By Anne Christnovich
Local entrepreneur Takiya Smith knows her calling in life is to bring inner beauty out of others.
Her confidence in her purpose, however, results from plenty of struggle. A series of abuse and neglect ironically caused Smith to believe throughout her teens and 20s that she was ugly and incapable of success.
At age 36, she currently runs Beautique Lash & Brow of Beaufort, where she gives customers long, luscious, semi-permanent eyelashes, does eyebrow shaping using a method called “threading” and generally helps people feel more beautiful.
Smith smiles often, laughs quickly and has the knack for conversation that allows those she meets to immediately feel like a friend. She is bursting with ambition and gives one the true sense of an “on-the-go” person.
Her warmth and bubbly demeanor don’t show a trace of her greyer days but Smith has chosen to detail the harder times in her life in a recently published book, titled “Never Forsaken,”
The book, which was adapted from her personal journals, chronicles how sexual abuse from her stepfather when she was a pre-teen and teen led her into abusive relationships later in life. For a long time, Smith said, she was in “downward spiral” with little hope of recovery.
“I wouldn’t say I was a bad person but I would say I was an angry, hurt person,” she said.
She began writing the journals in January 2009 after a bishop at a friend’s church pulled her up to the altar and spoke of her past — things Smith said she’d never told anyone but God.
“Bishop Frank spoke of how God had delivered me and kept me from my enemies and said that the trials of my past were all for God’s plan for my life in Christ,” her book says. He told her to start writing in a journal to begin fulfilling her purpose.
“I didn’t even know it was going to be a book,” she said. “I was doing it for therapeutic reasons.”
About halfway through journaling, however, Smith said she realized her story could help others. She said she saw the book take shape and decided to publish the finished product.
“It was for more than just myself,” she said. “I realized I was being used for God’s purpose.”
At the end of each chapter, Smith included a writing prompt and a few blank pages for readers to do their own journaling.
“My journal became a vehicle of release,” she said. “I hope this will help women — and men — face and overcome obstacles.”
In many ways, the book is intended for a purpose similar to her beauty boutique: to help uplift self-esteem and give people the tools to think better of themselves.
“I wrote it so people realize they can change,” she said.
A portion of the book details an abusive relationship she was in which caused her to fear for her life.
“I woke up every day thinking ‘This is the day I’m going to die,’ ” she said.
Smith ended up taking her two children — now ages 15 and 9 — and fleeing the relationship in 2007. For a short time, they were homeless.
The experience has caused her to want to reach out to other women, some of whom are clients with various trials.
“I have laughed, cried, embraced, and prayed with many of my clients, some of whom have become close friends, ranging in age from their mid-20s to late 60s,” her book says. “Hurt and pain know no age, and sorrow has no boundaries. Abuse and neglect are colorblind, yet as women, we are beautifully and intricately a gender created in God, by God and for God.”
For the future, she wants to turn her lash and brow business into a franchise, aimed at helping struggling single moms to start their own business. It could empower them, Smith said, and will help her continue her ministry through God.
She also wants to start motivational speaking and has even started writing a sequel. She plans to call it “Forever Forgiven.” It will focus on how her acceptance of Jesus helped her to eventually forgive the people who hurt her.
While the first book explained the events in her life, she said she wants the next to explain the forgiveness process.
“If you can get to the place … to know it was all to make you stronger. It was to enable you to help others,” she said. “It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process. It takes time.”
“Never Forsaken” can be purchased for $14.99 online at www.Takiya-LaShaune.com. Smith will hold a book signing Monday, April 15, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Beautique Lash & Brow, at 2201 Boundary St., Suite 203 in Carolina Cove (located in the white building behind the Enmark gas station). More information and pre-orders are available on the website.