Juggling a full-time career with a part-time hustle doesn’t come easy. But New-York based model Tanaye White is making it work. The 30-year-old mental health advocate and businesswoman has graced the pages of the coveted Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue since 2020, but she contends the hustle doesn’t stop because she’s found success.
This month White was recognized in the first-ever Uber Yearbook, Class of 2022 for having the coolest side hustle while working as an Uber Eats delivery person. She’s also shared her side gig in a recent TikTok. In life she says, “No matter what, always be kind. That's a motto I apply as an Uber Eats courier, model, business woman, and friend.”
EBONY recently caught up with the multi-faceted millennial, who advocates for mental health awareness and more women in unexpected careers. “This is not an industry that's solely for men,” White says of being a courier. “As women we have the ability to work just as hard and earn just as much.”
EBONY: You’ve been juggling modeling with your UberEats side hustle for a number of years. How does it feel to be amplified in their first ever yearbook?
Tanaye White: I've always been a Uber consumer in more ways than one. I started working for the company back in 2016, and then fast forward to now, as a Sports Illustrated model, I still am an UberEats driver. So I'm so happy to be a part of this yearbook because it's something special to me and I feel like a lot of people don't know this about me. The fact is that I have a side hustle that requires me to go door to door and hand food out. And I think sharing this with people sort of reduces the stigma that models are this one special type. As a model you can have so many different interests, and it just doesn't have to be about modeling.
Something that more people realized after 2020 is the importance of having multiple streams of income. And you practice this as a model and Uber Eats driver. Why was it important for you to have this second income even though you’ve found success in another field?
Initially, I started off with UberEats because I was working for the Department of Veterans Affairs full time, and my student loans were about to kick in. I definitely didn’t want to feel the burden of that monthly bill so I thought of ways to supplement that discrepancy, while also not conflicting with my my full time nine to five. After doing some research, I saw that being a courier for UberEats was something that was easy and flexible to do. I've done it late at night. I've done it on New Year's, I've done it on holidays. I've done it early mornings. I really appreciate that. And so fast forward, the pandemic of course, threw everybody for a loop. The modeling industry was at a standstill, and honestly Uber Eats was how I survived the pandemic. And I'm so appreciative that my side hustle was able to become my main hustle for the length of that time. I honestly don't know where I'd be today if I didn’t have my UberEats gig at the time because the pandemic just really affected not only me, but all of us deeply. I think we can all relate to that.
You have a new venture called Feel Good Babe launching this fall. What is it about?
Feel good Babe is a combination of different mental health efforts I've done over the years. It initially started off as an advice column while I was in college to support depressed youth and then after college, I settled on a website and then began using social media like Instagram to promote being real on social with the hashtag #letsgetreal. I've showed people what it's really like to live. Social media, especially Instagram just shows a highlight reel and that's not realistic. We rarely show the bad side. We only want to show the good. And that can be a detriment to our mental health, as well as the mental health of others.
As I segwayed into modeling, all of those ventures I had over the years just culminated into forming a mental health community for women providing resources to therapy, products that make you feel good and and everything else that comes with it. I think that’s the reason I really wanted to focus on women, because women just have a unique experience living in this world. I want Feel Good Babe to focus on our experiences and be a safe space for us to come together, share our ups or downs, our highs and lows and figure out ways to get through this typical journey of life. Life is not always easy. And I'm very open with my own struggles with depression. I lost a close friend of mine at 16 to suicide, so helping people navigate their struggles has always been something near and dear to my heart.
There has been a lot of attention on mental health lately. And the pandemic has made people realize, even more so, how important it is. What do you hope that women who joined this community will take from it?
First and foremost, I want to make sure that women know they are not alone. I felt that many, many times. I can even tell you last week, I felt that way. A lot of times we feel maybe a bit embarrassed or ashamed to highlight the fact that we're not in the best headspace or we're not doing well negatively. Even with such great career success. You can still struggle, you can still be insecure, you can still have those moments of doubt. I really want women to understand that they are not alone. That there's someone in a safe space for you and that there's always an ear to listen.
As Black women we tend to overwork ourselves. As someone who is a career woman, juggling modeling, UberEats, a new platform, what are your tips for still making time for self care?
I've always been an advocate for work life balance and strong mental health. When I was working for an aerospace company before I transitioned to modeling full time it came to a point where I was handling the responsibility of two jobs —my own job as well as my supervisors job who had just left the company. So for about a year and a half, I was working two roles, and I can tell you it was such a challenge to manage both roles, while also maintaining a personal life with family and friends, as well as my own self care. It came to the point where I decided I need to be more outspoken about the time that I need off because there were some days where I just could not get through the day without crying in the bathroom or having a mental breakdown. I began telling my supervisor, straight up, ‘I really need a mental health day today. I'm not feeling well. And I will be back tomorrow to catch up on all of our priorities.’
I had to send that email a few times throughout that year and a half. And what I really appreciate is that my supervisor was willing to listen and understand. I began encouraging my friends and close colleagues to do the same. You don't necessarily have to go through the details of what you are feeling but just to let them know, ‘Hey, I'm uneasy right now and I'm not in the position to produce my best work.’
That really can go a long way and it makes people honestly respect you more for being honest and standing up for yourself. I was sort of pushed into a corner where I had to start being so open about that, but I really do encourage other people, if you're not feeling your best, just own it, share it, because it helps with the conversations around mental health and also helps you with some of your personal goals, whether it be maintaining stronger mental health balance, or being able to have more time for your family at home.
What is your advice for people who want to have a side hustle, have been contemplating it, but don’t know if they can juggle it?
I would say the first thing is to research. Do diligent research to make sure that you don't have any questions regarding the requirements to maintain that side hustle, whether it be an online business, being a courier, or maybe babysitting on the weekends. Always do your research.
Secondly, I would say set a goal for yourself. As an UberEats driver I set a goal of reaching a certain dollar amount by the end of the day. So I dedicate a certain time block to meet that goal and if I don’t, I add an additional day during the week to compensate for the money or the time that I lost.
Finally I would say save some of the money that you're earning. Don't just spend it all because you have additional income. If there's new shoes that you want, you can of course treat yourself, but always try to save. At the end of the day, we all have a side hustle for a reason — you want to earn more. So don't get reckless.