Tawana Bain’s Vision for Today’s Woman
Tawana looks to expand the reach of the Today’s Woman community in new digital realms, and create an inclusive sisterhood for all.
Her ‘Why,’ Her Take on Fear, and Her Desire to Build a Sisterhood
When Tawana Bain relocated from Miami to Louisville for her job in telecommunications in 2004, she had no intention of staying. A native of Rochester, New York, Tawana describes herself as someone who has always been drawn to the frenetic pace of big cities. But the turning point for Tawana happened during Derby week.
“I understood the richness of the community with that week of the Kentucky Derby in 2005, and I made the decision that I would stay and learn the lay of the land, and I am very grateful I did, because Louisville is an amazing community.” Since then, Tawana has become a successful entrepreneur who owns AFM Threads — a clothing boutique — NAC, which is a project management firm, and the Black Jockeys Lounge in downtown Louisville. She is also the founder and board chair of GEDDI, the 501c3 organization responsible for several accelerator programs including the Black Fashion Exchange, which invests in the business community by helping aspiring Black retailers acquire the resources needed to open their own boutiques.
Now as the new owner of Today’s Woman, Tawana talks about her hopes, fears, and her enthusiasm for celebrating women. The first issue under Tawana’s vision will debut next month.
What attracted you to Today’s Woman?
I’ve always had a high level of respect for Cathy Zion. I love everything related to empowerment by women. Within this last year, I have recognized the strength of women who address a lot of the issues that have plagued this country.
What is your vision for the magazine?
The mission that has been established by the magazine is still very important to me, but I am also very cognizant that outside of inspiring women, I have a unique opportunity to help women who want true authentic sisterhood with other women from all backgrounds to make those connections in a very authentic and non-invasive way. So my vision is for there to be more sisterhood for women of all backgrounds that are developed by uplifting one another and celebrating all women’s successes.
What excites and scares you the most about being the new owner/leader of Today’s Woman?
What scares me the most is the public scrutiny. I love being a leader, but leaders can lead in the background oftentimes, and they can make an impact without the public knowing what they’re working on or how that impact is being driven. So it definitely scares me that there is no hiding in the background as an owner/publisher of a publication. You are directly responsible for the rhetoric and narrative that is being placed out in the community, and so you must be vigorous in making sure you are being accountable, that we are being honest and authentic from cover to cover.
But what excites me is that I trust myself to do it, and I have the opportunity to demonstrate through leadership in an honest way what and who every woman is, because women are not monolithic. There are so many different versions of us. There are so many different experiences, and I am excited that I get to bring that to life and see our similarities and celebrate our differences to drive sisterhood.
As a business owner, what do you think other aspiring women/female entrepreneurs need in order to become successful?
They need women whose shoulders they can stand on. They need men to believe in them, invest in them, and give them a seat at the table. They need representation, they need women who have paved the way to reach back, they need to have a voice, they need to be able to be themselves. Leading as a woman looks very different from leading as a man. We juggle so much. We are some of the biggest champions for the human race, but the way we accomplish things is not cookie cutter, so I think women will thrive when we allow them to be in an environment where they can bring their whole selves to the table. I can run a meeting with a baby on my hip. I can dream about an acquisition while juggling dinner and homework. There is no limit to what a woman can do in the spaces she frequents.
How do you cope with fear when embarking on a new challenge?
Self awareness and acknowledging the fear, but not allowing the fear to cripple me. I believe you can become a slave to fear. I have always told people, ‘Boss Up on your fears of uncertainty, or become a slave to never moving forward.’ I have watched so many women share their dreams with me but never materialize them because of fear, and I made a conscious decision that I would rather fall on my face than to have regrets that I didn’t try. Fear is also not of God, and I am a woman of faith. I don’t like to be restricted. I am a free spirit, and to me, fear is just another restriction.
What challenges do you see facing women in light of what’s happening in our country now?
For women of all backgrounds — women of color, white women, black women — there is a reality check that we have all experienced about who is and is not represented within our circle. Who is and is not seated at our dinner tables, our social tables, our work tables, and this has mobilized women of all backgrounds of all ages of all races to recognize that we can do better as women for each other.
It is definitely an opportunity for sisterhood. I am passionate about it. I care about it. I have always been fortunate. I have friends from every background: Asian, White, Hispanic, Muslim, Arab, and African. I hope to be a catalyst for more women to say ‘I want that. I want a diverse circle of friends who I know and love and I think of them as sisters.’
How do you unplug?
Sometimes it’s with a book, sometimes a trip, or a party. It used to be — before losing my sister in 2019 — spending time on the phone with her. It has definitely been an outlet that I no longer have. I was able to be unapologetically vulnerable and having that sounding board no longer around was a very scary time.
Tell me something that isn’t on your resume — something more personal.
I stash $100 bills, and when I get to a certain amount I buy something nice for myself. The last thing I splurged on was a pair of Gucci boots.