Unedited Interview - Vanessa Taylor, owner of Flower Nuts
Q. Tell me something about yourself.
A. My name is Vanessa Taylor. And something about me is that I consider myself more of a spiritual individual having a human experience, more than anything or having a spiritual experience. And I do several things here in the building which has 3 businesses in it. We have a Art Gallery; we have a clothes line, Mandinog Republic, and there is Flower Nuts, which is my personal business, and we have a hair salon in the back which is natural hair care is done and regular hair grooming. And my thing here at the business is that I make sure everything gets sold. We are all kind of creative artists here and we all make the things up and it kind of my responsibility to match the personalities up when they come in that door with the things that are in here.
Q. How long have you been here?
A. I've been here in the particular store, 2 years. It started out with just an idea, I was working around the corner at Fifth Street Dick's, and all of a sudden I had an idea that I wanted to sell flowers, and I came around the corner and the first time I started out, I started out in front with a couple of buckets of flowers. And I started working, and from that point, I made a few more dollars than Stuart, who has been here 28 years and who actually is the shop owner, and was kind of over his head, kind of like an umbrella, he had the building, gave me half of my money to put the flower stand and I put the other half up and then I started with the flower stand. From that I moved to just kind of develop a business called "Flower Nuts". I started to do all the flower arrangements in the art galleries around and how I have some offices that I do. And I sell fresh flowers to the communities on the weekends along with that. So that's how "Flower Nuts" bloomed. And that's happening really well. And it's happening just right, it's not too much - it's just right because I am just one person and so little by little I'm trying to pick up new clients. And when new people come into the Village, so I pick up new clientele on the weekends. So I run that with a clothes line which is another artist, it's called "Mandingo Republic" the artist is from Ghana, Alon he does the designing and makes the clothes up and brings them in. With the clothes line, I do a little bit of marketing and the selling here. When we do shows on the road, I also go along and sell on the road. Some of my other titles is just pretty much keeping the shop in order and maybe kinda of balancing the energy with all the three guys that I work with. You know these are really creative guys and they all have dynamic personalities, they are special people. So I just kinda balance out.
Q. Are you from Los Angeles?
A. Kinda. My family is from New Orleans and I'm kinda just like back and forth. Some of my childhood was spent here, some of my childhood was spent in New Orleans. So I just kinda consider myself in both places.
Q. When did you start selling?
A. 2 years ago. Yeah, it was just kinda a though, that Ijust wanted to be involved with flowers. The other thing that I do and one of the main things that I do; because I did mention in the beginning that I consider myself more of a spiritual person having a human experience, is this is really what feel that I am here for and that is I teach stress management and meditation, holistic healing, I do aromatherapy. So things to relax the individual is really my expertise and even though it appears that I'm selling clothes or selling flowers; my main objective is to being a sense of enlightenment to people. Whether they are buying paintings or whether they are buying clothes or whether they are buying flowers, or whether they are getting their hair twisted, my primary reason for being here in this space; on the planet and in this time is to enlighten.
Q. Why Leimert Park?
A. Why not Leimert Park - it's a wonderful place. I think in terms of places to be right now in the universe this is one of the great places to be, because it's people that have their own minds that are very inspired that are not really run by - let's say outside forces. That there is a strong cultural base here. Here's a rootedness here. There's a sense of looking out and seeing entrepreneurs that mirror yourself. It's not like going some place and you see all these people in business and nobody looks like you or sounds like you or has the experiences that you've had. And here you can walk right next door and you're going through an experience and this person could be going through this same experience. And it's wonderful, and for me it's a oneness, nobody is different we are just expressing in different ways, but there is that oneness, that same agenda, we are all on that same agenda. We primarily just want to have our business and become successful. And I think that's the common thread that kinda holds us together. Be it that there is all kinds of diversities there's all kinds of things going on, and I think that's what keeps the tapestry together, is that we all have one common goal, and that is to be entrepreneurs and to take care of our families, and travel and live out our dreams. And being able to do it in our community. So, that's a thing that is so wonderful here, and I can't think of any other palace that I would be excited about getting up in the morning, getting dressed, doing my meditation, and getting ready to hang out here. I don't even have a need to want to go out, because this is it, this is the place to be. So it's really a blessing and an honor to be here, because people kinda of stumble upon this place. They kinda come and say "Oh, my God I didn't know this place was here", and pretty soon they are coming every weekend and they feel very connected, so there's something that is bigger than all of us here. There is an unspoken kinda energy that it just major, it's bigger than all of us, it's bigger than what our ideas of business is. It's just something phenomenal, that brings me here. And I do have a desire to travel and to have businesses in other places, but I have a strong rottenness, I'd like to remain rooted, like this be my base point.
Q. Is this because of the African American community here?
Q. How has it changed since you've been here? And what's
remained the same?
A. It's always been artsy. I don't think that change, I don't know so much what changed, but for me it's always been a cultural diverse community. I mean I remember back 20 years ago when I went to beauty college here. It still was the spot to be, for people to have their businesses, shops seemed to be the same, there were beauty shops all around here, and they were African American owned, and there was this one phenomenal lady who was definitely my mentor - Lucille Wells, who owned Leimert Park Beauty College and this was maybe 25 years ago. And in less than one year, she opened 9 beauty salons, and she took everyone that was in her school and made them managers and gave them jobs. Even people that were "under ground" coming out of correctional centers, coming out of never having an education. I mean this woman was like a saint, she would take them in, they didn't have to leave. She had one guy that went to the state board 9 times and she never kicked him out of the school an on the 10th time he finally passed the exam and she was able to place him in one of her shops and made him manager of her shop. So it's kinda timeless, the energy that I talk about is bigger than all of us has been here. It's just a matter of the different people who have had the opportunity to tap into it you know.
Q. How do you think the community here will change in the
A. You know I am one who speaks what I'd rather see, so I would say that the only change that I would see is it just growing and beginning to spread like wild fires. There's a lot of thing happening politically but I don't focus on that. I'm a real believer that what you think, see and say, is what you will experience. And so I choose to see a change for the better. I see more and more people becoming more conscious. I see more people coming here, waking up. I see a community that is evolving, like a whole other culture of awareness that is going to spread throughout. I see it raising, not spreading.
Q. How do you think Leimert Park has impacted the surrounding
community, residential - other businesses?
A. I think that Leimert Park is one of the reference points. We get people now, not only from other communities, but we get people from other cities. I've had people come here from New Orleans and ask if I'd be interested in coming to New Orleans and helping to create this type of environment there. So, I believe that we have a voice. I believe that if we put the voice back in that Blacks and African Americans are entrepreneurs and are able to maintain their own businesses and back in the 60's, when everybody wanted to move out to the valley or move out here and move out there, they were in their family structures and they were in their stores and business owners that were Black that we could look at that looked like you and they were very progressive neighborhood stores that were owned by Black people. So I think that this brings the voice back to that and I think that things could only get so bad if there is a word like bad that goes a certain way, and then it has to turn back around, and I think that we've lost some of our children, our families, our family structure, I mean the
worse has happened.
Q. Have you had formal training in any of your businesses?
A. Well I just recently graduated from Cal State Long Beach in psychology. I was a psyche major, which ties in to what I was saying before. I wanted to do psychology from and African perspective, which prompt my trip back to Africa a year ago. I was in west Africa and I spent time in Ghana with Timana Boas, who does traditional healing. And I went through a cleansing process and some teaching there to catapult me in to what I do here. I received a Bachelors from Cal State Long Beach and that's as far as I wanted to go in that particular point with psychology. I didn't want to go into clinical psychology and I do believe that populations are different; cultures are different, and there's different techniques and for me, I believe very strongly that one of the reasons that our African American culture has had some psychological infliction's like drugs, and different things is simply because it's been disconnected from it's spiritual base. That was a premise; that's where my mind was when I first took my Black history class. My attention was focused on that, we just simply lost contact with our inner self. Which was something that was very strong in ancient Africa, our ancestors were always connected spiritually which was what brought them here, their spiritual base. And that once you begin to connect spiritually, with yourself, there are just certain things that you don't want to do, don't allow in your body space. You see things and choose things differently. So, it that base is disconnected then your choices are disconnected, so my premises was built on that and that's what I wanted to do - come back and reconnect the community with that spirit - with that power - with that intuitiveness. And that's what I do with the process of meditation. I meditate, I take instruction from George Quant who taught 20 years in a transmeditation facility back with Mini Rippleton and Stevie Wonder were meditating in the 60's. George was with them, and George was actually employed by Suzanne DaPass and he works with Predictcan and he also was - a peer with Deepak Choopak. So him and I had lead a workshop together a meditation workshop. So a lot of my meditation education came from George. And I just incorporate those things - my African teachings as well as what I learned at Cal State Long Beach in terms of technique, but kind of inter weaving the both of them together. Using some of the counseling styles with traditional ways of healing. I also am a aromatherapist, so the same way around the Egyptian times they used aromatherapy to heal, so I incorporate that as well in my healings. So, you know I can't say that that's how I would tell anybody else to do it, I just know that it felt comfortable for me. And that I believe that - that is just the way that I should be doing it. You know I been told - "you're not going to get your masters - you're not going to go on and get your doctrine" - and be me I believe strongly in the way that I'm being guided. And if that works for me and I see how it's helped and worked for many, many others and not only that - even the way the planet is shifting - even the things that are happening, it's like I had this thought and I hear what happening and there's actually a conversation going on about it now. I mean you see it on Ophra's new way of television or what ever. That's all they are talking about is healing and you know holistic ways. And a lot of things that they are talking about came from indigenous people - from African or even Asian - you know it came from the old tradition - that is coming forth again.I remembered a long time ago when I went to Sedona and a psychologist actually told me I was entering in at the right time, from the way I thought. Because there was a point when they wouldn't mix the two, they wouldn't mix spirituality with psychology, which was just a no, no. And now at this point they see a big correlation. In fact I got into a big argument with one of my professors back in junior college, he said, "well you can't live like that Vanessa because you need facts and evidence, and I'm telling him that I am the facts and the evidence, because I knew what my life was a very long time ago as to where it is now. So, I'm my own study. But later on the class was critical thinking and I realized that the object of the class was to learn the things on my own, and I realized the instructor was, you know it didn't really make a big difference because the instructor was the instructor. The class was learning things on their own. So I kinda got it and it was funny because about 2 weeks later they had a study on plants and they had a prayer group in the study in the laboratory that would circle around some plants that weren't living that were kinda sickly. And then they had a group around that didn't pray. And the prayer group plants started to show different levels of energy and the plants began to come alive. So that happened about a week or so after and I was able to bring him the kind of facts and evidence he wanted to back what I was saying.
Q. What did he say?
A. Well he had to agree with it afterwards. He had toagree with it. It's really hard for a teacher to. Unless he's a really good teacher, accept the fact that a student may know a little more. Or know something else.
(TAPE WAS STOPPED AT THIS POINT).
A. I just like to see more and more of the consciousness.I think that what it has here is a great seed. I'd like to see that seed blossom. I'd like to see people, the tourist, recognize that we are here. I'd like to see it be supported like some of the other places like Westward, or the Beverly Center. You know all the different places that are advertised. I'd like us to have that fairness of advertisement. I'd like to speak to the media and tell the real story about what Leimert Park is about and not have shooting that are not even in Leimert Park. But when the write them up in the paper they write them up like this shooting took place in Leimert Park, so that we are getting some type of bad name. When people hear of this place, they think, oh well they had this shooting there and automatically think, "oh we shouldn't go there". I mean we had some German tourist that were here that were just so blown away at this community, but we had been portaraited in the media that some violent thing was going to erupt and happen. And they came here and they just love this place. So, I'd like to see the truth be told in a big way. I'd like to see the traffic coming and I'd like not just to have one great day. But I'd like to come to work and be busy. Because we have some phenomenal products. I mean the clothes line you couldn't find anywhere, you couldn't find it on Melrose. You know our prices are within reason. This man is doing actual art on clothing. This is not just something that he's sewn together together, but he's actually taking time and painting and re-doing the fabric. So there is a lot of work being put in here when a Ralph Lauren sticks a label on a regular Polo shirts - and it just sells, I'd like to see that kind of fairness. And not that I have anything against those clothes because I wear them. But I'd like to see the same kind of fairness being done here.
Q. Do you think more of that is coming into play with the new
building that is being built on the corner?
A. I'd like to talk about what I'd like to see. I'd like to think that these buildings are going to be brought up and are going to bring more people into the community. I'd like to see that vision and that's the vision I choose to see. I want to see primarily, yes - the Black owners here. But it doesn't mean that we don't want to open it up to diverse cultures to come in and to shop and to enjoy the jazz, and the coffee shops and the art galleries, and to purchase things. Most of the time when people purchase African art they'll go on Melrose and they'll find somebody that's non-African and purchase art from there. When these people, this is their livelihood. And you see the African's that are here and they actually have their precious art from their country and you can find it here. I'd like to see the fairness. The same opportunities as the other shopping centers, the Galleries and the other Malls. Because I know that on it's own and with out exposure, who can hold their own.
(THE TAPE WAS TURNED OFF AT THIS POINT - THEN
A. When I first came out, I did get involved. And I'm involved for the standpoint that not actually an on going paid up member. But in terms of going and being a part of it in that way, yes.
Q. Do you think with the new African Community Development
Coordinator - Beverly Cashen, do you think that with here in that
position, that would help?
A. I am really not informed enough to elaborate on that because, I'm just not a really political person. I deal a lot from a spiritual perspective, and so in terms of the politics of it, I just don't care to be involved in that way.
Q. Is there anything else you would like to say
about the community or yourself?
A. I think it's a wonderful thing that you're doing an interview like this and that there is a voice. Because life does exist in a conversation and no matter whether the conversation looks like its through a newspaper, or a student doing a report, it's still conversation going on about this place. I appreciate you being here. I appreciate your consciousness. I appreciate that you heard and saw this
place enough to want to talk about it and take it to another level. Take it into a classroom setting. I think that's a wonderful thing in itself.
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