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summer 2021

Role Model

Fashion and Beauty Authority Tai Beauchamp’s Guide to Getting Ahead
Written by: WayMaker Journal Team

As a model, television host and magazine editor, Tai Beauchamp has worked both sides of the camera, giving her a uniquely rounded view of the beauty and fashion world.


Her varied resume has earned her a spot on Women’s Wear Daily’s list of the 50 most influential people in the multicultural beauty market, a devoted following on social media, and invitations to speak to businesses and university students on the secrets of entrepreneurship.


But she admits that the multifaceted career she enjoys wasn’t something she planned. “I don’t feel like I chose entrepreneurship as much as entrepreneurship chose me,” she says, “because I knew that I had gifts, talents and treasures that I wanted to deposit in multiple spaces.”


While appreciating the opportunity to be involved in diverse ventures, from philanthropy to the new Brown Girl Jane wellness and beauty line she co-launched last year, Beauchamp wants to be clear that such opportunities don’t come without a cost.


“I think a lot of people today glamorize the idea of entrepreneurship as just being your own boss,” she explains. “But I’ve always said as an entrepreneur, I have at any time 10 or 15 bosses depending on how many clients and partners I’m working with.” With that in mind, Beauchamp believes you have to have some “innate qualities” if you are going to thrive in that sort of environment—among them the desire to push the envelope and the desire to make an impact.


She has been doing both of those things most recently with Brown Girl Jane, founded with two fellow Spelman College alum. The direct-to-consumer brand aims to help women of color “be well and feel whole,” with CBD tinctures that are good for the skin and make you feel good in your skin. “Inner wellness, outer beauty,” she says (emphasizing that there’s no high involved).


The timing of the launch was auspicious, she believes: “A lot of people and women and brown people especially are suffering during these times. We’re more anxious. We’re more unhealthy. We’re dealing with higher rates of diabetes and heart disease.”


From medicine to media
Beauchamp’s story illustrates the importance of listening to your own inner voice above those of others’ whose may be louder. She went to Spelman with plans of being a doctor because her family had encouraged her to pursue something safe and secure. Apart from her godfather, she didn’t grow up around people involved in business.

“Being a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher was all I really knew,” she says. “I didn’t grow up really understanding what entrepreneurship was.”


But those plans for a career in medicine were derailed when she flunked out of biology, forcing a personal reckoning. A mentor asked her what she loved, and she answered writing and fashion. “Well, why don’t you become a fashion writer?” he said.


Switching to a major in English literature, Beauchamp soon found a whole new world of opportunity. After interning at leading magazine publisher Hearst, she graduated and walked into a job as a fashion and beauty assistant on Oprah Winfrey’s new O, The Oprah Magazine, the most successful launch of its kind in publishing history.


“It was an incredible time,” Beauchamp recalls. “I learned so much. I look back at that experience now, and I just feel deeply grateful to have been able to be not only in her orbit but in the orbit of dynamic women who came together to create and story-tell to support and elevate other women.”


Other opportunities quickly followed: a hand in the launch of what would be the short-lived Suede magazine, and then being named the first African American and youngest beauty director at trendsetting Seventeen magazine.


With her own varied experiences in mind, Beauchamp encourages young people to keep their options open. “As you’re building and growing your skill sets and your talents, don’t think on one plane,” she advises. “There are planes, multiple levels for us to impact and grow in.”


“Young people are so bombarded with other narratives of other people’s lives and other people’s lies about their lives.”


She also advocates concentrating on your own journey and not worrying so much about what other people are doing. “Especially in today’s time, young people are so bombarded with other narratives of other people’s lives and other people’s lies about their lives,” she observes. “Young people need to be clear and focused on their journey.”


Finding happiness within
Beauchamp isn’t a fan of the idea of “success,” because she feels that gives other people’s opinions too much power. “I like to use the word achievement,” she explains. “There are things I want to impact, and it’s not about a measure of success. It’s about whether or not I have been able to achieve that measure of impact.”


A good sense of perspective helps too. “What matters the most today will not matter at all in a couple of days,” she says. “The things that you feel are the most paralyzing, the most demoralizing; you will rebound from that and you’ll look back and say you don’t even remember.”


True happiness needs to be internal because otherwise it’s at the mercy of external factors. “It can’t be attached to whether or not you have the job, whether or not you have the partner, whether or not you have money in the bank,” she says. For her, happiness “is an everyday practice, and you can’t look for that outside of yourself.” Beauchamp quotes the old gospel song, “This Joy,” by Shirley Caesar: This joy that I have, the world didn’t give it to me.


“I’ve never been as happy, to be quite honest, or as joyous as I am right now,” she says. “That doesn’t mean everything is perfect, that doesn’t mean everything is aligned the way that I like. But there’s definitely a level of peace and contentment, as well as excitement about growing and evolving.”


Despite her varied achievements, Beauchamp speaks of the “little bit of a dance” she still does in her work. “I find this is the case, particularly as a woman who’s worked in beauty, fashion and has been a model, where I have always felt the need to justify my intelligence and my intellect behind the scenes, because showing up as a pretty face, I can do,” she says.


“And, quite frankly, I have nothing to do with that: I just thank my parents and genes for that. I think a lot of women struggle with this. It’s like, how can you walk in your divine feminine, be all that you’re called to be, but then also illuminate all of the skills and talents that you have and not be viewed as one-dimensional?”

We’re at a definitive point in time where Blackness is going to be celebrated in new ways going forward.

TAI BEAUCHAMP


At the same time, she is encouraged. “I think we are in a renaissance of not only Black people but Black culture,” she says. “We’re at a definitive point in time where Blackness is going to be celebrated in new ways going forward that has never been in the past. I feel similarly that we are in a renaissance of women, where we are acknowledging that there are elements and facets and layers to womanhood.”


From an interview with Louis Carr