Senior Teanna Bass leaves mark on MU through hard work, innovation

Bass was also recognized as one of this year’s Mizzou ‘39 award recipients.
Teanna Bass is a Textile & Apparel Management major and is CEO/owner of Sweet Tea Cosmetics. Courtesy of Twitter via @Mizzou

At the first annual Entrepreneur Quest Student Accelerator pitch competition on March 19, Teanna Bass, Sweet Tea Cosmetics owner and CEO, received a $10,000 check for her business. Bass placed second after sharing her business plan and current ventures for Sweet Tea Cosmetics. She presented alongside nine other MU students to close out the eight-week program.

Less than a month before, Bass and 38 other seniors won the Mizzou ‘39 honor, as a part of the annual Mizzou 18 and ‘39 Reveals, which were held on Feb. 26 at Traditions Plaza. The Mizzou ‘39 Reveal honors 39 outstanding seniors each year, after selecting them through a rigorous application and interview process.

Bass, a textile and apparel management major, also made the 2017-2018 dean’s list and was awarded the Missouri Student Unions and U.S. Bank Entrepreneurial Scholarships and Grants.

Bass founded Sweet Tea Cosmetics, located in the MU Student Center, during her sophomore year. Bass lived in an off-campus apartment and was working multiple jobs to make ends meet. She had been doing makeup on the side for years and said she realized that if she wanted to continue, she had to take it to the next level.

Bass used the last $200 she had, which would previously have gone to her next rent payment, to buy storage and other makeup supplies. She used a carry-on suitcase to transport her makeup and made a makeshift ring light.

“I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I did know that this was something I wanted to do,” Bass said. “It came with a lot of responsibility and accountability, more than I realized at the time. I think it built character, so I don’t regret it.”

Bass’s mentor, Professor Jaime Mestres, textile and apparel management senior academic advisor, said that Bass is motivated, passionate and determined.

“Teanna demonstrates these values in not only her business ventures, but also about her education,” Mestres said. “She’s a great student, and she takes on opportunities to continue to learn and grow as an individual both personally and professionally.”

Sweet Tea Cosmetics moved to the MU Student Center on Sep. 12, 2018, two days after sauce retailer Lost in the Sauce opened down the hall.

Bass gained the space through the the UM System Entrepreneurial Quest program. She considers her company’s success to be the luckiest thing that has ever happened to her.

“I did not expect this type of success in any way, shape, or form and I just went out on a limb all on my own,” Bass said. “I have two teams now, but at first it was just me making the Powerpoint and writing the business plan. I had no idea what I was getting myself in to.”

When Bass applied for the Mizzou ‘39 Award, she once again did not necessarily expect to win.

“I did not fully realize how much of an honor it was until I actually got it and people were like, ‘woah, you got Mizzou ‘39?’” Bass said. “Personally, I really just went for it and applied, but I’m really happy that I pushed myself to do that.”

Bass advises other entrepreneurs to take risks and do things they are scared of often.

“When I invested in my makeup, that was a huge risk because I could have fallen way behind on my bills instead of profiting off of it like I did,” Bass said. “But I think that in general, if you believe you should do it and that you are the right person for it, go for it and do it, even if it absolutely terrifies you.”

Mestres said she agrees with this sentiment, and emphasizes that she sees Bass’ success in many ways.

“She has a continued willingness to learn — if she doesn’t know something, she asks the question or she’ll come in and talk through some stuff with you,” Mestres said. “She’s really open to suggestions and ideas to help herself grow.”

The public’s reaction to Sweet Tea Cosmetics has been more than Bass said she ever could have imagined.

“I never know how many people are rooting for me — my name could be spoken in rooms that I never even enter,” Bass said. “There’s always a little voice in the back of my head telling me to stop, but I know that if I listen to what the people around me are saying, I’ll be okay.”

Edited by Emily Wolf | ewolf@themaneater.com

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