Creativity Works: ‘Orange is the New Black’ actress launches hair company through Lehigh Valley business incubator – Allentown Morning Call
Several years ago, actress, author and entrepreneur Tanya Wright (“ER,” “24,” “Orange Is The New Black”) found herself at a crossroads. After the death of her brother, she was looking for some perspective. A way to reconnect with herself and the world around her. In 2010, she decided it was time to confront the issue that for years caused her much anxiety and frustration. So, she did something drastic. She cut off all her hair.
She began to explore the sociology, physiology, and spirituality that surrounds our hair. She took that knowledge and turned it into a book called, I found God in my hair: 98 spiritual principles I learned from my …hair!” Tanya said the entire experience was incredibly cathartic and has taught her patience, acceptance, and the power of letting go.
“Getting control of my hair made me feel powerful. The more I worked on my hair, the more I was able to confront everything in my life that needed an overhaul,” said Wright. It was through the process of writing that she found the confidence needed to start her own company, HAIRiette, which produces a line of haircare products for women with naturally textured hair. “I always knew I wanted to create a business around hair, I just wasn’t exactly sure how to make that happen,” said Wright.
A chance meeting provided the next step Tanya needed.
Michael Krajsa, an assistant teaching professor at Penn State University, remembers the day he and Penn State Chancellor, Tina Richardson, heard about Tanya’s unique business concept.
“We were both at a meeting at one of the larger employers here in the Lehigh Valley when we got introduced to Tanya’s mom, who works at the company. We were immediately captivated by her daughter’s story, so we invited Tanya in to pitch HAIRiette to the advisory board at Launchbox,” said Krajsa. Lehigh Valley Launchbox is a business accelerator for early-stage entrepreneurs providing guidance, mentorship and in some cases, financial aid, located on Penn State’s Lehigh Valley campus in Center Valley.
“What the advisory board loved about Tanya was her infectious personality and positive energy. She has such passion for what she’s doing. The hair care products, along with the book and the web series she creates all combine to form an exceptional brand and we are thrilled to be a tiny part of Tanya’s business trajectory,” added Krajsa.
“People tend to think that because I’m an actress on a popular TV show that I have this big engine behind me. The truth is, I don’t. To be able to have something as powerful as Launchbox providing me with strong guidance and support for HAIRiette is beyond exciting for me,” said Wright.
Tanya is encouraged by the opportunities that have come her way, and now she’s looking to inspire and connect with people on a more meaningful level. The next step will be for her to collaborate with churches and share the story of how she found God in her hair. She has created a short faith-based program and is looking to partner with churches on the HAIRiette product line, with a portion of the proceeds going directly back to each partner church.
You can follow Tanya on twitter at http://twitter.com/tanyaTTwright. Lehigh Valley Launchbox is accepting applications from people who believe they have a scalable business idea. For more information and to submit your idea go to launchbox.lv.psu.edu. Deadline for submissions is Oct.18.
William Childs is the director of Marketing and Communications at Trifecta Technologies in Allentown. His column can be found on Business Cycle. He can be reached at email@example.com
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