The Learning Edge
Brooke (Bargowski) Vega ’07: Entrepreneur, Author, and Purveyor of Positivity
- January 11, 2019
- Posted by: Clonlara School
- Category: Alumni Spotlight
By Clonlara School
Next time you sign your “John Hancock” on an important document, you might think about Clonlara 2007 graduate Brooke (Bargowski) Vega. Brooke recently wrote and self-published a book, Create a Signature You Love. While many believe cursive writing is becoming a lost art, Brooke turns that notion on its head. Her book helps people learn penmanship through the process of creating a “cool” signature, no matter their incoming ability.
Brooke was the third of four children in her family to graduate from Clonlara. She attended Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida on a partial academic scholarship, majoring in Economics and minoring in French and Spanish. She graduated with honors in 2011, earning memberships to the Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Epsilon (International Economics) honor societies.
At Eckerd, Brooke participated in three study abroad programs, traveling to Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Spain, and France. After graduating she worked at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, saving up for further travel—a six-and-a-half month backpacking excursion in Asia and South America.
Brooke landed a job in sales operations at VMware, a business-to-business software company in Austin, Texas. She loved her time at VMware—she was “surrounded by intelligent, ambitious, and supportive people” who helped her grow by “leaps and bounds” in her two years there. But she had always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and she had always been fascinated with artists. When her brother, Bryan, founded an artistic start-up, Gallorey, Brooke jumped at the opportunity to join him and get closer to the creative world.
In building and launching Gallorey, Brooke recruited artists to create artwork for sale on the site. Throughout months of researching and interacting with creators, a common theme emerged: art enthusiasts desperately desired to create like the artists they admired, but were convinced they didn’t have the natural ability to do so. This, despite almost all the artists asserting that they themselves were “nothing special,” that they had started out as “clumsy, clueless beginners” like anybody else, and that it took hundreds or thousands of hours for them to develop their skills.
“This is where my book was born,” Brooke stated. “Having spent most of my life believing that art required an almost magical talent that was off-limits to me, I was blown away by the vehement insistence of hundreds of artists that artistic ability is not an innate gift or inborn trait, just a skill that can be learned through practice.”
“I wrote Create a Signature You Love,” she continued, “because I wanted to share this revelation and help people develop their creativity and artistic skill—especially if they are convinced (like I was) that they don’t have what it takes to make beautiful art. I wanted to explicitly talk about how to show up, how to enjoy practice, and how to keep going even when it seems like you’re not any good.”
Brooke’s Clonlara experience was invaluable in preparing her for this endeavor. “Self direction—as a writer and entrepreneur, no one enforces a schedule on me,” she emphasized. “To be ‘your best self,’ you have to take responsibility for shaping your life, and then you have to have the discipline to live according to those decisions. I learned and practiced this at a young age.”
Homeschooling also amplified what Brooke’s parents encouraged Brooke and her brothers to do, namely, to think for themselves. “They would provide guidance, but always encouraged us to form our own ideas first. This led us to be both introspective and outwardly observant. We tried hard to understand ourselves and other people.”
“As a homeschooler, you have a lot of flexibility to participate in and observe many different communities,” she added. “And if you pay attention, you learn a lot about yourself and other people in general.”
Based on her life experiences, Brooke offers these words of advice to Clonlara students:
- Take action and try things. “Put yourself out there. You can learn a lot in the time you might otherwise spend wringing your hands over what choice to make. Just start. That’s always the first step. There is rarely any value in delaying.”
- Learn to be a good learner. “This is a meta-skill that will help you in any pursuit… Learning is a process that unfolds in a predictable manner. Mistakes are always part of the equation if you stay the course from beginner to master. Learn this.”
- Think about what kind of person you want to be, and find ways to surround yourself with people like that. “Try to spend time with people who motivate you, inspire you, and share your principles or challenge them intelligently.”
Though she completed the book in April of 2018, Brooke’s work on Create a Signature You Love is far from done. “I am fully focused on growing my community and my business.” As such, she spends much of her time managing the website, interacting with customers, marketing, and preparing the book to be sold in different formats and through multiple channels. Another book may be in the future.
Outside of work, Brooke looks forward to doing more extended travel with her husband and pursuing her hobbies. These include learning to ride and train horses, paint and draw, and studying Fine Art Photography, to name a few.