R+S: What are you working on right now?
Tiffany: This is always a fun question. I’m kind of a jack of all trades. I currently work as a business development and managing clerk assistant at a law firm. That’s my full-time day job. On the side, I’m an artist and entrepreneur – although I like to think of it the other way around. I’m kind of the queen of side hustles… I have had so many from walking dogs to working on film sets to working music festivals. Side hustles can become exhausting, so it’s important to shoot for the ones that align with your goals. I’ve had to learn this the hard way.
One of my favorite side hustles is doing some background gigs for Orange is the New Black. It’s always a pleasure working on a set with such talented women and a crew that’s unlike any other I’ve ever seen! Everyone is so kind, collaborative and genuine. Being there is like getting paid to learn from the best, and I’m so grateful to get a first-look at all the season’s spoilers!
R+S: Can you tell us a little bit about Girl Starter, the reality-show competition you won first-place last year? What was being part of that show like?
Tiffany: Girl Starter was a reality competition series for female entrepreneurs that aired on TLC and Discovery in the Spring of 2017. It was such a surreal experience! I went from graduating college, not knowing what I was going to do, to suddenly being a part of a reality-show and leaving the entire experience with a company. I mean—despite having applied, I didn’t really have the intention of falling in love with start-up. I just wanted to get my foot in a door. And suddenly, I found a whole new purpose to my dreams and passions. Winning the competition was an insane challenge, but it gave me a leg-up on so many things and it showed me that with hard work and drive, I can really achieve anything I want.
During filming, I was working 12-14-hour days on set, barely sleeping and working on a business concept during whatever down-time there was (including when we got home after filming). I met some incredible women and living in a house with all of them was actually so fun! We all got along, respected each other and had a blast. I still keep in touch with them!
R+S: What was the app idea that brought you to the first place?
Tiffany: Tolli (it rhymes with “trolley”) was originally a concept for a mobile and web platform that matches artists with collaborators, as well as job and educational opportunities, based on geo-location.
We wanted to make it easier for artists to get direct access to the resources they need to create their own projects, meet others in their industries and be considered for paid opportunities that could accelerate their careers. Artists are everywhere – even in places you wouldn’t expect, like Corporate America. They’re consistently contributing to society and to our economy, so why is the “starving artist” stigma still a thing? As artists ourselves, we wanted to change the way artists were viewed and inspire them to be more entrepreneurial in their endeavors (something we learned the value of ourselves during the competition).
R+S: As a woman, have you faced any challenges that you don’t think men have? Do you have any examples of such?
Tiffany: Absolutely. I think sexism is present everywhere. Women are consistently doubted more than men are. We're judged based on what we wear, how we talk, how much we know... It's certainly happened to me on more than one occasion, but despite all that, I've found that I'm so much more inspired by the women out there who are supporting me and other women. Since Girl Starter, I've been able to meet so many incredible women who have taught me so much and created a safe space for me to grow. I admire women, like Henriette (founder and chief creative officer of ROUND + SQUARE), Tiffany Pham (founder of Mogul) and Ebonie Smith (my amazingly talented girlfriend and the founder of Gender Amplified) - just to name a FEW - who've established platforms that focus on spreading a positive and supportive influence for women and young girls.
Tiffany wears our iconic Girl Power Tee in White
R+S: What would you like to say to all women and girls pursuing a career and their passion?
Tiffany: Dream and dream big. But start doing NOW. Seriously, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re too old, too young, to inexperienced – or too whatever – to go for it. If they do this, they’re only projecting their own insecurities. Be vocal about your passions – dreams are meant to inspire not only you, but others who witness your journey. You’ll be so surprised how many people you resonate with when you keep pushing forward and when you remain open and authentic about your process. Surround yourself with the people you want to learn from and allow yourself to grow. Ask questions, don't be afraid of looking silly (because you will and worst-case scenario, whatever happens, it'll be a great story to tell later) and have fun with whatever you're doing!
R+S: Any specific story you can think of that illustrates your go-getter/girl power personality that you’d like to share?
Tiffany: It’s funny – during my final semester of college, before I went on Girl Starter, I quit my acting class. I felt there was a better way to pursue my passion and, although I had no idea how I was going to do it, I knew I could find a way to challenge the status-quo.
Earlier that year, I had taken an Arts Entrepreneurship course that was offered at Penn State. Even though I had no idea what I would or could start, I was becoming more enticed by the idea of starting something on my own. That same professor, Dr. Gangi, ended up being the person who referred me to the Girl Starter application!
When I made it on to Girl Starter, I originally applied with a theatre company idea I had come up with in that class, but then we were told that we were to ditch our original concepts and come up with something new with a random partner. My partner and I just so happened to both be struggling artists, and after sharing our stories, we realized there was a major need for more efficient networking and educational resources for artists within almost every creative community. That’s how Tolli came to be.
Since winning the show, a lot has changed – including the direction of the company. It’s quite exciting, really. I’m still continuing to work on fulfilling the company’s mission, but meeting so many dope artists has reignited my own passion to pursue my creative career. I’m never going to cease being an entrepreneur (it’s kind of in my blood now) but I’m finding better ways of merging the two. I don’t think you should ever have to limit yourself. You really can design you own path!
I guess, in a way, everything has come full circle and led me back to exactly where I need to be.
R+S: You’re rocking our Girl Power tee! What are your thoughts on ROUND + SQUARE?
Tiffany: Since being introduced to the brand, I’ve been in LOVE with the company’s mission. It makes me happy to see such a diverse representation of men and women on the site. Also, as the daughter of two Brazilian immigrants, I’m so proud to see a fashion-forward brand take the initiative to help women across the globe. I want every woman out there to experience the same freedoms and opportunities that my own parents fought – and continue to fight - for me to have in this country so this is very special!
“I LOVE Tiffany’s drive for entrepreneurship and her positive vibe. When my team discovered Tiffany, we knew we had to interview her for our blog! She is such an inspiration for not only us, but for new generations of girls. ROUND + SQUARE is more than a sustainable fashion brand to me—it’s also about an inspirational lifestyle and supporting women and girls, aligning with what Tiffany and her brand represent.” – Henriette Ernst, Founder & Chief Creative Office, ROUND + SQUARE