The story of Benton Harbor and Western Michigan University graduate, and supporter of Youth Solutions - Psyche Terry, Founder of Urban Hydration.
According to research supported by McKinsey and LeanIn.org, women leaders are as ambitious as men, but at many companies, they face headwinds that signal it will be harder to advance. Women are doing more to support employee well-being and foster inclusion, but this critical work isn’t advancing their careers.
At Youth Solutions, we build relationships with individuals and organizations who believe in the possibility of a brighter future for all. Seeing someone who looks like you, who was raised in an area that you are familiar with and attended school in Michigan, adds to the belief that if they made it happen, so can I.
Psyche Terry is someone who made it happen. She is a graduate of Benton Harbor High School, the hometown of Youth Solutions who grew up in a single parent household and faced daily challenges like so many of the youth we know. Yet, she has built a successful career, building a company while also growing her family.
So what is Terry’s secret sauce?
Growing up, watching the Cosby Show, Family Matters and A Different World, Terry used those as examples of how she wanted to shape her life’s story. She wanted to succeed for herself and maybe more importantly, for others. Psyche and her now husband, Vontoba, partnered in college. They recognized that they were different and had opportunities. “We wanted to show it can be done. And when you have greater opportunities you have to do better,” said Terry, laughing as she realized that she was quoting a line similar to what is shared in the movie Spiderman.
Terry may have taken her inspiration from television shows and movies but she also realizes that there are significant barriers faced by female leaders today. Terry said “There is not enough of us being tapped. I had to create the space. Companies need to trust a woman to lead or trust her opinion. Trust her passion. Be okay with different. Women lead differently than men and that’s okay.”
Terry realizes that it wasn’t that long ago that women weren’t in the CEO ranks at all. She went on to say, “It’s important to celebrate Women’s History Month because we need to honor those women who helped pave the way. Without women getting into leadership positions, inspiring others like me, I wouldn’t be here.” What’s her advice for the next generation of female leaders? “Be fierce and be kind. There is still validity in that. Be conscious. Navigate with others and know that you may need to help out one another.”
Through her actions and her words, Terry is impacting the next generation of female business women. Maddie Collins, a member of our Youth Solutions Youth Advisory Council (YAC) heard about Psyche Terry and is inspired by her message.
Collins, a Senior at Benton Harbor High School, participates in the Youth Solution’s signature program Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) under the direction of program Specialist Corey Sterling. Collins was drawn to Psyche Terry’s energy. “I love how she is so authentic and true to herself,” said Collins regarding Terry. Collins sees similarities in Terry’s message and her experience in JMG. “You learn something new every day when you are a part of the JMG program. You add to your vocabulary. You add to your knowledge. You are always continuing to grow,” said Collins. In December, Collins was selected as a delegate to attend the National Student Leadership Academy, the capstone leadership conference in Washington, DC. More recently, Collins was also chosen to represent her community as Miss Benton Harbor.
Upon graduating from high school, Collins has her mind set on attending college and earning a four-year degree in Business Administration. She has been inspired to start a boutique business with her own clothing line while also offering spa services. Collins likes the idea of being able to control the vision of her own business.
When asked if she had the opportunity to say something to her inspirational role model Psyche Terry, Collins replied, “I would tell her to keep going! I would also ask her what’s next? She’s (Terry) inspiring so many young people.”
Psyche Terry’s business Urban Hydration, offers premium quality, natural hair and body products. Under Terry’s leadership, the company has earned Certified Women Owned Business and Certified WBENC Women’s Business Enterprise along with NMSDC National Minority Supplier Development Council status for her company. Her products can be found in over 7,000 retail stores nationwide. You’ll want to keep an eye on this rising star and her company!
Is there a woman who has made a positive impact on your life? Share your story of a woman who inspired you on our social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter. Be sure to tag them so they can see your post.