We had the good fortune of connecting with Velvet Lenae and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Velvet, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
My thought process wasn’t necessarily about initially starting my own business. It was about being a Creative. An Artist with a FREEDOM outlet. That later turned into a business of creating my own lane. A lane that is dominated by men…
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I want to highlight Erotic Art in a different way. A few different ways, actually. There are Photographers that capture only Erotic images and it may become a Coffee Table Book. Images only, no writing. And there are Authors that only write Erotic Novels. Writing only, no images. At the time I hadn’t seen the 2 married. My thought was to capture Erotic Images and write the short stories and/or poems to couple with those captured Erotic images. I also wanted to capture images that show body image and sexuality acceptance in the Black Community, without highlighting a tits and ass only image. Wait! Can I say that? In case, my wording has to be censored, let me change it to….without highlighting only breasts and booty images. Don’t get me wrong, I capture breasts and booty, but it’s not highlighted as the only focus. I also don’t heavily Photoshop. At the most, I do a little cropping and color enhancement, but I don’t remove back/stomach rolls, stretch marks and small scars. I also don’t change a person’s body by making them smaller, adding hips, booty, breasts, etc. The images remain who that person is when they were captured. Another thought was was to highlight Black Erotic/Black Love from an Art perspective. I see a lot of Erotic pages on IG that rarely highlight Black Erotic images within the Art Industry. Lastly, I wanted all of these things viewed and shared proudly by participants, followers, supporters and admirers, without the worry of judgment from others. I was really nervous to move forward with this Book because most people didn’t know this side of me. I didn’t even know this side of me, which is the reason why it was so important to move forward. I was anxious, scared and excited all at the same time. It was needed because I had rediscovered a side of me that was suppressed because of caring about how others would judge me. Once I felt liberated and didn’t care, I knew that this NEEDED to be created and revealed to the world for others like me. And also for those that were comfortable and already on the level of being completely liberated. I want to continue to create my own lane because there have been some challenges along the way. Those challenges include social media censoring, page removals from YouTube and IG, Book removal from Amazon, one of my annual Erotic Art Shows almost being cancelled within 2 days before and the list goes on. I need to continue this so that other Creatives like me will experience lesser challenges than I have had. I’ve been knocked down to the point of wanting to let go of this journey. But today, I’m still here. I desperately want to achieve my vision for Bare It All, not just for me, but for others like me. This includes Creatives and/or everyday people.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Tassili’s Raw Reality Cafe Whole Foods Rooftop Destas Other than that, Atlanta generally has a lot of festivals year around.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I hesitate to do this because I don’t want to leave anybody out. But I also want to try to show love, recognition and appreciation to those that have been there from the beginning and those that jumped in to show support wherever they could. Skil’d Verse- He influenced Bare It All. The reason Bare It All exists. Everybody that has participated in Bare It All Books and projects. Without them, there would be no Bare It All. Special thanks and much appreciation goes out to them for Baring It All, without the worry of judgment from the world. Timberly Blanton- The Beginning. My Photography Mentor. James Pennie- A Creative and friend that helped recruit the type of people needed to start Bare It All. Lelund Marzell- My Brother, the only family member I told right away and made me feel comfortable to move forward and keep going. He has supported me in multiple ways throughout this journey. Sara and Cameica- My 2 best friends that have been my sisters in life and supported me throughout…even though they didn’t see this coming…. Jasmine Smith-Many thanks goes to her, as she has assisted me in multiple ways and put up with my meticulous ways. She has also been my co-host for my Annual Erotic Art Shows and Live Panels. She has definitely been essential to implementing anything innovatively related to Bare It All. Tammy Smart- For helping my family and being there for me when needed, while building Bare It All. Nate Ellis- He has always been an amazing friend and business supporter. I can’t thank him enough. Brian Pinkney- A talented Creative and friend that supports me in various ways. More than I can list and count. Tomika- An amazing friend and supporter. She has been there and supported without a second thought. Staci Wise- Huge supporter and always expressed availability if I needed anything. LJ Person- A Creative that has supported me by being in front of the camera and behind the camera, capturing behind the scenes. Corey Williams and Cory Nellon- Creatives that have been there for me creatively, through the transition of Bare It All becoming what it is. My Bare It All Group/Family- A group that has become family. They have shown support in every way possible and helped keep my head up through hard times. Last, but not least…My Significant Other, Lamar P. My biggest fan, supporter and shoulder to lean on. Thank you soooooo much! Thanks to all of my supporters, social media followers and other creatives that have accepted, shared and embraced my art.