Tashara Earl learned entrepreneurship from a young age.
She grew up in an underserved neighborhood called Baden in St. Louis. There were few job opportunities, so her family their own ways to make money. Her aunt opened a hair salon, which inspired Earl’s love for entrepreneurship, beauty and creativity. Now, she is fusing all these interests to build several startups.
Her business ideas have found support from the Missouri Department of Transportation; the founder of Build-A-Bear, Maxine Clark; the Mayor of St. Louis Tishaura Jones; and law enforcement officers.
CREATING MSU ORGANIZATIONS, BEING THE “CAMPUS BEAUTICIAN”
Earl earned a cosmetology license in 2007. She knew she wanted to be a business owner, so she went to college to learn how. She attended Missouri State from 2009 to 2013, studying entertainment management, entrepreneurship and dance.
At Missouri State, she paved her own path — just as her aunt did with the hair salon. Earl created a student organization called Fusion Dance Production. She applied the lessons she learned in class to organize meetings, practices and events.
She was also known as the unofficial “campus beautician.” She hosted makeup parties and helped people find local hair salons that fit their needs. Earl also participated in the Student Government Association and was a member of Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity.
She graduated from Missouri State with a dual bachelor’s degree in entertainment management and entrepreneurship.
She also holds an MBA degree, as well as a master’s degree in media communications, from Webster University.
MOVING FROM A MEDIA CAREER TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP
After college, Earl experimented with different occupations. She started working in the radio industry, and continued there until 2018. She flexed her entertainment management skills as a promotions coordinator. In 2018, she realized the uncertainty of the future of terrestrial radio. She did not know if she would move into a senior position, like she hoped.
“At that time, I was going through a change of heart with my career,” Earl said. “I just jumped into a ton of different industries to get my feet wet and figure out what I wanted to do.”
Her first exposure to the technology industry was as a customer-success advocate for a large company. Here, she realized she was ready to own a business. “I love the environment the company provided, and I wanted to provide that for my own employees,” she said.
In August 2018, she co-founded her first technology company: Techrein. The company will make wearable safety technology for government workers, athletes and outdoor enthusiasts who work or play in low lighting.
For example, Techrein has created a water-resistant 360-degree utility light strap that improves visibility for the wearer and people around them. Techrein’s products are in the pre-production phase, and expected to be on the market this spring.
HER NEW STARTUP HELPS PEOPLE FEEL COMFORTABLE IN THEIR SKIN
In October 2019, Earl discovered another idea that changed her future. She saw an app that color-matches paint from pictures. “I asked myself, ‘Why can’t I do this for makeup? Why can’t I find foundation that matches my skin just by taking a picture?’” Earl said. “So that’s the birth of the idea that started Shades of Color.” Shades of Color is Earl’s startup company that will help people find makeup products designed for their skin.
Through the Shades of Color app, clients will be able to take a photo of their face, and the app will suggest makeup products from its database that complement the client’s skin color. She created the app to build a community that supports people of color and helps people gain self-confidence.
“Shades of Color is open to everyone,” she said. “But the main focus is for people of color who are struggling to find beauty and personal care products that fit their needs.”
The app’s name is in honor of her aunt. “She inspired me so much. Her hair salon was called Shades of Color, and she let me adopt the name for my own business,” Earl said. The first phase of the Shades of Color app is expected to launch March 1.
“THINKING BACK ON THE THINGS I LEARNED AT MISSOURI STATE”
Earl said her time on campus helped her follow her dream of owning her own businesses. “Whenever I work for Shades of Color, Techrein or any other company, I find myself thinking back on the things I learned at Missouri State,” she said.
The power of networking, negotiation and innovation are a few of the many lessons she carries with her. “I want to build fast-paced and high-growth companies that help people connect with their communities and be better people.
These skills give me the ability to do that.” Earl currently lives in Baden and considers herself a community advocate. She teaches her skills to others to help them revitalize the area. She is grateful to give back to the place that gave her the ambition she has today. Earl’s mentor, Christina Bailey, is a business leader and was once her coworker at Radio One. She said Earl has always been a humble go-getter.
“Tashara will use any tools afforded to her to maximize her talents. She is unstoppable.”
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