We had the good fortune of connecting with Karen Tinney and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Karen, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
At the very beginning, my business started quite naturally – I was working full time as a home decor designer and was making my own things on the side. With many years of professional experience in the home industry, I knew that the work that I was producing was unique in the home market, and that there was a desire for it. At the encouragement of my friends and co-workers, I started to sell my work to retail shops and on my own website. I wasn’t very happy in my position as a designer and was looking to leave, so as my personal business started to take off that became a realistic option for me to pursue. Because I was already gaining speed while selling my work part time, I knew if I devoted 100% of my energy into my own work I could have a viable business. I saved up as much as I could until I was ready to strike out on my own. Before I left my full time job, I made sure to have some big projects and orders lined up so I knew I would have enough income to fund my business and pay myself, and from there I’ve been able to self-fund my business ever since.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My work is centered on the use and combination of ceramic and fiber to create both functional and decorative accessories and art pieces. My work is unique in that there are not many artists who are equally devoted and experts in both materials. I think that the unique look of my product made it initially easier to approach stores and get early press to help grow my business. I am most proud to have a successful business that I have built myself: designing and producing all of the work while also managing the business side. This is not always easy, and can be overwhelming at times, but I think it has been important for me to learn to do all of these jobs (not just the creative side) so as I look to expand and grow, I know where and how I need to hire.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My favorite part about living in Long Beach is the close proximity to the beach, so that would definitely be a central part of the trip. My favorite beach to frequent is Sunset Beach since it’s not too far of a drive. For a nighttime drink and dinner my favorite spot is our local tiki bar: Bamboo Club.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I don’t know that there is one person/source in particular, but rather everyone who I worked for up until the point that I struck out on my own. The information that I had learned in the home decor industry while working professionally as a designer was vital to growing my own business – this includes things like retail buying patterns, how to approach and present to new clients, and even how to price my work and manage my own production calendar.