We had the good fortune of connecting with Tiannia Barnes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tiannia, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
My thought process behind starting my footwear business was to think strategically about how to execute my vision and plan that I created in my business plan. I first thought about my end goal and results that I wanted to achieve both business wise and personal. My business goal was that I simply wanted to turn my dream and passion for footwear into reality by penetrating an untapped market of women’s designer footwear that were at an affordable luxury price point. Secondly, my personal goal was that I wanted flexibility and freedom in my life and career. I then had determine my why and how. Once I understand what my why and how was I was able to document a plan. I did my due diligence about the fashion and footwear industry, financing, sales channels and models, digital marketing, how to make a profit and learn about pricing, etc. The areas that I was not well versed in or there was a knowledge gap I sought after individuals that had the proper background to help fill in those gaps. When I assembled a team that could help me reach my goals, things began to flow according to the plan. It always helps to write down the step by step activities, dates and people that can help move things forward. My plan was my own accountability tool. Each day I had a to-do list that helped me to stay focused and move ahead with decisions that needed to be made.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I started and built my footwear business from the ground up. Female-founded and owned. Tiannia Barnes Footwear is a designer brand that speaks to a multi-faceted woman who wants pieces that are functional and elegant, but still have the ability to surprise and delight the side of her that is sexy, bold and edgy.
I’m most excited about the possibilities of where my brand will go. I feel a sense of accomplishment in taking the first leap into business and learning every step of the way things that I would have never saw in my career path post college and corporate America. It’s a tremendous feat to find what you love and have success doing it. With every day there is a risk that needs to be taken, a decision that can change the course of your life and business and people’s personalities that you have to learn and trust. In addition, the most challenging part of my business is finding the right target audience and servicing my customers (which is my top priority). So many roller coaster, ups and downs, but my biggest lesson is to be flexible and not be too attached to any idea or way of doing something. That rule of thumb has led to my growth in business and personally. It’s also has strengthened my character and how I view life.
I want the world to know that my brand was a vision turned reality that took tremendous courage to build but like any other woman – working mother, wife, sister – it was done by someone that shares similarities as other women. You can do what ever you put your mind, focus and energy towards.
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.
I love to travel and experience new cultures, foods, art and fashions. If my best friend was visiting NYC/NJ area we would definitely have several restaurant reservations at the best spots for brunch, dinner and music. We’d dine in NJ on the Hudson river just so I could show off the amazing NYC views that we have in NJ. We’d hit a roof top if it was summer and definitely head to the Hamptons for some beach fun. Soho, DUMBO (Brooklyn) and Harlem would be the hot spots for visiting an art gallery or two, culture and live music or a lounge. All in all, we’d spend most of our time kiki’ing over great cocktails and food.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to show appreciation to every person that worked with me, that gave me advice or words of wisdom and people that have purchased any of my shoes, bags or t-shirts. My team jumped in and believed in my mission, my goals and brand. For that I’m thankful and grateful. For my family and friends that support me mentally and emotionally because starting a business and entering a new career is not for everyone. I’m happy to still be standing and evolving in business six years later. GRATEFUL for all of the experiences – positive or otherwise – because they all taught me lessons and resulted in many blessings.
Photography credit: Michelle VanTine Photography