May 4, 1993, Tarana Victoria was born with two older brothers already awaiting her arrival to Ronald and Michelle Stewart. Even though the youngest and the only girl child, she has always been tenacious and determined to live a vivacious life on her own terms. Tarana graduated from the Detroit International Academy in 2011. She then went on to study theater education at the infamous Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU). During that time, she met her now husband, Lamar Hayes, and a modern love story was written. In 2013, she left Florida for the Big Peach, Atlanta, Georgia and they began a life together. She also started working in production and discovered her gift working behind the scenes.
Soon after, an unexpected event changed the trajectory of Tarana’s life. She then experienced her first pregnancy at 19. At 7 months pregnant, she prematurely went into labor. Tarana, deeply believing in the body’s ability to “do what it needs to do,” gave birth to a stillborn baby in the bathroom of her apartment, delivering the placenta as well. Doctors were stunned. She called that her spiritual awakening and the catalyst behind much of her work. Profound loss affirmed the power of the body for her and drove her passion for all things women’s empowerment.
In 2014, Tarana gave birth to a daughter, Ayana. Their family expanded in 2017 with son, Akai, and finally another daughter, Anaya, in 2018. The trifecta, have been her greatest blessings and teachers. They’ve been the seeds for big ideas inspiring the development of multiple businesses, personal growth, and a-ha!moments. Tarana also credits her late mother for not only supporting all of her endeavors but giving her the permission to be ambitious, self-fulfilled, and unapologetically uncompromising when it comes to recognizing her power and protecting her peace through the way she lived her life. A go against the grain kind of woman, her mother represented the balance of discipline and love. She challenged Tarana, but also championed her. Even in their heated debates she always allowed Tarana to be herself.
Their unmatched relationship taught her tenderness and gave her spiritual fortitude and equipped her to navigate her mother’s unexpected passing in 2020. Her mother was passionate about spirit life and had been preparing her for her Earthly departure since she was eight years old.
Eight is also how old Tarana was when she began braiding hair. Watching her older brothers get their hair done inspired her to learn so that she could be the braider. But for Tarana, braids were about more than grooming and styling hair. Growing up in an African-centered household, she knew the importance of hair braiding in African culture and as a means for enslaved Africans across the Diaspora to encode messages in the hair. A woman led by spirit, the essence of things is vital to Tarana.
Now a Detroit-based stylist specializing in braids, twists, and loc maintenance, Tarana travels across the city and even beyond state lines. She prides herself on meeting her clients where they are, literally bringing the salon experience to clients’ homes.
While entrepreneurship has its challenges, being a braiding business owner and certified lash extension tech has helped her to create a life of freedom. Being present and flexible for her family and providing a colorful life for her children, alongside her husband, is what she always imagined for her life. Family, freedom, and flexibility are fundamental principles for Tarana.
A problem solver, Tarana loves to overcome obstacles and find solutions. Many of those solutions often come from building with and sharing space with other women. Founded in 2018, Tarana built Mommies Melodies. What started as an online support group for mothers and women has grown to include annual events, workshops, group travel, and more. Mommies Melodies is grounded in the concept of community and mothers’ shared experiences near and far.
Tarana’s latest project is a book entitled, The Woman Inside Mommy, set for a summer 2021 release. The inspiration came from feeling like she’d lost herself within her titles. This is for those who’ve miscarried, had abortions, given physical birth, and those who find themselves being the nurturers in blood and chosen family. It strengthens language and accessibility around motherhood. This timely weekly devotional includes activities centering the reclamation of the voice, power, rediscovery, and identity and words of affirmation.
Tarana likes to say that her love language isn’t just words of affirmation but words in general. A letter-writing millennial who prefers to explain feelings on paper or even text, Tarana appreciates the power of words and reading. Rereading every year and gaining a new insight from it each time, her favorite book is “Eat, Pray, Love,” and ironically, also her favorite things to do. Tarana also enjoys traveling, music, and spending time with family.
So, who is Tarana? Author, entrepreneur, world traveler, adventurer, professional braider, lash tech, a lover of words, books, and journaling, daughter, sister, wife, mommy. Tarana is all of these things and called by many names that represent different parts of her identity. The one designation that remains eminent and that she roots herself in, is woman. Tarana is determined to make sure that in everything she does, she shows up as a woman first.