Meet Terrance Bonner

By Lisa Bakewell

Terrance Bonner's faith, determination, indomitable spirit, and zest for life led him to his first calling, massage therapy, and then to esthetics, and it is those qualities that continue to propel him to new and exciting opportunities, including teaching others and authoring his first book.

Bonner has a genuine compassion for people and a deep commitment to making others’ journeys a little less treacherous. His life mission is teaching the benefits of massage and esthetics to those unfamiliar with the practices, as well as extolling the earning potential of massage and esthetics to people who might never consider healing arts a possible career path.


Bonner’s faith was cemented in his soul at a very young age, when a near-death experience showed him that God had a predestined plan for him. “Even at 4 years old, growing up in Mississippi, I knew,” he says. “A speeding train could have killed my mom and me, but I am here to share my success story.”

Bonner says one morning, he and his mom were on the way to Ms. Rosie’s house (his babysitter), and his mom was running late. “We were racing down the road,” Bonner says. “Mom was speeding.”

Bonner heard his mother yell, “Oh no, not today!” as he watched her try to beat the train. “I still remember the determination on her face while I was playing with my toy in the rear seat,” Bonner says.

After the near miss, Bonner remembers his mom asking, “Are you OK, baby?”

“Yes, Mama, I’m OK,” he answered, as he looked over his shoulder to see the dust clearing.

“Our car was facing the wrong direction as the high-speed train continued down the tracks,” Bonner recalls. “We almost got hit! Surely there is a reason I am here to tell this story now.”


Ms. Rosie was Bonner’s favorite sitter. “She was so smart,” he recalls, “and she always knew how to settle me down. I will always remember her sweet, loving, and kind personality. At the delicate age of 4, I was already attuned to the caring nature of people. This would go with me through life.”

According to Bonner, Ms. Rosie worked hard caring for children for many years, but it became challenging as she got older. So, at age 5, it was time for a new sitter, but the “vibe was all wrong,” Bonner shares. “I didn’t sense the same love.”

Bonner missed Ms. Rosie so much, especially when it became evident that his new sitter was “lazy and prone to sleeping on the job,” and he realizes now that—even at age 5—his “work ethics were already astute.” To remedy his unpleasant situation, Bonner decided he needed to make a plan to escape while his new sitter was sleeping. “Every step was in my head,” he says. “I had a plan, and it was going to work. I just knew it.”

When escape day came, Bonner was a little nervous as he unlocked and stepped out the door to begin his journey. Starting from one end of the south side of town to the other, Bonner made his way to Ms. Rosie’s house—over a half hour away.

“Looking back, this was [another] pivotal moment in my life,” he says. “I realize this small-town African American boy can put his mind to anything that may seem impossible, and no matter how far off it seems, I can make it happen. The spirit God put in this little body was a force to be reckoned with, I’d say. I felt like my favorite superhero, Batman, who always had a dedication to a purpose and went directly to the heart of the matter.

“I truly believe God knew I was predestined to help others in life. It was a miracle we missed that train. Many miracles happened in [my] life, as if I was being watched over all the time—even the years I spent in the Baptist church as the minister of music directing the choir. I realize now [that] everything that happened was preparing me for life and all the obstacles, trials, and accomplishments I would face. That purpose and plan is still being unraveled.”

Indomitable Spirit

As an African American male forging his path in a predominantly female-oriented occupation, Bonner was forced to adopt a tenacious, indomitable spirit in order to succeed. Not only did it take him three separate tries to even get to massage school, Bonner failed his first attempt at the licensing exam before passing. And, even after he made a name for himself in the massage industry, his decision to add esthetics to his resume brought even more hurdles to clear.

Bonner says that being a male in the field of massage was hard, but being an African American male in the esthetics field was “very, very hard.” He says that living in Mississippi may have played a part, but he’s not sure. “I don’t know,” he says, “I can’t speak for anybody else, but nobody would hire me.”

As Bonner reflects on his journey, the motivational force of rejection is not lost on him, but he maintains he wouldn’t have it any other way. “It hurt to be rejected,” Bonner says, “ but I was so excited to be able to do massage and esthetics—even though I was in an industry where nobody would hire me. Rejection forced me to open my own door.”


“I will say, I’ve inspired a lot of people,” Bonner says. “There are so many more people who look like me now who are getting into esthetics and massage therapy.” But that wasn’t always the case.

“A lot of times, I’d go into a [class or seminar], and I’d be the only one in the room that looked like me,” he shares. “People would look at me crazy, even though I had my shirt. It had my name, my license number on it. Even with all of that, people would ask why I was there.”

This experience replayed itself repeatedly, according to Bonner—even at one of the larger local market festivals, where one of the coordinators asked him if he was licensed. Rather than be discouraged, Bonner decided he had a lot of educating to do. “I was at every function, every festival there was,” he says. “And that’s where I kind of built my name. I did that, of course, to be seen, but I also did it to educate others about the business.”

Today, Bonner is a Mississippi-approved continuing education provider for both the massage therapy and cosmetology boards, as well as a licensed massage therapy instructor and a member of a diversity task force for education. Bonner has completed more than 3,000 hours of education, including hands-on training, continuing education, and certification credits. He has no plans to quit learning about his craft, and he has even traveled to Chiang Mai, Thailand, twice for courses in Thai massage.


Bonner’s aspiration to educate anyone and everyone about the benefits of massage therapy and esthetics—as well as promoting these fields—inspired him to stretch, yet again, as an author. In order to share his own experiences, core principles (faith, determination, dedication, and compassion), and business acumen with a larger audience, Bonner decided to write his first book, Determination + Core Values = Success: A Business-Building Guidebook for New Wellness Entrepreneurs, as a teaching tool. In his book, Bonner teaches readers to recognize and develop their own core values and offers step-by-step instruction for setting up a business, including writing a business plan, choosing a support team, calculating the cost of doing business and profit, creating a marketing plan, and more.

What’s Next?

In the words of Bonner, “To think outside the box means to stretch yourself into an uncomfortable space, try new things, and be one step ahead of your game,” which he has brilliantly done—and will continue to do. When the suggestion to do a TED talk was broached, Bonner just laughed. But it was evident in that moment, that the notion was not out of the realm of possibility.

Who Is Terrance Bonner?

As a native of Columbus, Mississippi, Bonner has packed a lot of professional accomplishments into his 36 years. Some of his accomplishments include:

• Dual licenses in massage (2011) and esthetics (2014)

• Owner/Operator of The Glam Station and Spa in Columbus, Mississippi

• Mississippi-approved continuing education provider (for both the Massage Therapy and Cosmetology Boards)

• NCBTMB-approved provider

• Licensed massage therapy instructor

• Recognition as “Among the Best Massage Therapists” (2015), “Best Esthetician” (2016, 2018), “Among the Best Estheticians” (2017, 2019), “Best Spa in Mississippi” (2019), “Best Spa for Weddings in Mississippi” (2020)

• Author of Determination + Core Values = Success


 Lisa Bakewell is a full-time freelance writer, editor, perpetual learner, and lover of life in Chicagoland. Her areas of writing expertise span a multitude of topics that include health and wellness, travel, parenting, personal/company profiles, a plethora of “how-to” articles (her favorite!), and technology. She can be reached at