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Female Founder | Tanya Wright

Violette chatted with Tanya Wright for our Female Founder’s Story Feature…

Between tapings of Orange is the New Black, as well as her career as a screen writer, director and entrepreneur, Female Founder Tanya Wright took some time to share some inspiration with us.


You have accomplished so much in your life already and continue to take on incredible projects. Your mother was 15 years of age when she started having children, and went on to earn post-graduate degrees. Did she serve as an inspiration to you and your work?       

Yes, very much so! My mother taught us the value of hard work and education. Education was a huge deal in our house. She had me when she was 15 and by the time she was 17, she had both my sister and me. My mother has gone on to have a very successful career in the healthcare industry while my sister recently became the first woman president of the United Way NYC! I am very proud of them.


You majored in English at Vassar College and wrote for the New York Times Magazine. You also write, direct, act and recently launched a new business HAIRIETTE.  What are some tips you can share with women who are passionate about a multitude of endeavors on how to approach and balance all the various roles in life and business?

  • Believe in yourself. Don’t expect anyone else to [believe in you] if you don’t.
  • Invest in yourself. The same rule applies to [believing in yourself].
  • You must give yourself the thing you desire from the world.
  • I think it’s important to focus on one thing at a time. I have a lot of interests, but I must always remind myself of this: there is a film I am interested in directing, writing, starring in and producing and I launched my hair care line! Now would not be the best time, LOL! I have a wicked imagination and it flits around a lot. I have learned to control it mostly through meditation. When I’m on the right track with things, I feel like I am in a flow and I know I am in balance.  


What was the inspiration to launch your newest business, Hairiette? 

My own struggles with my curly hair! I had a day that was particularly crazy and I thought, “If I could get control over my hair, I could get control over my life!” That was the thing that started it. I began mixing ingredients in my lab, then took them to a lab and they perfected it. Our line is made from Kokum Butter (a highly emollient fruit from India) and Marula Oil (Nature’s silicone). We also have a proprietary formulation called the Hairiette Hydrating Complex that is unique to our line! It’s vegetable based Keratin. Our hair care line will leave your hair moisturized and hydrated from the inside out—a must have for women with textured hair. I am proud of my hair care line!


Out of all your accomplishments, which one was the one that you were scared to take on the most but which resulted in amazing success?   Directing for sure. I had no interest. I am an actor so I have met and worked with many directors in my day. They’re always being pulled this way or that, whether it’s a network, producer, production designer, DP. You really do have to have a different language for most everyone. I acted and wrote my feature, Butterfly Rising, too. I thought it would be too much to direct (I am not techinically minded), but a friend who knows me said I should do it. After some struggle, I finally did. That’s when I got my multi-tasking wings, LOL! My cinematographer, Giovanni DiGiacomo, and I have worked together before on many projects, so we have a sort of shorthand with each other. That made things much easier. I also got great actor-friends who I knew could deliver on the day. We shot in 21 days so we didn’t have a lot of time for lots of takes. They were rock solid, the BEST!

Were their times in your life that you doubted yourself in business? 

 Yes, there was time in my life when I lost everything and thought it had do to the fact that somehow I wasn’t good in business, that I was bad with money. My brother died just prior to that. I have since learned that money is no more than spiritual energy. Sometimes things have to be wiped clean to make space for the new. Tough to understand at the time, but it’s so much clearer. I was very unsure of myself, very unsure of my ability. But I suspected deep, deep, deep down inside I would be able to find the answer. It took a loooooong time, and it was a painful and lonely road. But I came back to myself. It was a full circle moment!

What was the biggest hurdle you got over that you believe serves as a lesson to other women on “making it happen”? 

Having Faith. It is far easier said than done.

We love offering resources to women in our community. What has been your best resource so far? A book, class, friendship, etc?

I have a dear friend named Nicole who I love and cherish so very much. She went to Vassar (my Alma Mater). I love biographies—truth is stranger than fictions a lot of times, LOL! I am inspired by people like Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs – Huge givers. I like that. I also like the book “Think and Grow Rich”

What advice would you share with women that are just starting out in entrepreneurship? 

  • Pace yourself. Find people who support you and your dreams and check in with them regularly.
  • Exercise!!! Moving your body can really help you focus your mind and you will need to burn off that excess energy.
  • Be prepared to throw out your plan as you get new information and things change. I think I went through 10-12 business plans until I arrived at the one I finally used to launch my business. And even now it is still changing.
  • And, have fun, make sure you really, really, really love what you do!


For more inspiration, visit our community of female founders and their stories

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