Today we’d like to introduce you to Virgen Barnet.
Virgen, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’m an afro-Latina, of Cuban descent. I moved to San Diego ten years ago with my ex-husband and daughter. I worked as an after school program leader and Graphic Designer at a small ad agency in Hillcrest. After some time there, I realized I wasn’t getting through to our development team – all male. I taught myself to code as a means to communicate planning and the seamless execution of UX/UI design. After some time, I left to work remotely and stay home with my then newborn son shortly after I started a business in STEAM education to advocate and create programs for young women to learn STEM principles through art and craft projects.
Around the time my son was school-aged, I went through a separation and subsequently a divorce, this propelled me to strengthen connections I made through industry and business communities to build up my design business and create a secure stream of income for myself and my family. I also found this time to be quite isolating. It was difficult to connect consistently with similar business or creatively inclined POC folks. I’d go to networking events where I felt siloed into groups by industry, interest or singular cultural communities. I realized how disconnected these were from each-other and the lack of overlap and collaboration between the groups.
I began to host small dinner parties and themed nights at my home to collect acquaintances and attempt to generate deeper friendships. These really flourished, collaborations were inspired and there was a great sense of community and support – not to mention fun un-filtered conversations.
This set the groundwork for what Come Through would become. I started Come Through with two friends who wanted to support my vision of bringing this format to a larger platform. We host events for as little as ten or as large as 30 members to gather, speak freely and share resources, leads, etc. Our community started off as a small mastermind group for creatives and newly minted remote workers. Now it is growing to be an engaged community of over 450 POC creatives, community organizers and entrepreneurs in San Diego. Our community members often refer to us a safe space to share your passion and your struggles and actually feel supported to grow – personally and professionally.
Has it been a smooth road?
Not exactly. When I started my own graphic and web design business, it was difficult to secure and create a consistent stream of income. It took me four years to do so. During the time I created my STEAM education business, it was challenging to nurture the community I wanted to serve due to a lack of funding and an ability to staff events.
Around the time my son enrolled in school full time, I went through a separation and had to figure out how to fully provide for myself and my share of responsibility for my children through a very emotionally straining time for myself and children.
Come Through SD – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
By day, I work full-time as a Creative Director and Lead Designer/Developer for ShapingFreedom.com with Lisane Basquiat and a wellness and skincare line by her daughter Jessica Kelly at www.4TheLoveOfAll.com. By nights, weekends and coffee and co-working sessions, I nurture the community I built at Come Through.
Come Through is a collaborative community of creatives, community organizers and entrepreneurs of color. We host events and create opportunities for our community to come together, share their passions and projects and talk openly and freely about their journeys.
I specialize in helping people turn their passion projects into viable business platforms. Specifically, through design and brand consulting. I think I would be known for having a great eye for visual design and crafting experiences that speak directly and authentically to the communities people want to serve.
Via Come Through, I think that I am known for my cheer-leader nature and my ability to connect and support people authentically. I’m most proud of our ability to stay true to our values and mission. We center and celebrate black and brown creators and stay true to our own voices as well. People often tell us that they feel they already know us and feel safe and supported when they come to an event or engage with us online.
What sets us apart is that we are a cross-cultural platform, not in an effort to come across diverse but because inherently we are. Thus we can support different organizations or businesses collaborate and expand their reach.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Design, Creativity and Community aren’t ever going to go out of style. I predict that these industries are going to continue to grow and innovate ways to create, collaborate and nurture people at a higher level. Especially with the current pandemic, we are seeing just how much we rely on technology in order to stay connected. Design and creative work are at the crux of ensuring we’re connecting more intuitively and authentically with the communities we care about most.
- Website: www.JoinComeThrough.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: comethrough.sd
Studio Luniste, Brandilyn Davidson