It Girl | TIFFANY ROGERS
By: Danae Edmonds
I discovered Knot by Tiffa on Instagram and fell completely in love with the brand. I loved the prints and shapes and I couldn't help but wonder more about the creative mind behind it all. Tiffany Rogers is a hard working woman who preaches that there is always time for what you love! While working a full-time job, getting her Master's, and running Knot by Tiffa, Tiffany Rogers is always on the go, but she was able to take a moment to answer a few questions for Speaking of Everything. BTW, our It Girls rock!
Name: Tiffany Rogers
Job Title/Company: Creative Director & Co-Founder at knot by TIFFA / Accountability Associate at the Fair Labor Association
Education Background: Bachelors of Science in Apparel Design at the University of Delaware / Pursuing a Masters of Science in Fashion & Apparel Studies with a focus on Social Responsibility & Sustainability in Apparel Supply Chains
1. Tell us a little about who you are.
I am a hardworking woman, raised in the Midwest by my Korean mother and Ohio-an father. I have an older half sister and younger brother and sister. My work ethic was fine tuned through competing internationally in synchronizedskating throughout high school. My sense of humor is quirky at best and I am a self-diagnosed printaholic.
2. Who are you most influenced by?
My mom and dad have been my greatest influence. They gave me a strong foundation of values, taught me how to work hard, and were my first examples of how a great leader should act.
3. What was your first job and how long did you hold that position?
I was hired by women’s contemporary designer, Tracy Reese, after interning for her the summer after I graduated. I started as a design assistant and was promoted to the Assistant Designer of the Tracy Reese Collection three months later. I worked directly with Tracy to make sure the collections made it to the runway for a little less than two years, when I decided it was time for me to go to grad school.
4. When did you begin making apparel?
I learned how to sew in middle school, and from there my mom showed me how to make purses. In high school, I took fashion class, where I really learned how to construct garments, but it wasn’t until college where I learned to pattern and drape.I made my first bow tie in January 2011, and then started knot by TIFFA in March 2011.
5. What were your initial goals with your bow ties? How have they evolved?
The initial goals are the same goals I have now. I want knot by TIFFA to grow into a socially responsible brand. We started with bow ties, because I saw a gap in the market and I knew I could fill it with my strong print aesthetic. The bow ties we started with were lower in the quality of materials and construction, but I made improvements quickly. Since March 2011, I committed to sourcing high quality fabrics and fusibles, better hooks for self tied bow ties, and have fine tuned the bow shape and pattern. We’ve now just started to branch out to neckties, and hope to conquer pocket squares before the year is over. In 2015, I want to start designing men’s printed button downs, and the first step will be finding a supplier that understands my commitment to social responsibility.
6. What do you think is the most important life skill you learned from being an entrepreneur?
Talking to people has become incredibly important. In the world of texting and emailing, I found that getting on the phone or face to face yields the best results. I’ve come up with some great marketing ideas and projects by having conference calls with my team. We’ve found that selling directly to the customer in market settings has shown us quickly where we need to adjust and make improvements.
7. Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
In 5 years, I hope to have established myself as anemerging leader in social responsibility in the apparel industry, and have established TIFFA as a growing socially responsible brand. As of right now, I’m not able to commit to knot by TIFFA full time, so I hope that in 5 years, I am able to devote the majority of my time to the business and have built a small team of passionate and smart employees.
8. What is a typical day like for you?
I currently have a full time job at the Fair Labor Association as the Accountability Associate, and work on knot by TIFFA in the evening and weekends. I wake up at 5:30 AM to walk my dog and get ready to go to the FLA office. At the FLA, I work with brands in developing socially responsible practices and work on reports of the conditions in their factories. This work challenges me more than designing ever could, because I am not a naturally intellectual person. I work hard in understanding international policies and regulations, local laws, workplace standards, codes of conduct, complications of the supply chain, and cultural nuances so that I then can guide brands on how to develop higher working conditions standards. When I get home, I eat dinner and get to work on knot by TIFFA. I devote at minimum 2 hours every night to either designing the new collection, sewing bow ties, designing banners for the website, putting together lookbooks, or discussing upcoming projects with my business partner, Cory Thompson and my Brand Director Mikahila Bloomfield. On the weekends, I devote about 16 hours to knot by TIFFA, and then squeeze some time in to write my Masters thesis.
9. What was the biggest obstacle you faced so far in the process of pursuing your dreams?
The largest obstacle, and something I’m still working on is being a better writer. As a designer writing is not high on the necessary qualifications, so when I decided to go to grad school I was shocked when I realized I was awful at writing. I have drastically improved since then, but I’m still not a good writer. Getting through grad school was a huge challenge because of my weakness in writing, but it was necessary to do because knot by TIFFA was going to be built on the foundation that the people who are making the clothes are just as important as the people buying the clothes. Studying under Marsha Dickson at the University of Delaware and then moving on to work at the FLA, has shown me exactly how to begin toconquer this challenge.
10. What is the best piece of advice you have received?
The best piece of advice I have received was from my co-worker and mentor at Tracy Reese, Lady Soule, who told me on my first day of interning, “If you want to make it in this industry, you have to figure out how to get people to give you what you want.” This was in regards to a fabric store who wouldn’t sell us 1 yard of fabric, because they had a 5 yard minimum, but those words have applied to every other challenge I’ve set for myself.
11. When you get your best ideas?
My best ideas come when I’m able to clear my mind. I don’t necessarily meditate, but if I am able to zone out on the train or when watching TV, usually a solution to a problem I have been struggling with will hit me. Also, a great album or playlist is where I get my best design inspiration.
12. What is the soundtrack of your life like?
Since each collection is designed from a playlist I have put together, it’s hard for me to put my finger on what my soundtrack is. I would say that my soundtrack is full of passionate and inspiring music, new and old.
13. What inspires you?
Music is the primary inspiration for the knot by TIFFA collections. I usually look at the upcoming season and think about what type of music I would want to listen to while driving in my car or riding the train. Then I start to pick out songs around the theme. We started with more independent and emerging artists, but from talking to customers at our markets, I found that the customers also resonate with classic songs that they know and have grown up listening to. So, for the 2014 Spring and Summer Collections, I tried to develop playlists that included songs from the past and present that have similar influences. For example, Summer 2014 is called “Surf N Turf” and features beach rock songs like the Beach Boys’ “Kokomo” and Haim’s “Honey and I”. For the Fall and Holiday 2014 Collections, I really just wanted some throw back music. So, Fall 2014 “Out in the Field” is inspired by 1950s to 1980s classic rock ‘n’ roll. Holiday 2014 is inspired by 1990’s pop music.
14. How do you unwind?
I love a good road trip, it’s incredibly refreshing to explore the states and see the lay of the land. But if I can’t get away, a good binge on Netflix can always calm me down.
15. What do you hope people take away from your story?
I hope that people are inspired to go after their dreams. If you are passionate about something, there shouldn’t be any excuse to not go after it. Especially, the excuse of not having time, you can always make time.
16. Anything we missed that you would like to share?
Our Fall 2014 Collection will debut in mid-September and will feature 4 necktie styles and 12 bow tie styles. Also, knot by TIFFA has made it to the finals for the American Made Awards, voting starts on September 15th, so I hope if you have been inspired by my story you will vote for us!