The Story of TACtile Studio
I have always been fascinated with colors and patterns and how they work together to create moods and change environments.
As a little girl I always dreamed of designing...everything. I wanted to be a branding designer before I knew what branding was. I wanted to create logos before I understood the full purpose of a logo and what a successful logo design entailed. I wanted to create inviting spaces and have my own stationary line. I dreamed of designing greeting cards sold in Hallmark stores.
And then, the internet happened and in 1996 I found myself wanting my own website designed, of course, by me. I started reading books on HTML and CSS. Once I had that nailed down I read books on Java and C++. In 1997 I bought my first domain name. It was blurred.org and the last time I checked it was still an active domain just owned by someone else. I redesigned my website quite frequently and then I bought more domains and designed and redesigned them. I had a "blog" before blog was a word and my cats had their own website, too. After a few years of practice and helping some friends with their website projects I was confident enough to jump in and market my skills to make some extra income.
In May of 2002 my first baby was born; my first business - Sassy Designs, Inc.
After focusing on website design for a handful of years I started branching out into print design. I was designing magazine ads, web ads, marketing materials, and logos. I was the original layout designer for a local tabloid publication called "The Cleveland Canine" at its inception and through its first year.
I took a step back from my business after the birth of my son in 2006. I retained my existing clients but, went back to the daytime workforce and another office job. In my heart I still knew I was destined to be my own boss; the timing was just off.
Fast forward a few years to 2009. I was still working the daytime office job and running Sassy Designs in the wee hours of the night when my son was asleep. A close friend of mine had recently started a photography business and she asked me to help with the branding for her business. Not too long after that she started contacting me to design things for her clients. I was creating custom holiday cards, birth announcements, and invitations.
It was after the first few custom card designs for her that I had the idea to revamp Sassy Designs and the services I offered. I no longer had the time to take on website design projects but, smaller design projects like cards and logos fit perfectly around my full-time day job schedule. I started with an Etsy shop and 35 products that included card template designs and digital paper designs. The Etsy shop was a HUGE success! It was also a lot of time-consuming work to manually fulfill orders and email downloadable files to customers.
In 2010 I stepped up my game. I moved my Etsy store to my website domain and acquired a dedicated server. I had a new shopping cart installed that made the ordering process 100% automated and allowed me to focus on designing new things. By spring of 2010 I became 100% self-employed. I was nervous about it but, I knew if I gave it my all that I could make it a success!
The popularity of Sassy Designs grew by leaps and bounds. I started working with professional print labs and designing custom items for them to market to their client base. I was traveling to attend industry trade-shows and I was able to meet a very large portion of my customers in person. It was amazing!
In 2011 I opened a photography backdrop business with a photographer friend. We created a successful business based on my digital designs from Sassy Designs and it was very well received. We had additional designers working for us and we had a full-time assistant in the studio to keep things flowing smoothly since we had three successful businesses between the two of us.
And then, just as quickly as it came, it was gone.
Life as I had been living it came to a screeching halt. It was June of 2013.
My business partner, my best friend, the person (next to my husband) that I trusted with everything, dropped the ball. Actually, it's more like she threw the ball against the wall and smashed it into a million pieces; pieces so small that they could never be picked up and put back together.
The business was done. We closed it because we had no other choice. There was no money to pay the bills and everything was chaos. I thought the best thing to do would be to start selling backdrops again - to keep the business going on my own; just under a different name. So that is what I did just a few short months after everything had fallen apart. But, my heart wasn't in it. I was stressed and just thinking about trying to make enough money to pay off all of the debt I was stuck with. I ended up with more problems, more headaches, and completely overwhelmed. That overwhelmed feeling can kill your creativity and motivation faster than anything.
As 2015 approached I thought long and hard about what I should do and how I should move forward. I decided it would be best to take some time off from the backdrop side of the business to help alleviate some of my stress and allow me to tie up those still lingering problems. I also decided that I didn't want to have my creative endeavors split up into separate websites with separate business names. After all, it has always been just me designing my heart out and hoping that the world liked what I created.
Design is and will always be my passion. I have always, always dreamed of having my very own retail storefront so that I could offer scrapbook paper, printed stationary, party decor, and more to everyone. Sassy Designs will always be my baby but, I wanted something that showcased ME and was a brand that could encompass everything I do as well as grow with me as my product offerings grew.
If it hadn't been for the struggle of suddenly losing what I thought was my dream, that original backdrop business, then I would never have been pushed to fully realize the dream I have always had in my heart and work on making it a reality.
Sometimes, the struggle is the best part of the story because it's the part of the story where everything changes. Sometimes, the struggle leads you to the best part of the story; the end result of having walked through the storm and having overcome that struggle. Regardless of which it is, the struggle is always a part of the story. This is my story...so far.