When I had my first child - like every other mother that had come before me - I was entirely unprepared for the change motherhood would have on me.
With the birth of this tiny beautiful person came the undoing of everything I knew to be true. Nothing felt familiar – my body, my brain, my friendships, my relationships, my world – and despite it taking a few weeks (or months or years) to settle in, I soon realised this new reality was – at least for me – the way things were meant to be.
One person who knows this feeling all too well is the founder of Tiny Tags – Melissa Clayton. As a mother of three herself, Melissa experienced first-hand the deep change we undergo when we become mothers, and our subsequent desire to announce and celebrate this new part of our identity. “At Tiny Tags, we celebrate a mother’s most precious gift – their children and the incredible journey of motherhood,” she says.
With a collection of fine jewellery pieces that are completely personalised and guaranteed for life, Tiny Tags has won itself fans by the likes of Meryl Streep, Sarah Wright Olsen and Anine Bing. The brand has also been featured on the NBC Today Show, in O Magazine and on Goop. They have clearly hit a nerve. And while the pieces are undeniably beautiful, Melissa says the success of the company comes down to the community of mothers they touch. “From new mothers beaming with pride and love over their new bundle of joy, to moms who are wearing their necklaces in remembrance of their little ones, or as a symbol of strength for those loved ones dealing with a personal struggle,” these are precious pieces that hold a special place in the hearts of those who wear them.
We asked four mothers (myself included) to spend an afternoon with their children in the park wearing Tiny Tags, and spoke to Melissa – a powerhouse entrepreneur who was a semi-finalist in the 2018 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year award – on business, motherhood and why sometimes, we simply need to celebrate the person we’ve become … And the children who have made us Mother.
Take us back to after your first son, Tyler, was born – what inspired the idea for Tiny Tags?
This year we are celebrating 10 years and I have reflected on my journey quite a bit. Over the years, when asked what my inspiration was for Tiny Tags I would say it was because I wanted the perfect ‘mommy necklace’.
However, recently a mentor pushed me on my deep ‘why’ and why I was so committed to Tiny Tags. The conversation quickly turned to my journey of motherhood and my own mother, who passed away three months after my son was born. When tears started to flow, I knew there was something more there.
After reflecting more, I wondered if my deep why stems from my childhood and having grown up living with my father. Although I never questioned my mother’s love for me, she struggled to show up and I think she lived her life filled with guilt.
After my first son was born, I felt incredible empathy for my mother because I couldn’t imagine having all that love inside and still not showing up because she had so much pain of her own. I wondered if I started making jewelry for mothers to celebrate their children because there was a part of me that longed to feel celebrated by my own mother.
Was my passion and dedication to Tiny Tags really the little girl tugging on her mother’s skirt saying, “I am here, be with me, visit me?” Is Tiny Tags my way of making sure every mom shows up for her child and appreciates her? Maybe. Maybe not.
What I know for sure is that children and this gift of motherhood is beyond precious. Tiny Tags is my heart and soul and having a small part in telling other moms’ stories of motherhood has been an incredible gift. So that is my long version of how Tiny Tags came to be and a look into my inspiration.
Was making this career change scary- what advice do you have for moms wanting to make a career change?
Talk to other women who are already in that career and ask someone to be your mentor. There are so many women-focused networking groups and other resources, from LinkedIn to Facebook, where you can find contacts much easier than when I started 10 years ago. I have reached out to so many women and am always so surprised and how willing people are to chat and share their knowledge.
Take us through the range and what you offer?
Almost all Tiny Tags are custom made and personalized with children’s names, birthdays or birth times. We offer all our jewelry in 14k yellow, rose and white gold, gold vermeil and sterling silver. The beauty of Tiny Tags is that we use a laser engraving machine to personalize our jewelry (most other companies use a metal bit to scratch the name into the metal) so the metal is never cut into which creates a fine, beautiful finish.
Laser engraving also allows us to engrave on the back of our jewelry. We had one mom engrave the birth weights of her twins on the back of her circle tags – 1lb 9oz and 1lb 14oz!
Some moms put their wedding dates, special phrase or nicknames on the back of their Tiny Tags. I love how our back engraving makes every Tiny Tags so special.