It’s okay to say no. There is so much power in the word no, and it took me years to recognize this. Starting my career, I worked for years basing my moves off of loyalty, even if loyalty was not a factor. I created sleepless nights and financial strain not knowing the power of no.
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 Tracey Moss. Tracey is a sought-after hair stylist in TV and film. She has touched the hair of such high-profile celebs, including Gabrielle Union, Regina Hall, Nicole Ari Parker and more. After leaving a corporate job, she pursued her passion and began working as an exchange stylist in Europe. Tracey returned to the U.S. and became an educator and platform artist for Luster Hair Products and FHI Irons. After a successful eight years as co-owner of 360 Degree, Tracey turned to TV and Film, and is now a member of the IATSE Hair Union. Known for creating ground-breaking looks, professionalism, and winning personality, Tracey balances her passion for her career and devotion to her four-year-old son, Bryce. The soon to be author will release her debut book Styling by Faith in November 2019.
Thank you for joining us Tracey. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory?”
I am a Miami, FL native, a descendant of The Grand Bahamas, a graduate of Miami Southridge Senior High. Growing up as the oldest of three with two younger brothers has naturally groomed me to be a leader. There were attributes instilled in me growing up witnessing my grandfather creating and running a family-owned business. Striving for success was normal in my household, but it was my grandmother who cultivated being humble, love and the power of staying positive. I believe this dynamic duo set the foundational balance to strive through life with confidence.
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?
After my mom financially supported my higher education decision in which I received a bachelor’s degree from Morris Brown College, her money was depleted. Student loan paybacks, monthly bills, and entry-level positions forced me to examine my route and make some changes. I enrolled in hair school, and the same week of enrollment, they were having a student hair competition. Instructors allowed me to enter so I wouldn’t be an outcast and I won first place. My instructors pulled me to the side to reiterate my understanding of my raw talent. Their advice at that moment is when I felt I had something special.
There is 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?
First, by understanding the power of implementing a simple business plan and turning it into a basic simple idea. Next, by committing to the discipline needed to research specially-formulated information pertaining to creating a business plan, which gave me detailed information about my idea, and created a roadmap to navigate a step-by-step plan to execute my idea. It also helps in deciding whether or not this idea was something I wanted to pursue.
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?
The best advice I would give is to get socially involved with like-minded people. Join organizations, chat groups or a society associated with your hobby. Networking with other creatives in the same field sparks positive energy and ignites other opportunities.
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?
Maximizing my moments, for the season, project or whomever I’m working on to the fullest keeps it fresh. Think of it like this could be your last opportunity. Create a journal, take photos, incorporate social media. The beauty field is an ever-changing industry; there is always something to learn, so continuing to educate myself on techniques, applications, trends, and styles spice up my career path every time.
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?
Being the CEO is equivalent to having full control, and it provides guaranteed results to execute my visions. The thing that I enjoy the most is being able to create and implement my ideas and goals. Understanding the power of a team, recognizing my weaknesses and incorporating expert advice in areas to create balance has helped me overcome drawbacks and it also pushes me beyond my normal level because I’m balancing out strengths and weaknesses.
Can you share what was the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
I am an artist, I am creative, I see the world in colors and shapes.
The deeper I got into my career, the more money I began to earn, and the more I expanded, the art became a business, and the business became a corporation. The difference is when running a corporation it’s governed by rules, laws, codes, politics and many guidelines that have to be enforced.
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?
When life, jobs, career, family become overwhelming, I take time to reflect. I pause for the purpose of regrouping and whatever task I’m trying to complete. Whatever I feel like I need to do to recharge my life, whether it is taking time away to meditate, rest, or self-reflect, is what I make a priority. If I don’t take control of my energy, my mind, or the world around me, no one else will. Readjusting and regrouping is vital. Diversifying my skills and socially expanding my business saved me from the frustration of quitting. When things get rough, I get involved. I surround myself with like-minded people. This formula allows me to see the light beyond my present state which strengthens my will to move forward.
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?
The funniest mistake I ever made was when I was assigned to be a hairstylist for a product company, and the theme was based in 1940. I had just begun my freelance career and was very excited for the opportunity, however, when I reported to the venue, my kit consisted of flat irons of all sizes indicating that I hadn’t done any of the research involved because flatirons were not yet created in the 1940s. The lesson that I learned is when I’m assigned a job, I had better show up prepared by making sure I have all of my documents in place, and that I have properly researched all the facts to carry out the given task.
Who has inspired or continues to inspire you to be a great leader? Why?
The person that I contribute to my continued inspiration is my aunt, Mikki Thompson. Mikki has been a living example of a leader ever since I can remember. Her wisdom and dedication to her family and job are recognized through the countless awards she has received throughout the years. Her compassion and community service to people is unmeasurable. The life lessons and unconditional love that my aunt has and still instills in my life is priceless.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I have recently written a book titled “Styling by Faith” to encourage and inspire millennials and dream seekers to identify and strategically pursue success. I’ve witnessed many people striving for answers to start careers and businesses with no strategic plans or end goal. I have decided to use my platform to motivate and educate people, young and old, on the power of discovering their unique talent within. I also choose random beauty schools to speak with the students as a member of NBWAF an organization to youth.
What are your “Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- The power of believing in yourself is something I wish I would have exercised early in my career. As a kid, my family instilled believing in myself as it related to homework or school plays, but as I became an adult and entered into such a competitive field, I began to witness the POWER of truly knowing what it means to trust and proceed with confidence, believing in the power within yourself.
- How to properly save money is a lesson that could have shaped the course of my life. I always knew the basics for saving money, however, what wasn’t taught was the substantial difference of saving money and getting professional advice on how to prepare for financial freedom and retirement.
- Documentation beats conversation was a term used before the social media craze. Unfortunately, this is something I wish someone would have explained more clearly. This statement is why and how so many bloggers, influencers, and social media gurus are so successful. Society is governed by social media and conversation can only get you so far. Documentation, pictures, certificates, and licenses set you up to be branded or represented to maximize your full potential.
- It’s okay to say no. There is so much power in the word no, and it took me years to recognize this. Starting my career, I worked for years basing my moves off of loyalty, even if loyalty was not a factor. I created sleepless nights and financial strain not knowing the power of no.
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.
The movement I would like to inspire is “TBIG” which means The Beauty Inside Girls. There is so much pressure as a girl or a woman to be beautiful according to the industry and other peoples’ standard. I would love to create a movement inspiring young girls, young adults, and women that we are enough. Beauty is inside. Own it, live it, and rock it. Keeping up the trends is okay and following celebrities is also okay, but knowing who you are, loving yourself just the way you are is the true treasure.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote?” Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
For God has not given me the spirit of fear, but of power of love and a sound mind…2 Timothy 1:7
Society and the power of social media can cause confusion in your thought process, your decision making abilities, and what was once normal is no longer. Socialism has definitely created a new normal. This quote has resonated in my life keeping me solid and grounded, reminding me to stay focus, and has also caused me to stay positive. Regardless of what is going on, I continue to walk in love.
Some of the biggest names in the Business, VC Funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the U.S. 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 was granted the opportunity to be a part of the hair-styling team for The Immortal Life Henrietta Lacks an HBO TV film, a true story starring Oprah Winfrey. She had a leading role and was also an executive producer. Her genuine positive energy embodied the set while witnessing her talents, delivering her line, and nailing scenes made memorable impressions. If I could have breakfast or lunch with Oprah Winfrey that would ignite a level beyond my wildest dreams. To be in the presence of true greatness and all while getting nuggets to perpetuate my life would be a dream come true!
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.