I find it hard to believe that you would want to know about me. A normal human being that may be on the other side of the earth from you. However, bienvenido!
My name is Tiffany Elliott and I am the mind, hands and personality of Tee Sankey Designs.
The DBA for Tee Sankey Designs was filed in August of 2015 with the intent of beginning my journey in jewelry and entrepreneurship on my birthday, October 15th. What I failed to realize was my journey in both began before that date.
It began on a day when my vivid daydreams weren’t enough to keep my prepubescent mind occupied. Unable to leave the concrete walls of my South Florida home, I wondered the house hoping to find something to do. Then there it was a glorious stack of random recyclables laying on our kitchen counter, waiting for recycling day. I awkwardly clenched and marched as many plastics bottles, wooden clothes pins and other nick knacks to our Florida room. Somehow, as if I were solving a puzzle, what was once considered junk turned into painted wooden earrings, plastic bangles and other creations. Instead of talking to myself for hours on end and playing with my imaginary black puppy named Midnight, I now spent my time harmoniously meshing objects together for personal adornment. This new hobby led to family members requesting my designer eco-friendly jewelry and friends receiving one-of-a-kind birthday gifts.
Fast forwards a few years, I graduated high school early, my college courses were set to start in a couple months and my friends were busy with their school requirements, boredom struck. I began searching for activities to partake in and pass time. My mother suggested I investigate Broward Community School; this is where I found a Jewelry course that taught the basics of soldering. Admittingly I was hesitant, self-doubt and fear were really holding me back. However, I jumped headfirst, I paid just over $100 to join the course. Before I knew it, I found a new love, my hobby had expanded! I began making silver stacking rings and simple designs. What was supposed to be one semester turned into two semesters.
More time passes. I begin and stop college more times than I can count, but all the while creating silver and recycled jewelry in my mother’s garage. It was through one of my orders for a fabric beaded statement necklace that the door was opened for a part time job at an art museum. This was my first job in an art related work environment. You see the entire time I’ve been secluding myself to joyfully make jewelry not once did I think this could be my career. There were several factors that played a part in my realization of my future. One would be my job at the art museum, more specifically my supervisor, who continuously encouraged me to go beyond my comfort zone by hosting workshops that involved making recycled accessories and introducing me to the possibility of selling my creations through the museum store.
Another would be my mom, who lovingly gave me an ultimatum about going back to school or leaving her house. Talk about tough love! Yet not so tough, because my mother who has seen my passion grow through the ages researched and found a technical school that offered a program on jewelry fabrication. Which was perfect, however, it meant I had to move since it was a 4-hour drive from my hometown. Once again self-doubt and fear struck. To leave home and everyone I knew meant learning to be a bit more extroverted in every aspect of my life, to intensify matters the next program start date was in two and a half weeks or five months, for the following. So, what did I do? I signed-up for Pinellas Technical College, gave my job two weeks’ notice and found a partially crappy studio apartment. It was then I realized my passion is my path.
I now spend my time joyfully juxtaposing simple shapes in my studio, drawing my inspiration from my minimalist lifestyle and love for the details in baroque art. Just like childhood, I approach the jewelry process as if I am solving a puzzle. Melting grains of precious metals and forming each individual piece before joining them to create the work of art you wear.
When I’m not locked away soldering, I’m volunteering my time with varies nonprofits and programs I value and helped make. Such as creating and facilitating free jewelry classes for undeserved youths in St. Petersburg, Florida. Keeping a focus on exposing as many students as possible to the jewelry making process, in hopes of inspiring them to pursue alternate career options that intrigue them, like becoming a jeweler.
I am also a board member of the St Pete Women’s Collective, a non-profit dedicated to “empowering women, female-identifying people, and respectful allies of all genders through community and creative enrichment”. This grassroots organization creates an affordable safe space in downtown St. Petersburg for all individuals to collaborate and pursue multi endeavors, such as hosting workshops, art shows, studio space, etc.
My newest project is developing and facilitating the program Free to Create with another St. Pete artist. This program focuses on exposing undeserved youths to different art forms in hopes of igniting a love for creating. Hosting multiple free workshops and classes throughout St. Pete in order to reach and produce a relationship with as many students as possible.
I am dedicated to a life of serving because the women who raised me taught me it is the only way to live. My mother who worked multiple jobs to provide, always found a way to expose me to anything my heart desired; soccer, ballet, singing, track, piano, drums; you name it I probably dabbled in it in my younger years. In addition, her giving heart found time to serve others by volunteering in soup kitchens, community events, and an endless list of other things. It’s because of this, Tee Sankey Designs is a mix of my mother’s maiden name and my initials. It serves as a personal reminder to mesh my love of art, creativity and jewelry with giving back.
When you purchase your one of a kind or limited-edition design, know it goes beyond supporting me, it supports a community.
Tiffany E. Elliott