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Vanguard: News from the College of Human Environmental Sciences

Sweet Tea Founder Wins Entrepreneur Quest Pitch Award

Teanna Bass is a rising star in the Mizzou Made constellation. Her story is one of stick-to-itiveness, ingenuity and entrepreneurial risk taking, but also a story of strong values. A senior in Textile and Apparel Management, Bass is from St. Louis, Mo. She is the daughter of Tiffany Nicole Polk and Will Bass Jr.

Did we mention, she is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Sweet Tea Cosmetics, a business she started in her high school senior year and later ran out of her apartment in Columbia while taking 17 credit hours?

Although her business started as a service called Beat by Tea in high school, by 2016 it evolved into Sweet Tea. She found her storefront in the MU Student Center by applying for a Missouri Student Unions Entrepreneurial Program grant in her junior year, and received startup of $2,000 funded by U.S. Bank. As part of the package, Sweet Tea operates rent free. September 12, 2018, Bass opened the store in a corner of the Missouri Student Center where she does makeup and has now expanded to employ a nail technician and two hairdressers.

Sweet Tea Cosmetics is a reflection of Bass' values, which she described in a September 18, 2018 article in Student Affairs by Erik Potter as making Sweet Tea a store for more than women. She welcomes everyone across the gender spectrum and all races, nationalities. As reported in VOX Magazine January/February issue, Bass argued that the MU Student Center needed more inclusivity, and Sweet Tea Cosmetics was the company to offer it.

Bass didn't start out majoring in Textile and Apparel Management. She came to MU as a business-minded makeup artist. Her first year at MU proved to be challenging and seeing many others not return in the sophomore year, she wondered about her chances of making it. That's where the stick-to-itiveness comes in. She changed her major and jumped into 17 credit hours to get caught up. As reported in the Columbia Missourian she considered quitting her business but her love of doing makeup got her through. "It's that moment I was telling myself, 'I'm not giving up. I'm going to do makeup,'" Bass said.

On February 26, 2019, Bass received a Mizzou ’39 Award from the Mizzou Alumni Association Student Board. In the spirit of service that was the cornerstone of the 1839 founding of the University of Missouri 39 outstanding seniors are chosen each year based on academic achievement, leadership and service to Mizzou and the community. Her mentor, Dr. Jaime Mestres, TAM Advisor, was also recognized.

Teanna Bass accepting check

Teanna Bass accepting check

Teanna Bass presenting

Teanna Bass presenting

Bass' most recent accolade is taking second place in the campus-round of the 2019 UM System Entrepreneur Quest pitch competition. She won $10,000 and a chance to compete in the semifinal round against the top three campus finishers from St. Louis, Kansas City and Rolla.  The $10,000 will receive a match of $6,000 from the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences and the Department of Textile and Apparel Management. 

Although it can all be tiring, and she often feels drained, Bass has a great sense of purpose. As reported by Erik Potter, she said, "The best thing I ever did for somebody was to make them feel more of themselves. As soon as they sit in my chair, I compliment them about whatever I can, whatever you can tell they might be insecure about. You make them feel good in the process of making them up. I'm their therapist in that moment. It's a pretty intimate moment."

The College of Human Environmental Sciences is proud of the accomplishments of Teanna Bass. We are confident that she is only getting started and will go on to great things.

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