The inspiration behind Tamika Ventura came from sitting in my bedroom after work while working in juvenile justice, seeking an alternative to sanctions in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I knew in my heart that the community I served faced challenges that didn’t have feasible, “cool” and relatable solutions in place, and most came from a top-down approach. With that, Tamika Ventura was a vision I came up with to address the issue of domestic violence through empowerment, employment, and education, but through a familiar vehicle—women’s shoes—and through using the voices of women who have suffered from domestic violence. God most definitely played a role, and the death of my sister, Tamika Ventura Watson.
Tamika Ventura is an international shoe line operating in conjunction with a transitional community that aims to empower, employ, and educate our global community about domestic violence issues through a collection of collaborative shoe designs and platforms that push the agenda of “walking away from domestic violence.” Past victims who now identify as victors will design shoes that highlight the prime times of their lives in alliance with a technical shoe designer. Shoes will be sold under the Tamika Ventura brand, and a portion of the revenue will go to those women and another to the transitional community.
Designing Collaborative Development has been a huge asset while being at Milano. The notion of pushing development through applying key skills (i.e., design, innovation, collaboration) has really given me the opportunity to look at solutions, recommendations and communities in a different way. I find that understanding, sharing, and listening are essential in doing this work. Outside of that course, my work as a research assistant at the Center for New York City Affairs has made it easier for me to define what it is I want to do with my career and life—collect stories, share stories, mash cultures, and, ultimately, influence policy reform.