working girl: tai beauchamp, beauty authority

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It’s hard to label Tai Beauchamp as any one thing. She herself says, “I’m so fortunate and blessed to not have to necessarily define who I am or what I do with a title. I’m more about living on purpose and that’s my title.” But there certainly are some consistent themes across this renaissance gal’s resumé. Tai’s career has been filled with beauty and empowerment. Her career started off in print media where she worked as a beauty editor at O, The Oprah Magazine and Suede. She became the first and youngest African-American beauty director of Seventeen magazine. She currently works as a consultant, beauty expert and ambassador for many brands,  all the while spreading a message of living a fulfilled life of style.

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Age: 36

Location: New York, New York

Profession: Beauty Authority & Entrepreneur

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How did you get started?

I had an internship when I was in college, which is what I recommend all young people do who have an interest in any field, but especially a creative field. Having those internships when I was a sophomore in college and then again when I was a junior in college was something that set the stage for me to be able to get a full-time job right after graduation. It opened up the door to relationships for me. It gave me a lot of baseline knowledge about what it means to work in a creative culture and corporate environment.

I started out in the beauty ambassador business after my internship at O magazine and went through the ranks there. Then I moved over to what was Suede magazine and then Seventeen magazine. I worked super hard and had some great mentors who I think recognized [my] enthusiasm, drive, as well as talent and skill and desire. I think the combination of those things and a desire to learn helped position me to grow.

Do you think in order to get where you are, or to have an successful career in the journalism/media industry, graduate school is necessary?

No, it is a different journey for everyone and it depends on what you want to do. I don’t believe grad school is necessary for media. Here’s what I tell people if you’re thinking about going to grad school: If during your college career you weren’t able to take advantage of internships, in grad school you can do that. In this industry it is a lot about the practical experience you develop. The second reason you should go to grad school is if you truly have a crazy amount of passion for the subject and you feel that you don’t know a lot of the technical things you need to know in order to be equipped to apply them. It is also really important to know that [in] graduate school you’re learning from people who haven’t been lifelong in-the-classroom teachers but practitioners as well.

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What’s an average day like for you?

I don’t have an average day. I’m typically up by 6:30 most mornings. I workout. I meditate. I pray. I try to have time in the office [to go] through emails. Today I worked out. I have meetings and appointments; a lot of following up with current clients and a lot of the time I’m strategically thinking about prospective clients.

Your platform involves empowering women through fashion and beauty how did you do that with O, Seventeen, and Vibe Vixen?

Oprah is about empowering women she did it in a very different way but [O was about] a lifestyle of empowerment, a lifestyle of spirituality and consciousness, but at the same time one that was redefining beauty. So having started there, that was the focus—promoting beauty from within.

Seventeen magazine was more about connecting with young girls and how they were going to be empowered. One of the things I did at Seventeen was I put real girls on the pages. That was my pitch when I landed the job. I wanted girls of every skin tone, of every body shape, every hair texture, every eye shape, on the pages of the magazines next to celebrity models. I wanted to use those girls as models instead of actual models. That was again empowering them because it was saying to them that you can come here and be yourself and it really [helped] shift the image of media and the images of young girls in media so they weren’t just purely celebrating celebrities in terms of body image.

When Vibe Vixen called I was like OMG this is the perfect opportunity to help take a brand like Vibe, that has a young urban influence and is relevant to urban-inspired women, and elevate that content so that it’s not just speaking to them where they are but also taking them to another place. So that’s where the level of empowerment came but not in a way that was corny.

There isn’t a large amount of women of color in journalism. What do you think we can do to get more representation in this field?

First and foremost, we need to stop thinking about being in front of the camera all of the time or on the front line of it, and start to think about how you create content. Case in point, I speak to young people now who have an interest in fashion, an interest in beauty or arts and culture and they’re like, “I want to be the commentator; I want to be the model; I want to be the makeup artist; I want to be the designer.” I’m like who’s the person in the back? Because those are ultimately the people hiring. So if you’re the producer of the content, if we have more people of color as producers, as editors, at the FOXs and the CWs, which we do, they’re going to say we need voices and faces and stories that represent who we are. So first and foremost, I think the way that we’re going to see a [change] in that is to really have more people wanting to be the instigator—the people behind the scenes that actually help actualize and provide opportunities and platforms for others to come on.

Are you doing more behind the scenes or on the camera type of work right now?

Most people don’t realize less than a third of my work is in front of the camera/in front of people. I help [brands] figure out content. The long-term for me is to create a production company about elevating women through fashion, beauty and lifestyle and develop content.

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Why do you do it?

Purpose. Honestly, I do what I do because I really don’t know many other things I would be doing. I think it is important work. I think that women, not just young women, but my peers, even my mother and her friends, they need, we all need examples of what it means to be beautiful. Not just physically but also intellectually. Everywhere in this world, women unfortunately are among, if not the most disenfranchised demographic around the world. We talk about some of the atrocities and challenges people face, women are disproportionately the ones that are at the end of that. For some women hearing another woman’s story, there is a [connection] that happens and hearing those inspiring stories is sometimes the motivation that any one woman can [use] to get her through the next day. On top of that having been raised by my grandmothers and my mother, I know what the love of women did for me. I went to an all girl’s high school and Spelman college. I’ve been in environments where there was nothing but amazing young girls and women who built one another up.

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What would you say your greatest achievement has been thus far?

I don’t [look at] experiences like, “this is an achievement.” I just try to do it. That is something I need to improve upon because I think there’s something to be said for patting yourself on the back and how that motivation in this game can push you further. I have highlights. Working at O was a highlight; getting to interview Oprah a year ago was another career highlight. In terms of achievement, that’s all relative and it changes by the day. The important thing about growth and progress is always trying to move forward, and not trying to get caught up in any hype of thinking that you’ve done something or worrying about what is still left to be done.

Speaking of which, what is next for you?

I’ve been having great talks with networks around doing more television and taking the work I’m doing out in the community and connecting with women.

Any career tips?

One of the things I think that stood out about me as a young intern was that I was resourceful.

If you want to figure out how to tap like-minded people, there’s people at your local radio station your local TV station. What you’ll realize especially if there is any woman of color, or people of color there who have benefited by doing well, they have an interest in helping others.

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What are your top go-to hair tips?

  1. Black women should not sacrifice the “look”/aesthetic of their hair for not working out.
  2. Find products that work for you. This requires trial and error so be patient.
  3. Recognize that your hair texture changes seasonally. The same way you have to change your skincare you also have to change your hair care.
  4. Treat your scalp properly.

Fun fact: I’m still very close with most of the women I started out in this industry with 15 years ago. You grow with these people and establish really solid relationships.

Photos via, via and TaiBeauchamp.com
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