Hispanic Heritage Month in the USA runs from September 15th to October 15th and is meant to honor the cultures and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans. It’s a great time to celebrate Hispanic heritage and the unique and varying subcultures across many communities. Valerie Madison Jewelry is proud to be Black-Latina owned in an industry that has long been homogenous. Valerie brings her own heritage and culture into her business in a variety of ways, so we’re sharing a glimpse into how she imbues Valerie Madison Jewelry with her Latina heritage and what makes her especially proud to be Latina. Read on below!
How does your Latina background show up in your designs?
I find my hispanic culture’s language to be so beautiful so I’ve always been inspired to give many (not all) of my setting styles names that make sense in both English and Spanish. It’s a subtle nod to my heritage and in a way it’s fun to ensure that this part of my heritage shows up in my business. My ring setting names are said and repeated over and over by my staff and customers and it’s a lovely thing to hear. You'll see I have settings called Marisol, Selena, Eva, Reina, Princesa, etc.
Please share your favorite family memories that remind you of your heritage.
When I was growing up, my Mexican grandmother was never far away and some of my favorite memories are those of my grandma making tortillas by hand, keeping the growing stack warm by keeping them covered by a kitchen towel. I’d pull a hot tortilla from the center and lather on butter, cinnamon, and sugar. There’s nothing else quite like it. Delicioso!
What makes you especially proud to be Latina?
I am so proud to be a Mexican Black woman. I’m aware that I may not look Mexican to a passerby, but I am, con todo mi alma, although I know that I don’t have to prove that to anyone. My grandma immigrated here in the 1970’s for a better life for herself and her children, not speaking any English but figuring it out on her own. I’ve witnessed a certain strength and determination that can only come from being here in America as an immigrant. From that I adopted my own pride, good work ethic, and gratitude for the sacrifices made to give me the life I have today.
Any Latinx figures that you look up to/admire?
While I grew up exposed to more mainstream Latinx icons (Christina, Thalía, Selena, etc.) I’ve always known it could be supplemented by a deeper dive into Latinx literature and art, so I am always welcoming suggestions! I have some books by Isabel Allende on my to-read list and I am always down to watch Pati Jinich teach Mexican cooking.