Amy Tangerine is an inspiring mama to 5-year-old son Jack, an entrepreneur, published author and all around champion of women.
We sat down with Amy to learn more about what inspired her to create her company, her theory on balance and the tricks for a successful mom boss life!
When did the concept of Amy Tangerine come about?
I had just graduated college and was doing some part-time work at a restaurant and answering phones at a modeling agency. I started doing fashion styling and then producing photo shoots. I wanted a name for my company and at first I tried to see if I could use Tangerine Productions, but it was not quite clear. So, I searched Amy Tangerine and chose to go with that, as it wasn't taken already. Plus it makes for fun visuals.
You are a master crafter, scrapbooker, published author and champion of women. What is your favorite part of your work?
Aww, you are too sweet! It feels weird to say this, but I really feel like the luckiest person that I get to do what I love on a daily basis. Sure, I have to do things I don't want to, and I have bad days, but for the most part I get to be creative and find different ways to express it and share it with others. One of the most rewarding things is seeing what people do with things I have designed. When someone tells me that I have inspired them, it’s one of the best feelings ever.
What made you decide to write your new book "Craft a Life you Love"?
It was a passion project. A couple of my friends had self-published and had a great experience, so it was awesome being able to get their advice on the process. I hired an editor, book layout designer for the interior pages and a cover designer. My editor told me that I would never write a book until I wrote a bad first draft, and after I did that, I could just hand it over to her. It was super helpful for me to have an expert lay out the flow of the book, I just wanted it to inspire enough people to get the money back that I had put into it. But the return was so much more than I could have ever dreamed. A couple months after it was released, it was picked up by Abrams. We worked on the revised and expanded edition, which is out and available now! And it's in color!
I wanted to be sure there was value in it if people had already gotten the first edition, but also wanted the new version. The entire book experience also shows the value of pursuing your dreams, even if you have no idea what the outcome will be. This has surpassed my expectations and I hope others feel inspired to live their best creative life after reading it.
As a mother, how do you make it all work?
After becoming a mom I experienced guilt for the first time. When I worked I felt guilty being away from my baby. When I spent time with him and not in the studio I felt guilty that I wasn’t doing enough for my business. I don’t think of the sacrifices necessarily being a bad thing. Actually, much of it has made me feel more aligned and in sync with who I really am and my values. I think it’s really important for Jack to understand that his mom is a small business owner and for him to see that my work is fulfilling. He gets to see me in action and hopefully that instills in him the work ethic, people skills and passions that I would be trying to teach him, regardless of my specific career.
When did your company launch?
My company, Amy Tangerine, was a happy accident. Initially, I worked as a fashion stylist and produced photoshoots. I came up with the name at that point. When I started making arm warmers and hand-stitched shirts, and momentum caught on, it seemed fitting to have it all under the same name—Amy Tangerine. I was in my early 20s and I focused on branding without realizing it. My tag line was "fresh and juicy pieces made by hand just for you." Knowing I started something back in 2002, and watching it evolve and adapt in a way that is unique, is one of the best things about being a founder. I'm inspired by so many things, but most of all by the amazing people I met along the way. Our products have changed throughout the years, however. I believe our main values have remained the same–helping women infuse more creativity, fun and intention in their everyday lives. As a mom, I feel incredible joy doing what I love and seeing the world through the eyes of my son.
When did you first feel successful?
I started hand-crocheting arm warmers after college. I was working as a fashion stylist in Atlanta at the time and wanted to keep warm while still being able to pin clothing on the models. Stores started ordering them and I got coverage in WWD and Lucky Magazine.
Next, I decided to hand-embroider flowers on ribbed tanks. After Cindy Crawford was photographed wearing one in Glamour, I decided to pursue it full time. All of the items in the first collection were hand-stitched and we upcycled men’s tee shirts into women’s silhouettes. It was really cool to be able to think of an idea, create it with stitching and then see someone wearing it with a smile. Our shirts were always positive and uplifting. Then there were other moments of success, like when we hit financial goals by doubling and then quadrupling our business and got into department stores. I was also able to collaborate with a good friend of mine and designed some tee shirts that went along with her novels. We would celebrate together in different cities with book release parties.
Has there been anything about creating your brand that surprised you or inspired you in a way you didn't expect?
It goes so much beyond what you are actually creating. I used to think I wasn't doing enough in the fashion business or making enough of an impact, but truth be told if you're passionate about something and willing to share your ideas, the little things can add up. I felt pressure at times to do really impactful life changing work, but at the end of the day, spreading kindness and positivity in the form of tee shirts or scrapbooking supplies can be enough.
What's your advice for moms who are looking to start their own business?
Just go for it! Often the first and second steps are the hardest to take. It may be challenging, but if you embrace the journey and the process, then who knows what can happen. The creative community doesn’t feel competitive to me. We need more people to pursue their crafts and put those positive ideas into the world.
What sacrifices have you made as a mom and business owner to keep everything in balance?
I actually have a new theory on balance. I’m a Libra and the concept of balance is something I have focused on my entire life. At different points I have definitely felt like I achieved a state of balance, but it wouldn’t necessarily last and outside circumstances would seem to throw it all off.
Well, I recently decided to basically say eff balance, it’s more about harmony. I came up with an acronym for it, which has been my guiding principle through struggles and times when my anxiety is at a high.
The basics of what I am calling the Harmony Principle:
- Head in this direction. What will make you happy?
Align with your values
- If necessary - it’s ok to change course
- Know your worth
- There’s only one you. Surround yourself with authentic and original people
- Know when to say, “No thank you”
- It’s all up to you. You have the power within you to craft a life you love
If you could have lunch with any business person/mogul/entrepreneur/nonprofit founder living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would love to lunch with Sara Blakely, the founder of SPANX. Many years ago when I was working at a magazine in Atlanta, I got to interview her and style a photo shoot. It happened to be the day she got a call from Oprah. It was so awesome sharing that joy with her and considering she has come so far and done so much for inspiring confidence in women, I would love to catch up with her.
Are there any new initiatives or products on the horizon?
I recently released my new collaboration with Avery and I’m so excited for people to see them and start using them. The capsule collection includes binders and folders with colorful designs and phrases. I’m thrilled with the launch! I even have a promo code for 15% off for people who would like to purchase through Amazon (15AVERYNAMY). I am also working on my own online classes, as they have been requested by so many.
What is your favorite time saving app or service you use regularly?
This is going to sound a little obvious. I have no idea what I’d do without Google calendar. It syncs seamlessly to all my devices. I also love using Plann to help plan out my Instagram posts. It’s so great—it even does stories as well! I also love editing my photos through A Color Story because of their bulk editing feature. I end up with beautifully edited photos in seconds and I get to save my favorite filters.