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HerStory Revealed w. Tanesha Barnes

HerStory: Where were you born and raised?

Tanesha: Expose, a small community in Columbia, MS

HerStory: Do you have siblings? If so, how many?

Tanesha: I have a total of 6 siblings, 3 brothers and 3 sisters.

HerStory: What do you remember the most about your childhood?

Tanesha: My fondest memories came from the time that I spent with my grandmother. We played solitaire together, planted roses, and fed her plethora of cats. Most of all, she had the first Black- and female-owned business I was exposed to.

HerStory: Who was your childhood hero?

Tanesha: My mom. In my mind, my mom was the most angelic woman. She was strong but had a soft spirit. She seemed to never have a bad day and was the embodiment of love. Everyone loved her!

HerStory: What excites you right now?

Tanesha: Breaking generational curses always has and always will excite me. My entire life has been dedicated to breaking cycles, whether financial, academic, professional, or familial. I have been the “first” of so many things in my family, and it gives me great joy to know that those coming behind me will never have to work as hard as I did to get to where they desire to be.

HerStory: What book has influenced you the most?

Tanesha: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou is the most influential book of my lifetime. I read it the first time at 11 years old, and it changed my life forever. It told my story before I even knew it would be my story. She wrote about how literature and writing helped her overcome traumatizing events in her life and led to her self-love journey. It was the most poetic autobiography I have ever read.

HerStory: If you could do anything you wanted tonight (anywhere, for any amount of money), what would you do and why?

Tanesha: I would rebuild the Expose community in Columbia, MS. I would create a small community of stores, shopping centers, and apartments to build the economy in that area. I have always envisioned a community there like it was when I was growing up—small, family-owned businesses. I think it will give the children there an opportunity to build their business and professional acumen while also establishing some type of working experience.

HerStory: If you had the opportunity to meet one person you have not met who would it be, why and what would you talk about?

Tanesha: I would like to meet Oprah. Oprah literally built an empire from living in poverty to becoming a media mogul. I want to talk about how she did it. I want to know every single detail of what she did to build a business and brand the way that she did. Not so that I can steal it, but so that I can learn how she took the things that empowered her and put them in the same box of the things that traumatized her and made a glorious impact. I need to apply that skill to my own life.

HerStory: What’s the most important thing I should know about you?

Tanesha: Whew! I often hear people say things to me that focus on perfection. “You’re so great at everything,” “You have it all figured out,” and “You’re the perfect package.” In reality, I am capable of doing a lot of things, but I don’t think I am great at anything. I struggle daily with imposter syndrome, and I have failed (and continue to fail) often. With that being said, I think people should know that I am a work in progress, learning, flowing, and growing just like everyone else.

HerStory: What do you value more, intelligence or common sense?

Tanesha: I value both equally. I don’t believe that they are opposed to one another but that they complement each other. More intelligence means improved application of common sense. More common sense leads to improved application of intellect.

HerStory: What movie is your favorite guilty pleasure, and why?

Tanesha: One movie that I can watch over and over again is Nappily Ever After. It has a culmination of all things that Black women have experienced when it comes to societal expectations of their relationships, their hair, and their careers. We are expected to meet the needs of society’s definition of “perfect.” In reality, we are perfect the way we are and deserve to be loved and appreciated as we are without it being attached to anything other than who we are at our core.

HerStory: You are stuck on a deserted island, and you can only take three things. What would they be?

Tanesha: Pen, paper, and Dear Broke Black Girl meditation playlist. If I am on an island, I am already surrounded by a body of water, which is where I am most at peace. If I can write and listen to music, I would voluntarily stay there for the rest of my life. I often joke about living under a rock, but I really wish I could sometimes. It’s the introvert in me. Haha!

HerStory: When and where were you happiest in your life?

Tanesha: January – June 2017, Hattiesburg, MS. I was a college grad, into my career, living freely, and enjoying life. I traveled, fell in love, and spent a bulk of my time with family and friends. Those were the best 6 months of my life, and I enjoyed every moment of them.

HerStory: What do you think is the driving force in your life?

Tanesha: Connection. I love to feel loved, cared for, and seen, and I want others to experience that as well—no matter where they are. I strive to make sure that anyone that I am connected to feels like they belong at whatever stage they are in life. I need them to understand that they are wanted, desired, and deserve to occupy that space.

HerStory: What is your “WHY”?

Tanesha: My why is to help people become more self-aware and self-confident. I believe that there is power in connecting with yourself because that connection establishes an even deeper connection with life, career, and business.

Also, I know that a host of people have played a vital role in my success. I would be remiss if I did not give my best in everything I do.

HerStory: What made you want to become an entrepreneur?

Tanesha: I wanted to do something that fulfilled me outside of my corporate career. I was fascinated with the idea of helping others piece their lives back together in different ways. I enjoy writing and inspiring as well. I wanted to break the notion that working a 9-5 and having a business is not feasible. Most of all, I wanted to create a community that could outlive me.

HerStory: Where did you get the idea for your business/brand/career?

Tanesha: I was also at my lowest point when the business idea came up. I had completed everything that I thought was expected of me. I had attained my Bachelors and Masters degrees, gotten a job, and was being a responsible adult—but still feeling unfulfilled and broken. I remember picking up my pen and notebook after work one day for the first time in months, and the first thing I wrote was, “Dear Broke Black Girl, don’t let brokenness define you forever.”

The next day, I was working at my 9-5 at a high-interest loan company and remember thinking that my passion and my profession was not aligning because my goal was to break generational brokenness and create generational wealth—in all areas of life. I discussed it with my coworker, who is now one of my best friends, and we started brainstorming an empowerment conference that I could host, where millennial women would come together to discuss their brokenness (financial, emotionally, professional, and social). We would empower each other by distributing resources and tools and building a community of women to hold us accountable. My friend and I came up with a lot of names for my business, including Lela Rose & Co., Blackbird Rise, Blackbird Loft (which is now my boutique).

HerStory: What is the most rewarding part about being an entrepreneur?

Tanesha: The most rewarding part about being an entrepreneur for me is the flexibility and duality it grants me. I get so wrapped up in being the “professional” Tanesha that I rarely have the opportunity to just be Tanesha. Dear Broke Black Girl grants me the space to be my authentic self, to show the vulnerability that I struggle displaying in other areas of my life, and still allows me to pursue my passion of being a resource for others.

HerStory: What are you an expert in?

Tanesha: Professionally, I am an expert in business consulting. I excel in financial analysis and operations management. Personally, I am an expert in “seeing” people. I enjoy ensuring that people know that they are valued and validated in my presence if nowhere else.

HerStory: What advice would you give yourself before you started this company?

Tanesha: You get out what you put in. As an entrepreneur, you do not have a boss that holds you accountable, so you have to hold yourself accountable. If you don’t show up for yourself in your business, your sales, customer service, and feedback will reflect that.

HerStory: When will you feel like your company/brand is successful?

Tanesha: I feel like Dear Broke Black Girl is successful every day that I change someone’s life from reading my book, resonating with one of my quotes, or simply getting them through another weak day or a weekday. I have exceeded every goal that I had going into this business, and I continuously set goals as I reach them. As long as I keep growing as a person, I know it will reflect in my business as well.

HerStory: Tell us an “aha moment” you recently had about being a woman, big or small!

Tanesha: I was always taught that women have to be strong and sufferable. Women in my family had to “keep going, no matter what.” I recently learned that in being a woman of that nature, it takes a toll on your mental health. My “aha” moment was realizing that I can be strong and know when I need a break too.

HerStory: What are your superpowers?

Tanesha: My superpower is being an intuitive empath. Being an empath is one thing, but being an intuitive empath is something serious. I can sense the most subtle changes in energies and emotions and feel them so deeply that I become affected by it just as much as the person that actually experienced it. It has allowed me to connect with people in ways in which most introverted business owners struggle.

HerStory: How much has knowing your purpose attributed to your success?

Tanesha: Knowing my purpose is the reason for my success. I believe that because I know my purpose, I am able be as passionate about what I do in all aspects, which ultimately leads to continued success.

HerStory: Any regrets? What are they?

Tanesha: The only regrets I have are my inconsistency and playing it too safe. Some days I don’t feel like being my own boss, so I don’t. It results in a decline in my business. Because I am a small business, a lot of my goals are on a small scale. At some point, I have to push myself beyond my comfort level to achieve bigger goals.

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