Tiffany Smith is the owner and operator of LAV Label, an online retail marketplace where members can earn money through referring others to the space.
Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Tiffany later moved to Atlanta, Georgia. All totalled, she spent ten years in the city, where she took a position as the director of a children’s daycare. There, Tiffany Smith played a large role in expanding business of the daycare, greatly contributing to the opening of two new locations before returning to her hometown. She has nothing but fond memories of her time in Atlanta, especially working with children.
Once back in Chicago, Tiffany began laboring in earnest to develop LAV Label as a means of realizing her vision of creating a member-based online retail store where people can buy their favorite products at a vast discount. At its essence, the company operates a digital system designed so that people can find coupons easily, thereby mitigating any time wasted searching online, as well as earn money by referring others to become members. Tiffany had the idea for LAV Label as a result of being a single mother of two whose time was at a premium and an avid ‘couponer’—one who consistently collects coupons.
LAV Label currently employs more than 70 people and continues to grow every year. In her role as Founder and Owner of the company, Tiffany Smith prides herself on being a people person, and someone that others seek out for help when in need.
Upon leaving the scholarly world, Amy began conducting product research for small startups. She also gained volunteer experience by working with Hack for LA, the Los Angeles branch of Code for America, which is a civic tech organization that applies tech skills to government organizations and other civic problems. She then took a position as the Director of Insight at an integrated advertising agency. In that role, she managed and planned a portfolio of seven market research and brand strategy accounts across the tourism, finance, utility, non-profit, and healthcare verticals. She worked across the agency to conduct, interpret, and apply consumer and market research insights to develop strategic business insights.
Amy’s overarching professional passion is research, and she actively seeks positions that allow her to conduct as much research as possible. In this vein, her strengths are in-depth interviews, focus groups, and contextual inquiry/ethnography, but she boasts a wide range of experience, including usability testing. Currently, she and her cousin own a real estate company. She is also conducting independent research.
When not working, Amy Wilkins enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, traveling, and spending time with her friends and family, as well as designing and renovating her beloved Florida condo, which she and her cousin use as a short-term rental.
Can you share a little about the early days of your company?
LAV Label started off as a t-shirt store. We would print popular slogans and song text on the shirts, setting up vendor stations at festivals and places like that. After some time, we started to sell our products online and provide print-on-demand services for companies. Everything was outsourced and drop-shipped. That went on from 2016 until late 2017, then we merged the retail concept with the discount club concept. From there, we became a full-blown online store offering accessories, kids’ clothing, and more. That was 2018. In 2019, we started the affiliate portion of the business, and we’ve used that business model ever since.
How have you achieved success?
The key components to my success have been a strong team and strong systems. When you have strong systems in place, it’s easy to duplicate what’s already working for you. But you also need a strong team that can work those systems. I think the company isn’t quite where it needs to be yet, but as long as we keep our drive and discipline, we will get there soon.
What obstacles have you overcome in the process?
One general instance of overcoming an obstacle has been the company’s ability to pivot and change directions when something isn’t working, instead of being too stuck in our ways to make a change. On an individual level, maintaining self-awareness has also been difficult because sometimes it’s hard to objectively self-critique. It was a challenge for me to make sure that I was being honest with myself and to make sure that I had enough self-awareness to be able to change what wasn’t working and make the business better. I’ve been really working at that over the years, though, and I think I’ve made a lot of progress.
What drives you to succeed?
Honestly, what drives me is the thought that I’ll be able to touch a lot of lives through this company. I think I already do that with the employees that we have. Over the course of only a few years, LAV Label has grown from just me working on the company to over 70 employees total. That’s 70 lives and 70 families positively impacted. And as we continue to grow, we’ll be able to provide more jobs for people, as well as helping thousands through our affiliate program. Here’s one example of how we do that now: We use a profit-sharing model that sets us apart from other companies. That means it’ll take longer for me as the owner to accrue wealth, but I’m okay with that because I know my deserving and hardworking team is earning more money than they otherwise would through our profit-sharing model.
How has your definition of success changed over the years?
I used to think success was all about how much money a person makes. Now, I realize that is not the most important part of owning a business. What’s most important is being able to take care of myself, my health, and maintaining a decent work-life balance so that I have time to be able to do what I love. That being said, I’m still working 16-hour days and declining to take time off for the holidays and vacations—but good health and a solid work life balance are my end goals! Anyhow, the way I see it, money doesn’t matter if you’re not able to enjoy it.
What has success meant to you?
What success means to me right now is being able to positively affect the lives of other people by offering them a platform to save and earn money, as well as being able to donate part of the company’s profits to charities that focus on conserving the planet. I’m a big believer in preserving the environment. If we mess up Earth, I don’t know what we’re going to do as a species. That’s why it’s very important to me to give to those organizations.
Do you have advice for others on how to be successful?
Try to find a healthy balance between making money, having time to do what you love to do, and building your career. I find myself struggling with taking time off from the business because it feels like I’m slacking off. Obviously, though, that’s not the case. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s important to find a middle ground. Don’t make excuses and use the fact that you need a break to be irresponsible and slack off, but be responsible with your time. Work hard, but also find time to relax. Also, manage your money well. Wealth is not about how much money you make; it’s about how much you’re able to keep. So, live within your means. Don’t try to move too fast. Pace yourself. Don’t compete with other people when it comes to living a high-end lifestyle. In fact, don’t worry about what other people are doing in their private lives. Focus on what you need to do and block all the other distractions out.
How do you feel success affects a person’s outlook?
I feel like people who’ve reached a certain level of success are more optimistic about life and have a more positive outlook.