Tiny Tags Founder on Why Motherhood Should Be Celebrated Every Day
The Bump presents #MomBoss, a series dedicated to showing off all-star moms. We catch up with mompreneurs behind products we love, influencers who get real about motherhood and SAHMs who can multitask in their sleep.
Melissa Clayton was in search of the perfect “mommy necklace” after becoming a mom. When she didn’t find one, she decided to create her own. In 2010, Clayton traded her career as a CPA and founded Tiny Tags, a fine jewelry brand that creates unique and customizable jewelry for moms around the globe. What started as a hobby that included hand-stamping pieces on her kitchen counter has turned into a business that’s garnered far-reaching acclaim—including from stars like Meryl Streep, Selma Blair and Hoda Kotb.
Six years after starting the company and moving from Boston to California, Clayton, who’s since upgraded from a hand stamp to a laser engraver and brought her husband on board, runs her company of eight employees with an attitude of kindness and unwavering gratitude. Here, she spoke to us about the inspiration behind Tiny Tags, why it’s important to her that companies give back and the advice she wishes someone had given her as a new mom.
Over the years, when asked why I started Tiny Tags I would say because I wanted the perfect ‘mommy necklace.’ However, recently a mentor pushed me on this and then asked me about my own mother. When tears started to flow, I knew there was something more there. After reflecting, 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 commitment 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.
When I started Tiny Tags we were living in California and had an amazing community. It started as a hobby. When Tiny Tags started to grow and I needed help, my friends would jump in. Or, I would hire a mother’s helper to watch the boys while I hand stamped jewelry on the kitchen counter. Because Tiny Tags started as a hobby, I never felt pressure to grow the business. That was helpful in how I managed my time. Things are much different now, as a “real” company with eight employees!
I think every mom who works outside the house struggles with this balance. I am fortunate that my husband joined Tiny Tags three years ago, so we both have more flexibility than if we worked in corporate jobs. Plus my boys are 14, 13 and 11 so they are much more independent than when younger.
The stories we hear and the women I’ve gotten to know has been one of the greatest gifts that I never could have anticipated when I started Tiny tags 10 years ago. I have laughed with new moms who are delirious with exhaustion, and I have cried with moms who have lost their children to cancer. I carry their stories with me. Everyday I am reminded over and over again how precious this gift of motherhood is—if you are able to tuck your little one in tonight, you are blessed beyond words.
As a company of all moms and one dad (my husband), giving back to moms in need is just part of who we are. We’re always looking to give back in ways that our children can join in on. Some of our most memorable events have been putting on a birthday party at a homeless shelter, donating 100 Tiny Tags on Mother’s Day to a mother’s homeless shelter and my absolute favorite is our Love Ambassador day.
Our Love Ambassador day takes place on Valentine’s Day. We ask our moms all over the world to bring flowers (Tiny Tags provides the flowers) to their local senior center and have their children hand out flowers. The joy on their faces is truly priceless.
How important little, easy traditions are, like having pizza every Friday night, giving pajamas every Christmas Eve or making pancakes every Saturday morning. These little traditions make a lasting impression on children.
I started this one tradition years ago—I asked my kids and partner for a journal and had them write me a letter (or draw me a picture when they were little) every Mother’s Day, birthday, etc. These journals are my prized possession. They’ll write me a letter, tell me what is going on in their life and what they are thankful for. My husband will write in it, too. I also gave my boys journals and will write letters to them on special occasions. My boys are the gift in my life. Their words mean more to me than anything else.
Published April 2020