One doesn’t simply become an internationally recognized style influencer, public speaker, media personality, and entrepreneur by playing it safe. Tai Beauchamp not only faces fear head on, over the course of her career, she’s become friends with it. She credits her friendship with fear as a source of motivation as she continues to blaze trails in the world of fashion and beauty.
Beauchamp’s expertise in media, beauty and fashion is demonstrated through her experience as a beauty and fashion editor at respected publications including Harper’s Bazaar, O, The Oprah Magazine, VIBE Vixen, Good Housekeeping and Seventeen —where she made history as the magazine’s youngest and first African-American Beauty and Fitness Director.
In 2006, Beauchamp launched her media company, Tai Life Media, in an effort to connect the realms of style and empowerment. She is the former host of The View’s “Must Have Monday” segment and hosted TLC’s “Dare to Wear.” Beauchamp acts as red carpet host for several major TV networks and media outlets. Tai has been featured on The View, NBC, E!, BET, The Chew, The Wendy Williams Show and TV One. She serves as the Style Ambassador for InStyle magazine. This fall, Beauchamp joined GSN’s latest retail competition show “Window Warriors” as a judge.
Beauchamp has partnered with brands such as Procter & Gamble, InStyle, The Sundance Channel, Target, Universal Records, the United Nations and Walmart as a content producer, host and keynote. The Spelman alumna has addressed The Clinton Foundation, Harvard Business School, Spelman College, Columbia and Howard University and the WIE Conference in Lagos, Nigeria.
Last year, she co-founded She Who Dares, a live events and experiential platform to engage and encourage women to live full authentic lives. In 2015, Beauchamp also launched TheTaiLife.com, a curated content platform to enlighten, empower and inspire women globally.
With that kind of a resume and a new reality competition series on GSN, it’s safe to say Tai Beauchamp’s schedule is jam packed. However, Tai did take the time to chat with us briefly about her new show, her professional journey and lessons that we can all learn from.
Her Agenda: Congrats on your new show. What are your first impressions?
Tai Beauchamp: It was a very fun experience overall! It was one of my most fun experiences, actually shooting the show. But the feedback has been great. It has really opened up people’s eyes to a world that we don’t know about in window dressing.
Her Agenda: You recently told theGrio that Window Warriors is a mix of Project Runway, Shark Tank and Big Brother. Why does TV need this now?
Tai Beauchamp: Everyone is so fascinated with style and visual merchandising, but what I think is the next iteration of that is beyond the fashion aspect. And it’s also timely because here we are in holiday shopping season. [The holidays are] when most of the attention is really drawn to the fantastic whimsical kind of expressions that is window dressing.
Her Agenda: With roles at O Magazine and Seventeen, your resume exudes girl boss! Which experience(s) do you think most prepared you for Window Warriors?
Tai Beauchamp: I started my career at O, Magazine right out of college and worked on early, early issues of O. I definitely credit starting my career at a place like O magazine to really helping me understand the importance of content being relational to its audience. So this is a time well before social media and what happened when people were really drivers of content. But because it was Oprah, we really cared about what consumers thought and felt, so starting there helped me do that. It really kind of laid the foundation and the groundwork for me to appreciate and value readers as consumers and as individuals and to celebrate them.
And then Seventeen [gave me the] opportunity to really help create and mold how the magazine and that brand connected to young girls. It was being pitched when I was interviewing for that job that [they] wanted the beauty pages to reflect real girls. So both of them have really [made] amazing impressions on my career because even now with what I do as a speaker an entrepreneur, a TV host, a personality, is a really use fashion and lifestyle to help women feel enhanced and feel better, and I did both that at Oprah and I did it also at Seventeen. They both had amazing impact on the spirit of who I am and my values around content. But I would probably say my favorite experience was Oprah (laughs).
Her Agenda: Many say you have an incredible gift to inspire people to realize and live up to their full potential. That’s incredible. What inspires you to do this?
Tai Beauchamp: I think growing up as a young girl from Newark and Orange, New Jersey. I think with my grandmother and mother especially who told me I could do anything. I grew up knowing down the street and around the corner there were people who didn’t necessarily feel like they could do anything but being seeded that way and then going to an all girls high school and then going to an all women’s college where the value system and the constructs and the ethos and the design of those places [enforced that message].
[Then I saw that others] didn’t necessarily know and believe that they could or didn’t have the resources, so they thought they were canceled out. But drawing on my own experiences and also my professional experiences that gave me the opportunity to be in front of people I knew that it had to have meaning.
And so I want [people] to realize and recognize their full potential and that’s what inspires me to do it. And being [around] women who were badass and then wanting to help other women [live up to] their badass potential as well.
Her Agenda: What inspired you to pursue a career in media in the first place?
Tai Beauchamp: My mentor actually helped me to realize that is what I probably should do. I loved fashion and I loved writing, and he said why not write about fashion which is something that never dawned on me but then I also knew that media was the vehicle to really affect change because if you didn’t tell a story where people could think differently or be inspired to think differently or to gain new insights then we wouldn’t really be able to make a real difference. So in addition to my mentor Ray Chambers who helped me see that, recognizing that [the media] is a powerful way to affect change [also inspired me to pursue it].
Her Agenda: What role has mentorship played in your life? And what advice do you have for young women seeking mentorship?
Tai Beauchamp: Rhonesha (the founder of Her Agenda) knows this very well. I think that mentorship and being a mentee is not about seeing what you can take. It’s also about what you can give and any relationship has to be reciprocal and it has to be relational so there has to be reciprocity. And also recognizing that to become a mentee and to be a mentor can’t be forced. There has to be organic connectivity and then you also have to cultivate it as you would with any relationship.
Her Agenda: You have a very zig zaggy career path that’s very entrepreneurial. What’s been the most difficult part of developing your career and how did you overcome it?
Tai Beauchamp: Being an entrepreneur is not easy. The most difficult piece of entrepreneurship is knowing when to stay still and also knowing when to evolve and pivot. In corporate circumstances a career path is almost direct. You start out as an assistant and become an assistant editor and go to associate editor, you go to editor, you go to senior editor. You know there is a very kind of straight and narrow design for how that growth is. As an entrepreneur, you’re often responding to what your passions and interests are as well as your market. So it’s not as direct [which] is challenging and scaling as an entrepreneur is not easy.
I’ve been an entrepreneur now for 11 years and while my business has grown and evolved and I’m at a place right now where I’m like ‘okay this is all great.’ I have a TV show, I have this, do this, invest in this. That’s great, but what’s next? And then entrepreneurially it’s about motivating people and having people buy in to support you because even as an entrepreneur you don’t want to do it alone, and you have to really respect and understand the value of partnerships. In order to really fulfill a purpose and a mission you always want to be evolving. Lastly you have a lot of bosses when you are an entrepreneur. A lot of people think as an entrepreneur that you are your own boss, but I have to report to clients and [my] stakeholders. So [as an entrepreneur,] you’re reporting to them so actually we’re not our own boss, ever.
The other thing is that being an entrepreneur, if this is for you, being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean that there isn’t value in being a part of an institution or already established corporation. And one of the things I say to young people who want to become entrepreneurs and think that they want to become entrepreneurs right out of college is really that there are fewer stories of people like Sophia Amoruso (Founder of Nasty Gal) who we know even right now Nasty Gal is filing for bankruptcy. There are fewer people who will become the [30 Under] 30’s of the world. So recognize that there is value in being a part of something else and then applying your entrepreneurial interest and desires in addition to working within an organization. When you work within a corporation, those are lessons that you’re learning on someone else’s dime that you can apply to your own venture. There’s power in that.
Her Agenda: Do you ever feel unsure or fearful of what’s next? How do you push past this?
Tai Beauchamp: All the time (Laughs). I decided probably about six or seven years [ago] I would just have to become really good friends with fear. And one of the things for me with fear is that when you learn to embrace fear as a motivator and a stepping stone then it’s not something that holds you back, it’s something that pushes you.
I always want to be growing and moving forward [and] I’m not always sure about what that looks like. So being willing to learn and seeking that knowledge and those opportunities from people who don’t necessarily do exactly what you do but who have insights that are different and that will inform you.
Her Agenda: What methods do you utilize to make sure you stay on track when you have multiple balls in the air at once?
Tai Beauchamp: It’s all about prioritizing. And actually now that I’m getting wiser, which is odd because I’m trying not to say older; but now that I’m getting wiser it’s also figuring out what is essential and what is going to drive business. And also [evaluating] what my revenue generators are because one thing that I do know is that you’re not really an entrepreneur until someone is willing to pay for your services, consistently. Because you could be an entrepreneur but if you’re not actually generating business from that and someone isn’t willing to pay for your businesses and services it is a little bit more theoretical than it is actual.
Her Agenda: Who are your style and fashion icons?
Tai Beauchamp: One of my style and fashion icons would be my grandmother. The other one would be Diana Ross and I love Michelle Obama as so many people do. But I would definitely have to say my grandmother and Diana Ross.
Watch Window Warriors on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on GSN and check out TheTai Life.com.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS WAS PUBLISHED ON DECEMBER 19TH, 2016. IT’S BEEN EDITED FOR LENGTH AND CLARITY.]