Hey, I'm Santeka
I'm a Southern woman with an East Coast twist inspiring people to live in bright colors and bold strokes . I'm based in New Jersey - so I'm well-versed in southern hospitality and East Coast swag. I live my life out loud through travel, food, DIY, design, and daily magic along with helping creators and entrepreneurs build their influence and a profitable online presence through the Creator Parlor.
Living out loud is about showing up as your authentic self while being unapologetic and fearless in pursuing your dreams to create the life you want
I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and raised in Grand Prairie, Texas - a suburb about 20 miles west of Dallas. Growing up I always looked forward to helping with the events my family hosted. My first successful event was my eighth birthday party. I had all the necessities for my guests and I came in on budget, with my mother’s help of course. My passion for seeing my ideas come to life never escaped me. So, when I was assigned a project in an undergraduate communication course that allowed me to research careers, I knew I wanted to focus my efforts on event planning. I was fortunate enough to land an internship at one of the top event consulting companies in Austin, Texas.
I received a BS in Communication Studies (Corporate Communication) and a BA in Ethnic Studies (African and African American Studies) from the University of Texas at Austin. I studied American Sign Language while immersing myself into the community. In 2011, I studied abroad in Brussels, Belgium where I explored European culture and studied the French language. The following year, I was selected to study abroad in Bluefields, the capital of the Southern Atlantic Autonomous Region in Nicaragua. After graduating, I worked for a year as a Matchmaker. During that time, I started applying for graduate schools in New York.
From Texas, I moved to the east coast for grad school. The plan was to live in Harlem, but rental prices. So I ended up calling Newark, NJ home. I earned an MA in Africana Studies through the Graduate School of Arts and Science. After graduation, I landed a role at Rutgers University - Newark with Office of the Chancellor.
In 2018, I decided to step out on faith after I realized my knack and love for planning trips. This part of my journey all began after I went on a trip to Europe. After hours and hours of searching the Internet, I was able to plan a four country trip for my birthday, but it didn't come without hiccups. I searched generic travel sites and blogs looking for information about hotels, flights, and cultural experiences and couldn't really find what I was looking for. So while sitting in the airport in Santorini, I jotted down notes (i.e things to remember, things to do) to share with family and friends that reached out for travel tips and itineraries. I didn't just jot down notes, I mapped out business plan for a travel inspired company... or so I thought.
I originally envisioned my company would be a way for me to share travel experiences and get back to my love of coordinating events through a travel and event planning firm. Truth be told - once the process of building my idea into a business got underway, I wasn't happy and struggled to move things forward. All while this was happening, I discovered the world of Instagram. I learned I could share my travel experiences and make money while doing it as an influencer. I had no clue "regular" folks were out here working with brands. So I went to work learning the ins and outs of social media, website development, photo editing. The list goes on, but you get the point. I built my online presence from NOTHING! Not only was I not active on Instagram...I was, in a sense, anti social media. Oh, the irony is not lost on me.
On February 29, 2020, I officially launched my blog. Then, BOOM! Coviana herself hit the next month forcing me to pivot because I was no longer able to travel. The Panini presented the perfect opportunity for me to create content in other areas. I used that time to learn as much as I could about how to earn an income as a content creator.
During this time, I was also experiencing challenges at my job, which really just added on to the problems I had been facing beforehand. My anxiety was through the roof and I was having debilitating stomach problems. I thought I was dealing with burnout and needed a break. I ended up taking a month off from my full-time job to reset. I was back in the office for about two weeks and I put in my resignation.
Those first few months of 2021 were a whirlwind. I put my notice in towards the end of January and we closed on our house in February. In March, I officially left my job, we moved into our house, and I landed my first paid brand deal.
To be totally honest, I didn't have a clear plan of what I would do after I quit. Here's what I did know: My health and happiness were more important than anything else; I knew I would find a way to earn an income; and that "I'm scrappy as hell and I will always land on my feet."
I'm a creator, influencer, coach, and DIY chaser (hello fixer upper life). I've had the honor of partnering with major brands like Sam's Club, IHG Hotels and Resorts, Instant Brands, and Urban Skin Rx along with helping creators and entrepreneurs build their influence and a profitable online presence through the Creator Parlor.
It took me a long time to feel confident being myself and betting on myself. I'm grateful for this moment - I'm finding my Zone of Genius and unlocking my highest potential. All of that to say - I'm excited to see what the future holds. There are so many dreams of mine that got deferred along the way. I feel extremely blessed to be able to circle back to see those dreams through.
My website is dedicated to my grandfather, Albert Williams
In 2008, my grandfather took my mother and I out of the country for our first international trip. At that time, I didn't know him that well because he spent 30+ years in Angola Penitentiary, but it was really important for him to make sure we got our passports and an opportunity to see the world. This also allowed me to develop a relationship with him. He planted the seed that has now blossomed into a love of travel and exploration.