Meet the WE Magazine for Women – Woman in Business: Business Woman Taj Hunter Waite, Interior Designer and owner of All Things Taj, LLC
Tell us about your business.
All Things Taj is an interior design firm in South Florida. We provide traditional design services locally and Virtual Design Services nationwide. Through the virtual design process we are able to service far reaching clients, as well as local clients, that are working with a more modest budget but are homeowners that care about design and want the touch of a designer in their home. It’s a very simple 3 Step Process – (1) the client takes pictures of their room, measurements and completes a client profile so we can determine their tastes/preferences (2) we facilitate a Skype/Facetime meeting and I prepare a design plan from the information gathered and complete shopping list within the clients budget that they execute at their own pace and (3) I provide ongoing support with the client until the room is done.
Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?
I have a lot of purpose-driven passions that I want my design work to facilitate and wasn’t able to pursue them working for others. Most recently, I designed a throw pillow collection and partial proceeds are donated to a list of women empowerment causes that the customer chooses from at time of purchase. It’s very easy to find philanthropy in fashion but not in the design industry. I want to bring philanthropy to home decor.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
It starts with my maternal grandmother who taught the importance of having a strong work ethic and that we, as women, have to always be able to take care of ourselves. She always says “Taj, you must be able to stand on your own two feet”. I hear those words replay in my head all the time :). I also have had great mentors throughout my professional career that are always there to help me when I feel doubt is settling in. These individuals are all priceless to me.
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
Stepping out on faith and starting my business. It was tough for me to leave a stable job and relatively high salary. It had nothing to do with my job, I just knew I was not utilizing my talents and doing the work I was meant to do. It almost felt like an issue of survival and doors have been opening up ever since.
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
Fuel your passion with focus, believe in your talents and promote, promote, promote to the world. Do be afraid because your authenticity will shine through.
What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?
I started my social media accounts only about a year ago. Sharing what I’m doing with my friends and family on these platforms, and they in turn share it with their connections, has brought positive exposure and feedback. This has been a learning process for me – and, I’m still learning. It’s a deliberate habit you have to create to share (more so than sell).
What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
Go in with the understanding that you’re going to work a lot harder. Yes, you have flexibility but everything required to grow your business is on you…performing the service, marketing, bookkeeping, networking, etc. etc. Even if you have the funds to outsource services, do yourself a favor and learn all aspects anyway. I have been fortunate in this area because I know the work involved, I’ve worked for many small businesses and wore many hats both in management and professional service. This is essential for your growth.
Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business?
Yes, I’m always on the go so my iPad is my everything. You save a ton of money using iPad apps. The entire Microsoft Office apps are free (Word, Powerpoint and Excel) and fully functional. I can create, edit and markup PDF’s and presentations on the iPad. For staying on top of my to-do lists, I use my calendar app and schedule everything and set alerts to keep me on track…this is timeless for me and it works (spoken from a procrastinator). (smile)
Do you have any new projects coming up.
I live in South Florida and every December Miami hosts Art Basel, the largest art fair in the western hemisphere…the Superbowl of the art world, if you will. It brings over 50,000 tourists from around the world to the city annually. For 2015, All Things Taj has been contracted to spearhead efforts for the Art Africa Miami Arts Fair (ArtAfricaMiamiFair.com), a satellite art fair running concurrently with Art Basel that showcases artists from the Caribbean and the Diaspora. We are currently creating philanthropic initiatives as a part of the fair and see this as another vehicle for me to fulfill my passions both in the art and design industries.
What do you do for fun/relaxation?
My husband, my eight year old son and I are the breakfast/brunch crew. 🙂 We try to check out a new restaurant or hotel every weekend and then hang around town for the day. Same goes for traveling. We try every summer to visit a different country or city.
What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
With only 1-1/2 years of being on my own, I can already see how easy it is to get pulled into different directions because there is also the pressure of creating a steady paycheck for yourself. I would feel accomplished at the end of the year knowing I stayed the course committed to my passions to fuel my growth.
You want to write a book one day for kids of color – different shades of brown. I know, it has nothing to do with my industry or passions but I see it as another form of creative expression. I come from a multiracial background, my mother is Indian and father is biracial. There are little to no books that reflect us, kids from different backgrounds. I face it with my son when we are shopping for books and we can’t find a boy-hero character that looks like him. This affects our children, boys and girls. The world is ever-growing with mixed populations and varying shades of brown and this is a huge void. (fill in the blank and feel free to explain).
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Yes, I find one of the most exciting things about Entrepreneurship is that it allows you the mental space to dream, develop ideas and be creative on how you want to execute those ideas. Most of us have ideas at one point or another in our life but when you have the mental freedom of entrepreneurship, it’s priceless. Work hard and keep grinding.
What’s the best way for our readers to connect with you?