Interview with Melissa Clayton, Founder, Tiny Tags, and The Matte
Melissa Clayton is CEO and Founder of Tiny Tags, an online jewelry brand designing and creating fine personalized jewelry for mothers and The Matte, a mat designed to lay over your bathroom sink to create an instant beauty counter. As a former CPA who knew she had to break out on her own, Melissa is obsessed with entrepreneurship and sharing the lessons she has learned along the way. Melissa holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of Massachusetts and a MS in Accounting and MBA from Northeastern University. Melissa is a wife and mother to three boys and resides in Acton, MA.
Who are your biggest influences?
My dad and Zig Ziglar. I grew up with my father and watched him build his own business which was a huge inspiration to me. As much as I hated going to the office to stuff envelopes, I saw firsthand how hard work and dedication could pay off. My dad was a huge Zig Ziglar fan, and we listened to Zig in the car or while doing yard work when my dad would put the speakers in the window. Zig Ziglar taught me how to think and live with gratitude and to believe I could do anything. I very rarely see the negative in any situation and am quick to find the lesson in challenging situations.
What drove you (or your family) to start your company or firm?
Tiny Tags is my heart and soul and where I focus most of my time and energy. I started Tiny Tags as a hobby after I had my second son because I wanted a creative outlet after I left corporate America. However, I quickly saw the potential when I would receive emails from moms about how much they loved their Tiny Tags. Tiny Tags became this real community and has grown beyond my wildest dreams. We have sent Tiny Tags all over the world. We have seen celebrities such as Meryl Streep wear Tiny Tags. Our moms are open and willing to share their stories of infertility, adoption, and even loss with the hopes of inspiring or helping another mom. This community is what drives me every day and I am constantly inspired and moved by these women.
The idea for The Matte came about because I have always had a small bathroom with no counter space. I was tired of putting my makeup around the edges of the sink and having it fall and break on the floor. Plus, I was putting my hairdryer on top of my toilet bowl because I had no other place to put it. I had to bring The Matte to life because I wanted to help the millions of women who I knew had the exact same problem.
Here at Boston Private, we understand that wealth rarely has to do with money. What is your wealth really for? Tell us a little bit about what motivates you – the Why behind your passion and Why you work so hard to achieve your goals?
My real wealth is time and mostly time with my children. Having my own business gives me the flexibility that I did not have in my prior career as a CPA. Over the years at Tiny Tags, we have heard so many stories from moms who have dealt with real challenges, and yet they are always moving forward. When you hear these stories, you can’t help but reflect on how having a healthy child in your arms is everything. Part of my passion is to share these women’s stories with the hope of inspiring or helping another woman.
As a businessperson, what has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge with Tiny Tags is staying focused on our audience and remembering my why. I made the strategic decision to focus on marketing to moms not only because that was the audience, I cared about but because it was good for the brand. I spent many hours reading and learning how to stand out in this very crowded marketplace and having a singular voice has worked for us.
My biggest challenge with The Matte is negotiating with retailers. Retailers want high margins, buy-back clauses, and extended payment terms. As a small business, we must be very strategic in who we work with and carefully manage our cash flow.
What are some of the things you have learned about yourself that surprised you most?
That I can do a lot of things at once - from attending a makeup trade show for The Matte and then developing a marketing plan for Tiny Tags.
“If I could spend 30 minutes with a person of import, it would be….”
Sara Blakely, founder of SPANX. I love her personality and her ambition plus she has supported other women-owned businesses!
My favorite part of the day...
The morning because the house is quiet, and I am able to enjoy my coffee.