Behind Her Empire: Lia Valencia Key on Going From Homeless Shelter to QVC Mogul

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

Behind Her Empire: Lia Valencia Key on Going From Homeless Shelter to QVC Mogul

This week, I sat down with Lia Valencia Key, the founder of the jewelry brand Valencia Key.

Lia was born and raised in an impoverished part of Philadelphia, and grew up in a homeless shelter with her mom and siblings.


Lia's mother made it clear that her family could not give up hope, telling her children, "your predicament doesn't determine your destiny." Lia describes how her mother planted a number of seeds within her despite the hardships they both endured, pushing her to be a leader and giving her the power of choice in her own life.

Inspired by her mother's words, Lia went on to get a master's in education. She realized she had a passion for beauty, and went on to cosmetology school.

For Lia, it is important to always be aware of where she is headed, to reach for completion and to be open to asking for help. These values eventually landed her a QVC, where she was able to launch and sell her own jewelry line.

In our interview, Lia is candid about how hard she had to work to reach her goals. She describes five years of rejection from QVC, only to eventually meet someone with the network that connected her.

"No does not mean always no," Lia says. "It means not now. It means gear up. It means train more. It means sharpen up. It means — maybe even — shift a little of perspective." It was this mindset that steered her towards her vision.

We also discussed dealing with and overcoming fear at length. Lia says that some fears never get vanquished, you simply know how to address them when they come up. She talks about how writing is a major hurtle for her to this day, but it's something she knows she can handle. She also highlights the importance of being authentic and showing up as yourself, because it leaves room for people to appreciate and love you for who you are.

On the rest of this episode, Lia and I discussed her career at QVC, her mentality and values, why she chose jewelry and why she keeps choosing joy.

Lia Valencia Key is the founder of Valencia Key Jewelry.

"If you choose life, that means you choose to keep going, and you choose to find that sparkle even in the valleys. And when you find that spark, when you get back up, and you find it again and you go by that. That, to me, is true wealth." — Lia Valencia Key

Want to hear more of the Behind Her Empire podcast? Subscribe on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radio or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA Engagement Intern Colleen Tufts contributed to this post.

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Venture Firm Backstage Capital Laid Off Nine Employees, Reducing Its Staff to Just Three

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

Venture Firm Backstage Capital Laid Off Nine Employees, Reducing Its Staff to Just Three
Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Venture firm Backstage Capital laid off nine employees, reducing its staff to just three.

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Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

A New Tide of LA Startups Is Tackling the National Childcare Crisis
Image by Carolyn Figel

The pandemic exacerbated a problem that has been long bubbling in the U.S.: the childcare crisis.

According to a survey of people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers conducted by the city’s WiSTEM Los Angeles program and shared exclusively with dot.LA, the pandemic exposed a slew of challenges across STEM fields. The survey—which consisted of 181 respondents from L.A.County and was conducted between March 2021 and 2022— involved respondents across medical fields, technical professions and science industries who shared the pandemic’s effects on their professional or education careers.

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“Talent Is Ubiquitous; Access to Capital Is Not': MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Early-Stage Startups

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is dot.LA's Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

“Talent Is Ubiquitous; Access to Capital Is Not': MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Early-Stage Startups
Courtesy of MaC Venture Capital

While venture capital funding has taken a hit this year, that hasn’t stopped MaC Venture Capital from raising $203 million for its second fund.

The Los Angeles-based, Black-led VC firm said Monday that it had surpassed its initial $200 million goal for the fund, which dot.LA reported in January, over the span of seven months. MaC said it expects to invest the capital in up to 50 mostly seed-stage startups while remaining “sector-agnostic.”

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