LaTisha Styles knows a thing or two about adapting to new environments.
When she was a kid, her family moved from New York City to a suburb of Atlanta at first, and then further out to Paulding County, Georgia — a place she recalls as being not very diverse. In college, she studied Spanish and Finance only to graduate during the recession to job hunt in a financial sector in ruin. When she couldn’t find a job and her personal finances suffered, she managed to rebuild them and, in doing so, started her own business. She eventually landed a full-time job and was able to keep growing her business on the side. Then in the summer of 2014, her husband, a naval officer, got assigned to Millington. LaTisha would have to move to Memphis and adapt again. She talked to us about the what it took to open her heart and mind to the city, and great BBQ beyond the loop.
What was life like when you first got here?
When we first moved here from Atlanta, I wasn’t super excited. When you move to anywhere new, you’re resistant at first because you remember your old friends and your old life and you’re familiar with the city you left. One day, my husband said “Hey, we’re going to a Memphis Urban League meeting. I just signed us up and we’re members, now.” Cynthia Daniels was the president at the time. She’s awesome and she’s from Atlanta too, so we connected over that. She helped us while we were in MULYP and she’s also just been a really good friend since then helping us to meet new people and see the city in a different light. It was nice to have someone personally welcome us into the city.
What else have you tried to grow your circle?
I recently joined the Memphis chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. I’m starting to make new friends and business connections there. What has helped the most is just me opening up to the idea that Memphis is home now and it could be for a while longer, and if that’s the case, I should start trying to meet more people.
What are your favorite places so far?
We live in Bartlett, which makes it a little difficult to enjoy the actual city, but we do try to get out now and then. I’m starting to find more areas that I didn’t know of before. The area over by the University of Memphis and Brother Juniper’s, I was just over there the other week. That’s my favorite so far. I went on Zillow after I visited the area and started shopping for a home. My husband has a couple of years left before he retires and we’re deciding whether we’re going to stay here. He likes it and he wants to stay and I’m getting to like it, so we’ll see.
What attracted you to Bartlett?
I actually really like Bartlett because it’s very walkable, with sidewalks and bike paths, and it’s quiet. I like it for that reason, but then when I’m not being a mom and I’m just being LaTisha, I’d rather be in the city.
Surprisingly, I think the best barbecue that I’ve had is in Bartlett. There’s a place called Baby Jack’s right across the street from us. Their barbecue is amazing and we go there all the time. The service is great. We always get the half rack of ribs. My husband gets the cajun spicy sauce and I get the regular sauce. You can do dry or sauced. Their baked beans are amazing and they have a vinegar slaw that’s really good. People have recommended other places and we’ve been to them but we haven’t liked them as much as Baby Jack’s.
You have to figure out where the cool little spots are and you won’t see that unless you actually give it a chance.
What would you say to other people who may end up here soon?
Just keep an open mind. You have to figure out where the cool little spots are and you won’t see that unless you actually give it a chance. When I first came here, I asked people where we should go and they said, “Go to Beale Street.” And that’s sort of your first view but there’s so much more to do out here. I would suggest checking out the Overton Square area during the day and in the evening. That’s a cool scene as well. The one thing I really love about Memphis, and Tennessee in general, is that the people are nice and welcoming. That’s even over Atlanta and anywhere else I’ve been. The people are welcoming, so that’s really cool.
It’s a great place for startups because of the low cost of living… there are a lot of incubators here. It really is a good place to come and start up your business and find other people that are wanting to start up.
As someone who runs a blog about personal finances, how has moving here affected your own?
It’s impacted my finances in the sense that it made me try harder at my part time business so I can take it full time. One of the things that I saw about Memphis is that it’s a great place for startups because of the low cost of living and surprisingly, there are a lot of incubators here. It really is a good place to come and start up your business and find other people that are wanting to start up. It’s a great place for small businesses. It affected my finances only in the sense that I reached for more.
You grew up in Atlanta. What was it like to see the city change?
I remember back when Atlanta wasn’t the Atlanta that a lot of people see now. I remember during the ‘96 Olympics, a lot of small businesses started cropping up and then suddenly everyone started moving to Atlanta and it was just like almost overnight that things started building up.
You never know when that change is going to happen and there are a lot of people who regret the fact that they missed out on that shift. But you won’t catch the change and see it until it’s done. That’s one of the things that I’m keeping an open mind about with Memphis. I do sort of see the same little changes and shifts that I saw in Atlanta, and it really only takes one person to say, “Memphis is the spot to be,” before everyone else decides that they agree. But if you already know it, then it’s like getting in on the ground floor. You have that opportunity, you bought a home, you have the investment property, your business, your connections. Once that switch goes, you’re ready. Meanwhile in Atlanta, everybody’s scrambling trying to find properties and you can’t find them for the same prices, and then traffic is terrible in Atlanta because of all the overgrowth.
There’s a friend of mine in Atlanta and she’s been trying to do the same thing that I’ve been doing, which is to get local press and to be that person they call on when they need an expert. She’s having a hard time because she’s in Atlanta and there are just too many people there. While Memphis isn’t quite a major market, it’s still pretty big, and for me to be able to get on the news several times and be that face for young professionals and personal finance, that was a really great opportunity.
Any financial advice for our audience?
Get the 401k match if your job offers it because that’s free money that you’ll never get back. Also, create an asset for yourself. Create a stream of income either with a business or a skill that you have that you can take wherever you go so that you’ll always have some income coming in.