We had the good fortune of connecting with Devin Tomiak and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Devin, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
Seven years ago, I lost my youngest brother to suicide very unexpectedly. He was 28 years old and wasn’t someone you’d ever imagine would take this path. He was loved, supported, successful. He had a gazillion friends and a close-knit family. He was passionate, charming, witty, all of it. So when he died, I felt like the rug was pulled out from underneath me. I felt like if suicide could happen to him, it could happen to anyone–which is a very scary feeling.
Meanwhile, as I was grieving, I was also mommy-ing. I had a three year old son and then my second son was born four months after my brother passed. So as I was trying to make sense of my brother’s death, it was all in the framework of my kids, my kids, my kids, and how do I prevent something like this from ever happening again.
Suicide is obviously very complex and there is certainly no one answer why. But I began to do a lot of research about how we can prevent it, and ultimately, I landed on the importance of resilience. The reason why resilience jumped out at me is because it’s teachable. Resilience is something we can work on actively to manage our own day-to-day mental health, as well as something we can build in our kids.
And yet, teaching resilience is not always a straightforward endeavor. It’s not like teaching your child to play soccer. But it occurred to me that if we could talk to our kids about many of the social emotional concepts that make a person emotionally intelligent and resilient, that would be a start–something actionable that parents and teachers could do to strengthen the resilience of their kiddos. Of course, these conversations had to be approached in the right way if they were to resonate!
So I enlisted the help of a dear friend and a 25-year veteran of community psychology, Dr. Amy Engelman, and we went to work creating The Biggies Conversation Cards.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve learned so much since I started! Running a small business means you wear a lot of hats, many of which, I’ve had to teach myself how to wear. Many days I just try to put one foot in front of the next. I’m excited to announce that, beginning in 2022, I’ll begin wholesaling, which is a whole new ballgame that I’m currently trying to wrap my arms around!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
One of my favorite things about Denver are the amazing hikes and mountain biking in the surrounding foothills, only 20 to 30 minutes outside the city center. Apex Open Space is awesome.
Seeing a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater is a must-do. Such a special and unique place! And the trails around there are great too.
One of my favorite culinary dishes that I’ve only had in Denver are rice-paper wraps. You can get them at many local Vietnamese restaurants, but we love New Saigon. Rice paper wraps are like a make-your-own spring roll experience–so fun and delicious!
Another restaurant we frequent is the Plimoth. It has a great neighborhood-y vibe and the food and drinks are excellent.
We also love riding our bikes downtown on the Cherry Creek Trail. So many restaurants to check out–makes a great date night. We’ve also ridden to Coors Field for baseball.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My sons and husband motivate me daily! The number one protective factor for resilience in children is having a trustworthy adult, who provides unconditional and nonjudgmental support. My husband and I strive for that kind of connection with our children and so, in creating the cards, the boys were my little guinea pigs. I constantly went to them for feedback and guidance. They helped test out the cards (along with many other wonderful families who I also owe much gratitude!) My husband has been an amazing supporter of this venture, and continues to share his business acumen with me regularly. I couldn’t do it without my family.