Free + True Founder Tami Blake Talks Ballet, Skin Care & How Pure Grit Helped Her Achieve Success by Belinda Lichty Clarke
Spa owner and beauty entrepreneur Tami Blake was working in community banking supporting underserved populations when she decided to go back to school. “I decided that getting an MBA would give me the core skills that I needed to start my own business and to utilize my creativity. I was a mom with a young son when I started my MBA, but I was fortunate to have an amazing support system and learned to carve out time for family and studying,” Blake says.
Her go-to mantra? To simply stay positive and make genuine connections with the right people, she says. “That’s what landed me my dream job! I ended up working in risk and compliance at a global financial institution, where my boss was an amazing leader and mentor who supported my entrepreneurial spirit. After about five years, I got pregnant with my second son and decided it was time to make the move into entrepreneurship and opened my first spa dedicated to natural hair removal.”
Q. What was the inspiration for your spa concept?
"After working in corporate compliance, I experienced burnout and hungered for a creative outlet. I followed my passion and opened a spa, True Sugaring & Skincare, in Walnut Creek, California, six years ago. Before green beauty was a common term, I sought out cleaner skin-care alternatives for our clients. While on a trip to Istanbul in 2014, I discovered sugaring, a natural form of hair-removal that uses a paste of sugar and lemon. In 2016, after introducing it to clients and seeing how wildly popular and effective it was, I launched the sugaring product brand Sweet & True Sugaring. Free + True was similarly influenced by my experience in the spa industry.
Q. You mention your love for ballet on your website. How did the rigors of dance help you achieve success?
"I studied at the San Francisco Ballet School five days a week. Professional ballet training is intense and leaves little time for much else. It requires discipline and is extremely competitive. That level of mental focus prepared me for the challenge, rigor and repetition of running a business. Dance also taught me about grit. You’re always worried about whether you have what it takes.
"Before exiting ballet, I fought hard to prove to myself that I had what it took and then I left. That simple act of working hard to achieve my own goal taught me a critical lesson in resilience. It’s not about what other people think about you, it's about personal growth on your unique path. I left the ballet trajectory because I wanted to explore the world in a different way, but I’ll forever be grateful for the lessons I learned while studying dance."
Q. Now, you have a skin-care line, too, called Free + True. Tell us about it.
"When I launched in 2013 there was a severe lack of clean beauty alternatives for the spa segment. My passion was always skin care, so I began studying and perfecting the formulas that would one day become my skin-care line. With indie beauty beginning to make inroads into spas, I knew there was room for simplicity and quality over quantity, so I created a collection of eight products that support healthy, hydrated skin. By using two to three products and customizing your regimen you can create a long-lasting, noticeable difference in your skin."
Q. What makes the line special and what do your loyal fans say about it?
"I created Free + True with my lifestyle, the lifestyle of an active woman, in mind. She’s breaking glass ceilings and making a difference in the world. During the week she’s a powerhouse, but on the weekends she likes to let down her hair and values her freedom. My products are carefully crafted to give busy, outsdoorsy women a chance to address all their needs, with a few customizable products that won’t slow them down.
"We’re all about keeping the skin youthful, hydrated and bright while we take on the world! We harness the planet's most potent botanicals and marry them with clean science to bring effortless and effective care to any skin environment. My goal was to free women from from time-consuming rituals and complicated formulas, and our customers love the simplicity of the a.m. and p.m. routines and the quality of the ingredients."
Q. Which are your favorite products? If you can pick a few!
"I love Moonlight Milk PM Balm Cleanser. It melts away makeup and has some lovely unique ingredients like jasmine oil and mango seed butter. The beauty is that is washes away clean! It’s a unique product that adds a bit of luxury to your evening routine. I also love Raw + Wild Illuminating Honey Mask, it's the perfect pick-me-up for congested and lackluster skin. It’s crafted with raw honey, bee-friendly botanicals, and fruit enzymes. This face mask pays homage to our most sacred pollinator, the bee, and is inspired by the critical ecosystems that bees thrive on in the San Francisco Bay Area.
"A percentage of every mask is donated to the Pollinator Partnership, a non-profit that promotes the health of pollinators (like bees, birds and butterflies) through conservation, education and research."
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