I was told never to tell anyone that I gave birth to my daughter when I was 14 years old
I was told never to embarrass myself.
Until I thought, what is so embarrassing about having a daughter who is brilliant, who graduated from Saint Vincent Ferrer High School in New York City, who received her Bachelors from Penn State University, graduated with her Masters in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University and is now pursuing her PhD In California. I was a teenage mom who graduated high school at the age of 17, who went on to obtain a degree in Computer Programming, and now I am the CEO and founder of a luxury cut and sew bodysuit line named Girls In Ballet School.
How did I get here and where am I going? Let me tell you my story, a story I am proud to tell.
I was born in Brooklyn New York to a 19-year-old mother and a 36-year-old father. They weren’t married nor were they in a committed relationship, but on October 23, 1979 their lives changed. While she was still young and impressionable, moms’ life took a drastic turn, and I ended up in a foster home, this was the beginning of the New York City crack era.
Daddy saw me for the first time when I was born, then again a few years later when he found out I was in a foster home, that’s when I went to live with him in Queens. Although I did not have my mom around, I always say God made sure I had plenty of women in my life to stand in place of my mom to give me life lessons that my dad as a man could not give, with that said, yes my dad was a ladies man.
However he did teach me what a man could, so whatever daddy did, I did it too, change the oil in the car, put up a satellite dish on the roof of our house, even changing the kitchen tiles. I didn’t appreciate any of that hard labor, but later I realized daddy taught me a valuable lesson:
Girls could do whatever boys could, we could do whatever we set our minds to do. That lesson was the one that made me the woman I am today.
When I was 11 years old I went to live with my grandparents in another part of Queens because of dad’s criminal activity, which landed him in prison. Shortly after I moved in, my grandparents separated and I moved to Florida with my grandmother. It was there that I met my first boyfriend, and by the age of 14 I was pregnant with Constance.
When the news broke 6 months into my pregnancy, grandma sent me back to New York to live with my newly sober mom. The move with my mother lasted until shortly after giving birth to my daughter. Because of the difficulty we had building a relationship, I was soon back with my father who had been out of prison for a few years. While living with my dad wasn’t a bad thing, we actually got along well, I wanted so badly to move back to Florida because that’s where all of my friends were. Surprisingly enough to me, dad let me move back with grandma until I graduated high school. After graduation Constance and I was back on a plane to Queens NY to live with my dad.
Daddy once again taught me many important lessons about the basics of life which were to work for what I want, save money, have my own, not to depend on anyone, especially men. And so, that’s how I went about life, I took classes at the local college, worked a few retail jobs, took care of my daughter the best way that I knew how while living in my fathers house. That’s when I met a male Sixteen years my senior, I was 19 years old.
Of course the beginning of the relationship was fine, but soon after his representative left and his true self showed, he began to undermine everything my father had taught me. I began to depend on him for all of my needs and wants, and ultimately I stopped all communication with my family.
Within five years Constance and I were living in a home with a man who was physically, mentally and an emotionally abusive, these horrors took place regularly. Although the guilt still haunts me for being the reason my daughter suffered abuse at the hands of a man. I’m proud to say that because of the many lessons my father taught me, I was eventually able to summon the strength to leave the relationship, and began a new chapter in my life, which led me to where I am today.
I am grateful for everything my dad taught me, especially the importance of independence. That lesson along with the understanding from a very young age that girls can do anything they put their minds to, helped me triumph from an abused wife to a strong and successful entrepreneur.
I have learned a lot in my 38 years on this earth, the most important were strength and perseverance. Those two words helped me get through a divorce, they helped me to push my daughter to succeed, and they helped mold me into a smart businesswoman. Those two words describe the woman that I am today, those two words are the foundation for my brand Girls In Ballet School.
Girls In Ballet School is a company that creates bodysuits. Each and every piece is thought of by a woman, designed by a woman, constructed and produced by women, for women. The core philosophy of the company is women are powerful, and we know life doesn’t just happen to us we make life happen!
That is what I am not only promoting with my brand, I am living it.
My purpose in life is to bring beauty to the world, inner and outer, this is why it’s important for me to share my story. I am driven by the hope I can give, by the inspiration I can pass on. My brand Girls In Ballet School is more than bodysuits, it’s a movement to empower, to uplift.
My name is Tamika and I Am the Personification of Strength and Perseverance.
Smooches, Hugs & Love