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Valerie Sampayo

New Jersey | Braid Stylist

I am a first-generation Latin American with parents from Barranquilla, Colombia. I have lived in Clifton, NJ since I was 4. I love my cultural background. The flavor of the people’s spirits, music, and food is one that I admire. From the cumbia, arepas de huevo, to the Carnaval de Barranquilla, I was always so proud to have that be a part of me and my families customs growing up despite living in the U.S. As a child, I was inclined towards crafty things one of them being hairstyling! During my early teens, I was intrigued by braids worn by the Ruff Ryders First Lady, Eve in their ‘What Ya’ll Want’ video. I LOVED how they looked on her and I wanted to learn! Shortly after learning to braid my hair I began braiding my friends’ hair. By the age of 16, I was running a by-appointment schedule out of my living room. Braiding remained my side hustle through high school and college. After a change of heart in careers, I decided to grab the bull by the horns and left my full-time job in April 2018. This has been the best decision I have ever made. I have had the opportunity to express my creativity and most importantly – meet and connect with amazing people!

What have been your struggles as a Latina?

I find that being a first-generation Latino Americana has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced. Such factors being the language barrier with family and finances. I remember my parents not always being capable of helping me with homework because they did not understand the material, or they couldn’t financially afford some of the extracurricular activities other kids experienced. Although these aspects create challenges other Americans may not face, the value of our families sacrifice, leaving their loved ones, country, and culture for the betterment of our people is an example of love, one that motivates me to push on and that I cannot allow being made in vain. I am forever thankful for my family and parents for the life they laid out for me.

What does Latina Made mean to you?

Latina Made to me means that I defy societies’ stereotypical ideas of what a Latin female is capable of. That with my cultural background I too can sit, do, and mingle amongst the majority of those who are considered successful. And one Latina at the time can raise the bar of expectations for us.

What advice would you give young Latinas in our community?

Be your best Latina self loud and proud! Do not let society dictate nor define who you are and what you are capable of; you are worthy and deserving.

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