Welcome to another session of Made in Miami where we’re interviewing entrepreneurs who are making it here in Miami.
In this session of Made in Miami you’re in for a very special treat. I had the opportunity to moderate Melanie Fernandez, of House of Lilacs, with her very good friend, Tiffany Dominguez of Taudrey, at the Coral Gables Chamber luncheon for Women’s Business Networking.
Take a listen and see why these two female entrepreneurs are making it big in Miami, going from their passion, to a paycheck, into profits. I’ll be back with you in a little bit.
We’re going to start off with, tell us a little bit about your past, like your world before going into business. And, Tiffany, if you would start that would be great.
Sure. So, Hi everyone again.
First off, I have to say I’m so, so grateful to be here. This is such a cool opportunity. I’m really loving speaking in front of people lately. So, this is awesome, So thank you guys so much.
To tell you a little background, I am an alumni from UM, got a marketing bachelors and also a minor in PR, and I have always worked.
I come from a family of entrepreneurs, luckily. So, I’m wired that way, and I knew I always wanted to do something on my own, not knowing exactly what it was.
Let’s just get a business degree and work.
And, so I did some styling and makeup for a while, worked with some talent from Univision, worked in a public relations firm and worked with a similar association in Florida.
So I’ve always been like on the business side of fashion for a while, and I started Taudrey in 2009. At this time, I had already been working for a couple of years and I had a decision to make. Right?
So, everyone knows everything in 2009. I had a shift in my position in the current company that I was at and I was like, I don’t want to do that. Like, it sounds great. Awesome to have a steady paycheck. Okay that’s cool. If I’m going to do something I’m going to do it now, while I can, right.
This is pre-marriage, pre-babies and everything. And, at that time, jewelry had always been a hobby. It was in front of my face and I never put the two together. Hello, let’s do this, this could be the business that you do.
It was always my creative outlet. So, at that time, I opened. This is when Shopify, and Etsy, and all of that was very user friendly and I started a very simple, rinky-dink Web site, what I thought was awesome at the time.
And that’s how Taudrey was born. So, fast forward 10 years, just to tell you a little bit, because I know we’ll get into the nitty gritty, we now sell internationally.
I started stamping, stringing beads from my parents garage. I now have a team of seven. We’ve been featured on The Today Show. We have a huge project in the works, have an all female team. And, yea, we’ve grown very organically throughout the years. So. that’s a quick summary.
Brilliant. Melanie, Tell us a little bit about you.
So, I have a funny story. I’m a lawyer. I was a real estate lawyer for about three years until…
To be honest, people always ask me this question, at what point did you know that you wanted to leave? And I just knew I wanted to leave, quite frankly. It wasn’t for me anymore.
I was also working in an environment, with people that were not the best. And, I think that very much made it easy for me, I would say. But, I left.
At the point when I did leave, I had started House of Lilac. I knew that I wanted to immerse myself in something creative.
My husband had a job that he loved. And I thought it bizarre that people loved their jobs, I was like, you love yours, I have to do something about mine.
We had just got married and I started House of Lilac as a blog. I love writing. I’m a lawyer. So, I would write things. I would write on this blog and I would write about anything.
I was writing about weddings. I was writing about getting married.
And then I started doing a lot of research while I was still working and I came across these beautiful gift boxes that they were selling out of California, it was a very good, creative industry. They were selling these beautiful gift boxes that have all these small batch food, like Popcorn, but not like tacky, like cellophane. It was very nice. It was wooden gift boxes. They had flowers in them.
And, I remember looking at this, and as a lawyer, we do a lot of gifting. And I thought, well why doesn’t anyone do this here?
And that’s where sort of the light went off in my head. And I just started doing it.
I left my job. I was selling at the time that I left, so there was money coming in. And, I started House of Lilac. That was about five years ago now.
Right after that I had both of my kids, back to back. So it’s been a really crazy journey.
But along this, this whole time, about two years ago, I was only doing gift boxes, and I had a client come to me and ask me if I sent flowers, because I was sending gift boxes, right.
So I guess in her mind she’s like she could send flowers. And I looked at her and I said, No, I don’t do that, but, you know, I have these gift boxes and then people kept asking me, it was so strange. Someone else came and asked if I would do something, and she was, you’re good at this stuff. And I went, OK.
So I went and I had a relationship with a flower distributor and then I went back and I did even more research on this topic, because I’m not a trained florist, so it was a little bit intimidating for me.
But I, at that point, found this company in Australia that was doing these hand-held bouquets for 35 Australian dollars which was 40 dollars US dollars.
And I said well this is amazing, this is a low price point and I’m a millenial, so I don’t want to spend a lot of money when I send to someone maybe I can make this a thing. So I said, OK, I can do this for you. I can do a bouquet.
And it wasn’t that intimidating because it was just a bouquet, I didn’t have to go and sell things.
Well, fast forward, we are now a flower company. I’m a self-taught florist. I love it.
People always ask me about it, you know, if I have have this elaborate story with flowers? I don’t, but I do love them.
And, I have done enough research, and I’ve worked with so many flowers over the past three years that I can tell you I probably know every single one out there. If I don’t, please tell me, because I’d love to find it.
And so we’re a flower company in Miami-Dade. So, we’re all across Miami. And, we style very organic, we style very whimsical.
We’re known for our high-end flowers, so I source from California, Oregon, Dutch, Japan sometimes. The more novelty I can get, the more I love it. I think that’s what sets us apart.
Right now we’re very much immersed. I’m very active on social media, so if you ever follow me, we talk a lot on social media. And then, throughout this process because people loved hearing us, we started doing workshops at the shop, so you can come in, you can take a flower workshop. You can host your own private workshop, which is huge. And we just opened up our storefront. So…
Let me ask you a quick question, for both of you, how important is it to have a supportive spouse?
I can say Taudrey wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Javier. He’s definitely my behind and secret weapon. He’s not here today because he’s out on a project. But he’s as much as a Taudrey Girl, if you will, as I am, because he’s in it.
And I think that is so important to have to be in mind, I think, in any career, whether you’re an entrepreneur or whether you’re still going for senior careers they have to be involved in it too. You have to have that support and it goes both ways. Right? I think that’s for whatever career you’re in. I think it’s for raising your children whatever it may be, you have to be on the same page and support each other. Its about that.
Well, so my company’s four years old, almost five, and I have a four year old and a three year old, so that should tell you how involved my spouse is. And, my mom works. He is, like, I’m not there, he’s there. You know we do have help, but my House of Lilac is probably as much my husband’s as it is mine. He never sends me flowers, obviously. Trust Me.
Tell em, they could send you jewelry.
OK, so I heard a little bit about how each of you took the leap into the business.
Tell me what was the biggest challenge, and how you overcame it in business? Melanie, go ahead, go first.
For me, my biggest challenge was probably… It has to do with expanding and hiring people. Delegating. I’m a very natural control…
You know, I’m an entrepreneur.
So, I started this business myself and one of the hardest parts was finding people to give tasks to, and trusting that they were going to do it 80 percent of what I would do it.
And, that’s probably the most difficult part, right? Because I do everything and I’m in everything, but I do it 150 percent because it’s mine. But, finding people that could at least do it at a percentage of what I can do it and do it well, was really hard for me to let go of, personally.
I would say for me the challenges don’t stop. But, in a good way, I felt like what could be…
If you’re not growing and expanding and challenging yourself there’s not…
It’s Going to be constant but, at one point, what I thought was going to be really difficult – let’s say finally moving it, you know, I was starting in my parents garage, to doing it in my second bedroom by my apartment, to finally getting my own spot – at that time, I thought that was a challenge to overcome.
But, I think they’re going to keep happening at different levels. I think, you can’t let fear stop you right, because when you think, oh, when I have… and I’m sure, I know Melanie feels this way too, like when I had a team of X or when I get an assistant or when this happens then it will be easier but it’s not because that means you’re growing and now new challenges come in.
So I think it’s all about continuing to face that challenge and you continue to overcome the obstacles. And I think it’s nice to think like oh it wasn’t one particular thing and that’s is and then you’re coasting. You feel like it’s ongoing. So, I don’t know if I answered it, but that’s how I interpret it in response.
So tell us a little bit, like what’s the future? What are you building?
Just recently, as I’m trying to gather my thoughts here, we’re really honing down on not just making jewelry and accessories.
I love to say anyone can make accessories. Right?
You can buy accessories and things from anywhere. We’re all about jewelry with meaning. So our pieces are personalized.
I have, for example, my daughter and husband’s initials on my wrist. I have my daughter’s birth details which – side story on this, my team made this bracelet for me has all of Siena’s details like height, weight, exact time she was born and they brought it to me to the hospital and I’m like This is amazing, I’ve never been gifted Taudrey – now, I know what it feels like and the joy that it can bring when you receive it.
So, everything tells a story and we’re really about uplifting our customers, celebrating all the different milestones. So we do coordinates to celebrate a degree. We’ve done the words fighter and survivor. We do jewelry for all of different occasions and all different milestones.
So what we’re really focusing on is our customer and creating this brand for the Taudrey Girl.
We’re well known, I mean we have so much to do obviously in South Florida, but we’re really focusing on a national level and focusing on different markets. So I’ve done a couple of different speaking engagements in different key cities.
We’re rolling out with some big national retailers, although we do direct to consumer.
And we’re just really focusing on empowering women and focusing on our brand and having that relationship with the customer.
We don’t want to be transactional right. We want to tell your stories we want you to cherish these different and important times in your life through our affordable jewelry. Because, that’s something else that’s very important to us.
Everything’s under the $100 mark.
We make everything ourselves. Which I think is both something that’s really cool and unique. We make everything right here at our showroom called The Jewelry Box.
We’re an all female team, so I love to say that we’re women behind the brand and there’s actual hands, nothing is machine made. So we’re…
I have Grace here from my team. That’s Momma Duke. I’m going to get all…
I express myself through emotion and my passion. Yea, I get all worked up. I get so excited! I have to like express myself through like emotion and tears, because that’s the way that I love.
And I think you’ll really see the passion behind what we do every day.
So we’re all like women really hammering. I mean you’ll hear us down the hall. Hammering and crafting and creating all these beautiful accessories for our customers and for our Taudrey Girls. So yeah, we’re really focusing on taking things to a national level.
That’s awesome. Melanie, what are you building and what’s the future of House of Lilac.
So when I founded the company, I always tell people I don’t do weddings.
I don’t flower weddings.
And the reason behind that is because the everyday means so much to me and sending flowers to people on an everyday basis is something I think a lot of people don’t focus on.
On that topic, we’ve recently… As I started sharing on Instagram and as I started talking to people and thoughout the evolution of my journey, I left my job, I had my kids, I started this business and been on a personal journey, in terms of, not being hard on myself.
Starting this business, hiring these women, just empowering women through the process.
So we recently created this membership program called Flower Club and it is very much based on encouraging women on a monthly basis every single month. They get a monthly intention in the mail that is going to ask them to get out of their comfort zone somehow and really made them feel 100 percent amazing in whatever stage of life they are in.
I think, for me, in my experience, most women are so hard on themselves. You know you’re either working, or your a mom, and then you’re trying to be all these things. You’re trying to host. You’re trying to be a good wife. Trying to be everything and you can’t.
But, you can feel 100 percent at what you’re doing at that moment, whatever season of life you are in.
So, my goal with this with the membership program, and we’re taking it national, is to encourage women to feel just amazing where they’re at.
And, there’s so many other perks that come with the program, obviously there’s flower perks, but we have a ton of amazing content. I spoke about us having content, but we have an amazing portal on Vimeo, that includes…
Everything is quick, because no one has time to do anything that’s longer than 15 minutes, trust me. So, it’s quick tips on making a quick cheeseboard if you’re going to have people over your house. Making a quick cake.
You’re not going to spend 2 hours on this, you probably don’t have time, you have other things going on.
So, our goal is to really just empower women to feel like they’re doing what they can, you know, to their capacity at that moment in time. And not be hard on themselves.
Tell us why you chose the name House of Lilac.
I don’t think I have a cute story about it, but…
Sure you do, I remember it.
I love Lilac, and you can’t have it in Miami, by the way, because it dies the moment it goes outside it. But I love Lilac and I liked the idea of a House of Chanel.
That’s what I’m talking about.
So, House of Lilac, it sounds sophisticated.
And, let me tell you something. I hadn’t started as a flower company and the company had the flower in it, but I started it just like a pretty, it was pretty and then it became a flower company.
The power of words, right? The power of words. Tell us how come you started Taudrey.
So I couldn’t use my name Tiffany for a jewelry company! Obviously…
I’ve always been very much inspired by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. So I fused the two together and that’s where the T comes from for Tiffany and audrey from Audrey Hepburn.
Funny enough it started as T.Audrey, that was how the original logo was and just over the years people just started pronouncing it Taudrey, Taudrey, instead of T Audrey. So we dropped the period and merged the two together.
Well you probably heard the quote from the Dalai Lama that the world will be saved by the Western woman. And that’s well represented with the two of you.
So, thank you so much for being here and sharing your wisdom. Is there last words that you have to share on turning your passion into profit?
Sure. So I recently spoke for another company and they asked me to leave everyone with a challenge, and I thought that was really cool.
So, I would love to do that for you guys too.
So, with the theme of making your passion your paycheck, how can you guys in the audience do that too? Right.
And this is again, how I say I am not a motivational speaker, I’m not anything, I do this for myself. So how can you guys in the audience make your passion your paycheck?
Is it taking the lead and finally doing what you want to do?
Is it taking a passion project at work and getting involved in a charity?
Is it saying forget corporate America, I want to create a blog and write a blog about it?
Like, whatever it is, what can you do to make your passion your paycheck and eventually turn it into profit?
Tiffany assigned me this, right now.
I’m going to tell you what our monthly intention is for September for our Flower Club because it’s so applicable.
So this month we’re getting uncomfortable. Which means that you need to pick something that makes you… That you’ve always wanted to do, but makes you really uncomfortable.
I’m not asking you to jump off a building by any means.
But I’m asking you to do something like maybe you’ve always wanted to public speak or get in front of people. Maybe that means that you’re going to take a class.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to run a marathon. I mean you got to execute, you’re just going into the gym three times a week.
So. I mean, for me, I have found that when I get out of my comfort zone, that’s where I’ve seen a lot of change happen and a lot of different, amazing things will start to sort of like start brewing. So that’s our challenge.
Mine is on my faith with God, it’s upping my faith. I realize it’s different for some, everyone is different. I have someone who, Carmen, that works for me, hers is making eye contact with people, because it makes her uncomfortable.
I don’t know if you all caught this, did you see the two of them and how they collaborated in the moment. That’s the power of being in community.
And so I just want to thank both of you for being here and for sharing your journey and your insights and the power that you’re bringing to women and to our world.
Thank you very much.
I believe you can see from this interview how powerful it is that these two women are following their passion and absolutely making it in Miami.
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We’ll see you again very soon for another episode of Made in Miami.