We had the good fortune of connecting with Tiffany Smyth and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tiffany, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I started ArtsMyths in 2005 after my mother moved to southern Colorado. At that point we were doing custom murals, faux finishes, mosaics and my mother built stained glass windows in her studio down south. It was my job to bid jobs and do consultations for clients and designers. We had been doing this for years but I needed a work space and was intrigued by the Sante fe arts district and the first Friday traffic. I began making leather masks, leather and recycled fashion, mosaics, and anything else we could think of to display on first Fridays. Eventually the leather masks won the public’s heart as well as my own and in 2007 we moved to south Broadway and started attending the Colorado Renaissance festival. In 2009 I attended a wholesale Halloween show and the masks officially took over our lives. We added AZ and TX Renaissance festivals. At the height of doing wholesale I sold to over 50 stores internationally and attended 3 Renaissance festivals, and had a retail store on south Broadway. This lasted for 9 years. It wasn’t really a thought process of how to start a business. It was more I needed a studio space and as everything evolved, I lucked out and got into the right shows at the right time. Deescalating the growth took more thought process. I learned that the stress of too many employees and overhead became a drain on my energy and was close to burn out.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I will say it’s important to continue to evolve, learn and create new works. I believe that’s what is intriguing to the public when they visit your booth at the Renaissance festival. If we only did 50 designs year after year that would be so boring for myself and for my patrons. I started making leather masks and headdresses for Lunar Fire who are amazing musicians and a theatrical dance troupe who also are fire dancers. They have headlined many music festivals before COVID changed everything. I started small vending at concerts, then opened a studio on Sante fe, evolved into a shop on S Broadway and between the trade shows and Renaissance festivals remained extremely busy. It wasn’t an easy journey, we were fortunate to always land in a good place. I remember my second trade show. Our van broke down along the way and it was make it or break it. We ended up having to buy the last cargo van in the lot in order to make it to the show in 2008. We still own that van and has been essential for us traveling to the Renaissance festivals. At a certain point after owning a store, having too many employees, having to keep up with orders, it all became a burden. I realized I just want to scale back and not have to make so much. After selling to stores for 9 years I decided to opt out of the big trade shows. Then I sold my store to my employee, Kitty Krell who renamed it Crimson Rose Masquerade. She is a very talented corset maker and maintains a work space in the shop where she continues to sell our masks and accessories. I moved my studio home to our garage and we exclusively just do the three Renaissance festivals and sell masks at Crimson Rose. I am more creative, less stressed and happier after the change. I don’t make as much money but then again the overhead and stress wasn’t worth it. I feel more balanced now. I feel more able to explore art. When the COVID quarantine began and our fairs started to be canceled that was a huge wake up call. I have had little luck selling the masks online and most internet custom orders were from some of the hardest people to work with. I decided to put on hold mask production and my mother Lynn and I began making stained glass windows again. We have glass juried into 2 of our Renaissance festivals so we figured we would eventually sell them at the fairs once they open back up. Since last year I’ve been sculpting reliefs and making molds out of clay to recycle all the glass waste into beautiful new dimensional pieces in a kiln. I have created many beautiful windows and had a few commissions. I love glass work so much and I’m thankful for the quarantine to have the time and space to learn and create. I’m equally thankful for the glass to keep my spirits up, inspired and motivated even when it felt like COVID would keep everything shut down.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would start with brunch at the Mercury Cafe, or swing dance classes there. Hoping it’s summer so we can take them to the Renaissance festival. Then a visit to our beautiful mountains and possibly rafting or paddle boarding.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Firstly I would love to acknowledge my mother Lynn. ArtsMyths would not have been possible without her support and willingness to dive into something new. She’s been an inspiring force in my life and taught me a great amount. She’s been there every step of the way. Secondly, to all of the amazing performers, models, friends, and Renaissance fair communities for their support and love of our work.