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Rising Stars: Meet Karen Sanchez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karen Sanchez.

Hi Karen, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
Hola Voyage LA readers! My name is Karen Sanchez and I was born in El Salvador, I am an Aquarius, a perennial student, and Pug Guardian to Banjo and Rocket. I traveled from San Salvador to Los Angeles when I was 7. My journey to LA consisted of traveling by foot, car and train and my care was entrusted to strategically placed stangers along the way. Shoutout to the ancestors for watching over me.

I attended public schools in LA, followed by a now-defunct trade school, then junior colleges, and lastly USC to learn about Astronomy. My career in Fashion overlapped with college so I found myself taking calls with vendors between classes and picking up samples on my days off. I interned at an Interior Design company over a semester that was working on the new Office and Living quarters for the Obamas during their first term. That was pretty neat. As of the last few years, I’ve worked in the beauty industry and have had the amazing opportunity to be able to donate Human and Synthetic Wigs to Trans Centers and Sex Workers across the country including NYC, Washington DC, Philadelphia, and LA.

My lived experience has allotted me a great deal of knowledge and often being the only POC and/or POC Woman in many rooms I’ve made it my business to keep the door open for those coming up behind me. I’ve learned to be a leader and collaborator by seeing others doing it really well, and learned just as much seeing others doing it terribly. Pouring back into the BIPOC community is something that is incredibly important to me. I’ve been fortunate to be able to donate my time, money, products, and served on the Board of non-profit championing girl’s education. I encourage others to find creative ways to do what they can and be mindful that everyone has something that is of value they can share. My podcast TeamDAYDA encapsulates who I am and my unrelenting desire to highlight BIPOC voices moving our communities forward.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I knew that in regards to what I wanted to create, Iknew it would need to be something with low overhead to start. I’d been a fan of podcasts for over a decade and my first attempt left me questioning the direction of my vision. Three years later, I gave it another shot but this time, I am leaning on my team’s creativity and talent that I both cherish and value. My direction with the TeamDAYDA podcast is far more intentional and the goals are clear. Sharing our stories is instrumental to our healing, these stories are being shared in a space that centralizes BIPOC voices and is meant for BIPOC ears. For too long, our stories have been told to us by people who are not part of our community and could never understand our lived experience. I am one of a wave of individuals looking to strengthen our communities and it’s a beautiful thing to see.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
We are reclaiming and reimagining the Spanish “dicho” or saying that beckons us to believe we are “Ni De Aqui Ni De Alla”, which translates to “I’m neither from here nor from there”. DAYDA regards the diaspora and encourages us all to step into our power and counter that dialogue and exclaim we are “De Aqui Y De Alla”, meaning we are very much “from here and from there”. Although this saying is in Spanish I suspect every language and diaspora has a version of this rhetoric. It places us in this purgatory of not belonging to our motherland or this new place we’ve been brought to when in reality it is all one land that we should respect and honor. My hope is that we will evolve as a whole and realize that man-made borders will not define us. This podcast is a labor of love, it is a team effort. Those who are open to coming on this journey with us will learn alongside us from individuals championing our communities, we will plant the seeds in hopes of blooming a lush and rich bounty of community. Moving forward is going to be a team effort, this is TeamDAYDA.

Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
Healing takes time, understanding takes time, learning takes time, and our time is what most of us sell in exchange for a paycheck. Those with the good fortune to have time and a skill set that may help others absolutely should. It is our duty to help take the load off those groups doing the work that will ultimately move us all forward. Black Women in particular have been leading the way for centuries and we are indebted to them. The Trans community is in need of our support and understanding and when we have conversations that center on Women, Trans Women must be included. Liberation for Black Women is liberation for us all.

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