A Quick Chat with Valorie Darling
The Kelly Moore Bag inside scoop from noted photographer, traveler and social media influencer and her thoughts on great quality in all aspects of life.
1. How do you stay present with friends + family and balance a busy work schedule/life?
It’s always a work in progress, something we can always find new depth in. A few things that have made a huge difference for me is taking time to streamline my work through systems and building a team - as well as using my calendar (time-blocking) to keep me true to intentions I have in my personal life from exercise to cooking and time with friends and my partner. As an entrepreneur, I've realized I can't do everything - and trying is what causes stress and imbalance, so, as counter-intuitive as it is, I try to spend time each day crystallizing my priorities for my business and happiness to stay focused on them and learn to let go of all else. This has helped me to ask for help, focus my team and be more present with friends and family and love myself and my life more.
2. Quality - We strive to make bags that are here for more than just a moment and help improve your life. What does having a good Quality of life mean to you?
For me, feeling love is the north point of the compass that brings forth a joy-filled life. I try to make a daily practice of connecting with a sense of purpose and joy in each thing I’m doing, to do it mindfully and in a felt way. It’s easier said than done, but for me, it's taking time in the morning to return to what’s important to me and make a plan for what I’m going to focus on for the day, then balance with things that I know bring me inspiration like going to the farmers market, riding my bike, cooking or laughing with friends.
3. You've seen a lot of different products & goods - how do you determine if it's of good quality?
For me it’s as much about the quality of the thing as it is about the ethics of the company. I have a passion for finding companies that care as much about the maker and environment as the product they’re making. When it all comes together, it feels good - that’s luxury to me. Looking at each purchase we make as activism is probably the most important and impactful way we can make a difference every day.
4. How does the Kelly Moore brand quality meet your expectations? How could it be better?
The first camera bag I ever had was Kelly Moore. I took it all over the world with me and broke it in with love! I remember having the grommet break and I wrote your team to see if they could help, and they won me over as a customer for life when they sent me a replacement strap and showed such kindness and care. I know from a life of experience now that the bags are as stylish as they are incredibly durable, which is exactly what I was long in search for. One thing I'd love to learn more about is the supply chains and lives of those who make the bags. Brands that are willing to be transparent about the product behind the curtain - where they are and where they aspire to go - really stand out to me.
5. You're passionate about sustainable travel - can you tell us what that looks like practically & how it has contributed to the quality of your travel experiences with this mentality?
Yes! It’s such a love of mine. My partner founded a company called Kin Travel, which changed the way I traveled and has been an incredible place of learning for what sustainability in travel can mean. Sustainable travel to me means that your presence enriches the community and ecosystem you travel to experience. It’s a virtuous circle. Travel is one of the largest areas of spending in our life, so following where this spending goes - just like any product - is what it’s all about. We live in a time, sadly, where most tourism is extractive for foreign owners to profit, degrading cultures and environments until they’re ruined, which distances travelers from the very connection they seek. Whereas businesses that can show how their work impacts people and planet in a comprehensive way (community, culture, commerce and conservation) makes for a truly rejuvenating experience for everyone. When I go to Kenya with Kin for example, the entirety of our spending is captured in a community-owned conservancy, we offset the carbon footprint of our flights through a tree planting project with local school kids, and we are hosted by conservationists who put us to work as creatives in support of objectives they need support with. The result is a feeling that once you’ve found it, you can no longer travel without it.
I think we’re all uniquely positioned to do something that makes the world better. If you're passionate about children, wildlife, wellness, whatever you're drawn to, it's important to support in whatever you can and feels good. This built community for me that in turn built my career, so trust in serving something beyond yourself because in turn it will come back in spades.
Thank you! I’ve learned the nuances of weddings from a deep love for them. Every wedding is incredibly unique, but I’ve worked to build a well-oiled machine to assure my team and the full wedding team are lockstep together to assure the couple and their family can focus on what really matters. It’s about being an advisor and a friend to assure that couples can really be present in the sacred, magic of the experience - and capture that, as opposed to take them out of it. There is no one you’ll spend more time with on your day, aside from your partner, so it’s as much about enabling presence as it is about being a friend, sharing and contributing to this moment of aliveness and being part of a merging family.
I'm in love how discreet it is. It's a beautiful tote and you would never suspect that it's a camera bag so I can fly a under-the-radar when I’m traveling and shooting. It's also very versatile so I can go from camera bag to a day at the cafe, like Superwoman in her business suit then pull the cape out when it’s time to shoot.