Tisha Skinner risked it all to become an entrepreneur.
In 2006, the married mother of two quit her job as a sales manager for consumer products giant Colgate-Palmolive Co. Looking to achieve a more fulfilling lifestyle of freedom and flexibility, Skinner left behind the rigidity of the corporate world. That same year, she became the new owner of a Smoothie King in Atlanta, Georgia. It was a job that she loved—she was able to spend more time with her family while simultaneously serving as an ambassador for a product she believed in.
But in 2008, a sinking economy and rising gas prices led guests to forgo smoothies in favor of necessities, such as groceries. Skinner began to feel the effects of the weakening economy; soon the franchise struggled to pay its bills. With two full-time and nine part-time employees, rent, and other expenses, the prospects were not looking good. Skinner had no choice but to close up shop.
Despite her initial setback, Skinner was determined to keep pushing forward. She used her first business venture as a lesson in what to do—and what not to do—to run a thriving franchise. Skinner then took that knowledge and decided to give herself a second chance. Two years later, in 2008, she purchased an existing Smoothie King location in Columbia, Maryland, and this time, she was ready to succeed.
“I loved Smoothie King from the very beginning. I wasn’t going to let that first hiccup stop me from achieving what I had set out to do,” Skinner said. “I was fortunate to have the support of Smoothie King throughout my journey. They’re so supportive and very hands-on, and I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the folks leading the corporate team. We really are like one big family.”
Today, following the success of her store in Columbia, Skinner has plans to open a second Smoothie King location in the Baltimore Washington International airport this fall. Most recently, she was recognized with the 2016 Women Entrepreneur Award by Iron 2 Iron 4 Women Inc., for her business accomplishments and contributions to the community. It was an honor that Skinner says was incredibly empowering to receive.
To this day, Skinner says that her favorite part about being a Smoothie King franchisee is her guests.
“I love seeing my guests come into the store every day. You grow up with them and build a relationship with the community. You watch as they change their eating habits, as their kids grow up and as they experience life’s ups and downs. Being part of their everyday routine matters so much more than making money,” Skinner said. “That’s why I do what I do.”
Skinner recalls one guest who would come in twice a day for a smoothie. One week, she came into the store in a panic, saying she was heading out on vacation and didn’t know what she would do without her daily smoothies. Skinner found out that this guest struggled with Multiple Sclerosis, and Smoothie King’s products helped give her the energy she needed to get through the day.
“I was floored. I didn’t know what these smoothies meant to her. To know that we can be that important and that we could help her in that way, I realized that this is my purpose. We can impact their lives,” Skinner said.
Skinner hopes to inspire other women entrepreneurs, too. She admits that being a female in an industry that’s typically dominated by males has its challenges—especially when you’re a mother of two. But she believes that nothing is impossible, no matter what kind of cards you’re dealt.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned through all of this is that it’s OK to say ‘no’ sometimes. We like to think we’re super women—we work hard. But when you realize that you mean a lot to a lot of people—my guests, my staff, my family—you learn to delegate and you learn to prioritize,” Skinner. “I have time to spend with my family and work a job that I love. And to me, that’s priceless.”