Tai Beauchamp’s extraordinary success and radiance are attributed to her enthusiasm for inspiring young women through fashion. As New York Fashion Week continues, the former editor of O, The Oprah Magazine, and Seventeen Magazine shared a coffee with Levo to share some insights from her career journey, along with tips for Millennials hoping to work in the industry. She also discussed honestly about preserving eggs before undergoing IVF treatments.
Levo: Why has “Dare to Wear” become such an instant success?
Tai Beauchamp: It takes two women with completely opposite styles, brings them together, and says, “You know what? You’ve been in this funk and this style shit show, right? You need to mix it up.” And I have them swap clothes. It’s powerful because our clothes say so much about who we are and what we want to communicate, and it’s a real learning experience for women.
Can you recall the epiphany when you grasped that clothing and fashion have the power to transform?
TB: My grandmother, who is one of my greatest inspirations, raised three kids, went to college, went to grad school, helped raise me because my mom was a teenager when I was born, and always looked fly. I saw how dressing was her power—maybe because, in some ways, she was dressing up for when she felt like shit. That was when I first saw how transformative a style could be.
What strategies have been integral in achieving success throughout your career?
TB: A lot of young people tell me they want to be a TV personality, and I’m like, “Listen, being a personality is not about having something to say. It’s more about having a real voice, and the way you develop your voice is living.” I think understanding my voice and how to present it to the world is what really did it. I also recommend improv classes—they’re not only great for TV but also for public speaking, interviews, and sales because it teaches you to be fast, responsive, and reactive.
Last year, you shared your big news with Essence – that in 2013, as a 35th birthday present to yourself, you had frozen ten eggs. What was the experience like for you?
TB: It was more just being thoughtful, because I know I want to be a mom. I have some older friends who are really powerful executives, and when I was 28 and working in publishing they said to me, “You’re on this fast track professionally. You have to freeze your eggs.” And I was like, “What?” I said when I turn 35, if I’m not tied to anyone, I’m going to do it. It’s just insurance. And I do believe that in 10 years, we’re going to be living in a time where it’s standard.
Absolutely. These days, companies such as Facebook have started offering IVF services to their employees.
TB: Obviously when you look at international policy and how women, parents, and families are supported and treated in other countries, it’s unfortunate that we have the expectation of women to hurry up and get pregnant, when [egg freezing and the coverage] should be standard. But also I wanted this to be a conversation starter and check-in moment for women—and young women, especially—to look sooner at their lives holistically.
What stage of the process are you currently in?
TB: Trying to date, and being very, very intentional about that. It’s interesting.
Could you elaborate on what would make something interesting to you?
TB: I was the beauty director at Seventeen by the age of 25. Back then, I didn’t exactly know how to be vulnerable in my personal life because I always had to have this armor, like I always had it together. Now that I’m more mature, it’s like in order to get to the place where I’m partnering with anyone, there needs to be an understanding that there’s value for partnership. That requires some vulnerability. That requires a lot more effort and attention and focus on it than being cavalier and thinking, “He’s just going to pop up someday.”
How do you stay productive and focused?
TB: It’s important to figure out what your impact can and will be. The impact is your opportunity to be in service to others and yourself. What can others extract from my experiences? And then will I feel empowered and good at the end of what I’m doing? If your boss assigns you a task—What will my impact be here? What can I learn and extract to feel empowered for myself? When you do that, you’re able to feel a lot better about the task at hand, even if it’s the most mundane thing. That’s one thing that I try to do with projects that I work on.
If you could offer one piece of advice to 25-year old yourself or young millennials, what would it be?
TB: I would tell my 25-year-old self that this is only the beginning, so don’t treat it like the finale. You’re just getting started. You’re 25 years old. If you approach life understanding that this is a setup, it is a building block time, then that’s an opportunity.