Today we’d like to introduce you to Tracey Phipps.
Hi Tracey, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I am originally from DC, by way of the Dominican Republic. Growing up, I was always influenced by the strong women in my life- My mother, my grandmother, my sisters. Being an Afro Latina gave me an opportunity to be around many cultures, but I also struggled a lot with my identity. Eventually, I realized the beauty of being diverse and different. Growing up, I spent most of my days in and out of church, school, and eventually finding creative ways to make some extra cash. By the age of 12, I was working at a salon washing hair on weekends and making $100 in tips. That’s a lot of money for a 12 years old! I always spent all my money buying my sisters and friends food, clothes or treating everyone to a movie. I loved the look on their faces, and this is when I knew I wanted to help people and use my resources to give back to others. So that’s where it all started. I wanted to be lawyer, but that dream was short-lived. I interned at a law firm and realized it wasn’t for me at the time.
So instead, I graduated from The Art Institute of Washington and majored in Fashion Business Management. Immediately out of college, I got my dream job working for a global retailer and moved to Japan for three months. In Japan, I was exposed to a completely different culture and lifestyle. Upon my return, I then moved to NYC where my passion and desire to create music grew more intense. In NYC, I worked 12+ hour days for my retailer and hit the studio in the evening to work on music. I eventually released my first song “Empire” and got the chance to perform live in underground venues. My fashion career began to take off and while I found it difficult to balance my music and business, it was never impossible. In fashion, I got the chance to work on global projects, travel to different countries, and make a decent earning. Coming to Orlando is where my desire as a child was re-ignited. I began to volunteer in organizations and fell in love with the strong community of women! As a teenager, I found ways to fit in because I was different and as I grew in my career, I realized that I grew more and more affluent as a result of all my experiences with different cultures. I dreamed of putting people together in rooms that didn’t look the same but wanted to find a new and unique way to do it. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed all cultures enjoy, it’s Tea.
So in 2017, I held my very first Time for TEA (T.alk, E.mpower, A.ffirm) event in Orlando. Four years later, we’ve grown into a non-profit with a strong team and plans on expanding to new markets. In 2018, I felt like I needed to do more. So we introduced Time for TEA Teens into the youth community where we began to teach young girls table etiquette and career-building/social skills. Since then, we’ve trained well over 300+ girls in our community on dining and tea etiquette. All while still pursuing my music and working in Fashion. You can learn more about Time for Tea by visiting WWW.TIME4TEAORLANDO.COM. Although my career and my community have been a strong focus over the last few years, my passion for music still remains just as strong. My music is currently available on iTunes, Spotify, and other musical platforms. I am still on a journey finding my sound and truly enjoy the talented people I meet along the way! I will be releasing my next upcoming single and music video called “Without Me” on March 5th. The music will be available on Spotify and YouTube! Save the date!
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The road has not been an easy one. I speak about creating a balance between all my passions, but this is easier said than done. At certain times of the year, one task requires more attention than another. I’ve also been told that I take on too much and just need to chill. Here’s the thing… I don’t want to look back at my life when I’m 60 and say “I wish I did that, why didn’t I try that?”. That’s just not me. So I really don’t pay attention to those people. But I have managed to learn how to use resources to help me plan my days. I am not perfect, but Google Calendars and close friends who keep me accountable helps! Regarding just my daily mission in life- I struggle to try to describe who I am because I don’t want to be put in a box. One day I am a boss at work traveling between cities to visit retail stores, another day I am directing a music video for a friend, or cooking Dominican mofongo with my cousins, or interning at a music studio as a sound engineer, or incorporating a non-profit. It’s very unorthodox… but it’s ok if people don’t understand – I blame it on my dreams. It’s a dreamers thing. Regarding Time for TEA: An ongoing struggle now is just figuring out how to continue to make an impact in our community during a pandemic. Our main focus was hosting events in person with great decor and elegant presentations. My team and I had to really find a way to re-evaluate what was at the heart of our organization and how we could still evoke the same feeling without being present in person. We quickly learned that there were many resources for us to continue to have open and honest conversations with women. We even realized that now we weren’t tied to just Orlando- we could reach the entire nation.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I have been professionally tapping into my music for about four years now. I’ve been singing as a teenager but was always naturally an introvert and avoided large crowds. Over the years, I have learned to confront my fears but even still they do get the best of me. I am most passionate about R&B because its music comes from the soul, with deep lyrics, it’s passionate and evokes a lot of emotion. Some of my favorite singers are R&B artists and this genre allows me to use the full range of my voice ina. subtle yet bright and powerful way. My lyrics are inspirational and always comforting. I am intentional about singing about things that will uplight or bring hope/joy to other people. The world is full of struggles and issues- so it’s up to me as an artist to remind people that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I am mostly proud of my commitment to violently chasing after my dreams in music even though I have another career. I think there are many talented people in the world, but I’ve learned that hard work beats talent any day. It is not easy to create music, create content, expose yourself to the world to be judged by them, and then also be a business leader and push your music as an independent artist. I am so thankful for the people God has placed in my path to guide me but also for his patience and the peace of mind he has given me that allows me to not compare myself or my journey to others, but instead to understand that I am different, set apart, and should never compromise my standards. What set’s me apart is my confidence in knowing that I have been called for such a time as this and that my purpose in life is to bring hope, spread joy, and be a living breathing example of a woman who has fought hard for what she wants and is determined and focused enough to go after it. I am relentless, I am focused, but most importantly blessed and highly favored.
Risk taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
I am a risk-taker and I am also conservative. It’s a strange balance and it gets me in trouble sometimes. But I try not to live life with regrets. An example is when I found an ad on craigslist where a company was asking people to apply to join their brand and live in Japan for a few months… That was sketchy- and I did it anyway. That was where my career at Uniqlo began. On another occasion, I took a risk and made a large investment, and obtained ownership in a business. I got extremely nervous and eventually withdrew my investment before the doors even opened. I don’t have any regrets, but I also realize that scared money won’t make money. I know there will be more opportunities in the future for me to take a big step, so I’ve learned from my actions and hope to do better next time. Either way, risks are what make life more exciting and I love living on the edge.
- With $50, you can sponsor a teen girl to go through Time for TEA Teens etiquette training
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.TraceyPhipps.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/traceyphipps
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TraceyPhippsMusic
- Twitter: twitter.com/traceyphippss
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vk01ZffbGZU
- SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/traceyphipps
- Other: www.time4teaorlando.com
Photography by Devvy Photos