What makes a creative?
A childlike sense of wonder?
Taking inevitable leaps of faith?
The random strikes of inspiration?
A creative cannot be bound by anything, let alone by rigid criteria that stifle beliefs of where our artful expression can take us. A true creative spirit disrupts the status quo.
Communications Renaissance Woman LaToya Evans has a creative spirit that parallels successful artists like Ava DuVernay and Virgil Abloh. In fact, it is the foundation for her own prosperity. From fashion design dreams to managing corporate crises, Evans displays classic tropes of a creative.
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As I step in the lobby of her uptown high-rise, Ms. LaToya Evans greets me in a glowingly chic, yet professional collared black sheath dress. I reach out for a handshake, but Evans pulls in for a hug. She is immediately warm, bubbling with personality. She is also much smaller in person than I expected:
“I’m 5’1 without the heels. A lot of people don’t realize that,” she says.
Even though short in stature, Evans’ powerful and fun personality is hard to miss.
We discuss her profession as an in-house corporate public relations executive at companies including Cisco, Bank of America, Walmart and IBM. We chat about the notable people and brands she’s represented in her boutique PR firm. Then, there is conversation about her popular social media persona, specifically her vintage-influenced fashion style. Her energy as a creative shines through in all her work, which is no surprise given her willful inventiveness at such a young age. When other 10-year-olds were watching cartoons and playing in the park, Evans was creating portfolios of her latest doll fashion designs and writing screenplays, poems and short stories in school.
But like many creatives in their younger years, LaToya’s creative spirit was initially repositioned as a problem. Upon hearing that their child wasn’t reading on the same level as her first-grade pupils, her parents directed her attention to reading through tutors and enrichment programs.
In those tutoring sessions, Evans “started to fall in love with words,” as she says. Unknowingly, it catalyzed the formation of her solid foundation as a writer – a skill set that is the base of her PR career.
“It was my parents’ investment in me that made all the difference,” she says. LaToya mentions the support and influence of her family often as we talk, also citing the women in her family as the greatest influencers of her propensity for vintage fashion.
“God first presented my gift to me as a deficit,” she says introspectively. “By bringing attention to it an early age, it allowed me to perfect my craft, long before I even knew what it was.”
Lucky for LaToya, there were many guides to help her along the journey. Evans went on to graduate 14th in her high school class, and although she made a near-perfect score on the writing portion of the SAT II, she still enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a biology major. Even after briefly considering majoring in English or Journalism, she wasn’t convinced it was the path for her.
But an inspiring encounter with fellow NC-native and former Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley sparked a swift leap of faith that blended her love of both fashion and writing.
“I believe it’s always a question that creatives have. ‘Do you go after what you love – and maybe it’s not as lucrative as a career – or do you find a way to monetize your craft?,’ says Evans. “I finally had proof – especially for my parents – that someone like me and from my area had done it. The next day or so I changed my major to Journalism, and that was that.”
Evans was then able to funnel her creativity into writing, getting her first national byline via an internship with Cosmopolitan. A freelance writing career quickly followed, with Evans securing contracts at Glamour, People, Vogue, Vanity Fair and more, while still a student at Chapel Hill. I briefly imagine what would have happened had she not followed that sign. When you are meant to be on a creative path, life will steer you in the right direction — and you must take action with every nudge.
Even though time and evolution have transformed Evans’ career from journalist to publicist, she captures an inventive tone that has followed her along her journey. I watch intrigued as she explains the artful significance of the mini-gallery on a Carolina-blue wall in her home overlooking Charlotte: each meticulously chosen, black-and-white photo represents memories, milestones in her career and life. At first glance, the photos of city skylines are unassuming. But, hearing her speak so fully about these photos exposes her ability to convey abundantly from a limited context. That is her creative gift! She understands the foundational voice of her clients and the mind of their audience, which requires a colorful intellect — similar to how Black-ish creator Kenya Barris translates complex modern cultural and generational divergence into a hit TV show. “I can draw it all together in a way that makes the heartbeat,” she says of her gift.
Evans’ talent is exercised via her instrument of choice: the Macbook. “My Macbook might as well be a piano, a canvas.” We as creatives all know when the mood strikes — we have a vision waiting to be manifested through our instrument of choice. For Evans, 5:30 in the morning while overlooking the sands of Anguilla, or under the sun in Cabo with a Sugar Free Red Bull in hand, is when her most powerful visions come to life through her Macbook. She takes time to “get away” so that she is one with her thoughts, and in the flow.
“Behind each vacation is a writing project, a PR strategy or something that I’ve been dying to put on paper outside of my day-to-day schedule. In that creativity and storytelling, that’s where my purpose is.”
Classic creative vibes!
BLK MRKT celebrates LaToya Evans for breaking the mold of countless expectations and taking a journey all her own. It is that type of path we can all see ourselves in, and a path from which we all can learn. May you be challenged to reflect on your own journey and see how the most brilliant creativity blooms unfettered.