It’s Female Founder Friday and I’m excited to introduce you to Tannya Bernadette! Tannya helps her clients discover their personal style with her quick intuition to connect your lifestyle, body, and budget. Through an in home or online closet cleanse, she creates a shopping plan to help you fill your closet with pieces that look good, and feel like you. She’s also in the process of launching a digital closet editor.
So if you’re curious how a haircut turned into a lease that forced Tannya to launch her company at age 22, or if you’re looking for inspiration, don’t miss Tannya’s candid answers and advice for fellow female founders below!
What inspired you to create your company?
I wanted to create something that was my very own. It’s crazy to look back on it because in the beginning of college I wanted to be the CEO of some big company but that all changed when I got married at 18 years old. I never wanted the traditional wife role, I had dreams and visions of doing more than settling and staying comfortable. That dream included helping others show up authentically themselves and having a platform where I could grow professionally.
During one of our classes we had a stylist come in and it immediately clicked, I wanted to start my own business. I could combine my love for fashion and marketing to build something of my own. Style has so much to do with your personality, your lifestyle, your body and I think there is a disconnection between how people are shopping or what they are wearing and who they are and where they want to go in their life. I had this very natural intuition with people through listening and quickly being able to identify what they needed, I created a business to help make shopping, and styling easy.
What was your biggest obstacle and failure in going from idea to business?
The biggest obstacle was money. I was only 22 years old and had this dream to start a styling business. I walked around telling everyone I was going to be a stylist and get an office. As you know, when you put that energy out into the world, it just happens. One day I decided I wanted to get my haircut at the fanciest salon in Seattle, and requested that the owner cut my hair. Of course we were talking and I told her I was going to be a stylist and open up my business, as I had been telling everyone. I told her my only problem was I needed an office space. She turned the chair around and said she was renting a beautiful office upstairs and I’d fall in love with it.
The moment I entered the office I was hooked. Smooth hardwood floors led to white french doors that opened up to a view of the city, the exposed brick, it was perfectly chic. As I stood there taking in every detail of the room, I imagined possibilities of creating a space to fill with my dreams. I felt something magical was going to happen and there was no way I was going to miss out on the opportunity. Without a second thought, my bright starry eyed self decided to follow that deep intuition, I told the landlord I was going to sign the lease. As I quickly scanned the contract, I signed away without consulting anyone and was firm on my decision to start a business on my own.
When I got home to share the news with my husband, he was in shock. We literally had no savings, we were pretty much living paycheck to paycheck, I had recently graduated and was working at a boutique part-time as I was putting together my business plan, and I had no clients, let me repeat that. No clients at all. . I slept on it and the next day I decided to call up the salon owner to explain that I had made a mistake. She laughed and said, “Time to get your big girl pants on and make that vision happen, you just signed a legal contract for your office space.” Tears ran down my face after she hung up the phone and I was shaking as I sat there figuring out what to do. I knew I had taken on something bigger than I was able to handle, this was a huge responsibility to fill. This was the beginning of my journey in not only discovering myself but learning how to build a business from the little resources I had. At the time, that was the most difficult moment but I now know, it was a blessing in disguise.
I quit the part time sales job, went to my empty office, found an intern, and we got to work immediately. The first day we shared a desk and a pen, sitting on two wood chairs I got for free from Craigslist. I pushed past worry and stepped into the role of boss babe. I had to figure out how to run this business by completely immersing myself in researching and executing what I taught myself.
What are you afraid of?
I’m afraid of not getting all my projects and visions out into the world! I write a lot, I think a lot, I create a lot but not everything is complete. It takes time to curate, to monetize and make all my other projects come to life.
I’m starting The Closet Edit which will consist of styling services performed by my team. They will be trained with the processes I’ve used the past ten years to help clients bring together their look. We will be based in Seattle but I plan to expand to LA and in New York within the next two years.
The Closet Edit team will help clients curate their closet, edit their look, and bring it all together. With all these personal styling boxes there’s still that need of honest, personal attention. Not to mention, people’s closets are filling up with clothing from online shopping and last minute purchases that never quite worked out. Our team will be the one to call when you don’t have time and need someone to put it all together for you.
I’m also working on a book to inspire others to continue working towards everything they want in life and the steps it takes to get there.
What is a life or business hack that you recommend to help other female founders?
Invest in an assistant. Seriously, invest now and use all that extra time to work on the big projects, the big ideas. Stop thinking you have to do it all yourself. Your assistant also ends up holding you accountable for everything you need to do, so you end up helping each other out.
If you had a theme song what would it be?
“The Climb,” by Miley Cyrus – Every time I hear this song I feel stronger, it’s a reminder that the journey is the most beautiful part of every new path you take and that’s where all the funny, crazy, fun memories come from years later.
Please share your best piece of advice for aspiring female founders.
Be nice to yourself! In all areas. It really doesn’t come naturally to driven females because we want to get through the to-do list, to get to the gym everyday, to eat healthy all the time. You know what is actually better for you? To be content with what you were able to accomplish and leave it at that. Beating ourselves up causes more pain than simply being nice to ourselves and acknowledging all the great things we were able to accomplish.