We had the good fortune of connecting with Shala Marks and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shala, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
One of the values that is most important to me is advocacy, specifically for underserved and misrepresented communities. My passion to help others is innate, and I have always strived to be of service to those in need. Being a member of often marginalized communities, such as the black community and women overall, has also contributed to my dedication to use my gifts and talents to speak up for those whose voices have been silenced because I know firsthand how minority groups can be silenced and neglected. I am also a very empathetic person, so I am certain my cultural background, natural passions, and empathetic personality have all led me to advocate for others. Advocacy is as essential to me as breathing; I could not live without it.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have always been a creative with a specific passion for writing and storytelling. I love fiction, and have written short stories since I was a kid with the goal of publishing my own novels one day. I also have a natural desire to advocate for the misrepresented in society, so early on I branded myself a “conscious voice” with the motto, “The craft of writing, the art of efficacy.” Writing is a beautiful skill that can be developed, but being able to use written word to create change is an art form. And it’s always been my goal that my writings would represent those whose voices and experiences are often neglected and impact the world for the better.
I pursued this form of art for many years through: writing stories for newspapers, writing feature content and editorials for magazines and niche blogs, and writing for nonprofits, recruitment companies, and even a prestigious government agency. Although I learned many things from each of my jobs and writing experiences, I still felt something was lacking. In my previous roles (and at that time my current role in government) I could never fully advocate for others through my writings because the target audiences and objectives did not align with what I was most passionate about.
So, in 2020 in the height of the pandemic, I decided to finally take the step to pursue my true passions as a writer and creative. I quit my job at the high-ranking government agency, and with no business experience, decided to start my own business, Peculiar on Purpose. Peculiar on Purpose is a faith-based organization that hosts monthly events to create space for Christian women to connect with others and grow in their faith. As part of this business, I also publish a blog that represents the perspective of Christian black women on various topics. Through this new venture, I am learning that there are many ways to serve others and fulfill my passions as a creative. Throughout my life, I had always believed that the sole way I was to serve and make an impact was through writing, but this new business is showing me that as a creative I have many different talents that can combine with my love of writing to advocate for the misrepresented and underserved. And embracing all of my creative gifts can actually lead to a greater impact.
I am still navigating my way through this entrepreneurship journey upon the larger road to fulfilling my purpose of helping others. Leaving a defined, well-paying job for an unconventional career that I am still defining has not been easy. Balancing event planning and social media marketing with consistently writing authentic, relatable content has certainly brought its challenges. And working so hard to build a brand and advocate for others can oftentimes feel discouraging when you have yet to see any impact or growth. However, unlike all my previous jobs, I know that I am currently working toward a purpose that I believe in. My writing and other skills are truly being crafted and used to effect change. And because of that I couldn’t be more proud of my current place in this career journey.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am fairly new to Dallas (one year and counting!) so, I am still exploring the area. However, I’ve gotten out enough to take my friends to some pretty interesting places. First, I would take them to the Mandalay Canal Walk in Las Colinas, TX. It has absolutely beautiful scenery that resembles a Venetian town and you can even do water activities along the canal, such as paddle boating or taking a Gondola ride. We would then hop over to Dallas proper where I would show them the various interesting and beautiful neighborhoods in Uptown, Highland Park, Preston Hollow, and the White Lake Rock area. We would grab brunch at Encina in Bishop Arts; their blue-corn pancakes are phenomenal! We’d check out the Art Park in Trinity Groves and see the JFK memorial downtown. I’d also swing by The Exchange Food Hall downtown so we can eat at Dock Local. I cannot resist their garlic shrimp tacos! I would go far north into Addison and show them the Galleria mall and keep moving upward to Grandscape at The Colony and Legacy West in Plano.
For the remainder of their week long trip we would bounce around Dallas-Fort Worth, stopping in areas like South Dallas to check out Fair Park, the South Dallas Cultural Center, and grabbing delicious cupcakes from the black-owned shop Kookie Haven; Arlington to catch a Cowboys game and ride a roller coaster at Six Flags, and heading farther west to Fort Worth for delicious barbecue, a unique sight at the Fort Worth Water Gardens, and even checking out a real cattle drive.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would be honored to dedicate my Shoutout to my husband, Jordan. He is my biggest supporter and encourager, and he has often believed more in me and my success than I have. He always challenges me to keep pressing forward through the obstacles of entrepreneurship and accomplishing my goals, and I would not be moving along this path if not for him being there every step of they way.