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2013 Twenty Questions Interview : Tanea Smith

20 Questions Interview
with Tanea Smith

Inspirational Speaker; Owner of She's Got Papers Stationery Designs


Tanea Smith1. What's your name?

Tanea Smith.

2. Where are you from?

Brooklyn, New York.

3. Who are you today?

Iím a Mom of 2, an Entrepreneur, an Inspirational Speaker & most notably a survivor.

4. What do you do? (Elevator speech)

Over the past 5 years Iíve managed to turn a visit to my daughter's pediatrician, my aunt Reneeís divorce, and even a run on the treadmill, into a thriving and inspiring online stationery boutique called She's Got Papers. Sheís Got Papers brings the written word back into style with collections of note cards, journals, and magnets designed + inspired by everyday life events. If youíre curious about the behind-the-scenes of my business — here it is. Iím a proud employee-preneur who works on Wall Street by day and comes home to design, fill orders, and market Sheís Got Papers by night along with my 2 children, Brandon + Jada Jasmine. I also love teaching other aspiring entrepreneurs how to launch while working.

5. What's your story (how did you get here)?

Iíve worked as an Executive Assistant in Corporate America for the last 16 years. In 2008 I launched Sheís Got Papers.

6. Why is creativity important to you?

Iím a Cancer. Creativity for me is like breathing. Though Iíve worked in finance for several years Iíve always found ways to be creative in my office. At one point my vision boards adorned every inch of my cubicle. I affectionately called it "The Living Room."

7. When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?

I knew at the age of 8 when I wrote my first play in elementary school that I had a gift for writing. After acting in the play I turned to leave the auditorium with my class and I knew that day that I wanted to perform. For years I thought Godís calling on my life was as an actress.

8. How did you embrace it?

I half-heartedly tried my hand at it for a few years. I spent lots of money on headshots and classes, but the spark never quite connected.

9. How did that feel?

As though I was getting close, but no cigar.

10. Where has your journey taken you?

While the pursuit of an acting career left me somewhat disheartened, it also helped me come to the realization that it wasnít my true path. While I may have fantastic oratory skills and the desire to "perform" that ultimately Godís plan was not for me to take on the life of someone else. It was actually to share my real life story and in turn inspire others. Sheís Got Papers has allowed me to do that through design and my inspirational speaking has allowed me to do that on a scale that I never imagined.

11. What challenges have you faced?

As is the story with everyone else in the world who is balancing a lot, time has always been an issue. Iíve been blessed to have the support of my family that helps with my children and my Sheís Got Papers team is amazing.

12. What worked for you?

Faith. Completely and totally. I know that Iím on the right path now. Itís just a matter of making the pieces fit together.

13. What didn't work for you?

Over-scheduling. I had to learn the difference between being busy and productive!

14. What three tips can you share to help others starting on a similar path?

  1. Do a candid assessment of where you are now and where you want to be.
  2. Be honest about what it will take to get there.
  3. Listen to your instincts. That is Godís whisper. Heíll guide you when youíre feeling stuck.

15. What are you working on now?

Iím working on a project called "Tea With Tanea" — a workshop series where I help women to get out of their own way and walk the walk. How to launch their dream businesses while working full time and managing families. It is my pleasure to speak all over New York City to share my message of hope and ultimately redemption.

16. What's coming up for you in the next year?

In the next year, Iíll be speaking all over the country and launching Tea With Tanea — a workshop where I teach other budding entrepreneurs how to Launch While Working. I also plan to do 2 more Sheís Got Papers collections.

17. What else do you desire/dream to do?

Iíd love to do something in television.

18. How will you make that happen?

Iím a firm believer that God has a plan for your life therefore we donít make things happen. I intend to continue to do great work with both Sheís Got Papers and next with Tea With Tanea and I believe that God will order my next steps.

19. What one question would you like to answer that hasn't been asked?

Where did the name Sheís Got Papers come from?

My sister and I had talked about opening up a stationery store in 2002 and one morning she called saying, "I had this dream and I have the name for the business: She's Got Papers." She's Got Papers is actually a song that my mom played when we were kids. Serendipity.

20. What's your Web site addresses? & •