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Females & Finances: KéNisha Ruff

KeNisha Ruff using a make up brush

In our Females & Finances series, inspirational women leaders from Madison and Milwaukee share their words of wisdom for women who are trying to manage their finances, and own it in their everyday lives. Know someone who has a great story to share? Send nominations to

This month, learn how KéNisha Ruff, founder of Marie Hunter Beauty, faced her fears of entrepreneurship and went on to create her own successful beauty business

  • What does “owning it” mean to you? 

Owning it means setting intentions for myself and my actions. I am the captain of my ship and if I want to arrive to my destination I need to hold myself accountable that I am the only one who can get me to where I desire. Learning to "own it" is never an easy task, but if you can learn to "own" fear, then you're already one step closer to your destination. 

  • Tell us about your personal and professional journey, and how you got where you are today.

I got where I am today by trusting the process. I have a strong support system coming from my family and friends who push me every day to accomplish my goals. While pregnant with my oldest son, I decided to take a chance and attend beauty school instead of going back to college. From there I entered the beauty industry where I worked in salons, spas and retail cosmetics. During that time, I felt like I couldn't find my place in the industry. That's when I owned up to overcoming my fears of entrepreneurship and branched off to start my own beauty business, and from there Marie Hunter Beauty was born. The brand name is a combination of my name and my son’s name.

  • What are the most important lessons you’ve learned about finances?

Have a plan, and then have a back-up plan. It wasn't until I started my business that I really started to take my finances seriously, and realized I didn't know as much as I thought I did when it came to budgeting and saving. I started tracking my personal expenses about a year prior to becoming a full-time entrepreneur and boy do the coffee drinks and other small daily items add up quickly! Once I noticed how much I was spending on the things I "wanted," I quickly realized all the money I could be investing in my business. Distinguishing your "wants" from your "needs" is key.

  • What resources/strategies help you manage your money?

I'm really big on education—you can never learn too much. Reading books, blogs, taking classes and listening to podcasts helps me come up with my strategies to manage my money better. I like to manage my money on paper and by using savings apps. 

  • What's your favorite quote from an inspirational woman?

"You can waste your lives drawing lines. Or you can live your life crossing them.” – Shonda Rhimes