February is a trial for single women who have to endure the endless sight of red hearts and swooning couples. It’s prime time for Brooklyn native Lisa Velazquez, who is at their aid year-round. After receiving her Masters in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University, Velazquez took up the challenge of coaching single women. Through workshops, individual coaching, and a guidebook in the works, she is filling a void in frank conversations about sex, dating, and relationships that she believes exists among Latinas, and along the way has branded herself as the Latina lovestyle coach.
Was there a moment or experience that led to you becoming a love coach?
Honestly, it was a series of experiences. And growing up Latina. When I was 15, I was in a peer education group with one of my cousins. We were discussing virginity and devout virginity among the Latina culture. And I really had an issue with why this was taught to the young women and not being taught to the young men. Why were we being taught to save ourselves for them when they don’t save themselves for us?
So you found the core of the problem?
As I spoke with my friends in college, I recognized the issues they were having were coming from adolescence, so I said you know what I want to work with girls. I recognized that there was no Latina that was talking about this, with the proper information, not just information from the comadre or from one tia to one girlfriend.
Once you made the decision to take the podium, and be the Latina to talk about these issues, how did you go about building your brand?
Wonder Womyn was my nickname in college. I was the president of the Association of Puerto Rican studies. I was also the student representative on the student government. So with all of that networking, recognizing that once I stepped up to be a Latina leader I became a leader in everything else.
How did Lisa Talks Love come about?
I wanted to create a brand that was more personable, so that’s when Lisa Talks Love was created. I’ve only had the name for about a year. It came to me at like two o’clock in the morning and sometimes that’s when the best idea comes. Inspiration comes at the strangest times.
Do you coach your friends?
It’s fun, you’re with you friends and they’re like, “Okay listen I actually want to pay you to do coaching because if I don’t pay you I’m not going to take your advice.” Which is hilarious. I am the pink elephant in the room, you cannot talk about an issue with a man and I’m standing right there and you’re acting like there’s no support. I’ve actually had a group of women like, “So don’t tell Lisa what I did.” And I’m like, “Oh you know you’re not telling me because you know what you’re doing isn’t good for you.”
What’s a tool you recommend for single ladies so maybe next Valentine’s Day they’ll have a Valentine?
You want to do the year in review, of love. What are the choices that you’ve made all year that have led to this moment? First, stop beating yourself up, have compassion. What needs to be different about your love life this year because whatever you’ve been doing all year has not been serving you?
How do you help women make better choices?
I teach women to create love standards. The issue is women don’t have a bar at all, they don’t even have a standard at all. Men have a standard for everything they do, especially when it comes to women, they know what they want and they pursue what they want.
Coming from a Latino family, what did they think when you chose this career?
It was, “Oh my God why do you want to do this?” My father has been in information technology for over 40 years. My mother worked for a law firm for almost about 20 years. I’m an entrepreneur, I’m building an empire, and they’re like, “What? What does that mean? You’re getting a job doing what?”
You mean being a love coach wasn’t what they had in mind?
In the beginning when I was in sex ed and sex therapy my dad was like, “Don’t you want to do family therapy?” And I was like, “Here we go.” Because there’s some things that are not “appropriate” for a Latina woman, right? That’s my father, and I understand, but I don’t agree. Now they’re supportive, took a very long time for them to be supportive because they don’t understand. I’m definitely the rebel. You get to love your family and embrace your culture, but they don’t get to define who you are as a person.