Little Oprah: Tanaja RaShon

 

“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.” – Oprah Winfrey 

I felt it only necessary to introduce this young woman with a quote from the great philanthropist Oprah Winfrey. Talk about finding the words to say! Sheesh! No really–finding the right way to form sentences that correctly represent who many call the “Young Oprah” or “Little Oprah” for her level of wisdom and realness, was by far the most challenging thing I’ve done this month. And while both titles are acceptable I’d prefer you recognize this fantastic woman as Tanaja RaShon. Allow me the opportunity to give you a few tidbits as to why she is to be admired. For starters: Beauty, style, and grace come wonderfully packaged in humility, ambitious drive, and passion for God. Not to mention the vocals! Tanaja has inspired me to get (and remain) healthy and fit, as well as encouraged me to not give up even when the going gets tough.


Not Even An Option!

Tanaja and I were on the phone for four and a half hours; laughing, crying, sharing childhood memories of family interactions, and being transparent. Let that be the beginning as to why I admire this woman of God. The entire time we spoke, she boldly proclaimed the name of Jesus, mentioning how the Holy Spirit was moving in our conversation. So it was no surprise that when asked about the start of her business, Tanaja Handmade Adornments, that she had a testimony to share. She recalled how she had been on the phone with her best friend Dave, after filing her taxes.

“I was on the phone with Dave ass…First of all, I was really upset because I had to pay back taxes–and it was {like} almost $500 that I did not have… I was telling him, crying, I don’t know how I’m gonna make this money and he said, ‘You could start selling your waist beads.’ In the back of my mind, I’m like, ‘That ain’t even an option, cause nobody’s finna buy that!’ “

She explained that he continued to suggest ways in which she could make the extra money, but it wasn’t until later that week while in her living room (creating herself another waist bead) after a still small voice suggested the sale of her handcrafted creations that she did. Not much longer after that time she stocked up on beads and began her business. By the end of two months not only had she made enough to relieve the back tax, but she’d made double–and this was just the beginning! She realized that she had to do something about a minor setback and ended up starting her business!

Tanaja Handmade Adornments are handcrafted waist beads and arm candy (bracelets) for women and men who appreciate unique, one of a kind accessories. I have purchased a total of four waist beads and am looking forward to buying more.

Even more, as she continued to share and reflect on the memory, I reminded her that she’d said it wasn’t an option to sell her creations. Shortly after she said, “That wasn’t nothing but the enemy. See! Just as soon as you get anything from God, the enemy will come and try to take it!” This statement alone caused me to reflect… Yet another reason why I hold her in such high regard. Her ability to reflect and influence others to do the same is a gift!

“You gotta stay prayed up. For real, for real. And you gotta know God’s voice, but you have to also know the lies that the enemy will tell you…”

She imparted so much wisdom, reminding me that the enemy knows God’s word too, but that is why it’s important to stay in your word and to stand on the word that God has spoken. Then the enemy can’t trick you with false scripture.

“I just be thanking the Lord, cause He so good. For real, for real!”


Transparency

I had to know how she had come to be so dependent and in love with God and as she told me it became more evident that her story of success is the reaction of obedience to Adonai, the Father, the Creator. God. Tanaja explained that one story, the relationship story many of us have, but once again I reiterate her transparency. She told of heartbreak and “just knowing” they were going to be together for a while, and how revelation and ‘opened eyes’ caused her to accept who God is and what He could do in her life.

“And like the word says, ‘You put away childish things when you become a man…’ “

1 Corinthians 13: 11 – When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 

“Holy Spirit is REALLY in this interview right now. I can feel it.” – Tanaja

Something compelling about this interview is that, while I asked to interview her about her business, our conversation was wrapped in, ordained by, and focused on God. The words she uttered next caused my spirit man to rock: “You can really gauge a person’s maturity by the things that they can let go of.” By this point, I am almost falling out of my seat, because it was as if God arranged our conversation for her to minister to some broken pieces in my spirit.

“One of the things I chose to let go of was my boyfriend back then. When you make a decision, such as following God, the enemy will try you with EVERYTHING in your life…. Our relationship was pretty terrible, but at the time I thought it was that deal.”

Huntsville 2013, in a terrible relationship, and right after letting that go a sense of hopelessness.

She expressed something that was impossible for me to come to grips with about my own situation; she’d felt hopeless because her happiness and peace had been attached to him rather than God. Fortunately, she knew that following God shouldn’t feel like that! She had gone to church, and the preacher mentioned that she was trying to fill a “God-shaped hole” in her heart. When asked why our generation attempts to fill that hole with things like smoking, sex, drugs, alcohol, etc. she offered this response, “They don’t know. I didn’t know until a homegirl of mine invited me to church…” This made me inquire why some believers, admittedly like myself, have been or are scared to share their testimonies.

“Rejection. Our generation has a very heavy spirit of rejection. We might feel like if we share what God has done for us that it makes us look weak or that’s gonna make me look like, ‘That’s that churchy girl over there’ or ‘That’s that saved girl over there don’t talk to her about drinking! And make sure you don’t curse around her.’ But rejection and being judged. That’s what I would say.”

The fact that Young Oprah was nervous about evangelizing blew me away because I could not tell that she had ever been as confidently and freely as she was speaking His name and her testimony.


The Right Ingredients

Now allow me to shed light on the right ingredients for success, my personal recipe:

  1. Strategy
  2. …. (I can’t give you ALL of the goods!)

So I wanted to know who  Tanaja viewed as favorable and an entrepreneur to model; she initially said Puff Daddy for his “get it out the mud” approach, but later changed her response to Issa Rae, stating that “She is the epitome of doing that sh*t yourself!” So of course if you follow Issa you know that she has a show on HBO called Insecure, which Tanaja has reviewed a few times on her YouTube page Tanaja RaShon. After watching almost all of her videos, I found myself in awe of her work ethic and dedication to become the best version of herself. She shared about her fitness journey, a brief stint of depression, and her loc journey! All the while, she has also been interviewing other entrepreneurs about their mission. Her STRATEGY was flawless…

“And I tell God every day, ‘Lord, let Your will be done.’ And like the word says, He wants more for us than we could ever think or imagine, and I imagine some off the wall things, and if He has even more than that I’m just like, ‘Whatever you want for me.'”

When Tanaja started her YouTube channel, she hadn’t intended on interviewing anybody, but rather her loc journey and whatever she felt like talking about that day. The interviews came about one day while she was talking with a friend, Dominique, from church about interviewing him for her page. Mind you she wasn’t really serious at the time, but he ran with it and made sure that the interview happened. Recently she interviewed Tanita and Darian Bryant, The Blended Bryant’s, and was soon resposted on another page with 165k followers on Instagram.

“I just want to reach the people that I’ve been put here to reach. And I want to do so however God wants them to be {reached}.”

“That means they found value in what I did to post it to their page.”

I was immediately reminded of an interview I had done a year and a half prior: “Imitation is the best form of flattery,” I told her. She exclaimed that Darian had said the same thing, then recalled a time of spiritual deadness before doing the interview.

“Something was off. I wasn’t reading my Bible like I was used to… Girl, everything was off. I was literally spiritually dead for those two months.”

As she expressed how down she was, I could hear the relief she felt from the frustration she was feeling during that time. She even revealed that she thought God was going to take her off the earth.

“My spirit was so hungry. My spirit was so hungry for some prayer, the Bible, something! And it just wasn’t getting it.”

She quoted Habakkuk 2:2, which says to write the vision and make it plain. She followed that scripture to the letter and wrote out her plan because she knew she had to write her ideas down and get out of the spiritual dead zone. Greater still she found counsel within fellow church member and friend Lauren Smith  who posed this question:

“If you were to die today what greatness, what ideas, what gifts would die with you?”

That profound inquiry brought us near the close of our conversation, at which Tanaja left this final nugget upon which I’ve had time to meditate, “Each level in life is another ingredient to your cake.” She broke it down to me like this:

It is impossible for you to have a perfect and finished product if you don’t have all of the ingredients. You have to go through trials and situations in life to achieve the things which you’ve asked for from God, as well as the higher things He has in store for you. And if you don’t know, now you know.

**And in the words of Trill Dave “Green is for the money, gold is for the honey.” I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it’s a pretty dope way to close out! Peace and blessings fam!

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