Despite surviving childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence, divorce and other traumas, Paula Favre has not succumbed to self-pity.
Instead, the U.S. Army veteran, business owner, mother and grandmother has mastered turning turmoil into triumph.
“I have recovered from so much adversity and so many downfalls,” says Farve, known to many as “The Shea Queen.” “I understand that I was blessed to go through all these lessons to make me the strong woman I am today.”
As founder of The Real Shea Queen LLC, which offers soothing, all-natural products for hair and skin, Farve has leveraged life’s challenges into entrepreneurial success. Doing so, she explains, has required a good amount of forgiveness and letting go.
“Remember that you cannot erase the past, but you can improve your life from this day forward — knowing that your past problems are not mistakes; they are lessons,” she says. “My call to action is to ‘claim your royalty’ at any stage in life.”
“I literally moved 3,000 miles across the country to get back on my feet…”
Born number 13 of 14 children to a Choctaw father and a mother of Creole and African descent, Farve was raised in poverty, always dreaming of and searching for better.
“Growing up in humble beginnings made me resourceful and resilient, and therefore, I was groomed to have a great work ethic,” she says. “It also humbled me to never forget where I came from.”
Farve suffered significant abuse in her childhood, having been molested by her father and placed into foster care at age 15. She endured further trauma in the military, which she joined a year after graduating from high school. While stationed in Panama during Operation Just Cause, she witnessed a fellow service member take his own life — an event that caused her to develop post- traumatic stress disorder.
“I completed the PTSD training and continued counseling through the Biloxi VA,” she says. “I also realized that I had to deal with my past in order to advance in life.”
Life dealt Farve further blows when she lost her human resources job after 13 years, and about a year later, her 15-year marriage also ended. Within that relationship and another, she was subjected to a range of physical and mental abuse.
These events pushed Farve to revert
to “survival mode.” Seeking to become financially stable, she relocated to Seattle at the end of 2019.
“I literally moved 3,000 miles across the country to get back on my feet without influence or help; I received counseling and faced the person in the mirror,” Farve says. “I understand the role I played in my own life and know that as long as I played victim, I would remain complacent and not progress.”
Last year, with her mom in declining health and her daughter about to give birth to her fourth grandchild, Farve knew it was time to come back to the Coast. Upon her return, she started working part time while also focusing on the business she had started in 2016 to help make ends meet post-divorce.
Her son suffered from eczema, and Farve, who had been dabbling in shea butter for years, developed a cream to help with his condition.
I was working at an assisted-living facility, and one of my coworkers said, ‘Girl, if you start a business, people will buy this stuff; it is amazing,” she recalls. “I was using it on my patients, and everyone wanted to know what I was using.”
Farve’s operation remains a one-woman show, and besides making her own labels, filling her own jars and managing her own social media and advertising, she grows the herbs used in her organic, natural products in her own garden. Employed part time as
a medical receptionist, Farve also has two books in the works and offers a life-coaching program and vision board workshops.
If all that, plus spending time with her grandchildren, isn’t enough to keep her busy, she is in the process of revamping her business plan.
FROM VICTIM TO VICTOR
As an entrepreneur, Farve dreams of becoming a household name and seeing major chains carry her brand.
“I envision myself to be the next African-American millionaire!” Farve says. “My goal is to educate people on natural alternatives to all natural products and the benefits.”
Most of Farve’s clients suffer from hair and skin ailments, and what motivates her is knowing that she is helping them regain their self-esteem. Having gone from sleeping in her storefront or car to homeownership, she can relate to those who are on a journey from victimhood to victory.
Reflecting on how far she’s come, and what it took to achieve peace and happiness, Farve considers every day that she wakes up another chance to be great.
“I had to turn my scars into badges of honor; therefore, no one can shame me,” she says. “I can tell my story with my head held high so others can get unstuck and realize they are not alone.”