Kickass Grant Winner: Caring for women by growing a beauty business

single mom entrepreneur

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Being kickass, and being an activist, can come in many forms — often quieter and more private. That is what drew me to Teri Teves, a Portland, Ore., single mom of one, who switched careers from advertising to cosmetology, specifically lash extensions. Her new career gave Teri the time flexibility and high income that she craved. But making women feel comfortable, cared for, listened to, and beautiful is how Teri found she had the greatest professional contribution.  The $1,000 grant supported a continuing education course so she can offer more services, which helps her grow her business and bottom line. She wrote in her application:

Four years ago, after being laid off, I changed careers to become a licensed esthetician and lash tech. January 2017 I left my hourly/commission based position to go on my own and lease a room in a salon. My life has improved since because I now make slightly more money but more importantly have more time with my son.

I love my job because I help to enhance a woman’s greatness. We all want to feel beautiful. Paying it forward is already in the works. I know I’m where I’m at because of other’s kindness and generosity. Lash extensions are a luxury, so I provide free lashes to the women I feel need a little lift in their life. The confidence to face the world. I am currently training a girlfriend in lashes so she may have her own business which will enhance her family’s life. I plan on helping her with the cost of esthetician education and watching her kids when she needs it. I hope one day she would pay it forward to another woman who needs that extra lift, guidance and support. The ultimate goal is build the tribe and create that sort of support over and over again.

Listen in this episode about how Teri built her business, how her tribe of women has supported her and her family, and how she gives back by supporting other women through her small business.

Full transcript of Like A Mother episode with guest Teri Teves

Emma Johnson: Okay, ladies. It is my favorite time of the month when I give away my Kickass Single Mom Grant. Today I have with me all the way from Portland, Oregon, Teri Teves. Thank you so much for being here.

Teri Teves: Thank you for having me.

Emma Johnson: Congratulations. Oh, you already knew that. It's not like we're on a game show. (laughs)

Teri Teves: Yes. It's still very exciting. (laughs)

Emma Johnson: And so, your … I've been doing this, I think five, six months now. I'm learning as I go. I'm figuring out in women's lives and the projects they're doing. But a part of the project is helping women tell their stories, which is huge. Just to … the story come out of your mouth and into one other person's [inaudible 00:05:43] is sharing the story with the world.

Teri Teves: I agree.

Emma Johnson: Is the podcast and it is the story that I write, and we're gonna get a picture of you. Maybe your beautiful child and we're … go after your dreams. Teri is going to elaborate in a moment about her story, and I will help you. But as we go, a lot of the women that have been receiving this have been doing really big and public things. We had a mom who started Black San Diego, which is a trade association for … smaller. And when I say small, it doesn't mean it's less important or less powerful, but you're doing it more privately. You're a small business, and your family, and in your friend circle, and that is what drew me to you, because it was just as authentic … way and I wanted to give a credit to that-

Teri Teves: Thank you.

Emma Johnson: By bringing you a check.

Teri Teves: Thank you very much.

Emma Johnson: No, and thank you. Let's talk about it. Tell me what you're doing let's just … what are you using the $1,000 for?

Teri Teves: So I am an aesthetician, and I mainly do lash extensions. This thousand dollars would be applied to a training to add a service to my business. I went on my own in January, so money is tighter. This thousand dollars would help with the training that I would need to add a service which would add more clients and just be better overall.

Emma Johnson: Okay. So it's helping to grow your very small business. And like most small businesses in this … entrepreneur, as am I. Right? And I get it.

Teri Teves: It's rough.

Emma Johnson: You know a business … yes, it can be very rough. But it is … a lot of people own a business and have many partners. But for many years, it was just me, and my computer, in my home office. Where I'm talking from this day, and that was legit … let's talk a little bit about your story because it's more than … because money right? You have … you really believe. You offer full service to women through your business. So, let's just talk through your … as you get to this side of business.

Being laid off during 9th month of pregnancy

Teri Teves: So, I was working in advertising about five years ago. They laid me off in my 9th month of pregnancy.

Emma Johnson: Is that legal?

Teri Teves: It is legal if they close a department. Trust me, I talked to an attorney. (laughs)

Emma Johnson: (laughs) Okay. Just checking!

Teri Teves: Yes I talked to the attorney, and it is legal, unfortunately. However, that allowed me to be home with my son for 18 months.

Emma Johnson: Okay.

Teri Teves: I did that, and I needed to find a business that would allow me … or actually a career that would allow me to have more control. ‘Cause what I didn't like was that they have control over my life. So, I needed more control over my time, which is number one to me. And then, how much money I make. And I have the control-

Emma Johnson: Right.

Teri Teves: … of how much more I can make.

Emma Johnson: Yes, I love that!

Teri Teves: So, that's what I needed. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Emma Johnson: Yes. Mm-hmm (affirmative). I think, Teri … yeah, I'll just say last month my [inaudible 00:08:27] … at a corporation tell me what my dreams are.

Teri Teves: Exactly, exactly.

Emma Johnson: I love that.

Teri Teves: Yup, so I was very fortunate. Someone took me under their wing, she put me through school. She trained me to be a better lash tech. And then, I stayed there for about five years, and I needed to-

Emma Johnson: So wait, this was an employer who … tell me about that relationship.

Teri Teves: Okay. So, I used to get lashes, and she was the person that would do lashes for me. And so, she would always talk to me while I had this job in advertising to do my own … I should learn lashes because there's a lot of money in it. And I said, “Yeah, yeah. I went to college. I'm not gonna do that. Just be a lash tech.” And I looked down at it-

Emma Johnson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Teri Teves: … to be honest.

Emma Johnson: Okay.

Teri Teves: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Emma Johnson: Yeah.

Learning how to be a lash tech

Teri Teves: When I wanted more control … then that's when I took her advice, and I took her offer to help me. And so, she knew I had my baby, and she knew that I needed … my time was slim because I'm raising him by myself. And so, she kindly perfected the art of lashes. And I know that sounds silly, but there is an art to it. And so, she took me under her wing. And then, I worked for her for five years. Eventually, I needed to be on my own so that I could have more control over my life.

Emma Johnson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Teri Teves: And that is having more time with my son. I was having trouble balancing the amount of hours that was required of me, and the amount of money that was in my pocket.

Emma Johnson: Right, and so what was your next step? So, what was the next for you?

Teri Teves: It took me about a year to kinda get the confidence to go on my own, and I had … I did that in January. I had the support of the client base that I had build for four or five years, and I had the support of family and friends. And I did my research. Someone offered me a space because they knew I wanted to grow. There was a lot of women in play that made in happen. And for that, I'm very, very, grateful.

Emma Johnson: Tell me what that looks like. Who are those women?

Teri Teves: There was a point where I really had to release it to God, and trust the process. With that came offers to help me with … not a business plan 'cause I really didn't need that, but to help me … to clarify how this was all going to look, what my five year plan would be because this is one of many steps. And it took someone … the owner of the salon that I'm in now, to give up her office for me to be able to have a space because she didn't have any room in her salon, her big salon. She has about 10 people that work there.

Teri Teves: She gave up her office and her privacy for that. I had another client who … her family company, they decorated my entire place. They painted, they brought their electricians in, they brought their painters in. They purchased all my furniture. It was-

Emma Johnson: For you? I mean-

Teri Teves: For me.

Emma Johnson: They gave it … this to you?

Women supporting women

Teri Teves: Gifted it. The people that I surround myself with, and this includes my clients, are the people that support other women. And they wanna see other women grow, and succeed. And so, if they have the means, the resources, the time, they're more than willing to do that. And I guess they saw something in me to take that risk, and to be generous enough to do that for me. I mean the list goes on, and on.

Emma Johnson: I mean, is this … but is this a for- … Is this formal something, or this is just people you know? Just-

Teri Teves: These are clients.

Emma Johnson: These are just women-

Teri Teves: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Emma Johnson: … that like pretty lashes.

Teri Teves: Yes, yes. I know, it's amazing!

Emma Johnson: (laughs).

Teri Teves: And the person that opened up space for the salon, she was a client. And she would talk to me about that.

Emma Johnson: Okay, but you said something … about that. You just get these women in and out, and give them really nice eyelashes. You give them … it's something else, and it … because it really touched me. Well, why don't you tell us?

Teri Teves: Okay. Before it was just a job, and then what I started to realize is that I was connecting with these women.

Emma Johnson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Feeling fulfilled at work and doing your job with a new perspective

Teri Teves: And I would leave work full, and full of inspiration. Full of a different perspective, and my job is fulfilling in that way. What I love about my job is that you're able to connect to another women, and they might have a down day, like we all do. They might feel ugly, like we all do, at some point in time. Even though we put this façade out in life, for some reason, when they lay down in my chair, they really open up and are very vulnerable. That's an opportunity to either change the direction of their thought process. Or if they're feeling down, you can inspire them in that way. And so, little did I know that just doing lashes would give me 45 minutes to have their undivided attention to help them refocus, and be more positive about themselves. Be more positive about their life.

Teri Teves: And they help me do that too. Because I don't always have a perfect day.

Emma Johnson: Yes, and so how does that go? Give me an example of somebody that lays down, and they think they're just gonna shut up and lay there.

Teri Teves: (laughs) They do that too.

Emma Johnson: And the next thing you know, how does that transform over the 45 minutes? What's that look like?

Teri Teves: Depending on how long I've known these people. So, I've known people for a month to five years. So, it depends. But a lot of times … if it's a longer relationship, they'll lay down, they'll recap, and then you can dive a little bit deeper. And what some people are going through a divorce, and that's new news to me. Or sometimes they just had a bad experience with someone in another … driving, and coming over. So, it just depends on it. But what happens is … is that you start to hear in their voice where they are, and how they are perceiving things at that point in time. And it might not be accurate, but it's how they're perceiving it from whatever is influencing them at that moment in their life.

Teri Teves: And so, I talked through-

Emma Johnson: Right.

Teri Teves: … it through with them.

Emma Johnson: But what is that … so, I'll just share an experience that I had. So about 9 years ago now, one of the big, bad things that's happened in my life is my now ex-husband had an accident. Had a brain injury. It was very, very, very, stressful time for a long time. And I had a baby, I was then pregnant. But there was this immediate … very intense period for a couple of months that were high drama, high critical … he was … had his accident in Europe, and it was so much pressure, so much stress, so much worry, so much fear. And I just remember all I wanna do … and I'm not even a salon person!

Teri Teves: (laughs).

Emma Johnson: I don't … I don't get into beauty processes, or products, or I never get facials. I just … it's not my thing at all. I just wanted to go to the salon, and sit there, and get my roots done, and my hair cut. And I shared that. I connected maybe a year or two later with another women, a mom, who had also had a husband with a brain injury. And we've both had that same experience. Where all we wanted to do is sit in the chair without … it gave us a reason not to adhere to any other responsibilities, not to care for anybody else. Somebody was caring for us, and making us feel beautiful. And it was just this little bubble of an hour and a half, or whatever, to just completely disconnect from a really shitty life at that moment. (laughs)

Being able to unplug from stress with self care

Teri Teves: (laughs).

Emma Johnson: And I think of that … when you're sharing, there's something so … it was touching you, right? You're alone, it's a one on one. It's such an intimate experience, and it sounds like you take it and really maximize it for these clients.

Teri Teves: Yes, I try to do that even with energy 'cause you are. You make a good point that you are touching them. And a lot of women haven't been touched in years. You can even go deeper with that. So, I try to muster up as much positive energy as I can, and give it to them so that they can deal with their day. I know it sounds a little hokey maybe, but it's interesting when they lay down 'cause that's a very vulnerable space. And then also, to have your eyes closed. And then also, for me to have very sharp tools. (laughs)

Emma Johnson: Lots of trust.

Teri Teves: Near your eye, there's a lot of trust. And so, there's a lot of opportunity to change the direction of someones thought process at that moment in time. If you want to.

Emma Johnson: Now, is this something somebody has taught you, or something you've just figured out over the years doing this work?

Teri Teves: The person that mentored me is from Japan. And so, there's that level. I'm from Hawaii, so I have that kind of level of understanding of it as well. But I didn't realize going into this how much of that would take place on a daily basis.

Emma Johnson: And that's not really something you can mark it. It's not like get your eyelashes done, and your life's straightened out. (laughs)

Teri Teves: (laughs) Exactly, yes. You just have to be pretty!

Emma Johnson: That's right! Hey ladies, long eyelashes will do wonders for every, single … your soul. Your spiritual life. (laughs)

Teri Teves: (laughs) Life changing lashes.

Emma Johnson: Yes, it's not a joke! But it's got … it's gotta be word of mouth, right?

Teri Teves: Yes.

Emma Johnson: And the customer loyalty?

Teri Teves: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I don't do any advertising. It's word of mouth because I feel … it lures a certain type of clientele in.

Creating life on your own terms with a small business

Emma Johnson: And are you able to charge accordingly then?

Teri Teves: Yes.

Emma Johnson: So, what does your life look like now doing this this work compared to a few years ago when you were working in advertising?

Teri Teves: I make more money now. I have four days off a week, every other week, for me to be able to be there for my son, be there for myself, be there for my home, and to have a balanced life. And so, I have a lot more time off. I'm able to pick my son up everyday at 3:00. The balance has changed more than the … that's more important to me than the money. Money's nice, but the balance and to be there for my son. Especially because I'm his main one.

Emma Johnson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And how 'bout the quality of the work? Like what you're doing everyday. What is just your general energy, and your feeling about your life overall as it relates to the work?

Teri Teves: As far as in comparison to being in advertising?

Emma Johnson: Yeah, an employee versus a self-employed. The whole thing! Do you enjoy your work more today than you did before?

Teri Teves: Definitely. I love what I do. I love what I do, and that's because I have more control over all the aspects.

Emma Johnson: And one of the questions on … for the grant application is how do you plan to pay this forward? And it sounds like you, again, in your own just personal life, in your own way, you already are. So, tell me about that.

Teri Teves: One of the struggles that I find especially … I think it's for all mothers even if you have a partner. But especially with people that raise their children by themselves. I think that there's a huge sacrifice that mothers have to make to be there for their children, but also be there for themselves and make their own money. And so, it's very … I find it … I see that it's very difficult to make a good amount of money, but also have the time to be there for your son or your girl. And so, the way that I would want to pay it forward is I have a girlfriend that is very close to me. And I wanna start training her in lashes so that she can have more time with her two girls, and also make a good amount of money in a short amount of time in a day. And then, I can only see that growing from there.

Winning the Kickass Single Mom grant and paying it forward

Emma Johnson: Is she open to that?

Teri Teves: Oh, definitely.

Emma Johnson: What's the hurdle? Why isn't she doing it yet?

Teri Teves: It's money. And then also the balancing act of going to school. I think people are scared to take leap.

Emma Johnson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Sure it's always a risk, right? Yeah, it's interesting what you said early on that you always kinda look down at going to cosmetology school, and-

Teri Teves: (laughs)

Emma Johnson: … I see that. I think we're gonna see a huge change in our economy where the trades in these in person service jobs are going to be the real money makers in our economy. And our attitudes are gonna totally change about that, but I get it. I get it.

Teri Teves: Definitely.

Emma Johnson: Right, but you were saying part of your support … your support network is that women have come around you, and helped you care for your son. And then they're emotionally, and logistically, and that you are offering that … your part of this dynamic circle of women, right? And you're already giving back in that circle.

Teri Teves: Thank you. I hope so.

Emma Johnson: Yeah.

Teri Teves: Thank you.

Emma Johnson: I think it's beautiful. Thank you so much. If you were to speak to other women out there that are … whatever the struggles are. They're freaking out about money, they're … that guilt, that pressure to sacrifice. I have to sacrifice for my son, I have to sacrifice this time, or I don't deserve to work out, or have quite time for myself. What's the one thing you want them to know?

Teri Teves: That they do deserve it.

Emma Johnson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Teri Teves: And that steps need to me made, and that to trust in the process of getting there. There has to be a point where you release it to whatever that higher power is, and to trust that you're worthy of a better life. However that might look. And that there is a risk that you just need to trust the process.

Emma Johnson: Yeah, I know what trust the process means, but not everybody listening to this does. How do you understand that to be? What does that mean?

Trusting the process and finding a higher power

Teri Teves: Well, you do your research. You have to do your research, and you have to make sure that with what your … the knowledge of what you're gaining is the right thing for you. And then, you … I do believe in some sort of flow chart on how this should all look. And then, there's a point … and you put everything in play. You need to know that you did all the hard work for the foundation, and that things will come to you if you invite it in. And that things will fall together. And that's the process is that you need to trust that everything you've done, all the research you've done, all the self help you've done, all the … to lift yourself up, to feel confident. All of that. You put that all together, and it will all come together, and you need to trust that. That's the process in my opinion.

Emma Johnson: Right, and it's … so, you're going to get what you need and deserve, and maybe even more. That's my problem. I don't set big enough goals. ‘Cause every time I set a goal, I blow it out of the water, and get so mad at myself I didn't set a bigger goal.

Teri Teves: (laughs)

Emma Johnson: But the thing is the process. How you're going to get to that goal. Whether it's amount of money, or whether it's a certain feeling inside, or it's a love, or whatever the thing is.

Teri Teves: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Emma Johnson: The path there is not … you have to let go of the control of the path there.

Teri Teves: Exactly.

Emma Johnson: And the timing, right? You can't say, “I'm gonna build a five million dollar business by the time that I'm 40.” The process is not gonna avail itself to you then.

Teri Teves: (laughs)

Emma Johnson: You've got to do the work like you said, lay the foundation, and then let go of the control. And that's tough. It's so hard.

Doing the work, laying the foundation, then letting go of the control

Teri Teves: It's very tough, and I'm not a risk taker. And so, I need little goals. (laughs) I can't do big goals. So, I have a big goal that I see far in the future, but I have to have the little goals to get there for me to have the confidence to achieve that little goal.

Emma Johnson: Beautiful. So, if people are in the Portland, Oregon area, how can … what's the name of your business? How can they find you?

Teri Teves: I don't have a name yet, but I am at Genius Salon in Northeast Portland. They can find me by my name. Teri Teves.

Emma Johnson: Teri Teves in Portland, Oregon. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Teri Teves: Thank you so much. Thank you for choosing me.

emma johnson family
Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.

Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.

A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list. Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer. A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

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