Meet Tanjuria Willis
Meet Power Mom Tanjuria Willis
Leadership and entrepreneurship is quintessential for Chicago native Tanjuria Willis. A graduate of North Carolina A&T State University with a degree in electrical engineering, Anderson worked at the prestigious Westinghouse Electric Corporation as Plant Systems Engineer in the nuclear division. Mrs. Willis migrated to Atlanta, Georgia to work as an IT Engineer traveling nationally to consult companies. As her job shifted and she began to travel less, Tanjuria decided to fill the void by creating The Catering Consultants firm was renamed to TCC Consultants, Inc. (TCC) – a service-oriented business, which located qualified chefs and caterers for small and large companies. After observing her clients needed additional services, she developed and started CONNECT Magazine, a general market action information publication providing a platform for consumers to learn about events, services and the pulse of the city. The publication debuted in 2005 at a tradeshow with a distribution of 500 copies which she created in a friend's apartment, printed at Kinko’s (now FedEx Office), assembled and stapled herself. After the first anniversary, the budding quarterly publication grew distribution to over 100 locations in metropolitan Atlanta including the Airports plus subscribers in 2 states. Within 24 months, CONNECT’s distribution has expanded to an astounding 30,000 copies per quarter in over 200 locations with subscribers in 8 states. In 2010, with the advent of the economy bust in 2008, she made the difficult decision to stop publishing CONNECT. Tanjuria recognized how people reorganized their priorities specifically in the fashion bespoke arena while also witnessing how the clothing that you wear really does drive your emotions. A simple dress can enhance your feeling to conquer the world. Being a lover of fashion, Tanjuria patiently watched as the masses, including herself, determined they loved the quality of luxury brands but it was not a budget priority. In 2013, putting her plan in to action. eKlozet.com, an online clothing and apparel company specializing in authentic luxury designer consignment. Her mission is to utilize fashions as a tool to show consumers how clothing can contribute to their success through the "If you look good, you do good” model providing them with quality name brand merchandise at more than half off the retail cost. She wants to promote self-confidence one outfit at a time.
TDR: Please tell us about your children and include their ages.
TW: I am the blessed mother of a beautiful 2 year old daughter named Greer. She amazes me every day and already has a great fashion sense. She loves to sing, dance and take pictures. Her favorite song is the ABC song which she likes to sing even before going to bed. I want her to be well rounded so at 6 months we started playing Mandarin Chinese and Spanish DVD's. She also has 30 minutes of Spanish every day.
TDR: How are you balancing your passion with the responsibilities of parenthood?
TW: I believe in what I am doing and stay focused on the end goal. Parenthood has definitely helped me be a better steward of my time. Because my daughter is at such a young and impressionable age, I try to make sure that when she returns home from school that I am focused on her and family time until she goes to bed. I don't want her to ever feel that my computer and work is more important than she so I try to account for that in my calendar. I schedule the times that I will work, write, email, etc. My schedule starts with my waking up to meditate and workout prior to Greer waking in the morning. Next she wakes, prepares and leaves for school, then I take a half hour to write after which I start my work day, meetings, etc. Over lunch I read and answer emails, then I finish the general work day. After I pick Greer up from school, my work ends until she goes to bed. Once she is in bed and after dinner, I work for another 1-2 hours, then I take an hour to wind down before going to bed. I feel really blessed to be a mom. I focused on my career for a long time and wasn't sure I was cut out to be a mom until she came into this world. Having my daughter put everything in perspective. She is one of the best accomplishments in my life. That doesn't mean that I give up on my dreams. It means I learn tactics to have both in my life. I continue to grow and that's how I balance. I would be remiss if I didn't say that I couldn't do all of these without the support of my loving husband. He shares the responsibility which gives me the ability to focus on my passion.
TDR: What are some of your challenges and how do you work to overcome them?
TW: One of the largest challenges that I've worked to overcome is keeping the faith. Not because I don't believe in what I'm doing but many of us come from great families who believe that you go to college, get a good job and stay there until you retire. That fact that I would be an engineer and stop doing that to pursue an entrepreneurial endeavor was not understandable and viewed as a hobby and not truly supporting that passion. I continue to work to overcome the challenge by staying true to myself and my goals, by not letting someone else dictate my future and I continue to pray; not only for me but also for them. Along with the support from my husband, I continue to push forward.
TDR: What are 2 resources you use to help you stay motivated?
TW: When my daughter looks at me with those innocent eyes and tells me she loves me, I am instantly motivated to keep going. My husband is my rock and my biggest supporter. When I've had a challenging day, I can talk with him about it and he always offers perspective. The love that he gives makes me motivated to run the race.
TDR: What is your favorite way to pause?
TW: To unplug...no phone, no computer, just my family. To spend time with my family gives me great joy and allows me to focus my energy on something other than work. My other outlets are travel, work out and ride motorcycles, even though I stopped riding when I was expecting my daughter. I miss the peace that I used to feel being on the bike. I've been thinking about getting back on.
TDR: What has been the scariest moment or crossroad in your journey?
TW: When I decided that I would no longer publish Connect magazine but only for a moment. It was a tough decision and I struggled many a night. The most difficult was seeing something that you had nurtured for years at the end of its life cycle. The emotions that I felt were not that of a business person but were very personal including failure and defeat. What I would realize, once I started eKlozet.com was although it was the end of the CONNECT journey, I was starting a new journey. I used all those mistakes made and lessons learned along the way turning the scary moment in to a moment of discovery.
TDR: What would be your greatest advice to other "Power Moms" wanting to pursue their dreams?
TW: Make the decision to stop wanting to do but to get out there and do it. Only you can stop yourself from going after your dreams. Identify the milestones that you have to reach in order to pursue your dreams and tackle them one at a time. Don't allow your fears to dictate your outcome!
TDR: What word best describes the legacy you want to leave for your children and why?
TW: Growth because if my child grows in her learning, her knowledge, her business and everything she does, she will have the ability to manage and enhance the businesses that I pass to her. Her wealth would continue to grow as well.
TDR: How can others collaborate and support your mission?
TW: There are several ways to support us. 1) Share eKlozet.com with your network 2) Shop with eKlozet.com 3) Consign with eKlozet.com. When you consign you are recycling your goods which supports a green environment. 4) Engage by sharing your thought on our blog posts and signing up for our newsletter.
Connect with Tanjuria:
Twitter - @eklozet
Instagram - @eklozet
LinkedIn - Tanjuria Willis
Pinterest - eKlozet