We had the good fortune of connecting with Tiffani Sierra and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tiffani, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I always knew I wanted to help people using the arts. I was 21 when I co-created a non-profit..and being so young things didn’t turn out the way I thought. It taught me a valuable lesson about starting/owning/managing a business. I had been teaching arts programs in Juvenile Hall across CA, working in underserved areas using arts as a way for young people to express themselves. It was in 2006 during my time at The Second City in Hollywood that my life changed. My mother passed away very suddenly and tragically and Improv became my therapy. I wanted to create a program and company that I needed, so I started teaching my own Improv class in the basement of my church in West Hollywood. I taught classes for a while as a side gig while I worked for other organizations and in 2016 Improv It Up, LLC was officially born.
I became a Mom in 2018. Nothing prepares you for the roller coaster you will go through as a parent. Ironically we were launching 2 huge programs when my daughter was 5 weeks and onboarding 8 employees…needless to say it was stressful and I shed many tears. Becoming a mom has made me a better business owner and leader of the company. I have so much more compassion, patience, and awareness now. It only made me and Improv It Up stronger. Major props to all of us mamas who are raising babies and businesses.
What should our readers know about your business?
We are a Social-Enterprise facilitating Improv Workshops/Keynotes for both Schools and Businesses. We not only teach valuable life skills, soft skills, much of what we do also includes wellness and a way for people to connect with themselves and often heal areas of their lives. We are a company with a heart centered mission of helping people unlock their power and potential through play (Improv). There is a large mental health component to what we do especially our work in schools. Our school programs are Trauma-Informed Arts Programs. Many times people experience therapeutic effects in our workshops. It’s why the arts in general are so healing self-expression can be extremely therapeutic.
It hasn’t been an easy road building and owning a business. But that is truly the gift. We can use all the hardships and strife in life to make us better. We get to choose each day how we live…in joy or darkness. I choose JOY!! It’s a huge part of why I started a company that teaches Improv…it sparks great JOY! We impart this to all of our participants and hope that those that take our workshops feel this. We also learn resilience. You can get back up after being knocked down and figure out another way. This is where Improv comes in handy…the world needs the skills of an Improviser..knowing how to pivot when life throws changes at us unexpectedly. I know much about resilience. When I was 11 I was diagnosed with a rare heart condition called Middle Aortic Syndrome. I live with an artificial aorta. I was 26 when my mother passed very tragically, 30 when my father passed suddenly, that same year I was diagnosed with Melanoma skin cancer. I share this not for you to feel sorry for me to so share how resilient we can be when we CHOOSE. I share my story with the hope it may inspire someone who is going through loss or trauma you can get back up and find joy again…it may take time but it’s absolutely possible. I created this Company during the darkest part of my life. Beauty CAN come from darkness…you can build “IT” in the dark.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I’d like to shout out Rendevouz Cafe in Chino Hills and the Owner Cathy. This is my office away from from my office. The food is awesome and Cathy is truly a remarkable business owner.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
FIRST Out of the Bay Area. Each one Reach One and the Founder Robin Sohnen, she saw something in me and put me in a role of leadership at her organization where we built a study hall for incarcerated youth. She still mentors me to this day!! Also, UCLA Arts and Healing; the program where my certification of a: Social-Emotional Arts Facilitator comes from. And lastly to my very first students who believed in me!