[06:13] SO, WHY HAIR ACCESSORIES?
While there are attractive and well-made hair accessories on the market today, Tiffany couldn’t find a cute, high-quality piece anywhere before she started Chunks. Her business began as a solution to a need she genuinely had, which she believes is always a great way to begin any business venture.
[06:45] HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE MORE COMPETITION NOW COMPARED TO WHEN YOU STARTED OUT?
Tiffany was fortunate to spot a gap in the market when she started Chunks shop in 2019. Not a lot of brands were doing hair accessories at the time. Even now, despite the new competition in the market, Tiffany is confident in the brand’s unique, quirky look and distinct vibe.
[09:25] WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE CHUNKS?
Tiffany launched her previous business hand-dyeing tights (which she ran from 2012 to 2018) on a whim via Etsy, and within a few days it went viral. The rapid success kept her busy—and overwhelmed—for several years. During this time she learned to navigate the maker and craft world, dabbling in jewelry and apparel, all the while actively searching for her next big passion project. When the hair clip idea presented itself, she carefully considered every aspect of the potential business before committing.
[16:53] HOW WAS YOUR BUSINESS ORIGINALLY RECEIVED?
Tiffany says she was lucky that Chunks and her previous brand had overlapping clientele, so there was already existing interest to build upon, as well as relationships with retailers she had already worked with in the past. The momentum built little by little in a very organic way, and she’s never felt pressure to “sell” her work to her audience.
[18:28] LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR MATERIALS AND MANUFACTURING PROCESS.
Chunks products are made from acetate, a bio-plastic (i.e., a plastic-like substance made from plant-based materials rather than petroleum). Acetate, she notes, is much more biodegradable and recyclable than true plastic. All the waste produced from cutting the hair clips gets recycled into new acetate for future products or “freebies.”
[20:05] HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO MANUFACTURE IN CHINA?
Prior to launching Chunks, Tiffany had a very positive experience working with Chinese manufacturers. During her early forays into the maker world, she faced the stigma against products “Made in China.” A self-described contrarian, Tiffany refused to feel ashamed by her decision to manufacture overseas, especially in China. Instead, she integrated the decision into her messaging, and she continues to explore the stigma with her audience.
[22:47] CAN YOU SPEAK MORE ON THE STIGMA IN THE MAKER COMMUNITY AT LARGE AGAINST NON-HANDMADE PRODUCTS?
Tiffany points out that even if a maker is handmaking each product they sell, it’s likely that the individual components of it came from China. She feels there’s a broader lack of education about manufacturing given how opaque it is from the outside, and argues that it’s not a black and white issue that can just be ascribed a good or bad value. She encourages all creators and consumers to interrogate their existing notions regarding manufacturing.
[25:07] HOW DO YOU VET A FACTORY TO DETERMINE IF THEY’RE ACTING ETHICALLY?
When approaching factories, Tiffany believes it’s important to be aware of your own biases, because every country will have a unique work ethic and infrastructure. The best thing to do is visit the factory and see the conditions for yourself, always with a sensitivity to cultural and societal nuances that may be different from your own.
[28:42] WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE INTERESTED IN MANUFACTURING OVERSEAS?
According to Tiffany, the most important thing to do when interested in manufacturing is to start a dialogue with companies that look promising and get a sense of their level of transparency. There are also third-party companies you can bring into the discussion that do factory assessments.
[31:50] WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT SAMPLE PROCESS?
Tiffany encourages all makers to have enough cash upfront to pay for a few different samples from different vendors, and to compare the different vendors for construction and quality.
[37:15] ARE YOU RELEASING COLLECTIONS ACCORDING TO THE FASHION INDUSTRY CALENDAR? HOW DO YOU PREDICT TRENDS?
Tiffany considers her products “seasonless” and admits that the traditional industry concept of seasons never resonated with her. Instead, she designs according to her own natural idea flow, and leans into what works best for her.
[41:14] WHAT DOES YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LOOK LIKE? WHAT IS YOUR TEAM STRUCTURE THESE DAYS?
After spending Chunks first year doing everything by herself, Tiffany began to hire a team in June 2020. Since then, she’s built up a team that includes a shipping assistant, customer service manager, wholesale manager, graphic designer, and social media manager.
[43:58] LET’S TALK MARKETING. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT WHAT GOES INTO YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY?
Tiffany admits she used to have a self-defeating attitude toward marketing, but following a mindset shift, she now sees marketing as a true labor of love. She encourages other creatives to engage with the followers they already have and focus on sharing what they love to do most. The customers will follow.
[46:33] WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE HANDING YOUR MARKETING OVER TO SOMEONE ELSE?
Like most small business owners, Tiffany had a hard time handing over her social media presence to someone new, since so much of her personal story was injected into the brand from day one. She expands on how she’s been keeping herself involved with her “brand hub” while still leaving space for herself to focus on other areas of her business.
[53:21] TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR SELF-TEACHING PROCESS?
A self-development junkie, Tiffany says cultivating a growth mindset is what fuels her and boosts her energy. She invests in herself often, whether it’s through podcasts, classes, or business coaches.