Hello, nice to meet you! I'm Tiffany....
I grew up in upstate NY, in the small town of Niskayuna. From the moment I could use my hands, I've been dabbling in creative hobbies, crafts, and art. I ran my first business at 7, tracing images, coloring them in, laminating with tape, and selling to my peers. At 10 my best friend and I started a magazine, and would spend hours drawing clothing and writing descriptions and prices. In high school I designed and sewed my prom dress. In college I turned an old exercise bike into a loom that spun wool into yarn. At 21 participated in a sewing competition that had weekly challenges mirroring project runway, where I made a complete collection of fashion designs.
I never knew quite what I wanted to do, but just about everything in my life pointed towards a creative, untraditional path.
And now, I run a jewelry business, working out of my home studio, in Missoula, MT, and creating beauty from my hands, my head, and my heart every damn day. What a gift it is to be here!
So how'd I wind up moving to Montana? We took many road trips out here to visit family in the summers. At an early age I fell hard for the mountains, slow living, and quality of life found in the west. I eagerly moved here for college in 2009, determined to get far away from NY which I never loved, and into the wide open spaces of the west. Montana has never disappointed, and although I've moved around since then, I couldn't stay away. Missoula is where I feel I belong, the natural beauty that surrounds me is unending, the community here is so supportive, and it's full of inspiring people working to forge their own paths in life, just like me.
After stepping back from college in 2011, in recognition that a traditional education wasn't teaching me what I wanted to learn, I sat with myself and got real about what I wanted to do with my life. I took time to think more critically about how I wanted to spend my days, and how I could take my creativity and turn it into something that sustained me, my life, and brought value to people.
Inspired by repurposing, and finding beauty in unexpected places, I began creating jewelry out of hardware bits and pieces that I'd collected from my local bike repair shop. I made my first earrings out of washers, nuts, and bolts that struck me as beautiful. I started selling them at farmers markets, local boutiques, and craft shows. My work was very chunky and rustic, I had no real knowledge of jewelry making, but I did have my artistic eye and a trust in my hands to figure it out. I was learning everything on the fly, and with whatever tools I had easy access to.
It was a beautiful experiment at first, and helped me feel confident that my artistic skills were worth investing in.
I continued making jewelry this way for a while, until I moved to Massachusetts following my (now) husband, as he completed his degree. While living there I worked in a small studio for a fine jeweler. I was a production assistant, given tasks like balling up wire for beadwork, re-shaping all the ear-wires, soldering chains, cleaning up castings for hours, or sometimes, on fun days, getting to do repair work or putting together pieces actually sold in the store. It was here that I got to see up close what running a jewelry business actually looked like, be in proximity to high quality materials for the first time, new tools, and precious stones. I also gained more confidence in my skills, making jewelry sold for hundreds of dollars in the store. That really took care of any imposter syndrome.
Fast forward to 2017, after recovering from the burnout of being a production assistant for someone else, I started making my own jewelry again, this time in a totally new way. I became more refined, elegant, and modern in my design work. I had a better foundation of skills and a better understanding of the business side of things, and I was ready to commit to giving it 100% of myself and my time. That’s when Zalias Jewelry was born.
It was born with intention, passion, creativity, determination, and the romance of being my own boss, doing things my own way.
Running Zalias Jewelry has been simultaneously rewarding, and terrifying. There’s so much beauty to working for myself, being creative every day, and connecting to others who appreciate what I’m doing. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t also feel vulnerable, uncertain, and impossibly hard 90% of the time. It requires me daily to push myself, think critically, evolve, adapt, and grow, accept that I don’t know everything, and be content with the fact that I’ll always be learning.
Learning to rest, not quit has been the number one thing to get me through all the challenges of running my own business.
This humble jewelry brand is continually growing, and you will witness that if you choose to stick around. I hope if you made it this far, you feel like you know me a bit better. Maybe you're inspired to follow your own dreams and find ways to be vulnerable, put your work out there, and see what happens. Maybe you needed that reminder to rest, not quit. Or maybe you’re now thinking you need to visit Montana, and see what all the hype is. You should.
Thanks for taking the time to read, and connecting with me in this space I’ve carved out of the internet. Let me know what sorts of things you want me to share on here!