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Tanya McCaskill Dickens is the author of Raising Generational Entrepreneurs: Keys to Building a Legacy. She is the owner of Savor the Moment LLC, which has locations in downtown Greensboro and High Point, NC. During her wide ranging interview with INSIDE Monthly, she discusses why she became a stay at home mom after 20+ years in the beauty industry as well as the roles that her children play in her current business.

Where were you born, and what was your childhood like?

(Tanya) I was born in Las Vegas, Nevada, and my childhood was great. I was the only child, the only grandchild for 13 years. I ended up growing up in Daytona Beach, Florida, which is what I consider my hometown even though I was born in Las Vegas.

How did your parents inspire your creativity and initiative?

(Tanya) My parents inspired my creativity and initiative because they both are very creative. My mom was an amazing seamstress, and my dad was also a seamstress. They even did their own wedding attire. So they were always making things for the house, posters, and furniture. Just very creative people, both of them.

How would you describe your college experience?

(Tanya) My college experience was absolutely amazing because I went to North Carolina A&T State University, which is the best school in the country and maybe the world.

Shot On Location At Picture Studios in Greensboro | Follow On Instagram @RentMyStudio

Tell us about your beauty empire in Florida before North Carolina.

(Tanya) So my beauty empire in Florida actually started when I graduated from high school. I was going to take a different route and wanted to be an attorney. I ended up having a real tragedy in my life and stepped back from school and decided to go back to become a cosmetologist because I was already doing hair at home. I had a growing clientele and wanted to legitimize it. Once I graduated from cosmetology school, I got a job at Styles Unlimited, which is a very popular salon back in Daytona Beach, Florida. I worked there for three years, and at the age of 23, I opened my own salon, which was called Designs Elite.

Then I ended up relocating to North Carolina to work for Dudley Cosmetics Products as an international educator. I opened a new salon in Greensboro and one in High Point in North Carolina. Then I retired in 2009 to take care of our kids.

We adopted two little girls, and I wanted to spend as much time with them as I could. In 2017, one of my old beauty clients [who had owned a bakery], called me to tell me she was retiring and thought I would be a great person to purchase her bakery. So here we are in a baking business! It started in 2017, and it’s been great.

Why did you decide to become a stay-at-home mom?

(Tanya) The reason I decided to become a stay-at-home mom is that, like I said, we had adopted two little sisters; that were one and two years old. This is despite the fact that I told my husband I would never be a stay-at-home mom [which is what his mother was]. I loved to work; I was a workaholic, very career-driven. I eventually realized that I was spending very little time with them, so I decided to become a full-time stay-at-home mom. I said, you know, they weren’t adopted for me just to be in daycare all day.

What is it like raising kids in the age of social media?

(Tanya) It’s an absolute nightmare. It’s like no matter what you do. And it’s funny because we are a homeschool family. I’ve homeschooled for over 14 years. People say, oh, you’re going to shelter your kids too much and keep them away from everything. Well, social media does not allow you to do that. It’s like you’re constantly fighting against that system. It’s great. It does some amazing things. Like one of my daughters used it for her business, and she started at 13. That’s been great. But outside of that, it’s an attention stealer. Yeah. Time robber. All of that.

Shot On Location At Picture Studios in Greensboro | Follow On Instagram @RentMyStudio

Why was it important for you to write this book?

(Tanya) It was important for me to write this book because I realized that there are a lot of young kids out there that have goals to become an entrepreneur. They have talents and skills that they want to develop that can turn into an entrepreneurial journey, but their parents may not have that background to assist them. I had entrepreneurs in my family, but no one actually had a storefront or some of the opportunities that I have, so I wanted to make sure that I wrote this book so that people could use it as a reference, as a roadmap to instill entrepreneurship in their child’s lives.

How long did it take you to write the first full draft?

(Tanya) The thing that’s interesting enough about writing my first full draft is I woke up one Saturday after years of wanting to write a book. I woke up one Saturday morning with an idea, and I literally started writing, and I wrote it until like 3 o’clock in the morning. So I had a real good draft to start with, and then over the next few days, I just started kind of adding to my draft, and then it just kept growing from that. I would say it took me years to write my first draft, but the day that I sat down to write it, a lot just flowed out, which was great.

Do you believe entrepreneurs are born that way or taught?

(Tanya) I think a bit of both. I think there are some people that just naturally have an entrepreneurial spirit. I believe that I did. But it could have been my environment that kind of influenced that. But I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was in middle school, and I’ve been an entrepreneur most of my adult life with the exception of working two years for Dudley Products. But I think it can also be cultivated.

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For all five of our children, we have created an environment where they can work and nurture their entrepreneurship. They all have had some sort of business. My 15-year-old daughter had a candy business that she stopped a few years ago. She got bored with it, but I saw her this week actually making a menu because she wants to start her business again. I think my inspiration was because it gives you confidence, a sense of ability to do what you need to do to take care of yourself, which is what was instilled in me, and I see that in my children. But I think it can be both.

How have your children created their own legacies?

(Tanya) My children have created their own legacies out of our business, but at the same time, they found their own little niches. For example, we have a bakery, and my son decided to start experimenting with yeast. That was not something we did; we weren’t focused on cakes, but he started creating bagels and cinnamon rolls by watching YouTube videos. It came out of him being in the environment, and he just took it and ran with it. So he’s still doing that now; he has a business called the Rising Dough.

Then my daughter, she has always been very creative, my oldest daughter. She’s an artist; she started doing decorative cookies as a cookie business. She can do some phenomenal decorative cookies; I don’t know how to do that, but it was the environment that she was in, and also, I found people that decorated cookies very well that I introduced her to.

My other daughter, my middle daughter, she doesn’t like to bake or cook at all, but she’s really good with IT stuff, computer graphics. At the age of 11, when we opened our bakery, she instantly started doing all our databases, designed our website, and created an app for us. It’s interesting to see how they all have found businesses with their own legacies. So I think that’s kind of what we’re trying to do and instill in our business, but it’s still like their own niches; they’re not doing exactly what I’m doing. It’s fascinating to see how when they are given the right environment, it can create individuality but still a legacy for them.

What are the pros and cons of publishing on your own?

(Tanya) The pros are that it’s affordable, and you have control over the deadlines. I have a cousin who is publishing through an agency. I know he just signed, but it won’t come out until like June because they have certain timetables that they function with. Of course, I just found it more economical. The cons are definitely that you just don’t have the machine to really push your book. You don’t have the opportunities to go in front of certain audiences because you’re self-published.

When did you decide to market and distribute your book?

(Tanya) I have several other entrepreneurial mothers that are in my book, so I use their platforms as well as my own for them to market the book. I use my connections through my businesses with our social media accounts and the database of our customers. We organized a book launch, which was another avenue that I used to market the book. But mostly, word of mouth through business connections, and I have other women that wrote a part of this book. The person that wrote my foreword as well. So it’s a community that has helped me to promote my book at this point.

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Who is the best-dressed member of your family?

(Tanya) Who is the best-dressed member of my family? Me, of course. I think I’m the best-dressed member of my family. My husband does dress pretty well. He’s in a suit most of the time, and I find that pretty attractive.

Okay, which pro sports team would you buy if you could?

(Tanya) I would probably say the Ravens, only because that’s my husband’s team, and I know nothing about sports.

Who would play the lead in a movie about your life?

Ooh, I would say maybe Taraji P. Henson or Jennifer Hudson.

Do you believe connections are more valuable than money?

Absolutely, because connections can take you places money can’t.

Tell us about the Breakfast Club at Savor the Moment.

I’m so excited about it because what I realized, as an entrepreneur, it’s so easy for us to just kind of work in silos and kind of not really have a community around you to help, to motivate you, to encourage you, and also to be resources because there’s certain things, like, for example, you all have the studio. You have the ability to do this. I don’t. I have the ability to bring in catering or do something else or educate people about entrepreneurship.

Shot On Location At Picture Studios in Greensboro | Follow On Instagram @RentMyStudio

And I think that’s one of the downfalls of entrepreneurship is very easily you can fall into just kind of working by yourself and not thinking that you need anyone, but we really do. So that’s why we created the Breakfast Club. It’s about bringing entrepreneurs together, no matter what your background is, to be part of a community and share resources. Like, a few of us are already collaborating and doing events together. We just had a great holiday bazaar by one of the members at our bakery in High Point. We brought other vendors and entrepreneurs in. It was a great time. We have events planned for this year. So that’s why I started the Breakfast Club, as a way to bring entrepreneurs together. I’m glad you asked that. I’m so excited about it.

Why did you expand and is franchising a goal of yours?

Why did I expand Savor the Moment Bakery? Because I do have a goal to franchise, and a part of franchising is creating the model of what your franchise would be like. It’s also a test to kind of, you know, work everything out that you would need before you start expanding and selling to other people or bringing other people into your business. So I just thought it was a really good move. High Point is the city that I live in. I’ve always wanted to have a dessert bar in High Point, but it also has given me an opportunity to reach another community, another demographic. The next goal is to add our next dessert bar in Durham, North Carolina.

“Collaborating together allows all of us to win faster, instead of us trying to do it all by ourselves. I mean, we’re not created as an island. I don’t believe God designed us to work alone. ”

Tanya McCaskill-Dickens