We had the good fortune of connecting with Effie Tanji and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Effie, can you share the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
If you have an idea, it belongs to you. You own it. Protect it, share it, cultivate it, but never ever give it away. If you feel like you need a partner, always hire an attorney and lay it all out on the table- no matter how uncomfortable or how expensive it might seem at the time. It will cost you so much more (financially/emotionally/spiritually) in the end if something goes haywire!
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.
I feel like I was born with an innate sense of design. I do not have any formal training. I have a keen sense of what works spatially, color-wise and how parts unfold to reveal a greater whole. I love surprises. I love intrigue and mystery in design. I am also inclined toward minimalism and sculptural elements. Words matter. Every little line and space matters. I enjoy sparse landscapes and muted tones. I also love to go where I am uncomfortable. Currently I am working on a collection that feels very ornate in the design and deceptively simple thematically. This is outside of my comfort zone and I am learning so much about myself as a designer. I get where I am by opening myself up to ideas. Listening to others who are smarter, more experienced and more talented than I am. I admire other artists and I want to lift them up. I do not believe in competition. I believe in collaboration. I overcame tremendous challenges professionally through the love and support of family and friends who would not let me quit no matter how awful things got. I kept moving forward so that my children could watch their mother move through adversity and come out on the other side stronger and more focused. I want the world to know that I am collecting data. I am in the process of what seems like a herculean pivot- I want to be a major disruptor in the home goods industry. I am working toward a sustainable and equitable business model. I founded my company nearly 3 years ago on the idea of “affordable luxury”- I just don’t buy into that anymore. If we want to create a space for beautiful, clean products we have to turn the entire industry upside down and face the reality that a $36 candle is NOT affordable. A $7 candle IS affordable. But what are you sacrificing for that $7 candle? Most likely it is toxic, unregulated, and may have questionable origins. I am calling on the larger companies to extend a helping hand to small businesses and level the playing field by leveraging their buying power to the small companies with big ideas. End the deceptive manufacturing practices. Be transparent. Be accountable. Recognize that tossing stuff into a landfill is not responsible. Polluting the air to turn a profit is not sustainable.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Wow. That kind of question feels like it comes from another dimension. Sadly, friends do not visit. We don’t go anywhere. We are still living through a pandemic. BUT- if I were in a dream… I would take my BFF to AOC restaurant. We would visit the Norton Simon Museum. Go to East LA for the best fish tacos. Take a long, slow hike in Temescal Canyon. Spend the night in Topanga and watch the stars come out at night. Have cocktails at Playa Provisions. Take a drive on PCH to anywhere.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My husband, Shawn, and my three children: Ella, Niko and Lexei. The amazing, talented, and diverse group at HeyMama Co. My best friends and fellow collaborators: Aleia Ramsey, Jadan Duffin, Kate Zeller, and Ryan Dillon