalike.

Q. What does young women’s leadership mean to you?

A. Being the best rated version of yourself – this mean constantly growing and filling yourself with knowledge, love and experiences, not being afraid to fail or grow through pain and struggle, working hard for what you believe and being a good person – and sharing all of it with others.

Q. Do you consider yourself a feminist? What does feminism mean to you?

A. As mentioned, I consider myself a change agent. My life’s mission is to challenge anything that limits or segregates equality and opportunity. I am pro-woman and I’m also not anti-man. I encourage combating inequality in all forms regardless of age, race or sex by leading by example.

Q. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other young women, ages 18-35, about how to build their leadership skills or the importance of becoming a leader?

A. The only thing constant is change so start with your inner being and keep this at the core of your life’s existence. What happens when you do this: You will always aim for more. Work harder.  Work with others so that you can learn from others. Teach others what you have learned. The ONLY limits in this world are the ones you set yourself. There is always a better, easier way- find it. Don’t aim to become a leader, just work on yourself and share your experiences with others, the label will come naturally.

Young Women Rising celebrates one young woman each month by sharing their story here on our blog. If you know of a young woman between the ages of 18-35 that we should consider including please email us at michelle.noehren@cga.ct.gov.

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