Meet Badass Mom Maya Webb
“Nothing in my life has worked out as planned except maybe graduating college and getting pregnant.
I meant to be an actress, I meant to be a rock star, I meant to be rich and famous. None of that has happened. A spiritual teaching I learned many years ago is that my mind’s eye is limited. Therefore, it MAY BE that whatever is in store for me could end up being quite different than what I wanted or dreamed and that it’s going to be OK. Perfectly imperfect.”
A single mom who’s raised her two teens (Athena, 13 and Gabriel, 15) on her own, Maya is a successful hair colorist who co-owns Workshop, a cult-followed salon in a small town toppling over with stiff competition. She writes a blog that tackles thought-provoking topics, advocates for domestic violence awareness (her mom was the former Director of La Casa de Las Madres), records music in her spare time, and frequently has her clients in hysterics over her hilarious online dating stories.
We spent the afternoon in her San Rafael, CA home asking the radiant beauty about her humble beginnings, her secondhand style, and her thoughts on love (spoiler: it’s a happy ending!). We came away inspired by her optimism and sheer love of life.
Tell us about your upbringing:
My family is from the Midwest. I lived on a farm in Wisconsin until second grade and then we moved to Mill Valley, CA. I grew up in a hippie culture with a farmer’s work ethic. My family believes if your start time is 11am, you come at 10:45am. My mom had me at 19 and despite super difficult circumstances, raised me alone without much money. I grew up in a cabin on a mountain with no heat, a wood-burning stove, and an outdoor shower only. It was basically like camping, but with a roof. Unfortunately for my kids, they have the most unsympathetic mom when they complain about anything! I literally did walk miles in the cold…
What have you found to be the biggest challenge as a single mom?
I am the full breadwinner and provider and the challenge with that is just time and money. On the positive side, my kids are super resourceful and independent. I am fortunate they both have good friends and those friends’ parents have always been so helpful throughout the years. I never feel judged that I can’t be at every school event or fundraising drive. It’s just the way it is. I have clients and friends who feel guilty about stuff (all women do it seems) but in a way, my situation has forced me not to take that guilt on and just do my best.
What have you learned about relationships and marriage?
I loved my husband. I loved our little wedding. Our children were born of love. I wouldn’t change any of that. I led with passion and my heart, always. But looking back, it wouldn’t have hurt for me to have more needs, more self-respect, and ask for a little more in life earlier on. The two don’t have to be at odds. This I didn’t understand.
How did your life change after you had children?
Only after I had kids did I start to comprehend the meaning of sacrifice. The purpose of my life became completely clear. I felt the full weight of providing and nurturing, endlessly. Parenting, especially single parenting, is hardcore.
What’s the best part about raising teens?
Raising teens is fantastic actually (so far). My kids are so interesting and cool and funny. I think people are so scared of the teenage years but a long time ago I decided I would not spend one minute being afraid of that because, what a waste of time! What if it’s awesome? And it is. The only weird thing is being on the countdown and knowing I only have them under my roof a few more years. That gets me feeling pretty sentimental these days.
What’s the hardest part about raising teens?
The hardest part is that you don’t know what they are thinking and feeling all the time like you do when they are little. You need to be aware without being overbearing.
Who are the people in your life or in the community that support you?
I could never have raised my kids alone without the help of my mom and my aunt who passed away last year. They were my rocks. I am so grateful to both of them eternally and I know my kids are better for having had their influence. When the kids were little, everyone had two car seats in their cars and we all just made it work. The years on the road would have been impossible without them.
Tips on the work/life juggle.
I have never tried to find work/life balance. It isn’t for everyone but I am a pretty intense worker so whatever I do I am all in. It’s my nature for sure. I am definitely purposeful with my time and most of my activities have a point to them. So, sometimes that makes me not that much fun or good at relaxing. I find so much fuel in my work, my clients, my kids, my exercise.
Tell us about the transition from working as an educator for L’Oreal to working for yourself:
When I decided to transition out of corporate life to being self-employed, I sat down with the kids and we made a budget. We came up with our list of every cost we had and we agreed on what our budget would be. I then figured out how many clients I needed to see to just feed the kids and keep a roof over our heads. It was a great chance for my kids to understand the value of money and how it is made. The great news is within a few months I easily made that number and over the four years have been successful beyond my dreams. I feel so blessed by my clients and by the community that continues to support me.
Workshop has a cult following with straight 5-star reviews. What do think makes Workshop so successful?
I think what makes us successful is that we are obsessed with our clients and they feel it. They feel taken care of. My co-owner Michelle did an amazing job designing our gorgeous space. Every detail is thought out. There are no phones ringing. We are truly giving each person our all. And the best part is our business is all word of mouth. We don’t even have a sign.
You and Michelle seem to have a rare partnership that goes beyond the norm.
Michelle and I have a super special partnership. All my years on the road teaching, I met thousands of hairdressers and I can tell you that it’s rare to find one that has the technical mastery of hair, the business acumen, the work ethic, and the aesthetic she has.
Favorite thing about your job:
I love how creative I get to be every day and how my clients trust me to help them navigate change with their look. Hair profoundly affects how a woman feels and it’s supposed to be fun.
How did you know that you wanted to do something creative professionally?
I have always been a creative. I can’t turn it off! I recall a college professor taking me aside and telling me kindly that I hadn’t turned in one assignment in a traditional way. That while she enjoyed my collages and plays, I was supposed to be writing papers. She told me, “You are creative and it’s OK.” That stayed with me.
Who or what inspires you:
I am an introvert so I really need quiet time to stay inspired. I love music, fashion, and photography for inspiration. I have a ton of respect for the discipline it takes to channel creativity into a finished product. That’s the hard part.
What’s one thing you would tell your 20-year-old self?
I would tell my 20-year-old self, “You are not fat!” Those years were so difficult for me. I call them the “hamster wheel” years. I never felt good enough. It took me years to have some body acceptance. I believe beauty really comes from within. As contradictory as that sounds from someone who works on people’s looks for a living.
You found love again! How did you meet your current boyfriend Will?
We actually met online. Tinder had just launched and one of my clients in her 20s told me I had to join. I knew he was exceptional right away. Apparently, he swiped right because of my Tupac T-shirt.
Funniest dating story:
I have a few good dating stories.
What are your thoughts on love?
It’s the ultimate! I am a really passionate person so as difficult as relationships can be, I believe they are our best teacher and best healer. I have learned so much about myself in relationships. My upbringing was pretty rough so I can’t say I have always made wise or healthy choices but I keep learning.
What’s your philosophy on fashion and style:
I have ALWAYS shopped thrift and later in life found high-end consignment. For me, it’s a thrill and an adventure. I am convinced I have a shopping angel on my shoulder as I always score. Almost all my clothes are thrift, consignment or from T.J. Maxx-type places. I rarely buy full retail price.