Today we’d like to introduce you to Staci Valentine.
Staci, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Ever since I can remember, I have loved art, food, nature, music and beauty found in the simplest of things. As a youngster, my free moments were spent drawing, gardening, helping in the kitchen and listening to music whenever possible.
I grew up in Detroit with my grandmother and was bussed to school, so I had plenty of time to longingly daydream about some sunny place called California which I knew existed because my mom resided there. At thirteen, my daydream became a reality when my mom came to swoop up my brother and me. It would have been an understatement to say that I was thrilled.
I moved out at seventeen, got a full-time corporate job and started throwing dinner parties on the weekends. My love of food blossomed further and in my downtime, I started developing recipes for a Santa Monica café. Things progressed and any free evening and weekend was spent working in various high-end restaurant pastry kitchens or assisting on catering jobs.
After a few years stint at a cooking start-up company, many of us were laid off. A fellow co-worker phoned and asked if I would be interested in cooking for a celebrity on the movie they were filming in Prague. “Yes!” I exclaimed. Within a week of being laid off, I found myself flying to my next adventure.
During those years, I traveled to many destinations including Vietnam and India. While on these trips, I photographed food markets and hauntingly beautiful faces in remote villages. After returning home, I ended up with a photography show in a Santa Monica gallery and was included in the ABSOLUT biennial, which was an honor.
Without knowing it at the time, all of these experiences were building layers that would culminate into one of my current passions, The Woodhaven House. It is in this space where my bees pollinate the wildflowers that become my limited-edition honey, where I tend to my bountiful fruit trees, host music and movie evenings and where guests come to festive dinner parties under the stars. The space has also been used for photo-shoots, filming and event rentals.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road has definitely not always been smooth, but I truly believe that attitude is what makes or breaks you when things are tough. I think my biggest struggle is remembering it is okay to ask for help since I am used to doing most things on my own.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about The Woodhaven House – what should we know?
There are different iterations of my company. My space, The Woodhaven House, hosts concerts, movie nights and dinners in the garden. It is also available for photo-shoots, filming and event rentals. Because of my diverse creative background (photographer, chef, beekeeper, gardener) and my design sense, I have created a warm and inviting space where people want to spend time leisurely. We are so spread out in Los Angeles. This space helps to create a sense of community, which is something I hold near and dear to my heart.