Tia Williams is your dream BFF. She is smart, honest and inspiring, and can tell you where to get the perfect shade of lipstick. She’s a veteran beauty writer and blogger who has maintained a spot on the mastheads of magazines such as Elle, Glamour, Lucky, Teen People and Essence. Tia is also hailed as a champion for helping women of color navigate their way through beauty products. Between raising her daughter in Brooklyn and freelancing, Tia finds time to offer advice on life transitions, the right blush, and how to appreciate your beauty, inside and out.
Twitter handle: @shakeyourbeauty
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Occupation: Author, Beauty Writer, Shake Your Beauty creator
School: University of Virginia
Secretly Obsessed With: Taylor Swift
On My Nightstand: A pile of Old Hollywood biographies
Last Thing You Read: Yes Please by Amy Poehler
How did you get started?
My big break was as the beauty editorial assistant at YM, back in 1998. Everything was different in 1998. There was no social media. No Facebook, no blogs, no online zines, nothing. If you wanted to be a beauty writer, magazines were your one option, which I loved, since I was (and am) THE magazine junkie.
Tell us about your daily routine.
I’m a freelancer and a mom, so I wake up in my pajamas, take my daughter to school in my pajamas, and write all day in my pajamas.
What key elements played into your success?
A unique voice and an honest love of all things beauty. Makeup, hair, skincare — it never gets old. I always tried to stay true to my own unique writing style. Copying someone else is never the thing. Find out what you do better than the rest, and do that.
What’s the best piece of advice you received?
It came from my former boss, Lucky Beauty Director Jean Godfrey June. She always said never to use words in beauty copy that you wouldn’t say in a casual conversation to your smartest girlfriend. Words like “tresses” and “locks.” Also, Never “yuck” someone’s “yum.” Which means, if it makes someone happy, who are we to judge or disparage?
What struggles did you face getting to this point?
I was the only black beauty editor in the mainstream magazine game for a decade. At times, it was tough to get my point of view across, but I always fought for the curly hair stories and the use of multi-cultural models.
Who was the biggest influence in your professional life?
Iman. She taught me a lot about what it means to be black in the beauty/fashion industry — a place where we’re usually the exception to the rule. I was only 24 when I first interviewed her, at Elle, and she became an amazing mentor to me.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Publishing my first novel, The Accidental Diva.
What advice would you give to girls looking to enter your industry/space?
Skip magazines and look for beauty and fashion writing positions online! Print is a dying industry, sadly. But digital has a wealth of exciting new opportunities.