Doing Good Around the GlobeMay 29, 2021 ● By Diann Nichols
Frisco residents Psyche and Vontoba Terry say they always knew that one day they would do something to make a difference “We often remind our children that when we were college sweethearts, we would tell each other that one day we’re going to work together, and we’re going to do something special,” Mrs. Terry says. “And here we are.”
Growing up in Michigan and Ohio respectively, the Terrys lived in communities where giving back and supporting one another were considered values not to be taken lightly, and they’ve been a mainstay in the couple’s lives. As the founders of Frisco-based Urban Hydration, a line of natural hair and skincare products, they have made giving back and doing good part of their business model. Both husband and wife are driven to succeed – not only in business, but also in helping to make their community and the world a better place.
“We both come from a background where community involvement and community care were very strategic parts of our upbringing,” Mrs. Terry says. “For us, it’s all about supporting other people. … When we grew up, the community supported us. So, over our years of growth and development, we found it very important to provide our time, our talent and our treasure to our local community.”
The Terrys met at a college business internship seminar in Grand Rapids, Mich. They had lunch together, talked and immediately hit it off. After earning their undergraduate degrees, both completed graduate programs at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. It was during that time that the idea for Urban Hydration was born. The result of a business-plan competition, its products focused on clean, natural ingredients that helped combat the harsh effects of Las Vegas’ dry desert climate. “We created the business around caring for our skin and caring for our friends’ skin and … hair,” Mrs. Terry says. The company grew, and now Urban Hydration’s products can be found online and on the shelves at some of the nation’s largest retailers including Target, CVS, JCPenney and Bed Bath & Beyond.
The journey to success wasn’t always smooth for the Terrys. Before Urban Hydration, Mrs. Terry created Urban Intimates, a lingerie line that the couple ran alongside Urban Hydration. However, running two businesses simultaneously took its toll, both mentally and financially. “We used our own personal 401ks; we used our credit cards; we emptied bank accounts and savings accounts and we cashed out credit cards to bring the lingerie business and the skincare business together,” Mrs. Terry recalls. “We realized that we were using more cash and capital to grow the lingerie business, and we thought, what if we focused on just one?”
The Terrys also tried several other business ideas between 2006 and 2010. “I think those small-scale businesses … really helped provide some learning experiences,” Mr. Terry says. For example, “We tried flavored popcorn (but) couldn’t get the recipe right, and we learned later that you’ve got to put corn syrup in the flavoring, otherwise flavoring by itself tastes terrible.” Although those businesses didn’t take off, he says one provided the initial seed capital for UI Global Brands, the parent company of Urban Hydration.
As Urban Hydration’s success grew, so did the Terrys’ commitment to giving back. When they moved to Frisco in 2010, “We immediately wanted to get involved in the community,” Mrs. Terry says. And they have done just that. Several locally-based organizations have benefitted from the couple’s contributions over the years, including the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Becky’s Hope Horse Rescue, Minnie’s Food Pantry and Frisco FastPacs. They have also contributed to Dallas-based Foundation for C.H.O.I.C.E. and Plan Empower Grow, as well as Plano-based Hope’s Door Resale Store and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Collin County, where both have served on the board of directors.
Maya Brown, UI Global Brands’ chief marketing officer, reflects on opportunities the Terrys have provided to children through the Boys & Girls Clubs. “They’ve taken them to the movies. They’ve taken them out to things they probably wouldn’t be exposed to like going to the pumpkin patch and having spa days at the salon for the young ladies. They also help the kids build self-esteem and teach them about personal care.”
Another organization near and dear to the Terrys is the Frisco Family YMCA, where their three children participate in sports and other programs. Mr. Terry serves as a soccer coach there, and Mrs. Terry is the cheerleading coach.
Jake Lamb, senior program director at the Frisco Family YMCA, has nothing but praise for the Terrys. “Von has been a volunteer for our youth sports going on three-and-a-half to four years now,” he says. “He’s been very involved with the youth soccer program with his oldest child, and then Psyche came in with the youngest (child) and just really took over. She had zero soccer-coaching background … but she just kind of hopped in and really took over with it. It’s amazing having the both of them out there.”
Mrs. Terry started the Frisco YMCA’s first cheerleading program. “It’s just really taken off for us,” Mr. Lamb says. “We were anticipating about four to six girls the first season. We ended up with 22.” Mrs. Terry’s efforts did not go unnoticed, as she was recently presented the facility’s Volunteer of the Year award. “It’s just been an amazing experience having Von and Psyche out there with us and being volunteers with our programs,” he says. “They’re the kind of volunteers that help build a community and the kind of volunteers the community needs now to help rebuild and grow.”
But the Terrys’ reach extends far beyond North Texas. Even international organizations have benefited from their involvement. The couple supports the Ugandan-based Watoto Children’s Choir, and works with WATERisLIFE in Kenya, an organization committed to helping communities access clean water and ending the world water crisis. The idea to partner with the latter came about when the Terrys were trying to find ways to extend their community service commitment into what they were doing with Urban Hydration. Through research, they learned about WATERisLIFE and determined it was a good fit.
“We quickly got involved to save up for a well,” Mrs. Terry recalls. “I think it’s now about three wells we’ve been able to participate in. With every product that we sell, we donate a gallon of clean drinking water. It’s been thousands and thousands of gallons. I think about a hundred-thousand people in Kenya have been able to have clean drinking water.” The Terrys plan to visit the wells in Kenya this summer (a trip last year was postponed due to the pandemic).
Even with their local and international commitments, the Terrys have not forgotten their roots. Not only did Mrs. Terry found a mentorship program in her hometown of Benton Harbor, Mich., she and Mr. Terry also started the Urban Hydration Foundation Scholarship at her alma mater, Western Michigan University. They have pledged to donate $50,000 over five years to college students in need.
Mrs. Terry is also the host of a podcast called Girls That Win, where she works with women who are looking to become entrepreneurs. She has women pitch their ideas to industry professionals for the opportunity to win an investment to start a business.
“Psyche has been very avid about giving back to the community, making a difference, being very, very philanthropic with all of her endeavors,” says Ms. Brown, who has been a mentor to Mrs. Terry since her early days in the corporate world. “She and Vontoba share that. I think that’s just a part of their value system. They do a lot … and they do it from the heart. I think that’s what is really the most genuine thing about them. … For some people, it’s a laborious exercise to be charitable, but not for the Terrys. It’s the nature of who they are.”
Diann Nichols is a freelance writer, a music lover, an armchair traveler and an amateur photographer who never tires of learning something new.