Tabia Yapp, a Los Angeles based creative entrepreneur, successfully splits her time between two businesses, bia blooms, a floral boutique that creates a limited collection of flower arrangements each month and BEOTIS, where she’s the founder and director of the boutique talent agency that represents a leading roster of multi-hyphenate artists, speakers, and writers of color.
Yapp began her career working for the Creative Artists Agency’s brand and licensing division and then pivoted to Fred Segal’s corporate brand operations and programming team.
While with CAA, she worked under the wing of a veteran licensing agent — coordinating product collaborations, capsule collections, and global franchise deals for brands and talent such as Missoni, Halle Berry, Mr. Chow, Marchesa, Bloomingdales, Alexander Wang, and CB2. During her tenure with Fred Segal, Tabia managed to build out operations for the launch of a 20,000 square foot LA flagship multi-brand store. She onboarded 60+ designer-tenants within the store and executed experiential events and pop up programming working with top brands including Nike x Lebron James, CFDA, Levi’s, Kith, Domino Magazine, and CB2.
Having identified a gap in representation for emerging talent of color, Tabia founded BEOTIS in 2015, a boutique agency that reps artists for speaking, literary, brand partnerships, creative consulting, and tv/film. The work of the roster lives on shelves, on-screen, in print, audio, and online. Tabia’s work has been spotlighted by Shondaland, Goop, Hunker Home, Diverse Representation, and more.
In this interview with BAUCE, Tabia discussed her entrepreneurship journey, the importance of diverse representation within media and the arts, and shared her advice for upcoming women of color entrepreneurs.
Share your career journey with us. Why did you decide to venture into entrepreneurship?
Tabia: I moved to LA in 2014 for an assistant job at Creative Artists Agency. I worked in CAA’s global brands’ licensing group for about two years, then transitioned over to Fred Segal corporate as their brand operations manager. While in both of those roles, I discovered how much I enjoyed the business side of the Arts but felt there was a gap in resources and representation for emerging talent of color. So in 2015, I signed my first client Danez Smith and started on my entrepreneurship journey – founding BEOTIS as a boutique agency that reps Artists, Speakers, and Writers of color. Earlier this year, I started another business, an LA-based floral boutique I’ve named bia blooms.
It feels like I come up with a new business idea every ten minutes, and I own the domain URLs to prove that. Too many to admit. Entrepreneurship can be lonely and frustrating. I remember when I first branched out on my own, many of my friends at the time didn’t know how to engage with that perspective or desire, and it felt like some peers lost interest in me and my work once I was no longer attached to an established brand or legacy institution. But I’ve stayed the course, and I’m super appreciative to now have a dream team staff of all women of color building BEOTIS with me. I’m grateful to have a career that provides lots of flexibility and independence.
Where does the name BEOTIS originate from?
Tabia: Beotis is the name of my maternal great-grandfather. I had a chance to spend some time with him before he passed; I remember him as someone who stood tall and always worked hard for those he loved, which is something I try to do in my work via BEOTIS, the agency.
What’s your mission and purpose behind BEOTIS? What do you hope to accomplish?
Tabia: BEOTIS aims to bridge the gap in resources and agency representation for artists of color. We rally around multi-hyphenate Artists who are rooted in the community. BEOTIS employs a holistic approach that falls somewhere within the spectrum of agent and manager. We’re in it for the long run, helping Artists to contextualize opportunities, expand their reach, build out their team, make critical career decisions, protect their creative energy, and generate income along the way. I’m working to increase representation on the talent side and within the agency world. I hope that BEOTIS might serve as a template for future models.
In addition to BEOTIS, you also founded a floral boutique, Bia Blooms. What inspired you to create Bia Blooms?
Tabia: Mostly, I was looking for a creative outlet and have always loved flowers. I was also in the early stages of planning my wedding, and hadn’t yet found a florist creating what I imagined in my head – so I set out to design it myself, and kind of fell in love with the process. Like so many others, I spend a good chunk of each day staring at a screen for work, so the opportunity to create something physical, arranging single stems that become a chorus of blooms is hugely rewarding. I’ve been able to place flowers in the hands and homes of so many people already. The last collection I launched sold out in under 30 minutes! Working with blooms has been my way of spreading joy through flowers.
How has being an entrepreneur fulfilled you? Share how you pivoted from a corporate 9-5 pm job to being in business for yourself.
Tabia: I am a reasonably risk-averse person and enjoyed having a steady 9-5 job with a built-in company community. But entrepreneurship unlocked a new kind of fulfillment for me. I get to work with Artists I believe in and admire. I also get to set my schedule, boundaries, and goals, which can be a blessing (and at times a curse). My dad always says it’s easier to get a job when you already have a job. So when it came to starting BEOTIS, I kept my 9-5 gig while building out the business.
I’m grateful for that decision because having my bills covered each month by my 9-5 allowed me to be very patient and critical of each decision I made within my BEOTIS work. I never felt an obligation to say yes to an opportunity or a client because I needed the check. Before I left my 9-5 job, I planned my departure a full year in advance. I wanted to see sustained productivity within BEOTIS before I felt comfortable making the pivot from my 9-5 to running my own company full time. For eight or so months during that prep year, it was pretty hellish and felt like I was balancing two full-time jobs, but I knew I was working towards something more significant. I transitioned into BEOTIS full time in February of 2018.
Similarly, with creating bia blooms, I’ve seen a spike in interest for my little floral boutique – but ultimately I’ve had the privilege to work at my preferred pace, scale thoughtfully, and assuredly say yes (or no!) to things knowing that my bills are covered by my main gig running BEOTIS.
Any advice for upcoming women of color entrepreneurs?
Tabia: Give yourself grace. Take inventory of the people whom you feel your best around, and invest in a community of people you want to build alongside – folks who see you, who challenge you, and provide a sense of clarity.
Also, if you have the means, I try to encourage all my people to find a therapist. Balancing a 9-5 with personal projects or starting a company or taking care of family or having a social life can cause a person to spiral into an unhealthy version of themselves. Therapy and community can help maintain balance and clarity around what is essential. Even if you’re in a stable place, I’d still recommend a therapist, because that support is for when times are rough and also when times are good.