The only way I can describe my sorority big sister, Victoria Merriweather, is lighting in a bottle. Her personality and spirit are not meant to be captured through words. At twenty-four years old, Victoria has a plethora of life experiences that I believe can be insightful to anyone.
Two years after her graduation, she has been pursuing her passion for entrepreneurship, which was something I’ve always been interested in but never thought of going towards. She has been working endlessly to pursue her vision, and I think entrepreneurship suits her perfectly. But I wanted to know more about her drive and motivations.
Goals are the bullet points of visions.
How did you get started in your fitness trainer?
I just graduated from college, and I was sitting with my family. They said, “Wow Victoria, we’re sorry to say this, but the only thing we see you doing is working in the fitness industry.” And I sat there thinking “after 4 years, you’re telling me that this is something you guys can see me doing.” The first mistake was listening to what they saw for me instead of seeing it for myself. And in life, if you’re going to base what you want to go off of what people see for you, you are not setting yourself up for success. You must see it for yourself. A vision can’t be implanted into your mind; you have to be able to envision yourself, and that goes for everything. If not then life will be very monotonous. Vision has to be revisited; it is so strong that you must be able to see it, not just seeing it in your mind. Before you know it, that thought will be gone.
I lost my job, and that was when I started working as a trainer and started in the fitness industry. And that took four months after my family told me that. I had to see it for myself and it was now or never. Losing my job was the best thing that happened to me. It reminded me that I was just another number when it comes to working for a company. I know that I had to find something where I was not going to be another number; I wanted to be able to make an impact in someone’s life that was through training.
What made you thought about quitting?
Money. You can’t be motivated by money. When you are an entrepreneur, you can’t just be motivated by money because it will not always be there, maybe not in the beginning. I felt depressed and discouraged, and when people hear that they will think that you are not passionate about it. But I wasn’t losing passion, I was just discouraged. But you are needing time to recoup and build yourself back up. It is a trick of your mind and it often happens to the best of us. Just because you don’t want to do something today doesn’t mean you don’t love it. For example, your friend is getting on your nerves, but that doesn’t mean you don’t love them; you just need to take some time away. You can’t always do that with your business; sometimes you have to dig deep. It is so easy to get those two things confused.
Are there things you wish you can change?
Oh yeah, I know people would say that bullsh*t, but I would go back to college and start over. I would change my major and promote myself even more. But it would have been a lot easier, and I believe the place where I am at now allows me to truly explain my journey to people. It’s not too late; if you graduated college and you realized you aren’t where you want to be, then you can change. It might be hard, but I can’t tell you many things in life that are easy. People want an easy life; it is easy to spend money and not get it back. But life is all about tribulations and experiencing; everything goes back to having a vision.
If I can give a piece of advice to any entrepreneur, it is to stop comparing yourself to other people. You don’t know anything about them; they may be taking nice pictures in their one-bedroom apartment and have no beds. They can be taking pictures in a mansion that they rented for a photoshoot. I met a lady who was in real estate, and she was getting discouraged because she made the mistake of comparing her ten-months business to someone who was in the business for ten years. You really don’t know what people are doing; keep on being an inspiration to yourself and to others.
What is one advice you would give young girls on body image?
Everyone’s body is different; we all have the same things in our body but we are constructed differently. Do what makes you happy, don’t stop eating, be consistent in a diet. Compare yourself to yourself. Healthy living is a lifestyle; you shouldn’t just go on diet fads. Anything that is quick is going to go quick. If and when I have kids, I will also teach them how to love themselves. Your friends and family may love you unconditionally, but you have to learn to love yourself.
A couple of years ago, I asked you for your goals, and you said it was to inspire other black girls in your community and being able to be their role model. Does that goal still play a part in your current vision?
So my vision has changed in terms of who I want to inspire; it is no longer just the black community but entrepreneurs in general. Because I am black, I know that there is a lack of role models who are tangible to the community. I want to inspire all. I am much more relatable now. In college, you have your friends and family telling you to do what you love to do, but then you get into the real world and you realize what you love to do can’t pay for your car or rent. Working a 9-5pm is draining and tiring, and some people get so drained coming home and they don’t have the drive to work on their side hustles. You do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do. That’s why entrepreneurs who are still going after several years; you should talk to them. They have to fight. For most entrepreneurs, you have to be able to remain positive; you can’t let pessimistic thoughts get to you. It’s like having that one person in the room that can ruin everyone’s mood; it’s like, “What is she doing here? I thought we were having a birthday party; who invited The Debbie Downer?”
You can be having a great day and someone can hit your car and it ruin your day. Those things are strong and they can do much damage. You have to find things that make you happy. We spend so much time focusing on other people’s lives but we rarely focus on our own happiness. We are readily giving people praise, but we don’t even praise ourselves. How are you going to get better if you don’t praise yourself?
I wanted to quit my fitness work, but then the owner at the gym I was working out at asked me if I had a vision. I told him I did, but I didn’t. A vision is hard to write down, many more details and more long-term than goals. Goals are the bullet points of visions.
When I wrote my vision out, it helped me to see how I can do things that better my passion. I started to realize that I wanted to do what I wanted to do around what I had to do, but it should have been the opposite. Many of my role models, those a lot of people would say are prominent on Instagram, have full-time jobs. They are pursuing their dreams by doing the things they have to do so they can do the things they want to do. People bust their butts. It doesn’t happen overnight; many people like myself would work on their own business for one year and they start asking “Where’s the money? Where’s the sponsorship?” And that’s when most people quit, but that’s when you have to keep going. My brother started producing in the music industry with two speakers and a laptop, and that was six years ago. He just started to take off. It is a grind, but most people give up once things start to get rolling. You just have to keep pushing and before you know it, you are pushing yourself so hard that people start to take notice of your work. You have to be consistent, some people go for six months but then they’ll fall off. You are inspiring people who say they don’t even see what you’re doing, they’re thinking about the same thing you think about them and you are inspiring them to work harder. It is so much easier to quit, so much easier to work 9-5, go home and sleep. But the people who want to make something out of themselves, they are out on the weekend, working on their side hustles and networking with others. That’s what they don’t teach you in college.
The thing about millennials is, just working is not enough; we want to build something. We are attracted to the fast-paced environment, but there is a beauty in slowing down and reflecting. Reflection is necessary to grow; if you can’t remember what you’ve done the day before, then you can’t figure out what you can do better and grow from it.
I’ve always looked up to Victoria. She is an amazing role model, humble and inspiring. Through all of our deep conversations, I know in my heart that Victoria is meant to achieve many great things, and the impact that she is going to make in her community is going to be tremendous. If you are looking to start your own side hustle, I hope that her story will inspire you to charter into new territories for entrepreneurship.