It all started when Tamara Taylor boarded her flight from her Chicago hometown after visiting family, and mentally prepared herself to deflect any conversation from her seat row mate. She was in a foul mood after having just been laid off from her corporate job in Orange County, and was headed back west to figure out next steps.
As luck would have it, the man sitting next to her, similarly, seemed to not feel like talking either, to Taylor’s relief. But, after awhile, he leaned over and asked Taylor to show him how to close an app on his new iPhone. That led question led to a life-changing conversation.
“This guy, with these fabulous locs and stylish outfit was none other than Law Roach, who was styling full-time at the time,” Taylor tells ESSENCE about the chance encounter in 2013. Her chat with the now-renowned image architect behind A-listers like Zendaya and Megan Thee Stallion among others led Taylor to consider a new career path: management.
“He was someone who needed help tracking his funds and I was someone who was very good with money, excel sheets, and talking to people,” she explained. Taylor, who previously worked in operations management for companies like Enterprise and Burger King, knew she had the transferrable skills to support Roach with the back-end of his styling work. So, she went out on a limb and offered her services to him.
“I was working from the floor of my Orange County apartment because I was getting ready to move back home and sold everything, I just was like, ‘okay, I’m just going to give this a shot.’ So, I started setting up spreadsheets and a QuickBooks account and went to present it to him to ensure him of what I’d be able to do for his business and cater to his needs. And five minutes in, he says ‘I don’t need to see any of that. You’re hired.'”
Her phenomenal work with Roach (he often calls her his angel) led her to add Tym Wallace—a celebrity hairstylist who’s coiffed Michelle Obama—Zerina Akers [Beyoncé] and Kollin Carter [Cardi B] to her client roster.
Now, she’s celebrating 10 years since she launched her artist management company, Mastermind Mgmt, and recognizing the glam and grooming entrepreneurs she represents in a big way.
“We want to let them know that we see them, because they often aren’t recognized for the incredible work they do to create powerful looks for our biggest stars.”
On September 3, she hosted a lavish brunch in LA to honor her clients’ achievements and recognize their considerable contributions to the entertainment industry.
“I have been blessed to work with some of the most highly sought-after creative talent, whose work has been seen on exclusive red carpets, on A-list celebrities, and in award-winning films,” she shared in a statement. “As a little girl from Chicago this is a dream come true for me, and I am beyond grateful to celebrate this entrepreneurial milestone.”
After more than a decade of helping talented creatives operationalize their careers, she is aiming to bolster the next generation of glam and grooming entrepreneurs. At the brunch, she announced her latest venture, Mastermind Matters.
“It’s a 501 nonprofit organization that we founded to be a resource for creative entrepreneurs,” she tells ESSENCE. “What I realized being in this industry is that a lot of creative artists are first generation entrepreneurs, first generation six and seven figure earners. And so they had some of the same barriers to growth many of us face as we navigate business-building.”
She adds: “We all have to participate in a large curve of financial literacy, and people don’t realize that just because you are creative and you can make money from your talent, that that automatically makes you a business owner or a CEO. You have to set yourself up for that.”
The organization will help creative entrepreneurs with access to tools that support retirement, estate planning, investments and tax prep.
“These financial literacy resources are designed to help them set up life beyond the brush. And when I say that, I mean that I implore to ask themselves about their plan beyond providing glam services. After you put down the hairbrush, the nail brush, the makeup brush, the lint brush—What does life look like for you?”
Mastermind Matters is incredibly timely, just a few years out from the pandemic-induced shutdown, which put beauty service providers out of work for several months. And now, glam and grooming artists are facing the reality of the writer strikes in Hollywood.
“It’s so important for them to explore earning opportunities, investment avenues and residual income aside from their talent,” Taylor explains. “The actors and actresses are not working right now. They can’t promote their movies and shows. That means a lot of my artists who work with actors and actresses are not able to work right now. ”
Taylor goes on to point out that her company is not only focused on managing the current opportunities her clients have, but protecting them from hidden business dangers.
“We do things like taking deep dives into their contracts and earning statements, etc because a lot of creatives just don’t know what they don’t know until they go through it. For example, they’re told to set up an LLC because they’re entrepreneurs. But then when it comes to tax time, they’re advised to write everything off. So, now they’re netting negative thousands of dollars on their tax return, and when it’s time to, apply for a grant to help replace your income for example, they don’t have sufficient evidence to prove earnings because everything was written off. You essentially say you don’t make any money. There’s so much talent working behind the stars, and we want them to capitalize off of that for the rest of their lives. They deserve it. And that’s what I’m here for.”
This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.