#IAmUniqueToo: Girls and Women Share What Makes Them Unique in Self-Love Campaign

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We teamed up with the talented Sharlene-Monique, a U.K.-based singer, songwriter, and blogger to create #IAmUniqueToo - a self-love campaign.

We asked girls and women around the world one question: "What makes you unique?" They had to sum it up in a 30-60 second audio and we compiled your responses.

It was amazing to hear everyone's gifts, talents, and aspirations. We hope this audio inspires you to identify your unique contribution to this world. Enjoy!

Let's keep the conversation going! We want to hear what makes YOU unique. Post a picture or video on Instagram sharing what makes you unique. Be sure to use the #IAmUniqueToo hashtag so we can see!

The Two Ah-ha! Moments That Inspired Me to Live in Purpose, on Purpose

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In Spring 2015, I received a “3” performance rating on my annual review. Although the rating was considered a successful contributor, I felt it wasn’t aligned with my contributions for the year.  I requested a meeting with my manager to discuss our difference in opinion. My performance year was a unique situation – I was reporting to three different managers during that time period. So, all of them were in the meeting that day. 

I came prepared. I gave them examples of how I went above and beyond my call of duty throughout the year. I expressed that receiving that rating made me feel unmotivated and I wanted their feedback on my performance. They listened attentively, and when I was done, one of the managers simply said, “We don’t want you to feel unmotivated. You’re a great worker, but your contributions didn’t directly impact the business.” If someone had dropped a brick on my chest, I don’t know if that would’ve equated to the pain and disappointment I felt that day.

Ah-ha! Moment #1: Don’t Die Without Sharing Your Gifts

Flashback to New Year's Eve 2012, when I received an epiphany after Bishop Dale Bronner said, “Don’t die with your gifts still on the inside of you; impart to others what was entrusted to you.” I spent 2013 compiling poems and short stories written from age 6 to 26, and later in 2014, I published “My Channeled Energy” on my birthday. That was the first time I believed I could share my writing gifts and make supplemental income from it. But the negative self-talk, coupled with the disbelief that I could actually make it by sharing my gifts set it in. So, I decided to keep my creative fire dimmed and focus on proving my value in Corporate America. 

But telling me that my contributions didn’t directly impact the business lit a fire underneath me. It gave me just enough ammunition to shift gears out of my dormant state. I thought, Well, if I’m not impacting their business, then I’m going to figure out how to use my own gifts to impact people’s lives

Ah-ha! Moment #2: Create Your Own Impact

I had been sitting on a children’s book idea for a while. The idea actually came to me when I was working on “My Channeled Energy.” Not wanting to take my focus off that project, I quickly jotted down a few notes so I wouldn’t forget the vision and saved it on my thumb drive.

Soon after I received my performance rating and the managers’ feedback, I went home, found the thumb drive, and started developing the storyline. In Fall 2015, “I Am Unique!” was born – a story about self-love that stemmed from my childhood insecurity of having a birthmark. I hired an illustrator and we worked magically together.  Waking up early to work on my passion project before heading to the 9-5 was my way of life for several months. Then in January 2016, “I Am Unique!” was published.

Two months later, I was laid off and left with mixed emotions. I was relieved that I was released from an unfulfilling job, but also scared because I had no other source of income. I spent 2016 taking “I Am Unique!” to schoolsyouth empowerment groups, and non-profit organizations to share the message of self-love and the importance of sharing your gifts. My former managers might not have seen the impact I made on their business, but I could see firsthand the impact my story was making in girls’ lives. After a reading at my former elementary school, one little girl came up to me and said, “You’re my new role model.” This is a testament to what happens when you honor your gifts. I’m continuing to build the “I Am Unique!” brand with aspirations of positioning Erin, the main character, as the face of self-love. She embodies my personal motto to “live your life undimmed” because I believe we should do work that sets our soul on fire, to not play small in life, and to stand fearlessly in all our power. 

This journey has been daunting, yet liberating. While there is no blueprint to destiny, I have been entrusted with the opportunity to walk in my purpose, on purpose. I stopped trying to prove my value to others that may never get it and started directing my talents, time, and attention toward people who actually do. My hope is that through my books and passion projects, I inspire others to do the same.


What was THE "ah-ha!" moment that set you on the path you're on today?

Jennifer Speaks to APU's Entrepreneurs at Founder's Dinner

Jennifer learned so much from participating in Zuventurez's pitch competition last year, so when they asked her to come back and share some tips with the entrepreneurs, she couldn't resist.

The teams wanted to know how she was able to weave her story into her 5-minute pitch so seamlessly. Her strategy was to lean more on the story vs. the financials (which was another one of the components required in the pitch).

The most common question Jennifer gets when she talks about "I Am Unique!" is, "What was the inspiration behind writing this book?" That leads us to believe that people care more about WHY you do something vs. WHAT you do (side note: watch Simon Sinek's Ted Talk on how great leaders inspire action). 

Jennifer might not have been able to convince the judges that our brand is scalable, but that didn't stop her from getting the highest score on all the rounds leading up to the final pitch.


Jennifer Pitches "I Am Unique!" at 2017 InnovateHER Competition

On June 2, Jennifer, along with 8 other entrepreneurs, pitched their businesses for a chance to be the local winner of InnovateHER, powered by the LA Black Investors Club. InnovateHER is a pitch competition that provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs to showcase innovative products or services that help impact and empower the lives of women and families.The competition was held at The Creative House in Downtown Inglewood. 

If you're selected as the local winner, you then are entered into another pool where the Small Business Association (SBA) chooses 10 finalists to pitch at the National InnovateHER Conference in 2017. The finalists compete for as much as $40,000 for their business!

Jennifer was the runner up, so she wasn't selected as the local winner. Nonetheless, she met some incredible people at the event. Some of them are pictured above. They all have different journeys, but they have one thing in common: they have a vision and are audacious enough to see it through. 

Jennifer Vassel Takes 3rd Place in Zuventurez's 2016 Pitch Competition

On November 15, 2016, Jennifer participated in Zuventurez's pitch competition, powered by Azusa Pacific University.

Zuventurez is a 10-week program that equips the student and alumni community with curriculum presented from a Christian perspective; all the while creating opportunities for team building, professional coaching and mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs.

Each week, participants had to pitch their brand in front of judges. The way they made it to the next round was by points tallied up on the judging scorecards. Participants pitched each week for 3 weeks until 7 teams made it to finals.


Jennifer placed 3rd out of 30+ teams, earning her $2,000 for her business. During one of the 5-minute pitching rounds, 5 of 9 judges purchased I Am Unique! for their daughters! One of them even choked up up thinking about how much it will help his child.


All photos courtesy of Zuventurez.

Cool Kids Read

In celebration of World Literacy Day, the folks over at Southbay Pavillion held a Cool Kids Read event. Cool Kids Read shows kids the fun of reading through games, facepainting, and reading throughout the day. Jennifer read our story to the attendees. Parents also came by the book to learn more about the story.

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Her Eyes Matter: Mother-Daugther Picnic

Her Eyes Matter is an event powered by Black Businesswomen Rock, a community committed to increasing the network and net worth of black businesswomen around the world. We spent a sunny afternoon on a mother-daughter picnic at Liberty Park in Cerritos, CA.

Attendees participated in hula hoop and double dutch contents, mother-daughter time, and a reading from Jennifer.

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The girls were attentive and participated in the Q&A discussion afterward. It was nice to build community and absorb some of that good ol' vitamin D.

Read Aloud at Compton's CDF Freedom School

Read Lead is an educational initiative that provides literacy and leadership opportunities for youth and young adults in Los Angeles County. They are also the official site sponsor of the national Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools program. The CDF Freedom Schools® program seeks to empower children to make a difference in their communities, families, and most importantly - themselves.

By providing summer and after-school reading enrichment for children who might otherwise not have access to books, the CDF Freedom Schools program plays a much needed role in helping to curb summer learning loss and close achievement gaps.

One of Read Lead's programs is Read Aloud, where guests from the community are invited to come and read to the students. When Jennifer was invited to read I Am Unique! at Compton's Freedom School, she couldn't resist. 

The kids were lively and full of energy! 

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Even Compton's mayor, Aja Brown was in attendance. We had a chance to chat with one of the CDF Freedom School site coordinators, Tatiana McGlorthan. She helped to coordinate a 6-week literacy program, which focused on higher learning, critical thinking skills, and culturally relevant literature. When asked why representation matters in the school system and beyond, here's what she had to say: 

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We fully support Read and the CDF Freedom School's partnership. To learn more about Read Lead and the other amazing programs they offer, visit their site here.