Welcome to Chicago North Shore Moms Meet a Mom series sponsored in part by Lake Forest Mom of three, Mary Gregory Gifford of Gifford Law
. From time to time we have the pleasure of sharing profiles and mom stories captured by our parent company, The Local Moms Network. So this week CNSM is introducing you to Tisha Ayers, a United States Air Force Veteran, a founder and CEO, and a wife and mom of two. After serving almost 9 year of Active Duty, she finished her MBA and launched Cashmere Moon
, a sustainable, clean and nourishing beauty and body care company. Everything from the ingredients (all the products are natural, vegan and dye/sulfate/paraben/phalate-free) to the packaging (glass and paper) are thoughtfully chosen. For this week’s Meet a Mom interview, this founder shares about how her military service has influenced her entrepreneur journey, her life as a mom, and more.
Would you please share a little bit about yourself?
I am a happy wife and proud mom of 2 beautiful, wonderful kids. My daughter, Laylani is 11 and my son, Amari, is 3. We’re based in Evans, Ga – a suburb right outside Augusta, Ga, about a 2 hour trip from Atlanta, Ga. We love sunshine and the outdoors, so we love doing anything outside, hiking, kayaking, or just sitting out by the lake near our house. My husband and I are recently preparing our retail space and I’m really enjoying getting my hands dirty and learning how to re-do and decorate it as I like.
I graduated from Georgia Southern University with a dual-degree in Justice Studies and Psychology. Shortly after graduation, I enlisted in the Air Force and was honored to be able to serve close to 9 years of Active Duty. I am currently in the Air Force Reserves with a total of 13 years of military service. I launched Cashmere Moon with my Masters of Business Administration in my back pocket thinking it was going to guide me through the rough waters of business ownership. While it’s been useful, there is so much I’ve learned along the way – and continue to learn, about business ownership.
What inspired you to enlist in the military – and can you please share some of the details of your service?
If I’m being honest, my biological father was in the Air Force. He wasn’t around while I was younger, and I think somehow, I wanted to be like him and join the Air Force too. I went in as an Intelligence Analyst and wanted to transition over to the Office of Special Investigations after my first enlistment. This department is an investigative law enforcement agency within the Air Force. The fact that I was unable to do this and the constant deployments that kept me away from my daughter persuaded me to leave Active Duty.
What lessons from the military do you draw on as an entrepreneur, CEO and mother?
I draw on so many lessons from the military that I hardly know where to start. From the beginning of basic training, we’re taught that attention to detail matters and it’s pounded into us the entirety of the time we’re in. I take that with me and pay attention to even the smallest details. Learning on the fly and maintaining resilience are both lessons learned from the military. Managing a business is hard, like really hard, but constantly learning and constantly standing up after I’ve fallen comes naturally to me because of the military.
Why did you start Cashmere Moon?
Cashmere Moon was started because my husband and I were making shea butter rich body creams that were helping our dry skin and we figured others would enjoy our creams as we do seeing as most creams on the market were watery and heavily scented.
Entrepreneurship is a tough road. In your tough moments or when you felt doubt, what got you through?
I’m actually going through a period of doubt now. We are moving into a larger retail space and I’m nervous about it. Nervous that people won’t come, nervous we won’t be able to make the payments necessary, nervous I may mess things up, etc. In these times, I realize those things are in my mind and I just make sure my actions don’t say the same. I still work and push forward. I talk a lot to friends and family and they help me through. My advice would be to find a group of positive, ambitious people like you. Those people will bring you up when you need it and help to propel you forward. It’s always good to have a good support system along with mentors to help guide you when necessary. And its rewarding to be able to return those favors to them when necessary.
What are your top 3 products from Cashmere Moon – or must-tries for anyone not yet familiar with the line?
Top three –
We sell it as a bundle so people are able to try all 3!
How did you get your product into stores like J.C. Penney – and what is next for your business?
I talk about this more in-depth on our business podcast called “Business Collective” but I was able to really just contact the right people. We’re so grateful to be able to partner with Nyakio Grieco and Thirteen Lune while they partner with JCPenney to shed light on minority-owned businesses.
What’s your mom mantra?
My own mom has many mantras, but the one that comes to mind is ” I’ll support any decision you make”. She has always allowed me to be independent and make my own choices and I really respect that. It challenges me to really think through decisions instead of having someone tell me what I should do based on her own personal experiences. When things go awry in my house, I usually take a minute for myself. I’m able to think through my feelings and figure out how to address the situation.
About our Meet of Mom Sponsor
A very heartfelt thank you to CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three and owner of Gifford Law, a solo Estate Planning Firm (wills and trusts). Mary, we appreciate your support of local moms in our North Shore communities! Learn more about Mary by visiting her Meet a Mom spotlight here! Contact Mary directly here: [email protected].