Tania Speaks ‘22, an entrepreneurship student in the Frank G. Zarb School of Business, was named one of TIME Magazine’s Most Influential Teens of 2018 for turning her experience with bullying into a successful business.
Speaks is the founder and CEO of Brow Boost, a cosmetics company that produces natural and organic serums for eyebrows and beards. Speaks was featured alongside such prominent young people as Olympic gold-medalist snowboarder Chloe Kim, the student activists of Parkland, FL, and Mad Men actress Kiernan Shipka.
The 17-year old’s passion for entrepreneurship was born out of traumatic experiences with bullying in elementary and middle school. Schoolmates would taunt and abuse Speaks for the bushy appearance of her eyebrows. In a desperate attempt to stop the bullying, Speaks cut off her eyebrows which landed her in a hospital emergency room.
Speaks then sought out remedies to grow and tame her brows. Dissatisfied with the options available in drugstores, she began experimenting with natural ingredients until she discovered the serum that led to the birth of her company, Brow Boost. Speaks launched her business in 2016 at the age of 16.
“I really didn’t enjoy going to school, until I started selling my product out of my high school’s bathroom,” said Speaks. “Every day I’d be so excited to meet a new customer and make a new friend. My business motivated me to succeed in school, and vice versa, because they both taught me how to be a high achiever and handle stress.”
Speaks graduated from high school early in Baltimore, Maryland, ranking in the top 5% of her class. Speaks grew her business by 60% in 2017, was featured in a number of high-profile news outlets including Forbes , and won first place in the 2018 Hofstra-Digital Remedy Lion’s Den competition sponsored by Hofstra’s Center for Entrepreneurship.
“I’ve done a lot of pitch competitions in the past but found the Lion’s Den to be a really positive experience,” Speaks said. “Everyone was so supportive, and it was really exciting to see other people’s ideas.”
Frank G. Zarb School of Business Dean Herman Berliner said, “Tania’s journey is inspirational, and her business savvy and sophistication are very impressive. We’re very proud of her and look forward to seeing all she will accomplish during her time at Hofstra and in the years ahead.” Speaks’ endeavors don’t end with Brow Boost. The young entrepreneur also travels to grade schools to speak about bullying, developing self-confidence, and the impact of entrepreneurship. She plans to continue channeling the wisdom gained from her experiences into being a positive example for other young people facing similar challenges.
“Nothing bad lasts forever. Embrace who you are and what you’ve been given,” she said. “You’re never going to please everyone, and people will always have something negative to say, but never give up on your dreams and don’t be afraid to try something new.”