Diana came to StreetWise two years ago when she was looking for a new source of employment. “I would spend a lot of time downtown and there was a woman I would regularly buy StreetWise from. And one day I ran into another StreetWise vendor, Russell Adams, and I spoke to him and he told me about it. And then I decided that I was going to try and see about StreetWise,” Diana said.
Diana soon built up a steady clientele and sought unique ways to market her product. At first, one regular, a physician, would purchase five magazines from her a week and then leave them in his office for patients. Soon, Diana decided to give him the magazines for free so that she could build a relationship with him and show her gratitude for his long-time support. “I like to give them for free so that I can advertise for the magazine,” Diana said. She figures that the better the magazine’s reputation and circulation, the better her sales will be.
Diana’s savvy marketing skills might also have something to do with her past experience in the magazine/newspaper business. Prior to coming to StreetWise, she used to work a newspaper and magazine stand at 79th and King Drive.
Diana also has experience in home construction. “I did modern development and rehab, that’s tearing up and gutting buildings to rehab them. I picked that up really well and I did it for three years. I can also do electronics, wiring and soldering. I can even put units together and things like that,” Diana said.
When she was in her early 20’s, Diana was also in the army. However, her military career didn’t last very long because soon after joining, she discovered that she was pregnant and had to drop out. Her son Fleminto is now 40 years old.
Diana has lived in Chicago for her entire life and she currently resides in the Bronzeville neighborhood. However, her current goal is to find new housing and move to a safer part of town. “My area is nice and it’s getting better, but I don’t want to be in the area because it’s still a drug life. [Drug dealers] just hang around there and when you walk out of the door of your home, you don’t want to see this. And you see these people every day and people may start to associate you with them. I think I could make it there another year and then move around this same time next year,” Diana explained.
In her spare time, Diana enjoys creating artwork, such as paper collages using newspaper. She hopes to possibly enroll in a few art classes so that she can expand her talent.
Diana is a very positive person and doesn’t need much motivation but a simple glance out the window when she wakes in the morning. “All I need to do is see the outside world. That makes me think I can go so far and find something new all the time in each day. Sometimes you look out and it’s grey and you can’t see anything… but I always see the sun shining. That’s just the way it is. If it’s a dreary day, I still look out and see something good,” Diana said.
Written by Brittany Langmeyer,