7 Lessons I Learned from Mikki Taylor


By Jatika H. Patterson

For the past five years, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with (at length), soaking in, traveling with the fashion icon known as Mikki Taylor. Her fame as an editor at ESSENCE magazine has exposed her to a lifestyle and experience that are unmatchable. My blessing is that she is not one to keep her life lessons all for herself. She has brought a level of experience and education that I never expected when I met her in August 2011. In totality, it’s changed me. FOREVER!

She is like my Yoda in fabulous clothes and with much wiser words. If you’ve ever had the chance to read her words or hear her speak, you know the gems that depart her lips are words to live by and follow. Below, I’ve taken just a few of the most significant lessons she’s shared with me – directly and indirectly – and she leads by pure example.

1. Trust God. Her faith is by far the most important “thing” she owns. She’s led women and men to realize who their strengths and gifts from. She makes sure that anyone who hears her speak or meets her knows where her talents and blessings come from and shares the love wherever she goes. I was once at an event where Mikki moderated a panel and after a few rousing shares of scripture, the audience was calling her “minister” and egging her to keep on “preaching”. This is how to stay relevant. Not by staying in the front but knowing who to thank.

2. Trust yourself and your gift. We were all born with a particular gift. Be it writing, styling, singing, or bringing people together. But to know that you are good at what you do and know that you must keep going even when times get difficult or unsure, is a gift in itself. I was once in a place of uncertainty of my gift and Mikki shared some discouraging words that a previous editor (indeed NOT Susan Taylor of the ESSENCE legacy) told her. She said it crushed her spirit but not to a place where she wanted to quit. As a matter of fact, she worked harder because she knew what she needed to do to satisfy the gift that God had given her. Today, Mikki is living her dream and working on book number three and traveling to share with women – and men – on how to live their best lives. Take that!

3. Know your worth. Let no one put you down. This statement or words of wisdom is slightly different from the previous. Yes, know your gift but do you believe you are worthy of the blessings that will come as you walk in the light? Your gift will take you places that you’ve never dreamed of and you must, oftentimes, move yourself out of the way. Mikki has taught me that we can sometimes prevent our own successes due to the fear of success AND we can booby trap ourselves into believing that we don’t deserve the benefits of our talents. I say, walk in your light and never dim your light to allow someone else’s to shine brighter. Why can’t the lights shine together? There’s room for all of us.

4. Present yourself exquisitely. Mikki is known as the guru of fashion and beauty. She has the gift of knowing how to take a mediocre style and adding a flare that only God can allow. After all, it does run in her blood. Her mother was stylist extraordinaire to the late, great songstress, Sarah Vaughn. Just take a look at a few old snapshots of Sarah, that’s her mom, Modena. I’ve witnessed with my own eyes, Mikki do the same thing for a woman who didn’t believe she could be beautiful or who hasn’t reached her full potential of beauty simply because she didn’t know what to wear, how to wear it or which makeup look works best for her. If you ask me, I believe this is another form of ministry.

5. Push past fear. When you know that there is greatness brewing inside of you, it can be a scary thing. You can either accept it or run from it. Sometimes we run and don’t even realize it. In the Bible, it states that fear does not come from God. That’s why Mikki has taught me that it is indeed not an option. I have to admit that I still struggle with this still. I sit in front of my computer and think of great ideas and fear will stagger me. I then must call it what it is and push forward.

6. Listen to your elders. The advice of those who have come before us, either if they are physically in front of us or in a book, is the greatest advice that one could receive. They’ve lived it, worked through it and then overcame. Why would you not want to listen? Why would you not want to love? One of my best friends is my grandmother, Eula Josey. She has been guiding me through life for as long as I can remember. I can recall words that she shared with me when I was a child that I still take heed today. Not to discredit my parents because they guide me even more so. Today, I add Mikki to that list of advisors who give me words to live by and follow that will carry me down an extremely narrow path. I welcome the challenge.

7. Be grateful and gracious. Gratitude is not a one-time shot. It’s a lifestyle. I, like so many others, can get so caught up in our daily lives that you can easily forget to slow down and say, “Thank you”. It’s a simple gesture. So, simple sometimes that you can feel like it’s not enough. So many times, in life, that’s all that’s required. Being grateful is how you let the Heavenly Father know that you realize all that He’s done and that you don’t take it for granted. It’s a salute to all the days and opportunities we’re given. So, it’s with my sincerest gracious gratitude that I say THANK GOD FOR MIKKI TAYLOR.

Thank you for stepping into my life and dropping these gems and wise words to live by and share with others. You’ve been the period at the end of the sentences that my mother and father have given me. Thank God for you!

Jatika Patterson