Story By Julie Hales photos by Susan DeLoach
Takiya La’Shaune Smith has made her mark in the world…all coming from facing the worst of situations…she has overcome adversity in many shapes and sizes…and walked away a winner.
But the road was not an easy one. It came with many struggles. Turning 40 years old earlier this year, she reflects about her past and how that past has made her the successful woman she is today.
As she shares, she says, “I feel like my age is starting to catch up with me.” At only 40 years old, this doesn’t sound like much of a problem. But to a 40 year old that has already done so much, perhaps it would make one think. She continues, “They say that 40 is the new 30. But one week into it, I was thinking, ‘Oh Lord, I’m 40, What am I gonna do.’”
Takiya even laughs at herself after saying that. Then, the serious side takes over. She adds, “I have had a very hard, rough life and I am to the place now that I can see how God has blessed me. I have been in the work industry since I was 16 years old, but I have no complaints. God has been good and I love every day of my life.”
God has blessed Takiya Smith. She is the owner of Beautique Lash and Brow in Beaufort. Her road to reach this goal has been rocky to say the least….some just small pebbles, others, giant boulders.
“My current business was born from being homeless. I grew up in a two parent home. My dad was in the Marine Corp. My mom was a stay at home mom, she worked here and there, not because she had to, but sometimes just to help out when my dad was deployed. My childhood life was dysfunctional to say the least. Even though I had two parents, my dad was not always there and not always the man a father should be. In this situation, young women sometimes look for love in the wrong places and have relationships for the wrong reasons,” Takiya shares.
That may sound a bit stereotypical, but, all too often, it is the case. And, in Takiya’s case, it is exactly what happened. She definitely sought love and relationships as a way to replace that love she missed from her father. She says, “I had bad relationships all my life, I made bad choices. When I was in my mid 30’s, I met a guy I thought was the one. I knew this man for nine years…thought he would never hurt a fly. It turned out, he was physically abusive. He put me in a big house. He bought me fancy cars. He gave me anything I needed or wanted. But, there is no substitute for abuse”
At this time, her children were 3 and 9 years old. She knew she needed out. One morning, he and Takiya had an altercation. She knew this was the time. She grabbed her two children with just the clothes on their backs and no shoes on their feet. They were homeless with no place to go.
When leaving, Takiya had an income tax return coming to her. She took that money and made one of the smartest moves she has ever made. She invested that money into a trade…cosmetology.
That decision was a way for her to invest in herself and the future of her children. And, that decision has helped her become the woman she is today.
“I utilized my pain, I buckled down and I made it happen. But, I never wanted to share my ‘life story’ with anyone. I would listen to all the girls who came in for my services tell their stories, but I never wanted to share my own trials and tribulations. Then, one day, I heard God speak to me. He told me I should start sharing my story and let people know what I have gone through. When I finally did, I felt like a weight had been lifted. People then knew I was now in a better place, and I recognized that as well,” Takiya says.
This recognition she speaks of gave her hope. Now, her business and her story have meshed together, creating a platform for her to speak, to tell her story in an effort to help others. She shares, “I don’t think there is one day that will ever go by that I forget where I have come from and where God has brought me. I can’t. It’s my story and it’s what I do everyday. One of the things I tell women today when I speak, is that for me personally, I found my purpose in my pain.”
That is a profound statement! She explains, “The very thing that I didn’t want to share, that I didn’t want to divulge, that I didn’t want to ever face or look at again in my life was the very thing that set me free. It was very liberating.”
There are a lot of women in today’s world that need to hear that. The things women go through…being mothers, daughters. sisters, mentors….there is already a huge sense of responsibility. Then add on top of that sexual abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse, other painful things that women have endured…each person has a different story. But, it helps to be able to release it and talk about it.
It is no secret that Takiya Smith has been very successful. She took an investment she made in herself and for the betterment of her children and turned that investment into a business…..or, in her case, businesses.
“When we were homeless, I was just trying to get a roof over our heads, food on the table and clothes on our backs. I did not intend to start a business. I went to school to do permanent makeup. While in school, I started doing lashes and would practice on family and friends. In only 3 months time, I had so many people reaching out to me that I had to find a location. Seven years later, it is still snowballing into other things and other opportunities,” Takiya says.
In 2010, she opened her first business, Beautique Lash & Brow. In 2014, client needs began to change and more brow services were in demand. Hence, the birth of a brow bar, The Brow Company Beauty Bar & Makeup Studio. Both these businesses now share the same space…located in Beaufort Town Center on the first floor facing Boundary Street.
More and more people began to hear Takiya’s story. Women coming into her business would hear her story and were fascinated at her accomplishments. A lot of these women were involved in different organizations. She was asked by a member of Citizens Opposed to Domestic Abuse (CODA), now recognized as Hopeful Horizons, to speak to a group of women about domestic violence.
Hopeful Horizons, formerly CODA, provides professional support services to victims of intimate partner abuse and their children. Committed to the belief that safety from violence and freedom from fear are universal rights, Hopeful Horizons conducts education programs to confront the social norms that condone abusive behavior.
Her speaking career spun from that CODA Meeting. Now, she is invited to speak at women’s groups, organizations, church functions and she has spoken in various school districts across the state mentoring young girls.
Speaking has been good for her, giving her another outlet to help those in need. She shares, “I am a woman of faith. My business is a ministry. No matter your faith, the word ministry means to invest in, to give to, to aid in. And, I do that in speaking. It is very fulfilling to me.”
TALK SHOW HOST
Takiya Smith was contacted by the show, Girl Talk, to be featured on the show to talk about the brow bar when she expanded her business. After the show aired, the camera man told her she needed to do her own talk show, that she had a very powerful story. Not thinking much of his statement, the thought just went away. Two short weeks later, she was contacted by WHHI-TV about being a guest host on one of their talk shows. She agreed.
She remained a guest host for WHHI-TV for about a year and a half. In January of 2016, Takiya went to the station manger and told him she had an idea she wanted to pitch to him. She obviously did a great job. The first episode of “Inspired with Takiya LaShaune (her middle name) aired in September of 2016.
The show is about extraordinary women sharing extraordinary stories. She has a panel she chooses from and she selects local women in the lowcountry. She has made her story a platform for other women to share their own backgrounds…..and back stories. This gives successful women the opportunity to share how they got where they are…the good, the bad and the ugly.
“It amazes me how my life and my story have enabled me to give other women the platform to share their own experiences. We have received positive feedback in the community…it is truly a blessing,” Takiya shares.
When asked about any future plans, Takiya doesn’t miss a beat. It is obviously something she has given much thought. She tells us, “I am transitioning. My brand has been built to be a franchise. I am expanding globally.”
She has marketed her own brand over the past few years and began making connections worldwide. She is re-branding to Takiya La’Shaune Salons. This branding came about because people started connecting with her name more than the business names. The new name will encompass every facet of the beauty industry – medical spas, nail salons, lash spas and brow bars.
The plan for the new roll-out of Takiya La’Shaune Salons is to be up and running within the next 6-12 months. Also, with this, she will be consulting. She will be available to consult with people who want to open a lash spa or a brow bar, or anything in the beauty industry. She will be contracted to help people get their business running from ground zero…from opening the business, marketing, hiring, building clientele…learning all the ropes.
Takiya is a single mom. She has two children that she can’t say enough good things about. Her daughter, Mayah, now 19, is in pre-med at the College of Charleston. She wants to be a trauma surgeon.
Her son, Jaeden is 14 years old. He attends Bridges Preparatory School. Jaeden is quite the little entrepreneur himself, owning his own business, At Your Service. He aspires to attend Clemson University and be a Bio-Engineer.
Being a mother, her focus has been her children. She knew that focusing on her career was a means to an end for what she and her family needed. Her faith in God has helped lead her to who she is today.
“I love people. I love hearing stories about people that have overcome hardships. It’s where I find my purpose. When you can be selfless and put somebody else’s needs first, even when you are in need, it’s so gratifying. That’s what this life is supposed to be about,” shares Takiya.
Takiya La’Shaune Smith has found purpose from her pain.