By Lauren Herman
Editor’s Note: This blog post is the first of a five-part series profiling women leadership in the Sacramento region. It serves as a prelude to our upcoming event, "This Changes Everything: WOMEN." These women were selected based on their contributions and participation in their community and industry. By means of this series, we hope to broaden our understanding of what constitutes a leader and provide a platform for ideas worth spreading.
I have to admit that interviewing is a secret obsession of mine. It fuels my curiosity and belief that everyone has a story. Everyone has something they can teach to one another and learn from one another. Thus, I had to begin this blog series with an individual that without a doubt can offer readers a story with a lesson and purpose.
Tania Voochen: Small Business Owner, Entrepreneur, And Instructor
Tania Voochen looks like a tough chick (showing more than a few well-crafted tattoos and a wardrobe of black attire and boots), but has a heart of gold, a sharp mind that is as quick as her tongue, and an eye for hair.
When I asked Tania if she would be willing to sit down with me for an interview as an example of a leader in the Sacramento region and within her industry, she simply asked, “Why me?” Her honesty is the exact reason I responded, “Why not you?”
For many years, Tania has served as a leader in Sacramento as a business owner, entrepreneur and instructor. During her eight years working at byuti salon + spa, Tania delved into not only being a small business owner, but also serves as the cutting instructor at the salon.
Throughout her career, Tania has competed in numerous competitions and attended hands-on courses across the country with the purpose of expanding her skill set. She will not stop anytime soon. Next year, she will take advanced cutting and styling courses to gain a network educator title.
Despite all of these achievements, she doesn’t see herself as a leader but rather as someone who simply loves their craft. Her humility, strive for continual excellence, dedication to her industry, and work ethic make her a leader in her community and in the Sacramento region.
After leaving home at a young age, entering into beauty school while supporting herself, facing numerous struggles and heart-ache in her journey, today Tania, ever humble and self-reflexive, stands as an example of what can happen when you follow your passion and dreams.
The Interview: Tania’s Ideas Worth Spreading
TEDxSacramento: Why did you choose your career?
Tania: I was not a good student in the traditional sense, so I was never encouraged to go in the direction of college. I was told that I was lazy, and because of my intimidation with school, I decided to follow a different path – hair – which is something that I equally love just as much as books. In my 30s, I have learned that I should not have listened to those that didn’t support me. I love what I do now, and I am grateful for those who have helped me along the way to what I am doing today as an instructor and stylist.
TEDxSacramento: What motivates you to push forward during difficult moments in your career?
Tania: Anything worth having is never easy. That is what I tell my students. Everything is a learning opportunity; never waste a defeating moment. Life should make you fight harder every year, and you should not expect anything less. Knowing this makes it easier to not become a victim and to pick yourself up by your bootstraps after a good cry. Always strive to be better, and those difficult moments will get easier with time.
TEDxSacramento: What advice do you have for others in your field?
Tania: People come into [the beauty industry] because they think it’s easy. They think it’s easy money, and you get to come to work whenever you want and have no responsibilities. It’s the biggest myth. It’s a big slap in the face when you learn it’s not true. You work harder than 90% [of people] out there, and you have dozens of bosses. Those bosses are your clients, and if you are not on your game or a good listener, you will lose them. It’s hard, but one of the most rewarding lines of work. If you think nothing less, you will fail. You have to be a stylist for the love of the craft, not the money.
And, always be open to learning new things. I may be an instructor, but I teach not because I know everything. I teach because, in my opinion, teaching makes you better at whatever you do. You have to know it to teach it. You can’t guide someone in the wrong or right way. A good teacher is a student of their teachings.
TEDxSacramento: Does anyone in your field inspire you? If so, who and why?
Tania: Definitely. Many people, especially my mentors, who I assisted over the years [have inspired me]. They will never know how much they impacted me. To this day, I always think of them and what they taught me. Their mentorship was invaluable. My heroes are those that strive to do their best, those who are at the top-notch of their game. Just as I serve as a cutting instructor to many, I am also a student to those in my industry to whom I look for inspiration and reinvention of techniques. They guide my path now with what I want to be and become.
TEDxSacramento: What do you like most about working in the Sacramento region?
Tania: I like working near the Capital. I love capital cities. There are so many different religious and political views here [in Sacramento]. Capitals are a melting pot that allow for diversity within communities with different viewpoints, and there is an opportunity to learn from those differences. I am inspired by those differences in my daily work.
TEDxSacramento: What is your favorite TED talk? How do the ideas of this talk impact your life?
Tania: “The 4 a.m. Mystery” is my favorite TED Talk at the moment because I enjoy the fact that it’s whimsical. It’s inspirational and points out the poetry of life. Life is a circle with patterns and repetition, and there is something reassuring and beautiful about it. For someone to deliver something that allowed me to see the connecting patterns of life, that is something amazing. Delivery is everything, so how can you not enjoy that TED Talk.
TEDxSacramento: If you have the opportunity to speak on the TED stage, what would be your idea worth spreading?
Tania: What I love about TED Talks is the theme of being passionate about something and challenging yourself whether you are a presenter or listener to be a student.
I would talk about being open to failure, embracing failure. We forget that it’s okay to learn as we grow older and to learn from both failure and success. There will always be those moments that set us up for our futures. We need to respect and honor that some of those times we will fail in life. We need to be okay that life is a disaster, but it will be a fun disaster if we are open to change and challenge.