IT is good to know there are people in this world like Teresa Reynolds and by her own admission, she ‘wants to make a difference’.
Anybody lucky enough to speak to this inspirational 29-year-old will be touched by her overwhelming zest for life and her passion for helping young people develop personally and make their way into business, handing them the opportunities to gain access into jobs, apprenticeships and internships.
How? Well, Teresa, who spoke at Naked Leader’s annual Leadership Conference last October, set up a company named Incredible Brilliant Youth (www.ibyouth.org.uk) in 2012 and she hasn’t looked back. So far she has reached out to more than 500 people.
Teresa set about making something beautiful, putting behind her the times when she was bullied at school to become a youth worker and professional make up-artist, therefore gaining the knowledge needed to help aspiring young people follow in her footsteps.
She runs workshops and talks for young people, to help with their self-esteem, body image, education, employment and beauty. Teresa also provides one to one coaching.
Educated at the University of Kent but having had, in her own words, an ‘interesting life’, Teresa was focused on making a difference.
‘I had the idea for my business in 2010,’ she says. ‘I knew I wanted to make it happen and I just didn’t know how to do that or even what to do.’
After graduating at 22, she had applied to be a youth worker at The Baytree Youth Centre in Brixton and didn’t get the job.
‘I was determined though, so a year later, I started there as a volunteer mentor, getting involved as much as I could.’
While working in admin at a charity, without losing sight of her aim, Baytree provided opportunities for her, including the one she craved, to learn to be a youth worker, as part of the Duke of Edinburgh scheme.
‘I was the only self-funded person in the group,’ she says, proudly. “I was working full time, volunteering, and training in make up artistry and youth work two to three evenings a week.”
Her attitude was, ‘what’s going to stop me becoming who I want to be?’ which aligned with Naked Leader’s own ethos.
Fast-forward to 2012 and a month after a contract as a teaching assistant in Fulham had ended, she was delivering her first workshop for Incredible Brilliant Youth, ironically at The Baytree, which had turned her down for a job. Her internal SatNav had shown her the way.
Having grown her business in a way she could never have imagined, Teresa is now employing a project manager, taking on volunteers and has funding to do a project in Westminster, among other exciting opportunities.
‘I want to make an impact,’ she enthuses. ‘I can give young people work placements, internships, and references. It’s difficult for young people to get experience and they wonder how they are going to get a job. How are they going to get a reference? Who do they speak to? I want to be the person who can provide that for them. Someone they can talk to. So I am reaching out to businesses in different industries that want to be a part of that, providing placements for young people.’
‘I can be the person who makes it happen for both parties.’
Her introduction to Naked Leader was through the Prince’s Trust where she is a Young Ambassador for 2015-16, while she was a finalist for the Trust’s Enterprise of the Year Scheme for London & the South East. Teresa was selected on behalf of the Trust to speak at the Conference as she is also training to be a Personal Performance Coach.
‘When I was asked to speak at the Conference, I did some research on it and thought, “wow, this is huge”,’ she recalls. ‘I had never spoken to that many people. I loved it. I was so excited. The response I got was amazing. It was a great honour for me to speak and the feedback I received was fantastic.
‘A man came up to me afterwards and was in tears. He told me he had a 12-year-old daughter and that my story really touched him.’
Enhancing self-esteem and smoothing over the process from education to employment is what Teresa does best for youngsters, while through her beauty therapy, she can connect with teenagers in a special way, helping them to take care of themselves on the inside and outside.
‘Young people care about how they look and how it makes them feel, as well as their performance,’ she adds.
‘So to help them, it’s been great, really positive. I have young people who have become make up artists themselves.’
There was one success story in particular which moved Teresa.
‘One girl approached me at an event and said, “you changed my life because I followed my dream”. She had an interest in make up and had come to help me at a workshop a few years beforehand and was unsure of what to do. She decided to study make-up artistry.
‘She was one of four sisters and she told me that out of the four, she was the happiest.
‘We both stood there with tears in our eyes. It was a wonderful feeling.
‘You know when you really want something to work, and want to help. Well. when that happens it’s confirmation that what you are doing is right, that it makes a difference. It’s a beautiful thing.’
And so say all of us.