Entrepreneurs are an impressive bunch, and Tiffany Tolliver is no exception. She built her boutique branding company from the ground up and has an impressive portfolio of projects under her belt. Read on to learn more about how she manages to be a full-time mother, business owner and consistently keep her clients happy by going above and beyond.
Please introduce yourself and tell us about The EmmaRose Agency.
Hi! My name is Tiffany Tolliver, and I am the founder of The EmmaRose Agency, a luxury boutique branding firm for creative entrepreneurs. At The Agency, we focus on enhancing the visual presence of women-led brands through clean and classic design paired with breathtaking photography. Grounded in the legacy of our namesake, EmmaRose, a combination of my own and daughter's middle name, which was taken from our grandmothers, we are focused on creating a culture of excellence and celebrating each milestone, no matter how big or small. We opened our digital doors in October 2015 after stepping away from, what was once, a dream job as the Director of Communications at a leading downtown salon. Let's just say that the stress level got out of control. I'm talking raised blood pressure and immediate anxiety even at the thought of preparing to enter the office. I haven't looked back since, and it is safe to say that it was the best decision of my life.
You are the founder and Creative Director of the agency. What does your day-to-day look like?
Being a creative, I steadily resist enormous amounts of structure; so no two days look alike for me. One day you can find me in front of a computer screen for six to eight hours tackling emails, client Skype calls or design edits. On the next day, you may find me zipping through the streets of our nation's capitol networking with fellow creative entrepreneurs on a handful of exciting collaborations. And from time to time, me and my photographer, Ashleigh Bing, will embarrassingly overstuff a carryon and fly to out-of-state photo shoots for my VIP branding clients. Sounds luxurious, right?! Well, let me burst your bubble right away. My days are spent in any of the above situations hard at work. Operating a business as a solopreneur means that you are the boss, secretary, accountant, assistant and everything in between. What I mostly enjoy is when I can put on my designer hat and get knee deep in color palettes, styling inspiration and typography for a variety of new clients.
Describe your process of branding and web design when you have a new client.
With every new branding project, we start off with a few core conversations or Brand Discovery calls, as I've named them. During each of these calls, we spend a solid hour uncovering the foundation of what makes the brand tick. This process of discovering the product or service my client will be bringing to the market, their ideal audience and the direction in which their business is forecasting is what sets me apart as a brand developer. During this 8-12 week process, they consistently receive digital and tangible deliverables; allowing them to feel at ease and develop trust that their brand is in capable hands. Everything from an ideal client design profile, wireframe website mock-ups and, of course, their design inspiration mood board - from which their entire brand will be built from. This adds tremendous value and creates an enormous amount of trust value between my clients. But if I said these deliverables were only beneficial to them... I'd be lying. These touch points serve as markers during each project. They allow me to be completely aware of who my client is targeting, what color palette and mood they would like to design within as well as the main highlights of their brand ALL before completing a single design. These guidelines are like gold to me... well, rose gold! After numerous edits, countless hours of designing and far too many cups of coffee than I care to admit... a beautiful brand is created, which I celebrate with the delivery of a beautiful bottle of Rosé to each and every client.
You've mentioned that your daughter is your inspiration for working so hard. What advice do you have for working mommies?
Everything that I do can be traced back to one person, my daughter Aysiah. Being a young, single mother is not a title that I publicly accept. I couldn't see it nine years ago, but she literally saved my life. There would be no EmmaRose Agency without her; it literally bares her middle name. Striving to create a better life for her is a part of my why. I glance over at her and gain the strength and courage to go hard for my dreams. This is one element that connects working mothers, our dedication to our children. But besides that, our stories can read completely different. Listen, there are plenty of books that try and teach us how to raise our children, how to combat the temper tantrums and even those early adolescent attitudes, and I encourage learning from the experiences of others. However, being a mother doesn't come with a "How To Do It The Right Way" manual. Some days I sit and think that perhaps we could be around the kitchen table, creating the perfect Pinterest-worthy craft project. Or maybe bouncing from ballet to karate to girl scouts on any given day... jam-packing her evenings and putting hundreds of miles on my car a week. Instead, I work, and she watches me work. She watches me create and plan. She watches as I pile sticky notes around my desk, filled with notes of encouragement and forget-me-nots. And then she imitates. She draws all of the things that she wants to become as she grows and hangs those drawings over her bed. Advice? Tips? I have none. Except to unapologetically go after your dreams. Make those self-sacrificing decisions that will add value to the lives of your children in the way that works for you.