In honor of International Women’s Day, we’ve been thinking about all the amazing ladies in our lives that impress, enlighten, and inspire us on the reg (even more than we usually do). That list is long and always growing but this week, we want to shine a spotlight on one of Knoxville’s leading ladies in particular, Tanika Harper. On any given day, Tanika gracefully navigates many roles - she’s a mom to a young daughter, a boss lady with her own all-natural skincare line, a non-profit founder and organizer of Shora Foundation, and an essential fixture of the Knoxville maker’s community, to name a small few. Last year, we partnered with Tanika for one of our most popular Instagram giveaways featuring products from her self-formulated skincare line, Harper’s Naturals. Tanika and her work (in all areas) are beyond inspiring to us, and if you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Tanika, allow us to introduce you. We reached out to Tanika to catch up on her small business, her ongoing community projects, hear how we, as a community, can support those projects, and learn how she keeps it all together while working hard for a better, brighter Knoxville.
What led you to start Harper's Naturals, and why was it important for you to create an all-natural line of products?
TH: “Harper's Naturals was founded because I was diagnosed with Sjogren's, an autoimmune disease. Sjoegren's primarily dries up the mucus producing glands and causes joint and muscle pain. The added pain was due to heightened inflammation in my body. Therefore, I needed to eliminate chemicals on my skin through cosmetics, because those chemically infused products leads to increased inflammation and pain. Harper's Naturals was ultimately created so I could trust the ingredients in every product and to have healthy skin.”
Do you have a favorite HN product?
TH: “This is tough because I use them all. I love them all. If I had to choose just one, I would say the Carrotseed Facial Hydrator. It keeps my face extremely hydrated and void of breakouts. I have oily skin with dry patches and, previously, no matter what I used, those dry patches would become itchy and irritated by mid-day. The Carrotseed Facial Hydrator provides all day coverage and it's absolutely amazing.”
What inspires you - in life, business, & volunteer work?
TH: “I am inspired by seeing others around me doing great things. It motivates me in all aspects of my life. I am inspired by my daughter who fills my whole world with joy. I am inspired by her forgiving spirit and her love for wanting to always bring people together. She is definitely my why.”
Tell us about Shora Foundation and The Roots Collective - What does Shora Foundation do? What will The Roots Collective aim to do? Who or what inspired those efforts, what has the journey been like so far?
TH: “Shora Foundation is a non-profit, 501c3 organization that I founded in 2008. It was my first business venture and it is what I am called to do. Shora provides programming in East Knoxville and through youth programming and business development opportunities. Our youth program, The Academic Center, has initiatives in the following areas: academic achievement, mental health, food security, and social justice. Our newest program, The Roots Collective, provides resources to Black owned businesses in East Tennessee. Our city has a 42% poverty rate among Black Knoxvillians and Shora is just doing a small part to help create Black wealth through entrepreneurship.”
How can we, and our readers, support Shora Foundation and The Roots Collective?
TH: “Shora kicked off its capital campaign for The Roots Collective in November 2020. This campaign will allow us to purchase a brick and mortar that will serve as a co-working space, a creative space, an event space, and a programming center for entrepreneurs in East Knoxville. We are currently serving 130 Black owned businesses by providing resources and monthly workshops. We are raising $1.5 million for this exciting opportunity. We are asking those who can, go do shorarootscollective.org and give towards the campaign.”
Do you have a mantra? Would you share it with us?
TH: “I really don't have a mantra but I remind myself to walk in my purpose, always. I am beautifully and wonderfully made and God has called me to do amazing things. It's scary sometimes but He has not brought me this far to leave me. Those statements get me through tough times.”
For more information or to donate, visit the following links:
We want to recognize and applaud Tanika as an incredible woman, friend, mother, and community leader. Her diligence in doing the hard work many others would shy away from, her altruistic nature, and her commitment to bringing our community up to its full potential make Tanika a shining example of what it is to be a boss lady and a leader and we are honored and grateful to know her. Special thanks to Tanika for her time and insightful answers to our questions. To learn more about Harper’s Naturals, Shora Foundation, and/or The Roots Collective, please visit their websites or Instagrams, above.