We had the good fortune of connecting with Valentina Orbit and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Valentina, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
To be honest, when I started my business I didn’t think about it as ‘starting a business’. I thought about it as being my own boss. Having freedom and doing what I loved. I thought of it as being creative and living my life surrounded around my passions. I did not approach it in the way maybe I should have! I was 23 and going by intuition. I had no business experience or education. I had a tough first year after transitioning from working multiple part-time jobs to attempting to support myself solely through Unity Hoops. Many tears were shed that first year, much debt was incurred. I considered giving up but never did. I am so glad that I didn’t! I had a good support network of people who helped me through the tough times and loaned me money to get by. I always paid them back, and it is because of them that I was able to get over the first-year-hump. More recently when starting our entertainment company, Twisted Orbit Circus Entertainment I had both the experience and foresight to go into it more professionally. I have taken multiple business classes at San Diego Continuing Education and have learned a lot by starting our LLC, learning quickbooks for our accounting, learning about taxes, writing contracts, booking entertainers, communicating with clients, working on our website and SEO for exposure, etc. These normal things people do and think about when starting a business, I was able to implement the second go-around! Our thought process behind starting Twisted Orbit had a lot to do with wanting to start a family (which we will be welcoming in our first baby in January!) and desiring a more stable business model to support our family. As independent contractors, performers working from gig to gig, it felt like the right next step to build our business to include other performers and event services.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I think what sets me apart is my diversity of skill. Since I started training and performing at such a young age, I have been able to dive into many different types of performance art over the years. I had already been belly dancing for 10 years before picking up a hoop. My previous training made hooping a natural next step and some things were easier to learn because of it. Same thing goes with fire dancing and burlesque. I was exposed to all of these things from my teenage years of being raised in my mom’s shows. My vision is unique because of my fusion of these art forms. I think I am most proud of the ‘Sexy Jellyfish’ act that I had the opportunity to perform at the Burlesque Hall of Fame in 2018. Here is a video of the act: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nE37GCL7iX4 Getting to where I am today was definitely not easy! It has taken a huge amount of grit and determination. As I mentioned previously, I did not give up in the beginning when I was struggling to make ends meet. That transition from day job to self-employed was no piece of cake. And even though through word of mouth and my business growing / building it has gotten easier, being a self-employed performer will never be easy. The money comes in sporadically, the industry is fickle, the clients even more so! I have to constantly remind myself to go with the flow and not get too caught up in the things that don’t work out. It’s so easy to take it personally when a client doesn’t decide to book with you. But if I took it personally every time, I wouldn’t be able to survive in this business.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would first hang out in North Park (where I live) and take visitors to the various breweries and vegan restaurants. We love Belching Beaver, Sipz and Ranchos. I love walking around my neighborhood! I would also take them to OB to walk around, my old hood and probably my favorite part of San Diego. Besides the Newport Ave area to walk around, we love Santa Cruz beach and the Sunset Cliffs park. I also love Blacks and take visitors there often. Lately I’ve been enjoying the walk from Scripp’s Pier to Blacks and back. We’d have to hit up Trilogy Sanctuary for lunch that day! Some of my other favorite restaurants and places to take visitors include: Kindred, False Idol and Nobel Experiment. We like taking friends for bike rides along both Mission Bay and the Mission Beach boardwalk. Queen Califiia’s Magical Castle in Escondido is a fun place to hit up as well as Balboa Park for a nice, long walk.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband, Steve Bags, has been a huge driving force in our business. He has pushed us to step up our game and go from independent performers to entertainment agency owners. His ideas and experience working for multiple entertainment agencies in England mixed with my goal-oriented work ethic has been the perfect combination to get our business off the ground. He also has done a lot of work on the backend of things – learning photography and videography skills, working on our website, etc. His technological know-how has been a great help for our business. There have been many people in our industry that have inspired me – all in different ways. Inspiration in both performance skills as well as business acumen. My mom, Leela will always be my forever muse and biggest fans / cheerleader / supporter. She took me to my first belly dance class when I was 12 years old. This was when she first discovered belly dancing and it became a part of our lives forever. I have her to thank for who I am today. In so many ways! She became a teacher, performer, troupe leader and show producer. I am now all of those things because of her. And I had an excellent mentor / example of how to be those things in her. She is so proud of me and has always encouraged me in my career as I took that first belly dance class and transformed it into an identity, a passion, a business and a gateway into other forms of movement and expression. I love her creativity and her ideas. I love her interperation of the world and of belly dancing in general. She inspires me so much! HoopCharmer was the first person to hand me a hula hoop and I was never the same after that! She inspired me with her amazing skills when I first got into hooping in 2007. Nomad Artz is another entertainment company in San Diego that gave me lots of opportunities in the beginning of my career. I would not have been able to make it through my first couple years of struggling to be a full-time performer if it weren’t for them. A lot of Hoop companies that were prevalent at the time when I was starting Unity Hoops – such as HoopGirl, Hoopalicious and Hoopnotica were incredibly inspiring to me in a business sense. They were successfully sharing the joy of hoop dance with the world. I felt like if they could do it, so could I!

Website: twistedorbitcircus.com, unityhoops.com
Instagram: @mzorbit, @twistedorbit
Twitter: @unityhoopdance
Facebook: facebook.com/twistedorbit, facebook.com/unityhoops
Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/twisted-orbit-circus-entertainment-san-diego, https://www.yelp.com/biz/hoop-dance-with-unity-san-diego-4
Youtube: youtube.com/valentinaorbit, youtube.com/twistedorbitcircusentertainment

Image Credits
First One Xavier Bailey Photography 2nd One: Vixen Photography 3rd One: Hoopologie 4th One: not sure 5th One: Fuze Photography

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.