Hello! I'm Tiffany, the founder of Made By Her and, as of recently, Wildflower Hat Studios within the Made By Her Marketplace!
The Story Began...
When I was 2, my parents got divorced. I never had a close relationship with my dad so my mom raised me on her own for most of my life. Seeing her (what seemed like) natural strength being on her own, I now know took much more than I could ever comprehend at the time.
Growing up, I'd shown interest in the arts (mostly drawing, coloring, and arranging my room to feel more at home... I got to do this a lot because we moved almost a dozen times before I finished high school) but I always got the impression that having a "career" or business in the arts was a lost cause.
My mom and I lived in Lake Tahoe from 2nd grade through 8th so I like to think I "grew up" in the mountains. We moved back to Orange County just as I started high school and the culture shock was unreal. I got behind in all my classes but, somehow, drawing all over my left forearm like a tattoo seemed to give me peace and I'd come home every day with a new design.
At 17 I moved away for college, making my own income between a dinner-only restaurant and working part time for a newspaper. (At one point I wanted to be a book editor because I loved to read so much... that, or a lawyer.)
At 18, I eloped to a guy I met in the military. We were going to battle it all together, move to the East Coast so I could be an editor in New York, have 3-4 kids, and live a quiet life in the country. We made it through one deployment before saying our secret "I do's". Then, two years later when we finally had a "real" wedding and everyone knew were officially married, he left 50 days later, leaving me a note on our coffee table saying he wanted a divorce and was moving back home to the East Coast in one week.
It was devastating, and yet, I refused to let a man leaving me be the end of it all. I finished getting my degree in June 2009 and graduated into an economy that was still in shock. I kept my waitressing job at night, got another one during the day, and worked 60-70 hours a week to earn enough to live on my own.
Skipping a head, I later married a man (my current husband) who had just as much of a work ethic as I did, maybe even more, and we had our son not long after. We decided, due to the outrageous cost of childcare in Southern California that it made more sense financially if I stayed home instead of sending him to daycare.
Not leaving the house every day to go to work was like hitting a brick wall for me, with money and financial freedom on one side and diapers, dishes, and laundry on the other. When I looked back, an invisible glass had gone up and, the longer I stayed home, the thicker it got until it was almost impossible to go back to a regular 9-5 job.
My First Handmade Business...
By the time our son turned one, I was starting to lose it. I hated being seen and feeling like I was "just a stay at home mom".
Around that time, my husband and I decided to move from our first, condo-style turnkey home to a house with a huge yard that needed quite a bit of fixing up. In the midst of our DIY renovations, I decided to make a blanket ladder for us (having been inspired by the very popular show at the time, Fixer Upper).
I made the ladder but the stain came out too dark for what we wanted so I decided to sell it on Facebook Marketplace for $20. (I had no idea how much to list it for.) It told the first day and, when the woman came to pick it up, she asked me "what's wrong with it that it's listed for so low?"
It was then I knew I could make more money on these and the idea to have my own source of income felt like a magic door being opened into Narnia or Ariel getting her voice back at the end of The Little Mermaid.
I added my ladders to Etsy, got referrals from past customers, and within two years, I was getting regular orders and had a full time income.
Where "Made By Her" Came From...
Shortly after my ladder business took off, my husband and I decided we wanted to ditch the endless DIY renovations and downsize while the housing market was doing so well. We moved to a one bedroom apartment with a den that would be our son's room and, once again, I was jobless.
While I loved our cozy apartment and the fact that we were walking distance to our son's new school as he entered Kindergarten, I felt like I'd lost my voice again or got shoved back through the wardrobe door. I wanted to create something but I didn't feel like I could do much in a tiny apartment.
I tried painting, screen printing, ceramics, and a bunch of other things but, when it came time to list anything online, I could tell the online space for handcrafted goods had changed... dramatically.
I started thinking beyond what I could create for myself and wanted to create a platform for artists to be able to showcase their work properly and actually get respect for it instead of people always saying, "your little business is so cute."
It was then I realized the percentage of mens' work in art galleries was 87% and I thought, "you know what, I want this to be for women... I want this to be things that are made by 'her', the one who stays home whether it's to take care of her kids, a loved one, or a spouse, or even the women who have another job just to pay the rent but who really and truly wants to be an artist full time."
I want to help women artists, along with the rest of society, take themselves seriously so they can be seen as just that... artists. Not just crafters, not just hobbyists, but true artisans creating beautiful things and getting paid appropriate money for doing so.
(Read even more about the road to building Made By Her in our 1 Year Anniversary Blog Post)