Today in my networking challenge I am interviewing Tiffany Ish. Tiffany and her sister, Jen, started a jewelry design company called T+J Designs and Tiffany also blogs at I am Style-ish. Thanks so much for sharing your advice with us Tiffany!
In case you are reading this at work and can’t watch the video, you can read all of the great advice below about moving from corporate to entrepreneur!
1) How did you decide to move from a corporate to entrepreneur path and start your own business?
It was something that my sister and I had always talked about. My dad has always owned his own companies and we have always had the entrepreneurial spirit in us. I spent a long career in HR in the corporate world and I loved it but I always had this creative side to me.
So that is why I started blogging because it was my creative outlet. Everything just happened all at once. We were talking about ideas and we were like let’s just do jewelry because it is something that we love and we were never able to find jewelry.
It was either really cheap and inexpensive or really high end. We wanted to do a middle ground for women like us who were in their careers and didn’t want to go to the teenage stores to buy their jewelry but also not spend $1,000 on jewelry. My sister lives in Chicago and I live in Seattle so it is a very different working environment. We are always on Skype, on email and texting. Thank goodness for technology. A lot of our manufacturers are overseas.
2) Your mom had a special role in starting your own business, can you tell me more about that?
I get all of my style from my mom. She has always been the most stylish woman that I know. She has always inspired me in my style. My mom is very stylish but she dresses appropriately for her age. I feel like that is very important.
She wears a lot of our jewelry, but she knows that some of the jewelry for the younger crowd is not for her. That is how I try to dress too, appropriate for my age but still stylish and going along with my personality. My mom has amazing jewelry and has always loved jewelry.
3) What is the hardest part of having your own business that you didn’t expect?
For me, my whole career has been in the corporate world. The business side wasn’t hard because I had worked in the corporate side previously. It is the retail side that is harder for me and understanding what our customer wants and the price points and the quality.
We just started in August so we are still moving things along with learning and experiencing. Going into a completely different arena than I have been in and starting a new business.
4) What did you do previously?
I was in human resources and consulting. In a way, I have a good business background because I have been able to create programs for companies. With the HR background, I understand how people think and what motivates them which goes along with buying and what motivates people to buy.
A lot of times I run into people who are very creative but the business part they struggle with. I like running the numbers and running reports. I think you have to have both ends of the spectrum. It’s also lucky for us because my sister has been in merchandising and she ran departments for big lines, and so we balance each other out.
5) How do you balance your personal life and your business?
To be honest, it is very hard. Owning your own business is a lot about networking. I have been going to events almost every day of the week. I do see my husband less because at night I am out networking. It’s hard but if you have a partner who is comfortable with it and he knows that this is what I want to do. It’s one of those things that you sacrifice a little bit so that you can continue moving your business forward.
6) How do you recommend that we accessorize our work outfits?
We do a lot of great statement pieces so you don’t have to feel like you have to layer. In a lot of professional environments, you don’t want to wear anything that is super loud, bright or makes a lot of noise. I call them simple, statement pieces where they stand out and you notice them.
7) I love your motto of offering affordable glamor for everyday life. How can we be glamorous on a budget?
I think investing in those statement pieces is so important. So if you love rings go out and buy a big beautiful ring and just wear that one. You don’t have to change it up every day. Just wear that one because it is kind of like your statement and your signature piece.
Or a necklace, these days you can find stuff that is affordable. We want to bring really good quality jewelry and a great design but at a great price as well. If you look at our website, everything is less than $100 which is really reasonable and something that I look for.
8 ) This question I ask at the end of all of my interviews, what do you wish you would have known when you were a young professional woman just starting out in her career?
I had this crazy idea that I was going to stay in my position forever and keep on working up that corporate ladder. It was really set in my mind that this is what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I never expected to move from a corporate to entrepreneur path. My advice would be to keep your options open and if you want to do something else, it is OK to stray from that path.
I thought that you go to college, get a corporate job and then work it up to be a director or executive. Now that I am out of that environment, it is so much more fulfilling for me to be doing something that I am genuinely passionate about. I can put everything into it. I work a lot but it’s not like working. It’s fun! Definitely keep your options open even if you don’t think it is possible, it’s possible. Go and do it.
Thanks so much for talking to us about how to move from a corporate to entrepreneur business!
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