Desiree Wallace is in the people business. As a seasoned human resources professional, Desiree spends her days managing employee relations and connections; but her work doesn’t stop there. The Memphis native is also a lifestyle blogger who primarily focuses on self-care and inspiration for women. Desiree’s intention behind self-care came after the sudden passing of her mother. After the devastating loss, Desiree made it her mission to “live her best life” and inspire other women to do the same. Through her blog Mocha Divas, a spinoff book club, and a self-care e-book, Desiree wants to debunk self-care myths and help other women make time for what matters most: themselves. The self-care expert spoke to us about her growing lifestyle brand while also providing tips for women on how to prioritize self-care amid busy schedules. Meet our newest FACE of Memphis, Desiree Wallace!
In addition to your career in human resources, you’re also a lifestyle blogger. What prompted you to create Mocha Divas?
My blog was born out of this recognition that as women, we give so much and we’re always doing for others and encouraging others, yet we rarely take that time for ourselves or consider ourselves in the same way. For at least the past 14 years, I made it my purpose to live my best life. That spawned from my mom’s sudden passing 14 years ago. My mom planned well for life after work. She planned for retirement and planned financially but never got there. She was diagnosed with cancer and passed away a few years after diagnosis. I learned we plan for certain moments in life or wait for certain moments in life before we live. Whether it’s “I’ll wait until I get married” or “When I get this job or start this career, I’ll do that.” It’s always “when.” We are always planning for the perfect moment. Her death was a turning point for me. There are no perfect moments. We have to live in the now.
On your blog, you have a mantra: “We only get one shot at this thing called life, make the most of it.” Was this inspired by the death of your mother?
Oh, yes. Absolutely. After her passing, I made up my mind that I have to be intentional and not wait to live. After my mom’s passing, I had a conversation with my friends and my husband and said, “I will not wait to live.” And the more I lived this out, the more questions I got from people wondering how I did this and how I made time to do certain things. I wanted to share that.
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How do you carry this mantra out in your day-to-day life?
It is all about intentionality. I say that a lot. Everything is about intentionality. I believe nothing happens by happenstance. We all have so much on our plates. There will always be a million things to do, and if we are not intentional about creating that space for ourselves, then it won’t happen. I schedule everything, even my workouts. I schedule chats with girlfriends. I am intentional about that.
You created an e-book on self-care. Why did you decide to write this book?
It started out as a 15-day self-care challenge on my blog. It was a way for me to debunk the myth around self-care. It doesn’t have to be about making a hair appointment, getting a facial or having a spa day. It can be as simple as taking the day off, or in the pandemic, leaving the house to take a drive. I tell people to start small, as long as you do something for yourself.
Speaking of books, you have the Mocha Divas book club. What was the inspiration behind starting it?
Mocha Divas, the book club, turned 12 years old in January. We are still going strong. I get so excited about it because it was an idea I had simply because I love reading and really wanted to share that with other ladies. It has evolved into a great group of ladies and been a great experience.
What are some of your favorite books?
This is a tough one. I love Terry McMillan as an author. From Waiting to Exhale to her books now, she never disappoints. I’ve been able to grow with her characters. Also, I am highly anticipating Sister Souljah’s new book. Her book The Coldest Winter Ever was definitely a classic. In our book club, we are all talking about re-reading that again.
From your blog to your book club, you’re heavily focused on community and friendships. Why is this important to you?
Girlfriends have always been important to me. I don’t have sisters. I had my mom, and we were extremely close, but I realized early on that my friends were the people I can talk to when I couldn’t talk to my mom. So, I learned to cherish those relationships. I am an extremely loyal person. And it’s like these are the sisters I get to choose. I know everyone doesn’t place the same value on friendships, but when you find those who do, you cherish them. Faith is important to me as well. And in the Bible, when Moses got tired, his friends were there to lift up his arms.
You excel in your career and still make time for creative endeavors despite challenges. What keeps you motivated?
It is definitely my faith. Every morning that I get to wake up, I thank God and know I have a purpose to fulfill. I don’t know where the journey ends, but I know because I’m still here, there is more to do. That is what motivates me. Also, I’m very competitive, not necessarily competing with others, but making sure I am being my best every day.
Both your blog and book club are growing. What’s next for you?
There are so many things I desire to do. Last year, I was able to launch “Quarantine and Read,” a virtual book club. I decided because we were all at home, let’s do a virtual book club. I had ladies from across the country who were tuning in to read these books. As a result, I’ve thought of establishing chapters of the original Mocha Divas book club in other cities. And I’m an HR consultant. I really want to do more in that space. Possibly create a few e-books or a few virtual courses in human resources. Also, once things open up again, I want to have more opportunities for ladies to come together in-person under the Mocha Divas — somewhat like a girls’ night out.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
There are actually two things. My mom always told me you can be or do anything you want. She never wanted me to rest in challenges or difficulties. She was my biggest cheerleader. I think I’ve lived that advice out. The other piece of advice I hold onto is, “Stand up for yourself.” That has been critical for me as I have grown in my career.
Besides faith, family and friends, what are three things you can’t live without?
My girlfriends, sports (I’m loyal to my Memphis Tigers, Memphis Grizzlies, and even the Tennessee Titans), and my iPad.
Thank you, Desiree! To learn more about Mocha Divas, visit mochadivas.com.