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Tajuana L. Hill: ” CREATE WHAT YOU WANT!!!”

Your business will look like you. I have never liked confrontation and I always pay attention to the details. For the first few years I was resistant to any kind of confrontation so that is exactly what I had, a ton of conflict. Conflict with employees, customers, you name it, I experienced it. I finally […]


Your business will look like you. I have never liked confrontation and I always pay attention to the details. For the first few years I was resistant to any kind of confrontation so that is exactly what I had, a ton of conflict. Conflict with employees, customers, you name it, I experienced it. I finally learned that most situations could be resolved with an authentic conversation. The studio is filled with details that create the perfect environment to create a Masterpiece. There’s paint everywhere, the paintings are unique, and we have a groovy playlist.


As a part of our series about entrepreneurs who transformed something they did for fun into a full-time career, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tajuana L. Hill. Tajuana received a Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management and a Master’s of Science in Human Resource Development from Indiana State University. Employed at Rolls-Royce Corporation for the past 24 years, she’s been a UAW Trainer for the past 22 years. In 2011, she started Mimosa and a Masterpiece, which is a paint and sip art studio in downtown Indianapolis.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

For much of my childhood, I grew up in a single parent home because my parents divorced when I was 9 years old. I have very fond memories of playing hopscotch and dodge ball outside all summer long. I was always excited to hear the enticing music of the ice cream truck outside. Each time, I secretly prayed that my mom would give me the money to buy an ice cream sandwich, which was my favorite.

What was the catalyst from transforming your hobby or something you love into a business? Can you share the story of your “ah ha” moment with us?

In 2010, I was at a crossroad in my life, I was recently divorced, forced to pay $20K to sell my house, and felt like I needed to create a new life for myself. I made a decision to move downtown, into a 600 square foot apartment, because of the hustle and bustle and the positive energy. In waiting for my apartment to be ready, I went to visit my BFF in Atlanta. She took me to a paint and sip there and for the first time since grade school, I held a paint brush in my hand. I was immediately transformed into Picasso! At the end of the night I had painted 2 tulips and created a Masterpiece that I was certain could sell for 1.2 million. Because I was so proud of what I had painted, I decided to go back home and give other adults in Indy the opportunity to step outside of their comfort zone and create a Masterpiece

There are no shortage of good ideas out there, but people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?

To be honest, I trusted myself. While I was in Atlanta, I paid attention to the other people in the class and they were having as much fun as I was. I knew that if I didn’t go home and start Mimosa and a Masterpiece, I would regret it for the rest of my life. I have always tried new things because I’d rather learn a lesson than live with regret. There are valuable lessons even in failure. More specifically, I didn’t allow my fears to keep me from moving forward. I was also willing to make mistakes and adjust as my customers suggested.

What advice would you give someone who has a hobby or pastime that they absolutely love but is reluctant to do it for a living?

My advice is to start small, ask a lot of questions and find a mentor. Most business owners want immediate and massive success. The problem with growing too fast is that you may not have your systems in place to handle consumer demand. Starting small also allows you to adjust as problems and issues arise from being a new business. Asking questions will insure that you are attending to the needs of your customer base, see how other business owners have been successful and make sure that you have the proper licenses and insurance in place. Having a mentor will give you some guidance on best practices, tricks of the trade and an authentic view of the realities of being a business owner.

It’s said that the quickest way to take the fun out of doing something is to do it for a living. How do you keep from changing something you love into something you dread? How do you keep it fresh and enjoyable?

I am able to remain excited about my business by setting a clear intention for it and being innovative. When I started my business, I wanted it to be a place where I loved to come, my employees loved to work and my customers loved to come back and create in. That has been the case for almost 8 years. Having an intention for my business allows me to experience a great class each time. Continuing to create innovative products keeps me excited about my business and keeps me ahead of the competition.

What is it that you enjoy most about running your own business? What are the downsides of running your own business? Can you share what you did to overcome these drawbacks?

I love meeting new people. I have met thousands of people over the years and some of them have become some of my best friends. There is also a bit of notoriety that comes from owning a business over a period of years. I love giving my artists an outlet for their talent. A downside to running my own business is that I had to be EVERYTHING until I could afford to hire someone to do it. I had to be a bookkeeper, graphic designer, artist, janitor, and anything else that was required. One of the biggest ways that I overcame these drawbacks was to ask for help. As a business owner, there are times where I feel very alone. Asking for help allows me to enroll others into my vision for the company.

Can you share what was the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

I had no idea how much of my business would revolve around social media. I spend a lot of my time thinking about what to post, creating posts and asking my customers to review their experience at the studio. I thought that most of my job would be about being working “in” the business, but most of my time is spent working “on” the business.

Has there ever been a moment when you thought to yourself “I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to get a “real” job? If so how did you overcome it?

LOL! Yes, almost every day. Most of those moments when I couldn’t take it anymore revolved around time management or me not asking for help. It is at those times when I get out the old “To-Do List!” Listing allows me to see everything that needs to be done and note who can help me complete it. Having a visual map helps me reach my destination.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I started Mimosa and a Masterpiece, I knew that no one would want to paint “Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh! I thought the painting was old, boring and out of date. Boy-oh-Boy was I wrong. Whenever I add Starry Night to the calendar, it sells out every time. This lesson taught me that my opinion doesn’t matter. What matters is what the customer wants. The customers tell me what I need to put into the marketplace.

Who has inspired or continues to inspire you to be a great leader? Why?

For many years, Oprah Winfrey was my inspiration. She inspired me because she didn’t let her small beginnings stop her desire for greatness. I also admire her ability to listen to her “gut” and to always be directed by God. Most recently, I’ve been inspired by Elon Musk. His grit and determination to decrease the world’s carbon footprint through space and on the road is simply amazing to me.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

Adults are 96% less creative than they were as a child. I am helping to increase the creativity in adults by allowing them the freedom to create a Masterpiece they are proud of.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Your business will look like you. I have never liked confrontation and I always pay attention to the details. For the first few years I was resistant to any kind of confrontation so that is exactly what I had, a ton of conflict. Conflict with employees, customers, you name it, I experienced it. I finally learned that most situations could be resolved with an authentic conversation. The studio is filled with details that create the perfect environment to create a Masterpiece. There’s paint everywhere, the paintings are unique, and we have a groovy playlist.

Learn to love sales. I thought when I opened the doors of my business that my customers would magically appear. I had no idea that I had to constantly not only sell my business and products, but also myself as a part of the brand. For the first 6 years of my business, I never told anyone that I owned the company. I told them I was, “The Hostess with the Mostess!”

Set an intention for how you want to show up in the marketplace. My intention from the start was clear, I wanted it to be a place where I loved to come, my employees loved to work and my customers loved to come back and create in. I set that intention each day I walk into the studio.

Create a love relationship with social media Social media in business today is essential. Customers and potential customers want to know about the business, those who work in the business, how it was created and what goes on during the day. I hate being the face of my business and going live but that doesn’t matter. What matters is giving my customers what they tell me they want.

There will be highs and lows in your business. Make good use of the low moments. This was a difficult lesson to learn because when my business was slow I took it personally. For years, I believed it was something I was doing or not doing. Now, when my business is slow, I take a vacation, create a new product line, or do some networking.

What person wouldn’t want to work doing something they absolutely love. You are an incredible inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

“CREATE WHAT YOU WANT!!!” Do you want to start a business? Do it! Do you want an honest, loving and committed relationship…Create it! Do you want your today to be different than your yesterday? Make a different choice and create it! No one is coming to save you because we’re trying to save ourselves. Create a life you want to live!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” George Bernard Shaw. I was put on this earth to create! Not only to create myself, my life, and my business. But to also help others create themselves and the cultures in which they work. This quote keeps me centered and intentional about my purpose.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I am a HUGE fan of Marc Benioff. I think that the culture he has created at Salesforce is simply a Masterpiece. The work he’s committed to doing within his organization so that women earn equal pay has cost him millions. Yet, he did it, without being told, simply because it was the right thing to do. He’s a Rock Star!!!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


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