Valentina Gómez is a fearless business owner and strong female leader on a mission to help other small business owners. She has been on all sides of the branding and communications business, from the client, to the agency, the artist, the creative, the teacher, the business owner, and the service provider. Having been in her industry for 16 years, she is a serial entrepreneur who has founded several businesses that span many different sectors. Along the way, she earned five degrees and an MBA. She applies her multicultural background, life experience, and love of learning to her businesses and all of her endeavors. Her journey, and the passion that she brings to everything she creates, makes her one of Woodlands WCE’s Most Inspiring Women.
Gómez was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. As a child of parents in the oil and gas field, she moved often. Although she spent most of her life in Venezuela, she lived in Germany for a summer as part of a student exchange program. After college, she moved to Argentina for her MBA. Upon receiving her degree, she returned to Venezuela to be a professor at her alma mater. She then moved to the United States and has been living in The Woodlands area for almost five years.
Gómez has enjoyed her travels, and experiencing change has taught her a lot along the way. “It’s been an interesting life; I’ve been very lucky and blessed,” said Gómez. “I would say my biggest challenge has been constant change, adapting to a new market, coming to a new country, living in different countries, meeting different people, speaking different languages – that is always challenging and at the same time very inspiring.”
Gómez always knew she wanted to work in communications or journalism. “Growing up I worked at every school newspaper and if there was not a school newspaper, I created it. I’ve always been a nerd, I think I always will be; so school was fun for me. When the time came to go to college, I decided to go for a mass media communications degree, the fact that I could study PR, marketing, journalism, advertising, TV, film, and radio all together was just fascinating,” recounted Gómez. “I have always been a very creative and artistic person ever since I was a little kid, so I have always been drawn to beautiful things, aesthetics and design but I’m also one of those rare hybrids that have both dominant left and right brains, which is sometimes hard to balance.”
Her love for business has been a driving force in her life. “I love business, I always knew I wanted my own business which is why I did an MBA in the first place – I wanted to know how to run my own ship. I have a Bachelors degree in mass media Communications with a minor in advertising; I have a Masters in Business Administration with a minor in Strategic Marketing. I also have Graphic Design, Web Design, Art Direction, and Digital Photography degrees.”
Continued Gómez, “I’m sure there will be more certifications in the future, I love learning and I take what I do very seriously and I work hard to be the best at it because my clients, my community, my colleagues and my team deserve the absolute best.”
Gómez is passionate about learning and is constantly seeking knowledge from books as well professionals in her field. “I am definitely not self-taught. Although I study every day, I’m very curious and again I’m a nerd so I study a lot, but there were many people that taught me a lot of what I know today. Of course, there is an intrinsic, born-with talent but it’s also all about nurture, not just nature,” revealed Gómez.
Starting out, she endeavored to gain experience working for others until she had enough knowledge to do what she always wanted – create her own branding business. “I did work for other people, I started working in the industry when I was 18 years old. My first job was running PR and marketing for a record label, so I was basically paid to be a creative groupie which was awesome,” recalled Gómez fondly. “I worked in marketing departments for big brands like Red Bull, and I worked in big international advertising agencies as part of the creative teams for brands like Pepsi, Doritos, Gatorade, Volkswagen, Polar, Red Bull, Splenda, and some others.”
“Big agencies were fun, but I wanted to use my talents to help up-and-coming business owners achieve international recognition brand status. I want to bring big agency creativity and strategy to small business owners so they can become the big brands of the future,” explained Gómez.
Her drive to help small businesses came from first hand experience as a small business owner. “When I started my business there was nobody like me that I could reach out to, to create my brand; it was either huge agencies with really really big ticket prices, or freelancers that really didn’t know what they were doing (you get what you pay for, right?) so I decided to become that missing link, that person that I could never find,” said Gómez.
“I used to be a professional dancer and about 10 years into my career as a creative and strategist in advertising I decided to go full-time into dance. I left the business and became a full-time dancer and business owner by opening my own dance studio, a sportswear apparel line for dancers, a dance photography company, and an entertainment events company. That was my jump into entrepreneurship and it was the best decision I ever made. A few years after that, when those businesses were stable and I retired from actively dancing, I went ahead and opened my own agency, Bunker +58.”
For her branding businesses, Gómez seeks inspiration from the world around her on a daily basis. “To get inspired I watch a lot of films, TV, documentaries, I listen to a lot of music, I go to museums, I browse the internet for every fascinating thing that I can find, I do a lot of people watching, I speak to a lot of people on the streets, I spark random conversations with strangers, I do a lot of research, and I stay current with world news. You never know when inspiration can strike,” shared Gómez.
Her personal approach to branding is to be bold, be real, and be original. “I’m not a fan of fads and trends that go away in a couple of months or years, I am a fan of being real and authentic, honest to a fault; so that’s why I focus on that always being a big part of who we are as people,” said Gómez. “You want to stand out, not blend in. And I apply that to everything I do in life.”
Creating a unique business impression takes work, but Gómez assures small business owners it can be done and it is worth the effort to follow through and get it right. “For people that are struggling to find their voice and their business presence, I would say the first step would be to not be scared. The world is big enough and the markets are big enough for there to be a place for everybody. You don’t have to be like anybody else, your people will find you. Don’t be afraid to be unique and to be authentic,” said Gómez.
“You have to add value in order for people to notice but you can’t be fake, or people will tell. There is a lot of soul-searching in building your own business. People very rarely are an overnight success. You have to be willing to put in the work and it’ll come to you. The same applies to building a commercial brand, you have to create an experience that people can connect to,” explained Gómez. “Branding is so much more than your visual presence, it’s not only your logo, it’s not only your photos. It’s a feeling, it’s something you don’t always touch. It is a process and it can change along the way and evolve, but it’s not impossible to get there.”
As for starting a business, Gómez advises beginner entrepreneurs, “The way to know if it’s the right time for you is if you’re excited and nervous at the same time. If you’re only nervous I would say you’re not ready, maybe you’re not in the right mindset, but if you’re both nervous and excited, that’s the sign that the time is right and you need to go for it.”
Gómez will be the speaker at Woodlands WCE’s Lunch & Learn on effective branding for business. To attend this event and discover her tips about branding click here. To learn more about Woodlands WCE’s events, check the Events Tab.