You know all of those adorable photos you find on Pinterest with the perfect party tablescape? You know, the ones that have coordinating place cards, pennant banners, and cake toppers. Maybe you’ve seen them but have no idea where to look to find something similar?
If so, look no more. I’ve got a solution for you: The Tampa Type. Banner and party decor are their specialties, but they can also personalize shirts, beverage containers, and more!
Jessica Micheli, the owner of The Tampa Type, is a sweet family friend whose #1 job is being a mommy to the most adorable little boy, Grayson! She is super creative and talented, and whenever I need custom signs/pieces for my family events, she is my go-to person. Always one to go above and beyond any request I may have, I’ve been fortunate that she’s been able to help me with both personal and professional events for years now.
Learn more about her company, juggling it all, and some of her lessons along the way!
Scroll down for my interview with Jessica Micheli of The Tampa Type…
Please tell me a bit about yourself and your family.
I’ve been married to my husband, Ryan, for 5 years (just celebrated our anniversary in March)! We had our son, Grayson, in February of 2019. He was due in May of 2019, so he came to join us just shy of 3 months early. We had a wild ride the first few months of his little life, but our strong preemie superhero is now 2 years old and thriving! Most of his first year was spent in semi-quarantine due to his weakened immune system being born so early. Just weeks after he turned a year old, the pandemic hit the US. So his entire second year was spent in quarantine because of that. We can’t WAIT for what the rest of this year has in store for us and to FINALLY get back to everyday life and share our boy with family, friends, and the world.
What is your business? What do you specialize in and what services/products do you offer? When did you start and who are your clients?
My mom, Cynthia, has always been the creative one in our family. She was always involved with DIY projects I’m the owner of The Tampa Type. I’ve always loved designing and crafting, and making things ever since I was a little girl. Especially making handmade gifts and decor for family and friends to commemorate the special moments in their lives. A few years ago, a friend told me to capitalize on my craft and sell to those outside my comfort zone. That’s when I created The Tampa Type. It is a place where people can customize event decor, home decor, clothing, gifts, party favors, and pretty much anything they can think of! My clients range from mama’s throwing their babies parties to couples getting married to families celebrating significant milestones and anyone and everyone in between.
Where can we find samples of your services/work? How fast is your turn around time?
I used to have my work on Etsy but haven’t for the past two years. Initially, I temporarily closed my shop to concentrate on growing my family. But during that time and since then, I’ve been able to keep busy from just word of mouth — which I love even more!! With Etsy, I didn’t feel that personal connection that has always driven me with my work. So now, I get to have that because everyone I work with is either a family member, friend, or someone that has heard about me from someone I know personally!
You can now find me on Instagram (@thetampatype) and on Facebook (The Tampa Type). Or you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I always like to tell my clients to give me at least two weeks for turnaround. I am first and foremost a stay-at-home mom, and taking care of my family’s needs is my first priority. Realistically, I usually get orders done within a week because I get excited to create, but I still like to give myself a bit of wiggle room 🙂 Sometimes life just happens, you know?!
What is your background and what was your career/job before this?
I graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications (focusing on Public Relations) and a Minor in Leadership Studies. I graduated in 2008 just as the market crashed and companies froze their hiring (just my luck!). So I nannied for a few families full time until I landed a job with a communications company specializing in corporate meetings and events. I traveled the world and learned a lot about myself during those years.
It was great until it wasn’t. My stepdad was diagnosed with cancer. But the bright side was I met my now-husband around the same time. When I was single and my family was healthy, it was my dream job. But once my stepdad got sick and met the man of my dreams, I wanted to have a more normal life that kept me at home for more than just a couple of days at a time.
I ended up leaving my career for a more mundane (in a good way!) role as an Executive Administrative Assistant for a marketing company with an office located in Tampa, my hometown. Initially, it was just supposed to be a transition job to get out of the Event Planning world. However, I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would and stayed with the company for 5 years until I got pregnant with my son.
When my son joined us in 2019, I quickly realized that I didn’t want to leave him to go back to work. I spent years trying to make a family. When we finally got our miracle, my heart ached, thinking about leaving him with someone else. My husband supported my decision to become a stay-at-home mom, and here I am two years later! It is by far the most challenging “job” I have ever had, but I love every single second of it and wouldn’t change it for the world.
What made you want to change careers/direction and start your own company?
See the answer above 🙂 Also: Once I got in the groove of being a stay-at-home mommy, I longed to start creating again. I decided not to re-open my Etsy shop and instead market to friends and family through Instagram and Facebook. I wanted my clientele to be people I was close to at first. That way, if I couldn’t get something done right away due to mommy duties, they would understand. Turns out, these people are my people! I LOVE the dynamic we have — everyone who comes to me knows that I’m a mama first and a creator second. It makes me love doing what I do even more. There’s no pressure and a lot of appreciation.
I know being a working mom has it challenges, especially while taking care of a little one 24/7 while juggling work and the house duties, meals, etc. What challenges do you face? Any advice or secrets you can share?
It was tough to figure out what worked in the beginning. At first, I had to choose to either prep dinner and/or clean my house OR sit in my craft room and work during naps. I couldn’t figure out how to juggle all of it in one day — which was super frustrating because I’ve always been able to manage my time and multi-task. After a while, I realized every new mom experiences something similar. This season would pass, and I would be able to find my groove again. And I did. Now that my son is a little older and can self-entertain at times, I can accomplish things while he’s awake. He loves to “help,” so he has his own crafting station in my room where he can play while I create. We both love our time spent together in “Mama’s Room”! With all that said, I’m not quite sure I have any excellent advice other than everyone runs a little differently. It may seem difficult at first, but you will figure out what works best for you and your schedule with some trial and error. Don’t give up if it’s what you really want to do!
What is your favorite part about owning your own business?
I get to be as creative as I want! Most of my customers give me basic ideas on what they are looking for, and then they give me the creative freedom to run with it from there. That is my absolute favorite part. And also seeing my work in photos during people’s most memorable days — birthdays, weddings, showers, etc. It’s pretty magical. And the best part is that I get to be home with my baby every day 🙂
What advice do you have for anyone who is thinking of starting their own business/branching out on their own?
Do not let anyone tell you that you can’t! Especially yourself 🙂 I was the only one who didn’t believe I could do it. Everyone else knew that I could, but I let myself and my nerves get in the way. I’m so glad I finally took the leap!
What’s the biggest lesson you have learned working for yourself?
I’m my biggest critic. I’m a perfectionist to a fault sometimes. But I also love that push that I give myself to always do my best. It gives me motivation. I like working on my own time when it’s right for me. Yes, I still have deadlines, but I can work at my own pace and at times that are best for my family and me throughout the day.
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