It wasn’t just the pandemic that shook things up in 2020.
The civil unrest triggered by horrible racial injustices left emotions raw. In some ways, this rawness has allowed us to be less delicate when making business decisions that reflect specific values. Being fiercely unapologetic while changing the world, especially the business world, is 100% necessary.
”I do think that we have to move away from believing that we can’t be who we are in business as wellTai BeauchampCo-Founder of BROWN GIRL Jane
Being Fiercely Unapologetic While Changing While Changing the Business World with Tai Beauchamp
Katie Hankinson (00:02):
Hi, I’m Katie Hankinson.
Mickey Cloud (00:04):
And I’m Mickey Cloud. And welcome to Building While Flying, a new podcast from the Sasha Group, where we interview business leaders about how they tackle challenges, stay resilient and navigate ever changing skies.
Katie Hankinson (00:22):
I’m super excited to introduce today, my guests, Tai Beauchamp, the co-founder and chief brand officer of BROWN GIRL Jane. Named one of the most 50 most influential people in the multicultural market. You’re award-winning producer, TV host, brand consultant. You’ve got this background in publishing and TV, you’re an entrepreneur. And what I’ve really seen through all of the stuff I’ve read about you is that your whole focus is very much on empowering women. Welcome to the show.
Tai Beauchamp (00:52):
Thank you, Katie. It’s so amazing to be here with you. Thanks so much for having me.
Katie Hankinson (00:57):
I’ve had a great fun digging into a bunch of your content and learning a bit about what you’ve been doing over your fairly storied career. But I’m going to start with a question, having watched your TEDx talk from about a year ago, I’m going to start by saying who all you, Tai Beauchamp?
Tai Beauchamp (01:19):
That’s a good question. That’s a great question. Isn’t that the question I think that so many of us are always working to discover and define. Today and I think over the course of the last 40 something years of my life, I can say that I am a proud empowered woman who believes in the strength and power of humanity, who believes that we are all called to love and be loved. I believe in creativity, I believe in connectivity, and I would say I’m optimistic.
Tai Beauchamp (01:54):
I’d like to define who I am based upon values and beliefs more so than anything that I’ve ever done professionally or that I will ever do professionally. Because again, those things change, those things evolve, but I am a person of purpose and I like to be anchored in that.
Katie Hankinson (02:15):
I love that. I had such a sense of that through the thread of what you’ve talked about. I think that the sense of female empowerment, the energy that you’re bringing is clearly a big part of how you’ve lily padded from one part of your career to another. So thinking about that, you’ve obviously had big plans, had that entrepreneurial streak from a young age. You’ve started out in media, you are now chief brand officer of a product company.
Katie Hankinson (02:41):
How much of that was by design and how much of it has been organic? And what are the values that have helped bring you along that path?
Tai Beauchamp (02:48):
I’m an entrepreneur by design. I think I embodied a lot of the entrepreneurial qualities that I think a lot of entrepreneurs, including Gary and others would probably say that they recognize in themselves that some point early in life, I always was a creator. I always liked building, I liked doing it my way. I liked solving problems. I liked identifying new problems to be solved. I always wanted to create impact. I think that that’s always been a driver. But I was by no stretch did I think I was going to become an entrepreneur.
Tai Beauchamp (03:24):
I really didn’t have that as a most visible example in my life. I come from a family of educators. My mom is an administrator in the school system, now retired. My stepfather was a teacher. My grandmother was a counselor for the state. I have probably at least 20 cousins that are educators and principals. I had an aunt who was assistant superintendent of schools. I certainly didn’t see entrepreneurship for me.
Tai Beauchamp (03:54):
And quite frankly, I think being a black African-American child growing up in the outskirts of Newark, New Jersey to a family who was extremely valued and extremely, I wouldn’t say ambitious, but purposed and driven to understand our role in the world as community people and community-centric people, it wasn’t something I saw for myself. Even when I became a magazine editor, I will tell you, I launched my career at the preeminent magazine of all magazines, probably in the entire world.
Tai Beauchamp (04:29):
I think to date has probably still the most successful magazine launch in the history of publishing. O, The Oprah Magazine, I started my career there a month after graduating college, so I was 22 years old. I was probably one of the first 25 full-time hires at the magazine, and my grandmother, I will never, ever forget who helped raise me along with my mother and my paternal grandparents said to me, “I see that your office is on Broadway in New York city.”
Tai Beauchamp (05:01):
She said, “Columbia’s Teachers College is right on Broadway. Where are you going to go get your master’s to become a teacher?” They were like, “You’re working for Oprah, that’s great, but when are you going to get another ticket?”
Katie Hankinson (05:16):
You going to go and get a real qualification.
Tai Beauchamp (05:18):
A real job. Exactly, a real job. So I say that all to say, I was always intentional and I think deliberate, and my mother and I used talk about this a lot now about charting my own path and in my own way. And I think that is probably the entrepreneurial switch moment. That’s one of the things that I think if you have something burning inside of you to not only want to chart your own path, because you don’t want to have a boss, not for that reason, but because you want to solve a problem, because you want to impact culture, because you want to see a shift in society.
Tai Beauchamp (05:50):
Because you want to build something that’s going to have legacy and staying power. I think that that’s an indicator that you might have this entrepreneurial bug or spirit.
Katie Hankinson (06:01):
I love that. And I think in a way, the fact that you started out in immediate working for others, but over time have shifted into becoming a sort of media entity in and of self speaks to that thread. You’re able to enact the purpose as the driver of it versus trying to bubble it up from within. I think that’s a really interesting way to growing through it.
Tai Beauchamp (06:25):
Katie Hankinson (06:26):
And then talking just a little bit about most recently, BROWN GIRL Jane, how did you make that shift from being very much in the world of media and obviously fashion as well, but into the world of beginning and creating a brand, a product brand from scratch? How has that come about?
Tai Beauchamp (06:47):
It’s incredible. I will tell you this, and here’s I think is something really critical to help entrepreneurs no matter where you are in your journey to recognize and also to embrace, there were parts of this journey, even having been a immediate entity of my own, having my own media company where I had a staff of nine people at one point. It was developing content as well as hosting television and producing television, all of those things. I started doing this before social media was a thing.
Tai Beauchamp (07:16):
So I was kind of like this early adopter of content creation before it was something that was recognized as an industry. But that was also met later with some low points of like, “Okay, what’s next? And not being an entrepreneur who was very planned in her entrepreneurial journey, it was met with moments of like, does this make sense? What problem am I solving? Does it satisfy who I am? Is it purposed?
Tai Beauchamp (07:49):
And I really had, even at that point as a media entity, myself always felt very strongly about products and beauty because I started my career as a beauty editor. So there was always an interest, but BROWN GIRL Jane came about really organically because I had gotten to a place where I was fatigued and exhausted of doing it all on my own, being a solopreneur, and being single in life is not fun all the time.
Tai Beauchamp (08:14):
As empowered of a woman as I am, it comes with some baggage and exhaustion. And I said to myself, “I wanted to align with a service or a product that was really going to help shift mindset, shift behaviors, and something that I could really get behind.” And so it started really with a desire. And then fortunately, all those started to manifest in partnering with my Spelman sisters, Malaika Jones Kebede and Nia Jones, who are also biological sisters to develop a product line that was going to speak to women, especially women of color about how you empower yourself, so it’s aligned with my values.
Tai Beauchamp (08:59):
I had gone on my own wellness journey after going through this space of being, I don’t want to say, simply depressed, but really in a space of like questioning mark as an entrepreneur, as an individual, as a human. And wanting to one; figure out what was really going to support my highest self and then wanting to bring that to the masses, and CBD really helped to center me in that way. And wellness and wholeness as we call it at BROWN GIRL Jane, I felt like not just as a product, but as a concept and as a value system was something that other women wanted to hear about.
Tai Beauchamp (09:38):
And so here we are on this journey. We are less than nine months in really, and the brand [crosstalk 00:09:45]-
Katie Hankinson (09:45):
… so fast.
Tai Beauchamp (09:46):
… it’s actually taken off and I’m super excited. I think also, from a business standpoint and from a times standpoint, I think commercially, we’re in a time, COVID, civil unrest and civil revolution, and social injustice revolution, where with the pandemic, we’re forced to kind of be quarantined. Where we have an opportunity to create new movements around how we define and build community.
Tai Beauchamp (10:20):
And that’s the entrepreneurial mindset, you look at the space and time that we’re in and it seems like the worst, and what is the opportunity? What’s the opportunity not just to drive commerce, but to impact society in a positive way? And BROWN GIRL Jane for me does that, but it also feeds and fuels who I am and it aligns with what my value is and what my purpose is personally.
Katie Hankinson (10:46):
That’s fascinating. I love just having really explored the site and had to look to the brand and how you built it out. It really is obviously walking the talk in terms of empowerment. I thought the BROWN GIRL Swap was really an awesome commitment to have surface within the site where you ask people to consciously commit to swapping five of their common daily products to one that is owned by black women, which is just such a great rallying cry.
Katie Hankinson (11:17):
How are you finding being a leader within that conversation? And how is that conversation growing? I mean this year has been exactly, as you say, just such a year of upheaval, and introspection, and challenge, and grief, but also there’s the optimism too. How are you finding that conversation around really supporting the black-owned business and black women owned-business?
Tai Beauchamp (11:40):
It’s very natural. It’s very organic for… The brand is very organic for Malaika, Nia and I as founders and owners of the brand. Is very natural for the times in which we live. I think that that’s the other thing that I encourage entrepreneurs to do. Don’t just try to solve a problem for the sake of solving a problem, solve the problem because the problem means something to you, but even more, the solution is aligned with who you believe the world is called to be.
Tai Beauchamp (12:08):
I was listening to a podcast the other day. Actually the guy who founded Candidly. I’m a huge fan of Guy Raz
Katie Hankinson (12:18):
I love the, How I Built This book. It’s phenomenal.
Tai Beauchamp (12:20):
[crosstalk 00:12:20]. If you’re entrepreneur or you love business, how can you not love that podcast?
Katie Hankinson (12:26):
Tai Beauchamp (12:27):
And I believe his name is Tolo, he’s a Nigerian-born man who founded Candidly, which I had no clue. But he spoke about his journey and how he tried to found and work in so many different areas. He was selling, I want to say Word Processors or vacuum cleaners or something, I don’t know. He had had so many stops and goes in business, which happen to all of us. But I think the light switch moment, and I’m sure that working with Gary, he will probably attest to this.
Tai Beauchamp (12:59):
The lights switch moments come when you are really true to who you are, where they’re not so contrived. Even when you’re working to solve a problem or create a solution, it should be true to who you are. And I think with that, that light switch. So BROWN GIRL Swap is super organic to us. I’ve been a black woman entrepreneur for 14 years, and quite frankly, when I think about my business over the course of the years, while I’ve been fortunate to operate in all spaces. the times when it was most challenging for me, it was other black women who stood for me.
Tai Beauchamp (13:33):
And so that’s super organic. And I also just feel very strongly that the times in which we live right now, I think it brings about the opportunity for a new level of consciousness. And if you’re solving a problem, you have to be willing to not rest on your laurels, but to stand for another potential laurel to become. And that’s who we are at BROWN GIRL Jane and fortunately brands like Unilever and SheaMoisture saw the BROWN GIRLs Swap, Birchbox saw the BROWN GIRL Swap. We just partnered with them as well.
Katie Hankinson (14:06):
A little bit more about that because that was one of the things I wanted to lean into. You’ve obviously partnered with some of these immense consumer and retail brands over the years, whether it’s Dior, Nordstrom, Target P&G. How are you having those conversations with brands? Firstly, it sounds like there’s so much more openness this year for, at the corporate level and for brands of all sizes to be taking the challenges of race, and equity and equality head-on
Katie Hankinson (14:38):
How do you go about beginning those conversations when you’re brought into an organization to think really, really intentionally and authentically about how they can change and change for the long term?
Tai Beauchamp (14:52):
It’s very interesting. What I find about this time that is so super exciting to me personally, as someone who has operated in these spaces for many years and often quietly.,It very interesting as a media person and with the growth of social media, people who saw me in front of the camera didn’t realize I was behind the scenes in these doors, having these conversations, which was so interesting to me.
Tai Beauchamp (15:16):
It was almost as if my previous career as an editor had no relevance. I think gratefully during this time, we don’t have to be as delicate about it. I think we have to be extremely pronounced in it. And I think that that’s where we have the incredible opportunity to make change and not have it just be talk. Historically, I will tell you, there were certainly times in my career earlier when I was younger, when I looked around and I was the only in the room and it felt super uncomfortable to me.
Tai Beauchamp (15:53):
And I also remember feeling the pressure of being the only and having to speak on all of our behalf, and that was not comfortable either. I appreciate now during this time that the amplification of voices and that what have been racially charged injustice and heartache, and pain, and suffering that have been on multiple sides, but definitely in the side of the most marginalized, that it has created an environment and a time for us to have difficult conversations that I hope and I believe will be very different for my children and my grandchildren. That means that the outcomes will be different.
Tai Beauchamp (16:38):
having these conversations now, I will tell you, I’m fiercely unapologetic. I was on a call yesterday with a group of dynamically, there’s CEOs all C-suiter. I was the only black woman and I remember 10 years ago, eight years ago, five years ago, three years ago, two years ago, I could have been on this call and never even acknowledged that I was the only black woman.
Katie Hankinson (17:03):
That’s such a good point.
Tai Beauchamp (17:05):
It’s like, “So guys, you do realize I’m the only black woman on this call.” And not in that… It’s not like it has to be this announcement, but it’s an acknowledgement so that way we can create consciousness around what it means that if we’re building something, what does it mean, not just for this insular group of six of us, dynamic CEO, C-suiter on the call, but what it means for access to more people and what it means for people who don’t have… Because even as a black woman, I realized my immense privilege.
Tai Beauchamp (17:38):
And there is such thing as black privilege. Now, how am I using that privilege myself to create a more equitable society? And that’s what the BROWN GIRL Swap does. It recognizes that my co-founders and I have immense access to people. I have relationships I’ve garnered over the course of 20 years, now, how can I leverage those relationships to award funding to other black women entrepreneurs who perhaps have never been in the quarters of Unilever or P&G?
Katie Hankinson (18:06):
I think as well, it’s leveraging your platform and your access, and it’s really just setting that example. You cannot in one breath, call attention and point at something and say, “This must be addressed.” I love how you described it as fiercely unapologetic, here you are that and proud in terms of pointing out something, which everybody is tacitly acknowledging in a group, but actually may not have spoken to.
Katie Hankinson (18:32):
And I was also struck when I was listening to that TEDx talk, which was very much about bringing your whole self. Where you talked about how previously you had compartmentalize aspects of yourself and your character in life. And that as you started to bring all of them to the floor, it really helped you be more authentic to yourself and help you manifest the things that you really wanted in life and business.
Katie Hankinson (18:55):
Is that something you’re continuing to almost work on more over the years? How has that now kind of almost evolving now we’re in this time and as you’re working on some of these very purposeful aspects of business?
Tai Beauchamp (19:07):
Such a great question, Katie. Here’s a manifesto that I believe for all of us, we’re constantly evolving. And if you’re not constantly evolving, then you’re not living fully. So yes, my full self is changing, my authentic self is changing. More purpose self is changing. I’m evolving personally, spiritually, relationally, professionally. And so it continues to evolve. I think my expectation and my desire is to be fully who I am at any given moment. And again, as I said, it doesn’t always have to be so pronounced, it just is.
Tai Beauchamp (19:43):
And it is, is because I’m comfortable with what it is. When you referenced the TEDx talk, in my youth and I’m still youthful, let’s get that right, I think compartmentalization felt safe because there were spaces that I didn’t feel safe and I didn’t know how to be safe in, because I wasn’t clear for myself. As well as perhaps there were times when it wasn’t as welcoming. And this doesn’t mean that you’re still not aware of the spaces you’re in.
Tai Beauchamp (20:18):
I think being completely unapologetic doesn’t mean being disgruntled or ignorant to the environments and the spaces you’re in. It just means knowing how you own that space and how you stand in your truth in those spaces, and what you stand to bring to that, and also what you stand to receive. So I think when I compartmentalized, quite frankly, I probably did myself a greater disservice because I wasn’t allowing myself to really receive and be deposited into. Because I had placed pieces of myself aside.
Tai Beauchamp (20:53):
Whereas, now if you come with your full self, you’re able to deposit and also be a receptacle of those things that are gonna ultimately allow you to live your fullest and most purpose life. And I’m growing still.
Katie Hankinson (21:07):
We all are. I hope we all are. What a year this has been to help us do that. It’s curious because as we talk about it, I think… We talk about bringing our whole authentic self to our lives, but I actually think it’s more and more true in business as people start to have these very almost portfolio careers. You are a really good example of this, where you’ve come from fashion, you’ve done the journalistic piece, you’ve been in the TV world. You’re an influencer, speaker, now you’re in the product side.
Katie Hankinson (21:41):
If you only compartmentalized you as a leader of a brand that is selling CBD and you’re not necessarily bringing all of that other experience, knowledge and ways of thinking, some of those other sectors, you’re just entirely missing out on some huge opportunity there.
Tai Beauchamp (21:58):
And you hit the nail on the head, but that’s the thing I think that’s so important, especially for women, especially for women. We have been taught that we can be this part of ourselves here, this part of ourselves here, and that’s what… Quite frankly, we’ve been conditioned, society has conditioned us that way for so long. And I realize I think that that’s what makes me such a dynamic business leader. And it’s very interesting for me too, because I’ve been told that I operate very differently in business.
Tai Beauchamp (22:34):
I think oftentimes I’m always super kind, I’m always purposeful and intentional in business, but I think that sometimes can be received as dogmatic. And I think that sometimes that seems to conflict with what I present from a spiritual and an emotional side. But I dare to say differently, it’s because I want the most out of this construct that we’re in and here’s how I believe we can get that.
Tai Beauchamp (23:07):
I’m also highly motivational, and encouraging, and inspiring leader who mentors naturally, but that comes sometimes with a very, very direct way of being. But if you’re being true to yourself, you’re just honoring that. But I do think that we have to move away from believing that we can’t be who we are in business as well.
Katie Hankinson (23:35):
And also that we can’t be simultaneously kind, but strong. Going back to the expectations of the feminine that you kind of, “Oh, you’re going to be a soft leader, and a thought one, and a kind leader.” That’s the box you’re always in. Actually, there’s going to be times that you can switch it on and lay down the laurel and really set out exactly where on the edge of dogma where you want things to be going.
Tai Beauchamp (24:00):
Exactly. No, absolutely. And again, I think that that just speaks to how dynamic we are and why should I not be able to be dynamic in whatever way?
Katie Hankinson (24:11):
We talked a lot about the your ark, the themes and the values that have carried you through all of the aspects of your career. Let’s talk really specifically about BROWN GIRL Jane, the business the last nine months, which let’s face it, have been in a crazy environment, the craziest construct, to use your words. How have you guys managed through COVID? How did you think about… Obviously, the online nature of E-commerce is in some ways insulated from aspects of how others on the traditional side of retail have been impacted by this.
Katie Hankinson (24:47):
But what did you have to do in terms of pivot over this year as we were hit with some of the repercussions of the coronavirus?
Tai Beauchamp (24:56):
I think specifically because we’re a wellness collection, during this time, we’ve been fortunate in the way that people are more conscious of around what it means to be well and wanting to focus on their health, and wanting to come back sleeplessness, and anxiety, and we’re a solution for all of that. I think what is important and key for us is not only to provide a solution, but to create that community so that way, as we move through COVID in these times, they see us as a long term part of their toolkit.
Tai Beauchamp (25:34):
From a retail standpoint, we’re really enjoying being direct to consumer. It allows us and affords us the opportunity to engage with her, learn specifically about her needs. And as you said, as a new and young business, take that insight and pivot accordingly without a great deal of challenge. We can be relatively nimble in how we do them. We are a self-funded business as well, which is super exciting when you’re building something that you know is going to have such incredible impact and such a powerful value proposition.
Tai Beauchamp (26:11):
We’re also first-to-market in terms of being a CBD company owned by black women, was created with a focus on supporting the needs of other women of color. But we’re also strategizing what growth looks like. And Malaika is an amazing leader, and thought leader, and partner to me having come from the finance and being a trader. And Nia knows innovation and social impact working in philanthropy and me understanding brand.
Tai Beauchamp (26:49):
The retail landscape is evolving by the second right now. And so again, what we don’t have are insights that we can apply to a new brand so strategically and so clearly. But that affords us the opportunity to be creative, and as I said to self directive to respond to the times and as well as to the needs of our tribe.
Katie Hankinson (27:16):
I think as well, your ability to be nimble is just such an advantage. And also in some ways being so young and new, you don’t have the baked in ways of doing things that hold some companies back. With that in mind, anything that you’re excited to dive into? I’m curious to know, I feel like partnerships must be just such a huge part of the company. What’s the most exciting thing that you’ve got coming down the track for BROWN GIRL Jane or [crosstalk 00:27:48]-
Tai Beauchamp (27:49):
Oh my gosh. There’s so much. The partnership that we formed with SheaMoisture was massive. An actually we got a yes on that proposal that my dear friend, who I’ve known for 20 years from the beauty space, Esi Eggleston Bracey, who’s the chief operating officer at Unilever and Cara Sabin, who’s the CEO at SheaMoisture. They saw the BROWN GIRLs Swap post on social media AC. Esi said, “What is this? What are you thinking?” I was like, “Oh, I have big ideas.” And Malaika, and I, and Nia, we put together this deck and this thought around like, how can we create systemic change and not just have this be a swap and [crosstalk 00:28:31].
Tai Beauchamp (28:33):
And literally Cara and Esi responded to this proposal and we got a yes in record time from Unilever. I think it was less than 14 days.
Katie Hankinson (28:45):
Tai Beauchamp (28:46):
Katie Hankinson (28:46):
Tai Beauchamp (28:47):
And this was to form a $250,000 grant. This was to create a mentorship program. This was to create an internship program. It was to power the BROWN GIRL Swat black beauty and wellness summit, which was headlined by Halle Berry and Jill Scott, which I executive produced and fantastic. And it was also to amplify 25 other… It was record time, that was insane. And so we’re grateful to have partnerships that not only emboldened us as a brand, but emboldened what our mission and our purpose is.
Tai Beauchamp (29:23):
*Coming down the pike, I said, we just announced a partnership with Birchbox. Similar BROWN GIRLs Swap, but not as robust as the Unilever Shea partnership. We are launching two new products in the wellness category this November.
Katie Hankinson (29:41):
Tai Beauchamp (29:42):
So we’re expanding our collection. We are working on some other content pieces because I think centering women in our tribe around conversations is super important. We are going into a retail space, so we’re expanding retail and man, and we’re strategizing like what the future of BROWN GIRL Jane looks like so that way we can ensure that what we know to be an incredible resource for women to feel and be their highest self is accessible.
Katie Hankinson (30:19):
Wow. An amazing set of plans ahead. I’m so excited to hear from. Just as an observation from my side, it’s such a perfect combination, not only the three of you and your background, but I think as well, we spend… The Sasha Group and you’ll hear Gary talking about this, constantly so much time talking to clients and brands about the importance of a modern day Brown behaving more like a media company than a product company.
Katie Hankinson (30:47):
Essentially, that really is you’re existing around a platform and a purpose that is brought to life through content and behaves like a media company. So that then the product, or the event, or the partnership are simply just offshoots of that course. It’s quite-
Tai Beauchamp (31:02):
You hit on something so very important and key that I don’t know why it’s taking brands so long to get this. I realize I probably have an advantage coming from media.
Katie Hankinson (31:12):
Tai Beauchamp (31:12):
And Malaika and Nia have had these conversations before where they’re like, “Are we a media company?” I was like, “We definitely are. Obviously with products and what have you,” but I’ve always known that storytelling is the way that you get… That’s not what started to highlight the media 14 years ago because I wanted to help brands tell stories that mattered and not just tell somebody to buy something because it looked good.
Tai Beauchamp (31:40):
And so I think this is the modern way of doing business, but I think even more we have to… And this is where I’m so super excited about, innovating what it looks like next. Because this is now, but there is next iteration of this, which is ultimately going to help BROWN GIRL Jane become the legacy brand that I want it to be.
Katie Hankinson (32:02):
*Brilliant. I love it. You truly are building while flying. I feel like this is the perfect example. You can’t rest on your laurels. It’s thinking about what’s coming down the pike. In keeping with the metaphor of building while flying, one of the things that we’ve talked a lot about internally is that, it’s not just by the seat of your pants thing, it has to be done with intention, or you could end up flying off course or simply crushing.
Katie Hankinson (32:26):
And many pilots have their pre-flight or in-flight checklists in order to stay on the ball and be able to react and pivot in the moment. What is yours? What’s Tai Beauchamp’s pre-flight checklist?
Tai Beauchamp (32:39):
I think first and foremost, for me I’m grounded very much spiritually in my faith, is what holds me. It’s what keeps me both in life and in business. And so, every day I develop some, some focused manifesto that works through me, both spiritually, emotionally, and also how I govern and action and how I move. And then second to that, I also… You have to realize that while you’re building while flying, everything can’t get done.
Katie Hankinson (33:16):
Such a good point.
Tai Beauchamp (33:19):
And I prioritize constantly. And so even as I look at my to-do list or the list that Morgan sends me, I’m constantly saying to myself, “What is most important? And where can I also maximize outcomes by being intentional about how I approach those things?” I think the old way of doing business is, even when you think about the idea of business plans, it was like you had to do it to this degree, but you also have to allow space for what I say, God, but like the universe or whatever energy is going to come to you, the opportunity’s going to come to you.
Tai Beauchamp (33:54):
If Esi didn’t say to me, text me, “What’s this BROWN GIRL Swap,” and I didn’t have space to be reactive to that, then that would have never happened. The Birchbox partnership, Katia Beauchamp, no relation, founder there who I met 10 years ago. I had met her actually, while she was still at Harvard Business School. I sat next to her because I had spoken at HBS. She told me about Birchbox at that point here.
Tai Beauchamp (34:21):
I weren’t nimble to an introduction or the opportunity to be a part of share the mic, I would have never been reconnected to Katia. So you have to create some space. I think be intentional, be purposeful, purpose first, intentional. Know that everything can’t get done, prioritize, and then also create room and space to be reactive to the things that are ultimately going to drive the purpose, that allow your intent to be more focused.
Tai Beauchamp (34:50):
The other thing that I’m learning a lot now is, because I’ve spoken so much for a living, is also to listen.
Katie Hankinson (34:59):
And I just love the completeness of being grounded spiritually, giving true thoughtfulness and prioritization, but also creating that space for serendipity. I think is just such a balanced approach. It’s been such a pleasure speaking to you.
Katie Hankinson (35:17):
Now that we’ve finished that thoroughly interesting interview, we’re getting ready to land. But before we do, Mickey and I spent some time unpacking some of the key takeaways that really stuck out to us.
Mickey Cloud (35:28):
We liken this to the post game show where we break down the really extraordinary nuggets that we can all benefit from, including us here at The Sasha Group, so get ready for The Sasha sidebar.
Katie Hankinson (35:46):
Let’s talk about Tai Beauchamp, media mogul, TV host, rank herself, but also now the BROWN GIRL Jane story.
Mickey Cloud (35:55):
Oh yeah. Tai, she’s a force. This was an awesome interview. I think she gave us so much goodness. Just from the top where she talked about she wasn’t necessarily entrepreneurial by design. She said, a; the term entrepreneur wasn’t something that was in her vocabulary growing up, she didn’t have someone who was visible in her life that way, which I think definitely speaks the continued diversity equity inclusion things that we’ve got to work on as society.
Mickey Cloud (36:24):
As she started to learn about that world, she recognized the parts of herself that flex into good entrepreneurs where you’re identifying problems, how are you creating impact, how you’re solving things. And so the fact that BROWN GIRL Jane came up organically based on she was a solopreneur for a little bit, but she was looking for a product she could really get behind. And then she was talking with friends about how as a woman of color, how do you empower yourself to create this wellness journey and this wholeness.
Mickey Cloud (36:53):
I think the fact that she’s finding her voice so clearly as an entrepreneur, I think is what’s super exciting. But also it’s like, man, I just hope stories like hers are ones that are being told more so that my daughter’s friends and all the generations coming behind do have those role models in their lives and that are visible for them going forward.
Katie Hankinson (37:22):
I loved how you used the word, find her voice because, to me, that whole trajectory just really spoke of how she had been honing her sense of purpose and realizing her own power. And now has done this amazing job of bringing that to others. And she is a dynamic leader and is really demonstrating that. And the phrase, fiercely unapologetic, I just absolutely love.
Mickey Cloud (37:49):
I wrote that down multiple times, just the fiercely unapologetic, and it’s great. She’s like, “Yeah, if you’re on a call with me and I’m the only black woman on that call, I’m going to call that out.” She was like, “I don’t have to be as delicate about making change or calling things out.” And it’s just that fiercely unapologetic, it works for her. It’s who she is as an entrepreneur, it’s who the brand is. You can clearly feel that in the brand as well.
Mickey Cloud (38:17):
I think the BROWN GIRL Jane Swap concept is an amazing business concept that has also such powerful marketing built in. Like the idea that can you swap out one of your beauty products or your personal care products to one that’s owned by a black owned-business, a black entrepreneur, black female. And the fact that she got SheaMoisture to get involved on that and it took 14 days from idea of posting on social to be-
Katie Hankinson (38:45):
Mickey Cloud (38:46):
… connected to the leaders at Shea to getting Unilever to say, yes. I worked on Unilever Business for a long time, Unilever Business doesn’t say yes to things in 14 days too often.
Katie Hankinson (38:56):
I also think that there’s an interesting two sides to that as well. One is, this is testament to her energy and the connections that she had already built in industry as a brand consultant, and the fact that she was willing to have those tough conversations. But also, I think it speaks to the fact that in this moment, whether it’s some of the things that have been thrown up due to the pandemic, due to the murder of George Floyd, that the openness and appetite for change and action was so real. And that 14 day turnaround is just like, “Okay. Jump in. Get it done.”
Mickey Cloud (39:38):
We’ve seen it as well. We were with Cantu in the beauty space as well and personal care space and we put an idea in front of them that was around helping black-owned businesses and things like that and they jumped at it so clear this summer and we’re rolling it out now in the next couple weeks. And I think that you’re 100% right. We’ve seen it within our own hallways with our clients, but then you’re also seeing multiple examples from the corporate world, which is a start-
Katie Hankinson (40:04):
It’s like true moment momentum.
Mickey Cloud (40:06):
This conversation was example of the blending of media companies and product companies, right? She’s just thinks about as the modern way of doing business, right? Like you’ve got this media arm that helps promote your products that you’re developing and then you’re learning about consumer’s needs and you can be nimble and pivot. Especially in a direct to consumer model that she’s got. Another example of people really living out this, you’re a media company, first comma, you sell beauty products or whatever that might be.
Mickey Cloud (40:40):
Whole wholeness wellness products, and so that was super… I loved hearing about that. And then her last thing that I really found super interesting when she talked about building while flying was this idea that you can’t necessarily do everything. That you should identify and be intentional about finding what’s most important that you can deliver as a leader, and then creating space to allow things to come to you.
Mickey Cloud (41:03):
I think that’s something… You and I have been working a lot with handheld bomb like designing our weeks and things like that and finding the time in your week to just allow reaction time to things that have come in versus to you’ve got to… That’s something I think is so important as an entrepreneur day-to-day.
Katie Hankinson (41:19):
So much. Maximizing outcome by looking at the things that you can do the best or the most effectively. And also just being super grounded. She’s obviously done a lot of work to figure out what her core values are, and that helps give so much shape and structure to how you prioritize and think about life and the way forward in general.
Mickey Cloud (41:41):
I think so. The question that came to mind for me for our audience based on her conversation was, this idea of the BROWN GIRL Jane Swap was so interesting to me. I would love if the audience has other… Because it’s something that is a call to action for your consumers, I want you to literally change out some of your routine products to support a business that’s owned by a minority, or an entrepreneur, or a group that you want to support.
Mickey Cloud (42:06):
And it just got me thinking like, wow, there’s probably other examples of something like a BGJ Swap, and I’d be curious if others have either seen something or if they’ve implemented within their own company, something that is… For me, it was just such a light bulb of obvious like yes, that fits so well with the mission, but also is a savvy business move that they’ve done in the partnerships with SheaMoisture and Birchbox. I’m just curious if there’s other examples like that on the world that people have seen.
Mickey Cloud (42:37):
Thanks for joining us, gang and for building while flying with The Sasha Group today. I hope you learned as much as we did. We’ll meet you right back here next time for another flight.
Mickey Cloud (42:48):
If you’d like to hear more about how business owners and brands are navigating these times, tune into the next episode. And if you’re so kind, please rate and review us. Plus we love feedback, so let us know what you think, what you’d like us to dig into next on Building While Flying across brands, businesses, marketing, and more.
Katie Hankinson (43:03):
This podcast is produced by the team at mustamplify.com, original music by Fulton Street Music Group.
Welcome to Building While Flying!
This weekly podcast is brought to you by the Sasha Group. We’re the consultancy meets agency arm of the VaynerX family of companies. We help ambitious companies build strong brands that flex with the times through strategy, branding media and marketing.
In ever-changing times, businesses and brands have to shift and adapt. And across all sectors, there is an air of experimentation. Business owners are trying new things out in the wild; building the plane while flying.
Our pilots, Katie Hankinson and Mickey Cloud, will be talking to a diverse range of business leaders and founders. They’ll explore how these guests tackle various challenges while staying resilient and committed to growth. Through these real-life examples of strategies put into practice, we hope to inspire you to experiment and develop your own strategies as we all navigate these uncertain times together.
Tai Beauchamp is fiercely unapologetic as an entrepreneur and in life.
As a recognizable media personality, public speaker, style authority and creative director, Tai Beauchamp is all about empowering women. No matter the medium, Tai’s purpose has always been clear. She wants to provide a space for women, especially women of color, to be inspired to contribute in every sector to the fullest of their abilities. Her first loves, beauty and fashion, were behind her early career as a magazine editor for publications like Harper’s Bazaar and Good Housekeeping. At 22 years old, she was one of the first fashion and beauty editors at O, The Oprah Magazine.
But above all, Tai is an entrepreneur. Her newest venture, BROWN GIRL Jane, co-founded along with sisters Malaika and Nia Jones, has already smashed expectations in a short nine months. This innovative company offers a line of Broad-Spectrum CBD products designed to “support the wholeness of our sisters through internal balance and external beauty”.
In this episode, Katie and Tai have a candid chat about powering through the uncertainty of the present while acknowledging the divides we still have to bridge. Tai, by her own account, has always approached business differently. But it’s that very difference that has led her to such a distinctly unique undertaking like BROWN GIRL Jane. Tai describes the instances and career experiences that have prepared her for this moment in time, and the challenges she’s faced thus far. She also spills some of the ingenious ideas she’s come up with for her new company. Ideas so brilliant that she was able to score partnerships with major brand names in a matter of days. This woman is a force, and her passion for not only creating successful businesses, but evoking systemic change while doing so, is incredibly inspiring. We promise you’re not going to want to miss this one.
Other in-flight topics:
- How Tai describes herself
- What it’s like to grow up surrounded by educators
- Tai’s amazing start to her career right out of college
- The opportunity to create new movements
- The Brown Girl Swap
- Being fiercely unapologetic
- What is most important and where can you maximize outcomes?
- Tai’s pre-flight checklist