Freshman's entrepreneurship showcased in TIME Magazine
“Throughout elementary and middle school, I was bullied for having ‘bushy eyebrows.’ They would say I had a unibrow, my eyebrows connected and it made me really upset,” said freshman entrepreneurship major Tania Speaks.
Speaks is a prime example of how one can turn a negative situation into an opportunity to better themselves and the world around them. Currently a student in the Zarb School of Business, at the young age of 15 she became the founder and CEO of her business Brow Boost.
“Every day I would go home and cry to my mom and tell her I want to cut my eyebrows off, and she would tell me, ‘No! One day someone is going to love your eyebrows!’ and I didn’t believe her. So, one day, I decided to cut my own eyebrows off and when I went back to school, they bullied me for not having eyebrows,” Speaks said.
It was then that she realized the catch-22 situation she would find herself in if she continued to seek approval and validation from external sources. Once deciding she could no longer focus on how others viewed her, she began trying to grow her brows back.
Speaks found that most products on the market would make her sensitive skin break out, so she started creating a concoction of organic ingredients in her living room until the formula for Brow Boost was formed.
“I started looking up organic and natural ingredients and I started putting them together and everyone in my house thought I was crazy,” Speaks said.
“I started to use it on myself first and people would say, ‘Oh, your eyebrows [are] growing,’ and ‘Your eyebrows look better,’ or, ‘What are you using?’ and I would say, ‘Brow Boost,’” Speaks said.
Soon after, Speaks started selling her product in her high school’s bathroom, and the same kids that once teased her became her customers.
“When one person used it and said it worked, someone else would use it and I realized I [could] turn this into a business,” she said.
With the help of her mother, who gave her an initial investment, Brow Boost was born.
“With her initial investment of $2000, I used that to get ingredients and packaging. I started small, my packaging was just a sticker in the beginning and once I started making a profit, I upgraded my packaging,” she said.
Upon entering the business world, Speaks experienced age discrimination for being a teenager, but after her battle toward self-acceptance, this obstacle was one that Speaks was equipped to overcome.
“Because I was only 15 years old at the time, they didn’t believe that I could actually start a business. They thought that my product was either fake and it didn’t work or I wasn’t actually making any money from it,” Speaks said. “I had to keep working hard and proving myself and saying I know I’m young, but I know how to run a business.”
Brow Boost can be found at Speaks’ website, which sells internationally, and at select barber shops and salons.
Speaks not only shares her product with the world, but her inspirational story as well.
Speaks’ experience has shaped her into the strong woman she is today, which has rightfully earned her a spot on TIME’s 25 Most Influential Teens of 2018.
“I talk to kids in elementary and middle school about bullying and what it does to people. To those who are getting bullied, [I talk to them about] how they can turn it into something positive,” she said.
Beyond a highly successful beauty product, Speaks hopes to spread the message of appreciating one’s natural beauty.
“When I was getting bullied, I tried to conform myself to what people thought my eyebrows should look like.
“Now I try to preach to people, even if you have thick eyebrows and they are wild, still love them. And if you have thin eyebrows, you can use something to help them grow, but love them when they are thin,” she said.
Speaks’ story is a testimony of what someone can accomplish when they believe in themselves.
Her story also serves as a reminder that one person’s struggle can become someone else’s strength and motivation in their time of pain.
“I’ve gotten to a point where nothing can break me down,” Speaks said. “I’m confident in what I’m doing and the message I’m sending.”