If there is one thing I feel is lacking in the handmade community, it is empowerment and support from others. So, to help fill that gap, I’ve decided to begin a monthly series called, “Artist of the Month” where I feature handmade artists in multiple fields and host a fun giveaway with them to help spread the word about their gift and their mission within this community.
So, this month let’s meet Tiffany Kopper, who just a few years ago, decided to take her love of fine art (and hand stitching) and make a business out of it! The Big Red Heart was inspired by her daughter's heart (quite literally) and has become a testament on how hand stitching doesn't have to always be with thread. Tiffany wears many hats and has many talents and I got to pick her talented brain to learn a little bit more about her work and how she got to where she is today.
1. How did The Big Red Heart get its start?
It started with an idea to try creating something special for my daughter's room (while she was in the hospital for her third heart surgery two years ago) and blossomed from there! I was lovingly nudged by friends and family, so I jumped all in! It's always a little (a lot) scary ("will anyone even like/want my stuff???"), but I'm so glad I did it! It's helped our family make ends meet and attain some goals we've had. PLUS,it's been a great creative outlet for me - I've always been into art, for as long as I can remember (there's "rumor" of a red crayon-meets-wall incident I've heard about from when I was two - toddler temper may have played a big role in inspiring that one. Sorry, mom and dad).
2. What inspires your work the most?
It depends on the day, for sure. Oftentimes, it's a verse that God's put on my heart, or a simple phrase, or life circumstances, that feed into my work. I also love flowers (obviously), and I follow lots of florists on IG, purely for eye candy. Deep down inside, I think I'm a flower farmer at heart (without the proper skills and training to back it up, of course....and I can't keep a succulent alive to save my life!). I can also be inspired by something seemingly totally random...inspiration is everywhere we look.
3. What is your favorite piece you have made and how did you develop the idea for it?
Do I have to choose one? There are so many that have been special for different reasons, but one of my all-time favorite hoops was one I stitched all in gold sequins on white cotton ("dwell" - based on Psalm 16:8-9). I really enjoyed the use of the negative space for the design (I minored in art and sometimes those principles are begging to be used differently). It takes sooooo many hours to stitch, so the sparkle hoops don't happen often. That one was a labor of love and was a little hard to part with! And as far as print art, I'm really in love with how our new banners are turning out - I have so many ideas and plans in progress for those and I'm excited to offer more variety and options as I have the time to implement them! It's also fun that I get my hubby's help on the wood frames for those (he is an amazingly talented woodworker)!
4. Most of your pieces contain some form of ribbon embroidery. Is there any advice to those wishing to try it?
Yes, just TRY it! It looks way harder than it really is, but the beautiful dimension and volume it provides is irreplaceable. The silk ribbon can be pricey, but it's definitely worth it. At worst, you'll be out a few dollars and have sore fingertips (which isn't quite as bad if you use linen or something with an open weave for the back fabric). I learned a lot of the stitches I frequently use online. The Internet is an amazing resource!
6. Has there ever been a part of your business that was a disaster? If so, what happened and how did you remedy it?
Of course! We all fail miserably at something from time to time, it keeps us humble. Not every page in my notebook is filled with something I'm willing to share. And as far as hoops go, sometimes I just hate it so much that I scrap the whole thing and start entirely over - because a clean slate is way better (in my opinion) than backtracking and trying too hard to make something work.
7. Is it tough being your own boss or is it the easiest job you’ve ever had?
I'm mostly a "Type A" person (though motherhood has ruined, I mean, helped me become more laid-back), so I set goals and standards for myself to attain, sometimes I meet them and sometimes I fail miserably. I can be pretty hard on myself and my work, but the nice thing is that I have amazing support from my hubby. It's the best job I've ever had (besides being a wife and mommy)!
8. Name one job within The Big Red Heart that you wish you could hire out to someone else.
I would love for someone to finish out the backs of my hoops and package them for shipping (they're an awkward size and shape). That would leave me more time for painting, sketching, and stitching! Once I've finished a hoop, I feel "done" because so much time and love has already gone into it.
9. Any advice to those out there wishing to start their own handmade business?
Nail down your own very personal and distinct style...anyone can copy your work itself, but if you keep seeking your own originality and developing new ideas, you'll become known for that and people will seek you out! I promise.
10. Tell us one random fact about yourself.
How about two?? I can (kinda) hula (I'm part Hawaiian)...and I HATE the idea of being inside natural bodies of water...you won't find me getting in any higher than my calves. (I love looking at them, it's just the being in or on part I don't like). They FREAK ME OUT. I tried canoeing once, to appease my husband (mostly because I wanted to truly be able to say, from experience, that I HATED it). Boy, was I right - and he wouldn't argue with it, either. If I'm on water, it'd better be in a decently-sized boat.
The Big Red Heart is giving away a "Every day is a New Canvas" Banner to one winner and the a "Hello" hoop to another winner (two winners total)! Gulush Threads is also giving away two $10 shop credits to each winner as well.
To enter, leave a comment below letting us know what kind of florals you would get embroidered by The Big Red Heart. For an additional entry, head on over to Gulush Threads IG and like the giveaway photo. Don’t forget to follow both @gulushthreads and @thebigredheart to be entered!
Giveaway ends Sunday, August 2nd at midnight CT with winner announced on Monday, August 3rd.
Winner (Banner): @simplymamajen
Winner (Hoop): Kate Fredrickson
++Winner will be contacted soon via email and IG DM++
Thank you all for playing and make sure to keep your eyes peeled for more giveaways coming your way!
Founder, Creative Director
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