Petite, charismatic and spunky, Tenie Sangma of Tokyo Bees exudes the kind of energy you want to surround yourself with. A former teacher and speech and language specialist, turned business owner of Tokyo’s first English Language Drama Course, Tenie’s passion for what she does shines through as soon as you meet her.
Born in a small town in Northeast India, Tenie never expected to call Tokyo her home, but she is slowly making her mark in this city in her field of work. If you ask any bilingual school or english language school for children, they have most likely heard of Tenie’s Tokyo Bees program or are looking to explore it. Describing herself as supremely curious and restless, there is nothing that Tenie hasn’t explored in terms of creative outlets. "I don't think there is anything in this world that I am NOT interested in!” she says. And as we chat she mentions how she is currently enrolled in a sewing class, just finished a photoshoot with a photographer looking to build her portfolio, and will be on her way to teach a class after our chat. I wondered how she had the energy for it all!
As a mom of two, Tenie juggles raising her daughters, running her business, pursuing her many creative passions, and now the launch of her recent YouTube channel. “YouTube has allowed me to connect with my roots, speak my mother tongue, remember stories my grandmother told me and share with the community I am so far away from.” Through her channel, Tenie provides speech tools to help children improve their diction and clarity in fun and exciting settings and reads stories to children in English and her native Achikku, spoken by the Garos of Meghalaya, India.
Not only does she run a Youtube channel with over 23,0000 viewers but she is a successful business owner of the Tokyo Bees Drama Program. “I started Tokyo Bees in 2012 , because I was looking for a speech and drama class for my daughter and quickly realized that there wasn't one in Tokyo.” Tokyo Bees is dedicated towards children’s creative enrichment and holistic development through drama and creative play. And having my own daughter enrolled in her courses- I can say it is one of the classes which she looks forward to attending weekly!
When I asked Tenie what she attributes her successes to- she says she still has a ways to go but isn't bashful about how she fully dedicates herself to a project. “I throw myself completely at it, and it has always worked out in some way. Sometimes I’ve lost money, but it has always led to something productive... When I first started, I never said no, I always said I am going to try.” And this is exactly what she did.
Tenie chats with me about how running her own business is so far outside her comfort zone and that she never imagined this would be her career path. She recounts a story of her own mother who had a shop in their small town in India. Her mother would source trinkets and goods for the shop from a city quite a ways away. On weekday evenings or weekends, Tenie would go along with her mother to the shop. “I remember watching my mom with the customers that came in and she was so happy. I didn't realize it then, but watching her in her shop interacting with customers, these were my first lessons in business…” This beautiful memory from Tenie’s childhood really resonates with me. As I speak to Tenie, it's so apparent that this same love of what she does resonates in Tenie, just as it did her own mother.
When I asked Tenie what is chic to her she says, “Chic to me is being well groomed on the outside, confident on the inside. It's about looking smart, wearing clothes that suit you and your personality and lifestyle.” And with her bright green hair and the bold accessories she carries off so effortlessly, Tenie exudes this very confidence and chicness herself.
There is SO much more I can share about Tenie, but if you are interested in her language programs visit her website: https://www.tokyo-bees.com/
Watch her YouTube, or
Follow her on Instagram.
Tenie - It has been so inspiring to hear your story and see your successes, I wish you many more and look forward to what you think of next.
Stay inspiring, stay chic.
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