Did you know that all this month, the USCCA is recognizing and celebrating women? I am so lucky to have met, trained with, worked alongside and learned from some of the most amazing ladies in our industry. And although the task was not simple, I’ve narrowed a long list down to five of the most influential women to highlight for every week of March. And I’ve given each of them a handful of questions to ponder and answer. Their backgrounds, experiences, talents and careers may be completely different, but their mission is the same: to share support of our Second Amendment and the right to protect what we love.

Emily Valentine: Creator of Style Me Tactical

Last week, I talked with Dianna Muller. And this week, I am sharing the inspirational Emily Valentine and her equally inspirational creation, Style Me Tactical. I’ve gotten to know Emily through a variety of Second Amendment events, conferences and shows. It’s been a pleasure to follow her fashion recommendations along with her firearms journey.

In my book, you are an important influencer in the firearms industry. Who do you feel is your audience, and what are your most significant messages to them?

Thank you so much. You know, I don’t really think of myself as an “influencer.” I started Style Me Tactical to share my journey to firearms ownership and share my passion for helping women take responsibility for their own safety. My mission has always been about empowering women. No matter who you are or what age you are, personal safety always applies. My hope [is] that … I can get someone to think about what [she] would do or how [she] would handle a situation that might threaten [her] personal safety [and] that it [will] spark an internal conversation for [her] to seek ways … to become self-reliant. It’s this realization that I want women to have. Because if they don’t take responsibility for their safety, who will?

What has been one of your best success stories or proudest moments? 

I never thought that sharing my passion through Style Me Tactical would lead to some great opportunities and experiences. A few that come to mind include being featured in Time Magazine[‘s] “Guns in America” issue, being on season five of NRA Women’s Love At First Shot and hosting my own podcast, Not Your Average Gun Girls. Aside from those, what really makes me thankful and proud of what I’m doing and what keeps me going is when I get emails and messages from women sharing how I have inspired them and helped them on their own [journeys] to becoming self-reliant. That’s what really fills my heart.

Talk about a failure or a “miss” you experienced. What did you learn from it? 

I have lots of ideas and goals for Style Me Tactical and getting my message across. I tend to get overly excited about them, which leads to putting a rather aggressive plan in place to implement them. Unfortunately, last year was very eye-opening in terms of what was possible … this year, I’ve taken a step back and really identified priorities over wants, and asked myself the hard questions of what is realistic and what can I actually accomplish? It’s not easy having to come to terms with the fact that you can’t do everything, but no one can. I’m working on that balance and being OK with doing enough.

Which people, organizations, training or books have had the most influence on your growth — and why? 

I feel so fortunate to have met some of my best friends through this industry — women who inspire and encourage me daily. I’ve also had opportunities to train with top-tier instructors [who] really made an impact on how I live this lifestyle. The encouragement from the firearms community, along with their support and help in understanding this lifestyle, has been critical in my growth. Social media has really been a great way to connect with people and have in-depth conversations about firearms and being self-reliant. It’s a great place to find community. Besides leaning on the community and people I’ve met, there have been many great books that have helped me maintain this mindset of living a self-reliant lifestyle and have helped to grow Style Me Tactical. A few are: The Gift of Fear, Survive the Unthinkable and So Good They Can’t Ignore You.

What keeps you going when things get tough? 

There are a few things that I rely on, and one of those things is my husband. His support of me and Style Me Tactical is amazing. He continues to encourage me in my mission and helps any way I need. I work full-time outside of running Style Me Tactical, so there are many sleepless nights. [There are also] days where I question what I’m doing. He knows how to pull me up and through. And then there’s always some fresh air and a workout! Giving myself the permission to take a break and do something for me always helps reset my mind.

What are some goals for you and/or for your business? 

I have always dreamed big and have big goals for myself and Style Me Tactical. Personally, getting back into a morning routine is something I am striving for right now. I strongly believe that starting the morning strong helps to set the tone for the day. Also, I’m really trying to practice progress over perfection in all areas of my life. In terms of Style Me Tactical, I want to continue to grow the community of self-reliant women and find ways to bring those women together through speaking engagements and events. I’m also working on creating more video content for all aspects of this lifestyle.