In this series, Faces of Rosslyn, we profile members of our community. These interesting and inspiring individuals make up the fabric of our vibrant neighborhood. We are glad to have them! Want us to profile you or someone you know in Rosslyn? Contact us!
Doing what she loves
In the midst of a varied and successful career, Pamela Sorensen tries something new
By Mary Dallao
Rosslyn resident Pamela Sorensen has been a well-known D.C. area media personality for years. Her blog, "Pamela's Punch" (2006-2016), offered the inside scoop on the D.C. area's social, professional and philanthropic scenes and established her reputation as an information source on some of the area's most important people and places. Through her latest venture, High Frequency Consulting, she provides businesses with high-impact introductions that can help spur their success. She recently broadened her business with an art division, taking it in an exciting new direction. The Rosslyn BID caught up with her recently to find out about her plans.
Pamela Sorensen takes us to the rooftop deck of her building, Union on Queen, in Rosslyn. It's midday on a Wednesday so it's deserted except for us and her Doberman hound rescue Frasier Simone. After waiting patiently through our hour-long interview in Pamela's apartment, Frasier Simone is eager to run. She races back and forth across the wide open space, happy to be out in the fresh air and even happier to discover a small morsel of food beneath a planter. The view from up here rivals any in the D.C. area, giving us a unique vantage point for taking in the Washington Monument and much of the city's skyline.
Sorensen has lived at Union on Queen since May 2018 and she's very happy to be here. "I've fallen in love with this neighborhood," she says. "I love how walkable it is. And I love that there's a separation between where I live, which is really quiet, and the downtown space, where it's bustling. I can open my windows and hear birds."
Back downstairs, Sorensen gives us a tour of her apartment. It's clean, modern and tastefully decorated with bold, color-drenched artworks she produced herself. They cover the walls and and lean propped up and unfinished in some corners. Their genesis marked a new chapter in her personal and professional growth.
Sorensen's artworks line the walls of her apartment at Union on Queen.
Sorensen has always been artistic. Her parents noticed her ability at an early age and encouraged her to develop her talent, but it wasn't until this past year that she put paintbrush to canvas for the first time in quite a while. Her reasons for starting to make art were fairly straightforward. She had just moved into her new place, needed to decorate, and thought it might be fun to paint something herself. She was also facing some personal difficulties at the time, and hoped the act of creating would center her and soothe her spirit.
"As soon as I started painting, I couldn't stop," she says. "I shared my work on social media and people said, 'Oh, you're really good!' and I thought, 'Am I?' They started asking me to paint for them or offered to support me. And I started getting great personal pleasure from putting pieces into the homes of people I care about. I put a lot of emotion into every canvas. I think of my friends when I'm painting for them . . . about specific moments in time I've had with them."
The Instagram post in which Pamela Sorensen first shared her art.
Today, almost a year after she re-engaged with painting, it has become an integral part of her life. Often, it marks the start of her weekend. Friday afternoons around 4, Sorensen begins what she calls her apartment's "transformation process." First, she unfurls her drop-cloths and pulls out her artist's tools, which she keeps in her kitchen cabinets where most people store their pots and pans (Sorensen doesn't cook). The kitchen island becomes part of her workspace. Soon, paint is everywhere. With a glass of wine nearby and classical music playing in the background, she starts to create.
Her earlier works were representational; more recent pieces are abstract; some convey a message.
"If I have no idea what I'm going to do, sometimes I'll go through a couple of coffee table books to look for colors or pieces that speak to me," she says. "Other times, I'll have an emotion I want to express, like feelings of happiness I want to get out. Maybe I haven't used blues and pinks together in a while, so I'll try something with that. And I like using brushes but also tools like knives, forks, cups and even an old candleholder. I dip these objects in paint to make shapes."
Sorensen intends to pursue her love of painting with her business expansion. Although High Frequency Consulting will continue to be a vehicle for power-networking, she would like to devote more of her business to painting on commission. The ratio she hopes to achieve, she says, would be something like 80 percent painting on commission and 20 percent consulting. She's already started acquiring clients, and she hopes to gain more. One of her first commissions was for The Motley Fool Venture Fund, which asked her to create artworks for their Alexandria, Va., headquarters that incorporated the motif of a jester hat.
"I want to put my work into offices and homes on a much larger scale," she says. "I have another client who's hired me to do pieces for his new headquarters in Tysons Corner. He and I have been friends for years and he's the CEO of the company who also does some painting of his own."
When she meets with a possible client, Sorensen says she's deliberate about learning more about their business and their company culture. She wants to know what inspires them and what will be meaningful to them and their employees, clients and board members.
"I like the idea of creating something that will make people happy," she says. "After going through a rough year last year, I realized that if you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing, you're going against your spirit and not being authentic to yourself. It's taken me many years in my career to find out what I really love doing. And I said to myself, 'Why not turn that into a business?'"
Sorensen at home with her art.
Throughout her professional life, asking herself the question "Why not?" has helped Sorensen make many important decisions.
"I'd ask myself, 'Why not start a blog?' 'Why not work for this company?' 'Why not ask this person for help? What's the worst that can happen?'" she says. "For me, it's better to say, 'Why not?' and to put myself in a position where I can learn and grow than to say that I was afraid."
By being self-confident and taking a genuine interest in others, Sorensen has built a large network of friends and professional contacts since she moved to the D.C. area years ago after graduating from Penn State. Her advice on building a network for those who are new to the area or just starting out?
"Try to get to know people personally and professionally and make connections that are grounded in mutual respect," she says. "We all travel in various circles. The people you meet in your day job are in one circle. Try to connect with them in a way that's outside of your day job. Also, volunteer and seek leadership positions. This shows others that you're more than just your day job and it helps people get to know you in a way that builds trust. When I was in my 20s, I became lifelong friends with a group of young professionals who were all constantly out raising money for nonprofits that were having an impact. So get involved and do something meaningful with other people—something you're really passionate about."
Enjoying good conversation and amazing views from the rooftop deck at Union on Queen in Rosslyn.
Sorensen loves the D.C. area and says she'll never leave, even though she's sometimes told moving to another market, like New York or Los Angeles, would be better for her career. She feels life here is just getting better and better.
"This area is becoming a vibrant, explosive place," she says. "The dining and real estate scenes are thriving, and the area's attracting more creatives and entrepreneurs from many different industries. There's also tremendous expertise here . . . captains of industry in sports and entertainment and art. You can learn and do whatever you want to do and become good at it. I never thought I'd start a blog or be doing what I'm doing now, but I'm convinced there's nothing you can't do in this area. I think it's all about each of us fulfilling our purpose and making the world better."
Learn more: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pamelasorensen/
Photo at top: Sorensen with her rescue dog, Frasier Simone.