A Successful Makeover
Takia Ross, B.A. '11
When Takia Ross, B.A. '11, was a teenager, she would borrow her mother's work outfits and wear them to school. "I loved watching women in business suits and sneakers get on the Light Rail," she recalls. "I thought, 'I want to be one of them.'"
Now, at 38, Ross is a successful entrepreneur. Her business, Accessmatized, provides makeup artistry for models, photo shoots, weddings, galas, professional speakers and anyone who wants to look and feel prettier. "All women are beautiful," Ross says, "and my job is to enhance it. Not to camouflage flaws but to highlight things women love about their face."
"I didn’t know I could pull off something of this magnitude. I’m the happiest I've ever been."
A single mother of three, Ross started her business by accident after parlaying her UB degree in history into teaching at Morgan State University and at the Community College of Baltimore County.
"Makeup was a hobby—I wasn’t allowed to wear it when I was a teenager, so I sneaked and applied it in the high school bathroom,” she recalls. "In my 20s, it became a way to express myself. I wasn’t afraid to use glitter, top lashes on the bottom—why not?"
Students, friends and relatives began to ask her to "gussy them up" for special events. "I come from a family of 108 here in Baltimore, and they’d tell people, 'My cousin does makeup.'" Initially reluctant to accept payment, Ross says she eventually realized, "Ma'am, you have a business!"
She launched Accessmatized from her home in 2013. But concepts like cash flow and balance sheet had her stumped, so she entered her first business plan competition—and won $1,000. Ross dreamed of a vehicle outfitted with supplies and equipment so she wouldn’t have to lug 50 pounds of lights and makeup to every client appointment. Using winnings from competitions, she was able to create her Pretty Mobile traveling studio, a colorful 16-passenger bus with makeup stations, a dressing room and refreshment area.
Her next step was to open a 624-foot brick-and-mortar location in Baltimore; her space on Russell Street houses a makeup studio as well as a location for Ross to coach women who want to turn their skills into a business. "So many already have a business and don’t know it," she says. "There’s the lady you go to when you need a baby quilt, or a wedding cake or homemade jam. I help them formalize details and learn about social media marketing.
"I didn’t know I could pull off something of this magnitude," she continues. "I’m the happiest I've ever been."
Ross says her mother, whose business clothes she once borrowed, is very proud of her daughter's success. Although, she adds with a laugh, "To this day, she does not put on makeup."