"Just Start" Already With Tisa Wills, Founder of The Onyx Feather
Several years ago I showed up to a small business meetup at a chic (+ super hipster) coffee shop in the beautiful Kendall Whittier district in Tulsa, Okla. I sat down at a table with 3 other women, honestly, I was a bit nervous; new place, new people - hell, at that time I didn't even drink coffee...I instantly was regretting taking the mini bottle of champs out of my purse that morning. Anyways, after breaking the ice and getting to chat with this weeks chief, it felt like we had known each other for years. You guys, I can't say enough good things about Tisa. She has a generous + kind heart and has built a mega chic jewelry line, known as The Onyx Feather.
I really couldn't think of a better Rad Maverix Republic Blog debut than featuring one of my favorite bosses, Tisa Wills. If you're just starting out, keep reading. Tisa offers up her very best advice to creating + living a life inspired.
ATTN: If you're struggling w/ a specific area in your business and would like help or more information please use the form below!
I'm an open book and would love to offer up my best advice + personal experiences on running a radically fulfilling business.
1. Tell us who you are, where you’re from and a fun fact or two. Hi Babes, I’m Tisa Wills and so thrilled to be sharing a little about my hot mess life. I’m a jewelry designer and pretty much wear all the hats in my business meaning I’m also a photographer, editor, writer, accountant, and the list goes on. I’m a Tulsa native and after nearly 50 years (oops, did I let that slip) I’m changing my zip code and heading more midwest where my sweet girls dwell. Fun facts, huh? I drink the same ratio per day of coffee like I’m supposed to do with water and it doesn't keep me up late at night. I binge on True Crime podcast on the daily.
2. Where did the inspiration behind The Onyx Feather come from? How did it begin? Being a single mom for most of my daughter’s life I was always working more than one job to make the extra money needed to provide for my kiddo. Honestly, the smidgen of an idea to have my own business sparked when I came across a place to purchase hair clips (the cute little butterfly ones) in bulk. My daughter and I would package them in snack baggies of six and off to school my sweet little 9 year old would go selling those hairs clips. We were quit the sales team and decided we should call ourselves The Blue Dolphin. This led to adding jewelry to our hair clip business so I would have something to peddle to my friends. Not feeling too satisfied with the jewelry I was purchasing to sell I started to make my own. To date I have not taken any classes in jewelry making I just piddled around until I figured it out. I am ready to start something new with my designs and this I can’t piddle till I figure it out so I signed up to take a metal smithing class here pretty soon and I’m super excited about this adventure. The Blue Dolphin ran a good run for about 7 years….then I focused on returning to college (to get a real job). Little did I know at the time the “real job” was what I already had going on and I should have kept at it. Nine years later my daughter approached me again and stated ever so carefully “I think I just started your jewelry business back up.” Whaaat? Apparently she wore a necklace I had made her (I never stopped making jewelry for myself or family) to a art conference and someone mention they really liked it so she told this person “my mom makes and sells them,” and “she has an Etsy shop.” Yes, I did make it. No, I wasn’t selling them. No, I did not have an Etsy shop. So what did I do? Naturally, I set up an Etsy shop, took photos, priced those babes and listed them. Then I knew I didn’t want to resurrect The Blue Dolphin, the vision for this next journey was so much different than what The Blue Dolphin was about. Business name, logo, domain, website, instagram, Facebook oh my. So many new aspects of business than I had available before and so much more fun…..seriously dial up internet was the “thing” when the Blue Dolphin was hopping, and we thought that was pretty cool. I guess you can say my daughter was the inspiration behind the birth of The Onyx Feather. As The Onyx Feather evolves my inspiration has evolved and what draws me to the design table theses days is whatever I’ve experience while enjoying nature (ie. sunsets, rocks, mountains, water, etc). These beautiful experiences fill my soul and the energies of creativity begin.
3. What is the best part about being the BOSS? Drinking while on the clock and running my business in my yoga pants and bra-less. Seriously though, I love being able to run my business with my core values not other peoples/businesses values and being able to say NO to something when I feel it’s not a good vibe for my business.
4. What drives you to pursue your passion on the good days and the shitty days? My drive is to be closer to my girls and growing my business will make this happen. The future I see for The Onyx Feather is being part of a high school mentor program focusing on educating young people about the business side of a dreamy art career. When days seem gray and sluggish I list all of what I have accomplished since starting my business and my whys I started my business. This is something I learned early in business write down your whys and keep it close for these type of days. I also look at my reviews to remind me how my designs make others happy and how much they love them. Then I grab another glass of wine and get back at it.
5. What advice would you give to an entrepreneur just starting their journey? My advice to a beginner is:
- Take it slow, you can’t do everything all at once.
- Run your business debt free.
- Sell and build. Sell and build some more.
- Find/join a FB business group that meshes with your personality and will benefit you and your business (this may take joining a few to see how it goes then unjoining the ones that don’t feel like they benefit you and are more noise than benefit).
- Use systems that will help you free up time such as scheduling post apps, calendar apps, etc.
- Don’t worry about “just starting” nobody on the inter webs know that you just “started” so hit the ground running.
- Mark time on the calendar for “self-care” time, you’re the Boss Babe you can make this happen.
- Remember this is YOUR journey…..Enjoy it.
6. What are your hidden superpowers? My super powers are probably that I can drink a shit ton of coffee then go straight to sleep.
7. What would you say has been the hardest thing / obstacle about being a business owner? Not rushing into implementing every. single. idea. that comes into my head. Ya know they all are fabulous ideas but are they really what my business needs. It took me a while to learn to promote what I have and promote it some more. There are a bazillion people on this Earth and it takes a while for all the peeps to see what’s out there and then you really never hit every single person. So promote, promote, promote. This was so hard for me to come to terms with and that it was that simple. Then learning that sometimes it wasn’t the design that wasn’t working but how I was promoting it. So now I come up with a couple of graphics with different descriptions of the designs, and a different promo script and change them up if one doesn’t work.
8. What is your favorite quote? Quotes…..oh gawd, I love quotes. To narrow it down to one I would have to say a quote from Atticus would top my list right now.
9. What is something you are most proud of in your business? I think the most proud I am is being debt free in my business. It means all of my business ideas/dreams come as I am ready financially and if there is something I really want to add to my business either a new design or a business program or system then I either promote my current designs like crazy or I take a look at materials I already have and see what inspiration stirs up and then launch a new line. Another thing I’m really proud of is all of the friendships I’ve been blessed with because myself or my designs inspired another.
10. What is bliss to you? Friday nights at home alone with a little Etta James playing, bra-less and in my yoga pants, wine glass full and I’m doing a little of this and that, dancing through the house and possibly binging on something on NetFlix………this is bliss to me and helps me unwind from my work week so I can reach into my soul for inspiration while I’m in the studio working. My main bliss though is spending it with my daughter with late night wine or morning coffee binges while chatting it up about all the things which always ends in creative brain storming and a trip or two to West Bottoms Antique Market in KC……these moments make my heart smile.
11. If you could meet anyone for champagne, who would it be and where would you meet? Oh my gosh, I can't believe I’m even going to type this but I have a fan girl crush on The Captain one of the Podcast dudes on True Crime Garage…..his voice….yep it’s the definitely the voice. Meet up definitely not in the “Garage” but a small Jazz spot would work just fine.
12. What do you like to do in your "free" time? FREE time is a rarity but when I make myself break away from all the things I hit a hiking trail and let nature free my soul. I’m also a card game junkie and love love love playing for hours with all my peeps.