GOOD NEWS — I always look for the “good news” of the day. Currently there appears to be a potentially viable vaccine in the works which is wonderfully good news.
FAMILY — This pandemic has helped emphasize family and loved ones. I believe it has encouraged people to think about what really is important to them and possibly re-evaluate their priorities. It’s been a chance to get to know each other better and to experience true quality time that may have been more difficult before.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ashley Andrews, Chief Executive Officer of Tiny Twinkle, a U.S.-based company focused on creating high quality, safe products for babies and parents. Based in Arizona, Ashley uses her keen sense for business and creative eye for Tiny Twinkle’s silky soft swaddles, silicone bibs, teething products, and dishware for babies.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I think like most people you never really know where you’re going to end up career wise when entering into the professional work force after college! I never would have guessed I would be where I am today and have found my path to be quite serendipitous! After college I applied for an entry level marketing position at a consumer products company that focused on baby goods. I hoped this would add some creativity in my day-to-day job. I ended up working at that company for over 10 years and I worked my way up until I was directing all of their sourcing and product development while also helping to manage their sales. At a certain point, I wanted to branch out and personally grow by creating a different brand that really encompassed more of my vision. I wanted to push myself to keep learning and be better and to create a company that was about more than just the bottom line.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
I would say the most interesting story was during our visit to Cologne Germany for the Kind + Jugend tradeshow. We were launching our new designs and rebranded look and getting an absolutely phenomenal response! So much so that we found more than one large competitor lurking about trying to snap photos and videos. At the time I took it as a huge compliment, but the next day my laptop went missing! Honestly, I don’t know if it is related but I can tell you that the baby business competition is not to be taken lightly!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are constantly working on new product ideas! We have some wonderful new training cups that can be quite helpful to parent’s and little ones in learning how to drink from an open cup. We want to make beautiful and useful products that also give back! We have partnered with a really fabulous charity, Vitamin Angels, and we donate a year’s worth of life saving vitamins to a child in need every time someone purchases one of our products! Even though we’re just a start up, we are really proud that we have already helped 40,000 children through our partnership with Vitamin Angels. Vitamins are so crucial to immune defense and we feel it is extra important to during COVID to help those in need stay as safe as possible!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am very grateful for both my father and mother. They both taught me that hard work is the best solution to any problem. My father, as a former attorney, has also been able to offer legal advice which has been invaluable.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
The biggest family challenge I have encountered is actually just getting used to not seeing everyone as frequently as I used to. I have a very close-knit family and not getting to visit them as often as I would like has been difficult. As a single woman, I think the isolation is probably my biggest struggle in regards to family.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I try to reach out and stay in contact through calls and video chatting. I like to send messages to let the people I love know I am thinking about them.
Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
Honestly, I think my challenges have been very similar to anyone running a small business in this current climate. The biggest challenge has been trying to predict what the next month or year will hold for us in retail.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I decided to pivot and focus on more product development so that we have new product to launch for when stores really do reopen. Because of the manufacturing slow down due to COVID, it offered us the ability to better negotiate with factories for these new styles so that the product can be as marketable as possible. We also have put a heavier focus on online sales as this is the obvious direction for retail now.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
I personally do not have children so I have not had to deal with this particular challenge, although my identical twin sister has two young girls and I know it has been difficult for her. We talk a lot about the day to day challenges and I’m happy I can be there for her even if it is via video chat! I think it is important to remember that many people are in the same position and to not get embarrassed or flustered when a little one interjects on a call or has an outburst. A lot of people are in the same boat and are experiencing the same issues!
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
I try to maintain different spaces within my home to separate out work from down time. A small rearranging of things can make a space feel new! I create moods by using music or lighting to make spaces feel different and not so monotonous. I also make sure to get dressed for work, even if it is just in casual workout clothes, just to feel more put together.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- GOOD NEWS — I always look for the “good news” of the day. Currently there appears to be a potentially viable vaccine in the works which is wonderfully good news.
- INNOVATION — People are ultimately resilient and hardships like these often push towards innovation. We will see some very interesting developments out of this that will help make society better. Even the idea of how this pandemic has fast-tracked remote working in a mass way has shown how quickly we can adapt.
- FAMILY — This pandemic has helped emphasize family and loved ones. I believe it has encouraged people to think about what really is important to them and possibly re-evaluate their priorities. It’s been a chance to get to know each other better and to experience true quality time that may have been more difficult before.
- SELF-IMPROVEMENT — This situation also allows space for self-improvement because we have been forced to stay at home in a way that is unprecedented. I try to look at it as a hiatus to get to know myself better. A chance to take time for myself and reflect on things.
- TECHNOLOGY — I also like to think about how amazing technology is right now and how easy it is to still stay connected! We are so lucky to be able to have so many outlets through which we can keep in contact with others!
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
I find there are a few techniques that are helpful for me when I am experiencing anxiety. It is good to remind people that like all things, this will pass and remind them of past challenges they have been able overcome to help strengthen them. I like to play a favorite song or create a soothing environment to help them relax as well. By incorporating the senses — scents, sounds, relaxing lighting — sometimes you can help quiet the mind a bit. Exercising is always very helpful in releasing stress as well as incorporating breathing techniques. Also, writing down your anxieties can help remove their power too. Trying to remember to appreciate where we are and what we do have can help people feel more positive. Oh, and don’t forget laughter of course!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Business is a game where there can be multiple winners.” This was said to me by a very successful business owner early in my career. He taught me that there is always a way to be fair in business and to always treat your customers and vendors like partners so that everyone is happy and gains from the joint experience. This has shaped my business philosophy and I do truly believe it has helped me to be successful. I believe you can have a positive impact and there is more than enough “pie” for everyone.
How can our readers follow you online?
We would love if readers would follow our brand on instagram @tinytwinkleshop