Teresa Meares, Entrepreneur and Past Chair of NAWBO

Teresa Meares, Entrepreneur and Past Chair of NAWBO

Teresa Meares has 20 years of law enforcement experience. After her retirement, she became a very successful entrepreneur, is Past Chair of the US National Association of Women Business Owners and Past Chair for the NAWBO Institute foundation. Her last book "One C.A.R.E. at a Time: Effective Leadership Through the Control of Emotions" is a very inspiring leadership guide. 

Question: You have been in law enforcement for 20 years and after that an Entrepreneur, why did you choose both of those careers? 

Answer: My father was a law enforcement officer, and one day, at the young age of 13, I went on a ride along with him. I fell in love with the profession immediately. When I was 18, I entered the police academy as one of the youngest female law enforcement officers. I truly enjoyed serving my community and tried to experience everything there was to experience in my career. We had a new sheriff that had joined our agency, and I soon found that my path to promotions and advancement came to a sudden halt. I realized then the importance of having control over our own journeys, and I made the difficult decision to leave the career I loved. I didn’t go too far though. I actually became a distributor for law enforcement products since I had experience using them and was therefore able to better communicate and assist our customers. 

Question: What path did you take to get in law enforcement and what memories do you have of it?

Answer: I started my career as a patrol deputy. Some of the assignments of which I am most proud include becoming a part of the SWAT team and successfully completing my two weeks of tactical training. I was also a homicide detective and was able to solve several cases. I was then promoted and led my own patrol shift.Z

Question: Did your experience in this career help you to create your own Business? 

Answer: Being an entrepreneur is very similar to being a police officer because you have to make independent decisions and problem solve at all times. Leadership is very important in law enforcement, so that experience enabled me to grow my company faster, with the best employees. 

Question: Are you experiencing or have you experienced difficulties as a woman in both fields? 

Answer: Yes, as a female law enforcement officer in the 90s, the older command staff did not readily accept opinions from a young female deputy. If I was passionate about something, I was complaining and emotional. Yet, if a male counterpart was passionate about an issue, he was considered a strong leader. As an entrepreneur, I did not experience it very much, but when I did, I would quickly redirect my attention to something more positive. 

Question: How have those two worlds evolved since your beginnings, regarding women? 

Answer: The world of law enforcement has since seen a large number of women joining the profession. I believe there is still much more work to be done though in recognizing the incredible value women offer as leaders. There are still many agencies that do not have women in their command staff, an area of much-needed growth. 

Question: If you hadn't worked in law enforcement, what would you have wanted to do?

Answer: That’s easy! I would have joined the military and then transitioned to be a nurse. I am passionate about helping and serving others. 

Question: You were President of the US National Association of Women Business Owners, can you tell us about it?

Answer: I greatly enjoyed my time as President of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). I met some extraordinary women business owners and was able to travel nationally and internationally to meet with women in their workplaces and organizations. My focus and platform were always leadership and communication—two pillars on which I feel very strongly about. During my term, I also had the privilege of testifying to Congress about tax reform. 

Question: Why did you decide to join this association?

Answer: NAWBO is an amazing organization, which works tirelessly to represent women business owners. It provides access to education, as well as the opportunity to network with corporate sponsors and other women business owners. NAWBO was established in 1975 to advocate on behalf of their members and this has been the continued focus to this day. NAWBO is active in representing women business owners in the international space through MOUs with sister organizations and a tenured member of FCEM. These efforts are all very important to me, prompting me to join NAWBO.

Question: You wrote two books what was your motivation to do them?

Answer: I love to help, and I love to serve others. My writings have always focused on sharing messages and helping others through the telling of stories. People can relate to stories. And the more they can relate, the more they can take something away from it. My leadership book has been a passion project for many years. I was delighted to finally publish it this year. My goal is to give hope and inspiration to leaders, so they can then pass down that same message. 

Question: You recently started another business with your daughter, what is it and who came up with the idea?

Answer: It is a clothing line that promotes positivity and self-love. My daughter came up with the idea after I explained that when I would get dressed for work in law enforcement and put on the bullet proof vest, I was automatically in another mindset. Something so different from when I was at home being a mom. Putting the uniform on gave me the confidence that I needed to protect and serve. She immediately thought – what if we made clothing that had positive messages of self-love and would act as someone’s “armor” when going out and facing their day. So, we developed Audibelle Clothing – also known as Outloud t-shirts. Audibelle (aw-duh-bell) plays on the word of being audible as young girls about self-esteem, “belle” meaning girl. Needless to say, I was very proud.

Interview by Adama Toulon.


Teresa's Official website.

National Association of Women Business Owners. (NAWBO)

NAWBO Institute.

To purchase her book : "One C.A.R.E. at a Time: Effective Leadership Through the Control of Emotions"