(Black Enterprise) — Throughout elementary and middle school, Tania Speaks was bullied for her thick and bushy eyebrows. Frustrated with the bullying in the form of teasing and name calling, she tried to cut her eyebrows off to make them thinner, but now she had a bigger problem—she cut herself and needed something to heal and grow her eyebrows back. So she headed to Google, to research ingredients and test formulas for growth and style. Her curiosity paid off with the launch of Brow Boost, a clear organic gel which includes Vitamin E and Aloe Vera. Beyond a promise of more manageable eyebrows, the product provides a boost of confidence. “Since launching my business, I’ve discovered that sometimes your deepest insecurity can be your greatest attribute. I hated my eyebrows because they did not look how I thought they should and they were my greatest facial feature,” said Speaks.
From the success of Brow Boost, she’s ventured into Beard Boost, a line of men’s organic hair growth products. Plus she’s managed to win a few entrepreneur pitch competitions while graduating from high school a year early. We caught up with the trailblazer to learn how she gains the trust of customers as a teen entrepreneur.
You took a painful experience with bullying and turned it into something purposeful for yourself and others. What advice or steps would you give someone (your age) to turn their pain into purpose?
My advice would be to not worry about situations you cannot control. Become self-aware about how you respond to your pain. It is easier to think negatively about pain but suffering does not last always. In fact, it is introductory to something greater—your purpose. Practice responding to pain as a necessary step in finding your purpose, not as a punishment.
Considering you’re a young entrepreneur, some people may not trust in your abilities to provide quality products and services. Can you share some advice you’ve used to establish trust with customers?
As a young entrepreneur, I do face age discrimination. However, I change the perception by staying ready for opportunities and always being professional. My tips would be to show confidence when you speak with customers and keep your social media appropriate. Customers will trust you when you are consistent with your quality of service on and offline.
Tell us about a time, you faced rejection in your business. How did you deal with the disappointment?
In the earlier stages of Brow Boost, I faced rejection when trying to explain the benefits of Brow Boost because people were unfamiliar with a brow gel. So during that time, I had to be confident that my product worked and simplified how I explained it. When people are confused, they normally say “no.” Instead of selling what was understandable to me, I listened to my customers and the problems they were encountering with their brows and I was then able to articulate how my product could help.
Share some tips for juggling your business while maintaining your grades?
Managing a business while attending school can be challenging but I kept my eye on the prize. I made goals every week and crushed them. I stayed on top of my assignments as well as my business. I checked my grades more frequently than Instagram. My recommendation for anyone trying to juggle both would be to have good time management. Set reminders on your phone each day and make a conscious effort to complete them.
In the next two years, what are your plans for Brow Boost?
In the next two years, Brow Boost will inspire millions of people to overcome adversity and embrace their flaws. For the product line, Brow Boost will be available in retail stores around the world and will be the go-to organic product for problem brows.
(Reporting by Kandia Johnson for Black Enterprise)