Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Narketta Sparkman-Key.
Hi Dr. Sparkman-Key, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I was raised in Detroit. Growing up, purses were a part of a woman’s identity. My early memories are of my aunt Belinda, and she always carried a nice big bag. She would let me go through it and look at her makeup and pictures she kept of family. I began collecting bags as a teen. My mother bought me my first Dooney and Burke, and it was different, green shaped like a round bucket. I fell in love. I always thought one day I would design handbags but never knew how to get started. I could often be found drawing bags as a kid. The pandemic presented an opportunity for me to go back to my creative ideas for handbags and engage in designing them. I did the research and worked with factory to launch January 2021. Today I design my bags for women on the go. Those that are wearing many hats and need a bag to represent who they are and where they are going. My bags a functional yet stylish.
We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I struggle with getting the word out. Marketing is a constant challenge. In addition, shipping as a result of the pandemic has impacted receiving my shipments in order to get them out to customers.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am an administrator in higher education and a full-tenured Professor. I am most proud of my impact on people. As an administrator, my work is focused on equity and inclusion. I get to strategize and implement practices that lead to change for some of the most marginalized populations on university campuses. In addition, as a professor, I teach students and prepare more culturally competent practitioners. I have also had the honor to leading a study abroad in which students whom may have never traveled internationally travel with me to Jamaica and learn about another culture while being emerged in it. I research and publish articles focused on marginalized populations. As of late, I have written about the experiences of black women in higher education and the need to improve academia to better support them while also providing black women scholars with advice on how to take ownership of their careers. This is the space in which my handbags align with my passion and my work.
We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
Success is finding joy and purpose in what you do. It is multilayered and defined by the individual, not by society or a job.