José Vaca is a California-based entrepreneur, artist, designer, dancer, photographer, and visionary—a full-stack creative, as he describes it himself, who thrives outside the boxes and refuses to be limited by titles and degrees. We were introduced to him by a NY friend, Will Nguyen Cao, a while back.
He is one of those people that continues to surprise us in the good way. An optimist who firmly believes creativity has the power to change the world, with a passion for social activism, storytelling, art, adventure, and making the impossible possible. Oh, and he absolutely loves blueberries.
José grew up in Salinas with Mexican parents. Immigrants who worked extremely hard to provide for him and his sister—and give them the opportunities they didn't have themselves—for which he'll be forever grateful. He studied architecture because saying thank you didn't seem like quite enough. He wanted to build his parents a house, and still want to. However, as time passed, he realized that the only way he can ever start to repay them for his upbringing and the sacrifices they made would be by following his passion, continuously do good, and create opportunities for others.
José's roots and heritage is a vital part of who he is. His family comes from Michoacán in Mexico, and his indigenous roots are P'urhépecha. "Juchari Uinapekua" is a saying on the P'urhépechan flag, meaning "Our Strength," which is a great example of how the culture is ingrained in his mindset. He firmly believes in the strength of collectivity—the power of people and communities.
José is currently pursuing a wild dream that has yet to give him a single dollar—a project called bēkn.
bēkn is a startup with a social consciousness that provides tools for people to easily discover, connect and engage with their local communities, resources, causes, and each other—a space for people to organize, where all voices are heard and where everyone has a seat at the table.
When José isn't working hard to reach his dreams, you'll likely find him breakdancing and becoming one with the music. He's officially been a Soulshifter since 2015. The Circle of Fire x Soulshifters Crew is his extended family. He explains that Soulshifters is more than just a dance crew. It's a collective, a family of artists around the world.
This playlist took us by surprise. It wasn't what we imagined or expected a playlist by José would be like, but we love it. A mix of electronic, ambient, neo-classical, house, hip-hop, and classic rock. Enjoy!
Our contributors come from a lot of different backgrounds and bring a wide variety of experiences. They are; creative thinkers, journalists, writers, and poets, opinion makers, reviewers, and critics, photographers and filmmakers, actors and musicians, illustrators and designers, business leaders and entrepreneurs, advocates and activists, gay, straight, bi- and transsexual, men and women, Black, White, Brown, and Asian or perhaps a mix of all the above … we are not fond of putting people in boxes, and we don't discriminate. On the contrary, we advocate for social justice and equality; all that matters is that you have something interesting and inspiring to share with our community.
We use the LULU—LAND Journal categories as a guideline for our content but never let them limit or confine us. If a great idea doesn't fit, we simply change the categories or make a new one. We always leave a bit of space for the unimaginable.
Unfortunately, we are not in a position where we can pay for contributions; believe us, if we could, we would. LULU—LAND is a small bootstrapped startup—non of us are getting paid at this point—everything we earn is reinvested in developing the platform and the community. We fully understand if you have a job or study at the same time. We consider ourselves flexible; you can be a one time contributor or contribute on an ongoing basis—it's up to you!
Credits are important to us—we care—and we'll never take the credit for your work or anyone else work.
LULU—LAND is a remote micro-business, currently based in Copenhagen, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, you can contribute from anywhere you'd like as long as you have a computer and access to a stable internet connection.
As a LULU—LAND contributor, it's crucial to:
be proactive and have attention to deadlines (We hate wasting time)
be able to pitch an idea, execute it independently with a few touchpoints and gates of approval
be open to constructive critique and editing (Don't take it personally)
be fluent in English, written and spoken
If you have any questions, please, don't hesitate to reach out. We look forward to getting to know you!
I first met Lauren in Ubud, Bali, in 2019. I had just arrived at Hubud — a co-working space in the middle of the Balinese Jungle, with cheeky monkeys everywhere. One week earlier, I had a well-paid and secure job as a consultant, which I'd manage to throw overboard to follow my dream; start my own business while traveling the world at the same time. Things had gone pretty fast since I made the decision. I hadn't really had time to think before that morning, where reality hit. There I was, almost 12,000 kilometers away from everything I knew, and pretty far out of my comfort zone.
When I walked into Hubud, the first person I saw was Lauren. She was friendly, she smiled, and waved me over… from that second, I knew everything was going to be alright. The following weeks we shared—and both overcame—the fear of getting on a motorbike for the first time and navigating the at times insane, Balinese traffic chaos.
I see a lot of myself in Lauren. For better and for worse. She is openminded, spontaneous, and has a knack for doing the unexpected. And on top, she is hilarious to be around. I truly admire her courage to follow her own path and live out her dreams—even the ones everyone else thinks of as crazy.
Lauren is a jack of many trades, a hard-working businesswoman, and a spiritual yogi at the same time. She mixes the best of both worlds in a way that I personally find incredibly inspiring. I look forward to visiting her latest project, Beluna, a co-working space for dreamers and doers, she has built from scratch in Ubud, following Balinese traditions and customs for bamboo craftsmanship. During Corona, Lauren has, unlike many foreigners, stayed in Bali. She helps struggling locals in the best ways she can, while the opening of her little gem has been postponed a bit for now.
I have no doubt that we'll be working together somehow in the future; only time will tell how. I could go on ... However, for now, I hope you'll get as inspired by Lauren as we are at LULU—LAND.
/ LOUISE BØGESKOV HOU
OK, LET'S START WITH THE EASY ONES
Name: Lauren Bagley
Birth month/year: 12 January 1988
Currently located in: Bali
What do you do for a living? Freelance Project Manager, Owner of Events company and Virtual Assistant Company, Owner and founder of Beluna Coworking, Bali
MOST OF US HAVE CERTAIN ROUTINES, LET'S GET TO KNOW YOURS
What is the first thing you do in the morning? Stretch! Then have a hot lemon water
What is a typical day like for you? Wake up, hot lemon water, put contact lenses in, throw on some tight yoga lycra items, head to a yoga class in Ubud (try not to think about the ten thousand things in my head and say ohm a few times), head home to shower, listen to a podcast, get dressed, journal, gratitude list then ‘To Do’ List –always a never ending list, usually transferred from the day before…! Jump on my scooter, head to a meeting with either a builder or a potential partnership, work from a café on my Beluna project, which is due to open soon. Drink loads of coffee, eat my first meal of the day around 1pm (I intermittent fast) usually a smoothie bowl and a matcha latte, then I head home, and continue with the Beluna task list, including many zoom meetings and lots of organising and administration. I usually work until 9pm in the evening, then try to switch off phone and laptop. Shower, put some chilled music on, and go to bed around 11pm.
And now that we're at it – what are the last things you do before bedtime? Switch all digital devices off, light some incense, read a book, do somemore stretching, have a hot shower and usually drown myself in coconut oil
How do you spend your weekends? Yoga, walks, lunches with friends, beach time, massage, dancing and most importantly lots of eating. The cafes in Ubud are a delight to say the least! I try to switch off from work things as much as possible as my weeks are so full on.
When was the last time you celebrated? Today, most days. I like to celebrate all things, especially the small wins.
WE ALL HAVE MORE OR LESS FLATTERING TRAITS
What is your guilty pleasure? Chocolate. Always. Anything chocolate.
What is your superpower? I have a white streak in my hair like storm from X Men. I can dislocate my hip on demand. I can smile when I’m angry (super power or slightly creepy?Who knows).
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT PASSION, NOT THE FRUIT
What could you spend all day talking about? Health and nutrition and magic potions that come from nature that can heal the human body. That – or the fact that loads of the Black Mirror episodes have come true. Can we talk about that?
What inspires you? Nature, dreams, art, colours, poetry, travel, culture, humans, kindess of strangers
LET'S DIG A LITTLE DEEPER INTO WHAT INSPIRES YOU
Repeat or shuffle? What have you been listening to lately, and what are you humming in the shower?
Poster or collectors’ items? If we gave you a million, what would be decorating your walls? Collectors items.
"I don’t actually follow the news... I stopped watching/reading it a long time ago."
Newspapers, journals, magazines, online platforms, digital media, podcasts… you name it – how do you keep yourself updated, and what are your news sources? I don’t actually follow the news (brainwashing). I stopped watching/reading it a long time ago. I prefer to choose the content I listen to so I follow certain people of interest or inspiration on Instagram, listen to podcasts of inspirational people I would like to learn from, a mixture of business, leadership, spirituality and health.
If you could have lunch with one person, alive or dead, who would that be? My grandad, my dad’s dad that I never met. I would love to meet him and hear all his stories and memories.
Books, movies, and/or series – what can you recommend?
YOUR LIFE SO FAR: SMOOTH SAILING OR OBSTACLE COURSE – A COUPLE OF QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PAST
Who was your first big love? Farran Wooler, at School. First love, first heartbreak, first boyfriend that had to carry me home because I was too drunk to walk.
What's the single best realization you have ever had? That we are completely and utterly responsible for our lives and that we create our reality, whether we choose to perceive things as good or bad, is up to us. Mind blowing. (and a lot of responsibility)
"Everyone thought I had lost my mind and would be back in a month or so (Lauren’s gone cray cray again)."
What's the best bad or crazy decision you have ever made? That moment that seemed so wrong but turned out so right. If you don't make bad or crazy decisions, have you then ever made a decision that changed your entire life? If you asked my parents, they probably wouldn’t know which one to pick with me…
However, I would have to say cancelling my wedding, quitting my well paid secure London job in the music industry, packing my bags and moving to Ibiza, without a plan, a place to live or a job. Everyone thought I had lost my mind and would be back in a month or so (Lauren’s gone cray cray again).
(I lived there nearly five years.)
AND A LOT MORE ABOUT THE PRESENT
How are you, really? It's nice to check in every once in a while. I am good, really good. Thanks for asking.
However the past few months have been challenging, confronting and eyeopening. Haven’t they? Who would have thought a virus named after a beer would affect us all so deeply and strangely and bring up all those vulnerable thoughts and moments that we all have that we didn’t know we have, and then make it a reason for your ex’s to message you and see how you are, and your friends to start sending you weird memes because they don’t have a job anymore, and then you just cry for no reason.
But yes, I’m fine. I’m fine.
When are you the happiest? When I’m eating. Preferably surrounded by loved ones and funny ones.
What scares you the most? Losing my loved ones
What keeps you up at night these days? My to do list usually, missing people, lucid dreams, the need to wee.
Tell us one thing people would never know about you by just looking at you? That I have an obsession with extremely spicy food and put chillis on everything, and can probably out eat the biggest man at the table.
What habit would improve your life? Daily meditation, to keep me more present. I do it, but still think of 10,000 things at the same time.
We all have qualities that don't really have any rhyme or reason. What is one thing you don't understand about yourself?
Why I am so bad at time keeping. I am terrible at it, always have been. My teacher used to make me write lines on the board at school, like Bart Simpson. But even she gave up.
What works for you at the moment, and what doesn’t?
Works: Morning routine, yoga, being in nature, dancing
Doesn’t: Too much time on the computer, not enough free time, feeling stressed and trying not to
When do you feel the most comfortable in your own skin? When I’m with my family or with my best friend Sophie, because she knows all my things.
What makes you feel insecure? Being in a large group of people and having to speak in front of them
AND OF COURSE, A SNEAK PEEK INTO THE FUTURE
"I am currently creating a dream and a vision I have had for a long time, something that will support many people to live the life of their dreams, whilst developing their personal skills, mindsets and growth and opportunities."
What's the best thing about the next thing you are during? I am currently creating a dream and a vision I have had for a long time, something that will support many people to live the life of their dreams, whilst developing their personal skills, mindsets and growth and opportunities.
"Plans are worthless– but planning is everything" – Dwight D. Eisenhower. What does the future look like for you – what are your dreams and goals?
Living in Bali, traveling more, more free time to spend with my family, continuing to build my business and expanding to other locations, learning new skills
ADVICE – EASY TO GIVE, HADER TO FOLLOW
"I’m quite hard on myself which can be a good thing and a bad thing, but I don’t allow myself to sit around and mope for long. I usually give myself a kick up the ass to put things into action and find a solution."
What (or who) motivates you in difficult times? Myself mostly. I’m quite hard on myself which can be a good thing and a bad thing, but I don’t allow myself to sit around and mope for long. I usually give myself a kick up the ass to put things into action and find a solution. Failing that, my mum usually tells me how it is when I need to hear it.
Good advice is priceless. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten? Remembering that nothing lasts forever. When I first heard this as a little girl it made me feel sad, but now I’m older, I understand it. And I like it. It makes me embrace every single moment and love it for what it is, whether it feels good or it feels uncomfortable. It won’t last forever, so just be in it.
What is the kindest thing anyone ever said to you or the best compliment anyone ever gave you? That I am like an onion (I know it doesn’t sound very flattering). But the person was saying that they enjoy getting to know me because there are many layers of me and that they can tell that the more I trust someone the more I allow them in, and that it makes them feel special to be in my world. I liked it that someone could get that about me and see me authentically.
How do you heal a broken heart? You don’t. You just mend it with gold and make it even more big and beautiful than before. Like the Japanese do with pottery – ‘Kintzsugi’
THE FORECAST – TRENDS AND TENDENCIES
What is going to be the next big thing? (concepts, businesses, ideas, mega trends, etc.) Online businesses and remote teams, Artificial Intelligence, Robots.
We would love to find out about cool new places and things to do in your area. What are your favorite places? Where do you like to go to have fun?
THE ONES THAT DIDN'T FIT INTO THE OTHER CATEGORIES
What is the most favorite, most useful, and most useless object you own, respectively?
Favorite: My scooter – I love the freedom of jumping on it and riding through the rice fields, it’s the best way to see the beauty of Bali
Useful: My computer, it keeps me in touch with my family, my clients, do my shopping, book my flights, take online programs and learn new things – endless possibilities from the box with the apple on it.
Useless: A pair of heeled shoes that I brought back from the UK with me at Christmas. No need for heels in Bali. Ever. But they look lovely on my shelf, collecting all the dust.
What was the last thing you searched for on your phone? Be careful: you might be required to show proof. ‘Isometric exercises’ – because someone told me to do them and I didn’t know what they were.
"Now, that I am on different time zones to my closest friends, we usually leave each other voice notes, then respond when the other is awake. It’s nice to hear their voices, and they are usually hilarious."
Call or text? Which is better, and why?
At the moment – text, because time is a bit limited. It’s nice to be able to respond at a time when I have space rather than rush a phone call. In fact, I prefer voice notes. Now, that I am on different time zones to my closest friends, we usually leave each other voice notes, then respond when the other is awake. It’s nice to hear their voices, and they are usually hilarious.
If I have more time – Calls.
Am I allowed to give 3 answers?
"It costs nothing to be polite, compassionate and kind."
What is your pet peeve? Oh god. There’s many – rude people, loud people, slow walkers, loud eaters, invasion of personal space, the list goes on!
But my number one would be rude people. I dated someone recently who was very rude to a waiter. I don’t like that, I think it says a lot about someone, and you know one day they will also speak to you like that. It costs nothing to be polite, compassionate and kind.
What is the most interesting thing in your trash can? An empty spirulina packet?... Awkward.
You’ve been given an elephant. You can’t give it away or sell it. What would you do with it? Oh I would not want to give it away or sell it. Elephants are my favourite animals because they are strong, mischievious, loyal and the baby ones throw tantrums. I would make my best efforts to get to know the elephant and learn all it’s tricks.
THE BIG ONES
What is the meaning of life? To find the things that make your heart sing, and do that.
Whilst experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions, heart breaks, wins and losses, confusion, pain, joy, intense love, intense loss, laughs, tears, cuddles and experiences, all along the way.
Look, mom, I made it! – How do you define success? Living a life of freedom, that fills me with joy and allows me to live an abundant life, in all ways, a life that I can share with my loved ones and share and give to others.
THE FINAL TWO
Name three people you would like to answer these questions?