BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: MEET DAENEL TUCKER OF LIVING OUTSIDE THE STACKS
Like any wife and mom, Daenel Tucker is bound to have an amusing anecdote or two to share about her family’s adventures–and she does… with the whole world! Tucker is the woman behind the popular lifestyle blog Living Outside the Stacks. On the blog, she shares her musings about life, family, shopping and of course coffee.
By trade Tucker is a librarian and currently works full-time for a university in Missouri where she and her family reside. However, she covers much more than books and reading on the blog. “My first blog was in 1997,” shares Tucker, who started blogging as a way of connecting with others. At the time she was going to school. “I was getting my library degree and we needed to know how to use the same tools our patrons would be using.” She would eventually start three blogs, before finally settling on Living Outside the Stacks in 2010.
Right around that time, her family was relocating from Pennsylvania to Missouri. With the impending move and no definite job prospects, she wanted the blog’s title to represent her, but not just “Daenel, the librarian”. Tucker’s official blog bio pretty much sums up who she is and what one can expect to see on the blog: “Jesus lover. I have the research skills of a librarian, the preservation skills of an archivist, the organizational skills of a soldier and the domestic skills of a Stepford wife.” In sum, like any other woman she is an amalgamation of her life and it is reflected in the blog.
Living Outside the Stacks is the culmination of Tucker’s previous blogs and her life experiences. What started off as a college assignment has blossomed into a way of life for her and a community for women across the globe. Those who follow the blog know that she is passionate about different things: her family (including the family dog Squeekerz), fashion, coffee and being a voice for women, with regards to different issues. However, she doesn’t stop with just the warm and fuzzy.
“I’ve always been a big advocate of women taking care of themselves. It’s your body,” she declares. On the blog she has campaigned for various health topics and even addressed her own experiences as a thyroid cancer survivor. “For me to get my diagnosis it took two doctors over a period of five years,” she shares. By all accounts, it is a miracle that she survived for so long. So, part of her drive is to provide the support and information so others won’t have the same experience that she did. For Tucker, blogging also became her way to get in a little “me time”. Early on, like many moms with young children, she found herself burnt out and at her own crossroads, “I remember looking at my kids when they were little and thought someone is always going to want Kool-Aid.” While the option of running away seemed humorously viable at the time, after a two hour personal time out and a talk with God, She decided it wasn’t necessary. Although, it did teach her an important lesson, “It taught me to take time out for me. From that point on I made it a point to take an hour for coffee in my own space.”
Tucker is thankful for her experiences, though. Having served in the Army, she recognized the effects of her military time, “The army makes you hard and focused. Things are just black and white.” However, after overcoming her own journey with her cancer diagnosis, she is more sympathetic towards others. “As well, I don’t stress over little things; there’s too much to be grateful and happy for,” she says. Adding, “Live like it’s your last day, because you just don’t know.
As she has built her audience, Tucker admits that she is truly amazed at the impact that her blog has had. “I knew there was that reach and that those communities existed. It never occurred to me that I was touching them,” she shares. While mentoring women who were reading the bible, she received an email from a woman who was, “half-way around the world.” The email thanked her for what she was doing and reminded her that so many are without religious rights and even persecuted for what they believe. “That was definitely the moment that touched me and made me realize that as bloggers that we must be mindful of the lives that we touch.”
Over the years, blogging has become way of life and a way that many use to earn a living. Those who stick with it, like Tucker, are able to garner large followings. That can translate into big advertising dollars, for those who are able to leverage it. Ironically, Tucker sees her blog as more of a hobby rather than a business. “I consider it a hobby that has become a full time job,” she admits. This could partially be attributed to the fact that Black bloggers and vloggers have yet to receive the respect that is on par with their counterparts. “I would say the Black voice is lacking,” she shares. Though this is definitely not due to a shortage in the talent pool. There are many popular Black bloggers who cover topics from the general such as parenting to the very niche, such as the natural hair movement. In the social sphere bloggers are celebrities, with many enjoying celebrity perks, such as test driving cars, hotel stays or even cruise packages. However, as Tucker observes, “We don’t get the same stuff.” “Maybe I’m not as connected,” she admits, but continues, “It would be nice if Black bloggers got that sort of support.”
When it comes to Minding Your Black Business Tucker believes that it’s about perception. Not just the one that we create for ourselves, but what we allow the rest of the world to create. [Media] organizations go out of their way to find the most atrocious examples of us, but Tucker decries such choices. “Why are [our] young men and women fighting day after day, struggling to do better, but they aren’t getting the attention?” she questions. At the same time, we must hold ourselves accountable. Call it what you may, but such images that many of today’s show perpetuate are nothing more than buffoonery and as Tucker says, “We need to stop promoting it. It just makes it that much harder for those of us who want to do better.” Such images affect how the world perceives us and expects from us–in business or otherwise. “We are still doing double the work for half the acknowledgements. In 2014 we shouldn’t still be saying that someone is the first Black to do anything.”
Read more about Daenel Tucker at her blog.
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