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​How Mother/Hustler Tabia Charles-Collins Went From Laid Off To Launching Her Own Clothing Brand

Mother/Hustler

In xoNecole's new series Mother/Hustler, we sit down with influential mom bosses who open up about the ups and downs of motherhood, as well as how they kill it in their respective industries, all while keeping their sanity and being intentional about self-care.

Tabia Charles-Collins is a former Olympic athlete, a NCAA Champion, a University of Miami Hall of Famer, a mentor, a business owner, and a wife. But 15 months ago, she added the most important title to the list of hats that she wears on a day-to-day basis: mother.


Growing up, Tabia trained extensively to become an athlete and her hard work paid off in the form of a number of scholarships to pursue her career in track and field in college. In 2006, Tabia attended the University of Miami as a student-athlete and received a degree in Psychology after only three years. The following year, she was chosen to compete professionally for Nike and Team Canada in the 2008 summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China. But shortly after, she got injured, permanently deferring her dreams of one day becoming a star athlete.

Forced to choose a new path for her life, the former athlete returned to school and received her master's degree but was constantly reminded of a passion that had been previously overshadowed by her athletic career. As a child, the only thing Tabia loved more than track and field was fashion, and she used her newfound time and energy to master her hidden affinity for design.

Inspired by bold colors and prints, Anisah by Tabia Charles was born and lit a fire in the young entrepreneur that would be impossible to extinguish.

Courtesy of Tabia Charles-Collins

After years of committing to the corporate grind, the Toronto born entrepreneur married her childhood sweetheart and assumed the role of bonus mom to a son, but Tabia learned quickly that her life would dramatically shift after giving birth to her first child. While on maternity leave, her ambitions to become a business owner that were mere whispers before became louder and she knew it was time to step out on faith.

She told xoNecole, "I was working as a project manager in the pharma/health department for a company called Cognizant, a consulting and IT firm. I had just came back to work from maternity leave and after four months I was laid off. To be honest, after I was laid off, I laughed to myself and said never again will I give an organization that much power over me. "

Tabia translated the same drive and discipline that she learned in her athletic career to her work ethic as a business owner and developed a thriving full-time business as a clothing designer.

Courtesy of Tabia Charles-Collins

As a wife, entrepreneur and mom to a one-year-old son, every day hasn't been easy, but according to this smooth Mother/Hustler, every moment is worth it. To Tabia, what should have felt like rejection was actually an omen that it was time to finally answer her true calling.

"I knew at that very moment that I wanted to create my own security and freedom and it was time to take a real chance on myself. If I am going to put my all into something, I want it to be for myself and my own goals. This is the first time I have been able to go full force on my business venture. Don't get me wrong, it's not easy by any means but it feels worth it."

Tabia sat down with xoNecole and opened up about how she manages to balance motherhood and entrepreneurship all while remembering to stay up on her self-care:

How do you handle moments when you feel overwhelmed?

When I'm overwhelmed, I do a lot of self-talk. I tell myself everything is going to be OK and this feeling is just temporary. I then start to prioritize what's important.

What’s the hardest part of your day?

The hardest part of my day is balancing the energy and needs of my 15-month-old while trying to get a million and one things done with my fashion business. It's also important for me to have meals prepared for my family, so adding that into the equation while still balancing the work I do for the track club I'm associated with often gets me super overwhelmed. I'm constantly balancing so many duties but I am thankful I have full support from [my] parents during the day.

How (and how often) do you practice self-care?

Self-care is so HUGE for me! I get two massages a month [and] I go on vacations regularly in order to get away from the hustle of everyday life. I take about three to four getaways a year. Self-care is part of my regular routine. Whether it includes downtime with my family and friends, getting away alone, massages and pedicures, I always fit it in.

Courtesy of Tabia Charles-Collins

"Self-care is part of my regular routine. Whether it includes downtime with my family and friends, getting away alone, massages and pedicures, I always fit it in."

When do you feel most productive?

I feel most productive in the mornings and late at night. Once everyone goes to sleep, my phone isn't going off like crazy and it's just me by myself on the couch, I get so much done! There are times I'm up from 9 P.M. to 2 A.M. getting the most amount of work done.

What is your favorite way to spend “me” time?

I really enjoy spending "me" time in my home, drinking a glass of my favorite wine, watching movies or my favorite series. During that time I also have time to reflect and be with my thoughts.

What is your advice for dealing with mom guilt?

To be very honest, I don't typically suffer from mom guilt. However, the days that I'm literally working all day and my son is at my parent's house or home with my husband, I remind myself that he is going to realize what a hustler his mom was and he will aspire to be the same. He is going to benefit from my hustle and the results that come from it. More than anything I want my son to have an abundance of opportunities. The work I'm putting in now, the long hours, the risks, the time away from him, the long adventures I sometimes take him on when I need to get things done... are all going to be worth it, especially for him.

Courtesy of Tabia Charles-Collins

"I remind myself that he is going to realize what a hustler his mom was and he will aspire to be the same. He is going to benefit from my hustle and the results that come from it. More than anything I want my son to have an abundance of opportunities."

What is the most important lesson you want your kid(s) to learn from you?

I want them to learn that they create their own destiny. ANYTHING they want out of life they can get it, as long as they are willing to put the work in. I want to be living proof that whatever I went after I was able to achieve.

Why was it important to you to be an entrepreneur even though some people may think that a 9 to 5 offers more stability?

A 9 to 5 does offer stability to a certain extent, but the idea of working hard to fulfill someone else's goals doesn't sit well with me. If I'm going to pull all-nighters to get work done and complete deadlines, I want it to be for my own businesses goals. The happiness I get from working on my own brand is something I can't get from working for someone else. I want to create a business model for myself that I can have flexibility and freedom to spend time with family, [and] continue traveling the world while still achieving my business goals.

How has being a mother helped you become a better entrepreneur, or vice versa? 

Being a mother definitely makes things slightly more challenging especially during the infancy stage of my business, but it's all taught me patience as well as time management which are two very important things in becoming a successful entrepreneur.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a mom who runs a business?

The biggest challenge is not being able to just get up and go get things done. I can't just jump on my laptop and send emails or run out of the house to meet up with people. I've gotta get my son ready, make sure he's fed, bags are packed, and then I can be on my way. I'm learning better time management so that I'm not losing too much time in getting things done.

What advice do you have for moms who are looking to start their business but haven’t taken a step out on faith yet?

Just do it! There's never a better time because if you keep on waiting you're going to keep finding excuses as to why you need to keep putting it off. More than anything, you owe it to your children to go after your goals and dreams. How do you tell your kids to go after their dreams if you didn't?

Courtesy of Tabia Charles-Collins

"More than anything, you owe it to your children to go after your goals and dreams. How do you tell your kids to go after their dreams if you didn't?"

Do you think it’s important to keep your personal and professional life separate? Why or why not?

Well, to be honest, I guess it depends on your line of business. There's a lot of crossover in my business and personal life and it works for me. I want to be as authentic as I can in my personal life so that people can truly know the person behind the brand.

What advice do you have when it comes to time management as a mogul mommy?

Time management is key! Get a scheduler and a notebook to write EVERYTHING down. As moms, we are so busy balancing the daily tasks necessary to raise our children, that we often forget about the other priorities we have (i.e. meetings, appointments, deadlines). I often times post up sticky notes with important information that I need to remember. Another important thing I will advise is not to take on too much. I'm learning now it's OK to say, "No, not right now." We can't spread ourselves too thin. We need to leave some time aside for ourselves.

What tips do you have for financial planning, both professionally and for your family? 

Financial planning is something I'm getting much better at. It is so important to ensure that my children have a savings account, education plan, and life insurance. Also, it's important that my husband and I have funds that we can dip into if anything important comes up. It's not always easy putting money aside when you're investing into your business while still paying mortgage, bills etc, but we gotta have funds for emergencies and enough funds to be able to put our children in extracurricular activities. Even if you can only put away $10 a week, do it! You gotta start somewhere.

You can keep up with Tabia on Instagram and check out all of the dope pieces from Anisah by Tabia Charles here!

Featured image courtesy of Tabia Charles-Collins.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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