Published on August 29th, 2013 | by Michelle Tea3
Her Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter: An Interview with TIFFANY BEVERIDGE
Tiffany Beveridge did the impossible – she found a way to transform Pinterest from a mind-numbing, OCD time-suck into an actual creative platform. Her Pinterest board, My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter, posts pictures of incredibly – like, sickeningly – fashionable children, in particular little girls, interchangeable enough in their chic (mostly) blondness to all pass for her imaginary daughter, Quinoa. Each posted photo comes with a personal comment, as if we were browsing Quinoa’s family photo album. The experience is perfect: you get to indulge the sweaty, complicated love of high-end children’s fashion – which takes all the ridiculousness and discomfort of regular high-end fashion to uncomfortable new heights, because it’s children for chrissakes! – but Beveridge’s comments keep you company, like a wry and witty friend making cracking jokes while reading over your shoulder. She knows how silly it is, too, and yet how compelling, and has augmented it all by giving Quinoa (and her equally imaginary mother) the personality of an itty-bitty Cruella DeVilla – rich, callous, offensive and blissfully unaware. My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter has blown up so hard I never thought Ms. Beveridge would be so accessible, but she granted MUTHA an interview so here we go! – MICHELLE TEA
MUTHA: Okay, firstly – are you surprised at how the Quinoa project has blown up? Did you imagine it had such traction? What inspired you to start it?
TIFFANY BEVERIDGE: Surprised? Um, yes. I never imagined it would take off like this. Last spring I was presenting a mini writing workshop to my son’s fourth grade class and told them to always write down all of their ideas, because you never know which are your best. That was certainly true of my Pinterest board, which at the time was totally undiscovered. It started first as a place to catalog some of the cute clothes I would see. I named the board “My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter” with hardly any thought. The funny captions and story lines came later when I began finding over-the-top photos and my sense of humor got the best of me.
MUTHA: You clearly love fashion. Are you secretly coveting Quinoa’s clothes? What designers are your favorite?
TIFFANY BEVERIDGE: I’ve always been a clothes horse, ever since I was Quinoa’s age, though my wardrobe was entirely hand-me-downs from my older sisters and cousins. I do love fashion, but at the same time I’m a pretty practical and frugal person. I’m always the one scouring the clearance racks in the back corner of the stores. As for designers, I truly have no favorites. I love wandering in big department stores, thrift stores and Target all the same. I love clothes for kids and myself that are colorful, flattering, and help express a person’s personality. When I was younger, I was more interested in having the right label. The older I get, I just want it to fit right and last!
MUTHA: Do your sons have sibling rivalry with Quinoa?
TIFFANY BEVERIDGE: My sons are mostly uninterested in Quinoa, which is probably a good thing. She has a way of taking over things these days, so the boys definitely keep me grounded. They want to know what’s for dinner and if they can hang out with their friends.
MUTHA: Does Quinoa have an extended backstory in your mind? Will there be a Quinoa book?
TIFFANY BEVERIDGE: I am actually pursuing a book right now, which will hopefully give me a great opportunity to draw a more in-depth picture of Quinoa for all of her fans!
MUTHA: There are so many fantasy life boards up on Pinterest – the New York Times did an article about women without even a steady date who had elaborate wedding boards on the site. Were you nodding to that with your bluntly titled Quinoa board?
TIFFANY BEVERIDGE: Honestly, no. I was unaware of any of those boards and my title is a nod to my habit of writing long, clunky titles. I had a creative writing professor once who, after reading my story, said, “Your stories are good, but your titles are horrible!” I guess I just kind of embraced that.
MUTHA: I find Pinterest is a time suck that feels deceptively like I’m working, and you’ve managed to sort of turn it into actual work! How did you do it?
TIFFANY BEVERIDGE: Haha! Well, it was certainly unintentional. I use Pinterest so often in my work as a copywriter. It’s the most amazing creative crowdsourcing site. When I started writing “Quinoa pins,” it was usually at the end of a long work day and I was trying to amuse myself and my friends. Now, it’s the first order of business. I guess it goes back to that same idea: get all your ideas out there. You never know which ones will take off.
MUTHA; Do you know that kids’ fashion magazine Milk? I always almost buy it but then I get too mad at it. Do you have any favorite kids fashion magazines?
TIFFANY BEVERIDGE: Yes, I am familiar with Milk! In fact, I believe I’ve pinned photos from it on MIWDTD. There’s certainly a lot of MIWDTD material in that magazine! Another favorite of mine is Babiekins Magazine. They have amazing photography.
MUTHA:What got you started with your blog, The Would-Be Writers Guild?
TIFFANY BEVERIDGE: It started from a love of writing and wanting a place to capture my thoughts. Blogging was still fairly new (2006) and it was this amazing forum for self-expression and creative community. I’m still friends with many of the people I met through blogging. I named it after the writing group I started, The Would-Be Writer’s Guild. (Again with the clunky titles!)
MUTHA: I noticed in your voice, on your blog, this sort of embrace of failure, which I really really love in a writer and artist. Am I projecting?
TIFFANY BEVERIDGE: You’re not projecting! That’s definitely me. As a working mom with big dreams and always a lot on my plate, I’ve lived for many years with the feeling like I’m doing a mediocre job at many things. When I was working full time, putting my husband through grad school and going to college part time AND trying to raise two little kids, I lived by these words: AIM FOR AVERAGE. I know it sounds like a commitment to mediocrity, but I think for me, at the heart of it, it was a commitment to give myself a break, do the best I could with what I had and who I was at the time, and not get caught up in perfectionism. That philosophy has served me well. I’m all about just digging in and getting to work!
MUTHA: Is Philadelphia a great place to raise kids?
TIFFANY BEVERIDGE:We absolutely love where we live. Philly is so rich in history, with great museums, sports and incredible food. There is a great emphasis on education and diversity, which we appreciate as well. We also love being so close to great beaches, gorgeous Amish country, not to mention relative proximity to amazing cities like New York, Baltimore, and Washington, DC.
MUTHA: What other projects might you have in the works?
TIFFANY BEVERIDGE: I’ve been slugging away at a novel for too many years, with another novel idea I began a few months ago. Someday I hope to see these through to the end!
MUTHA: What are you reading right now?
TIFFANY BEVERIDGE: On my nightstand is Heft by Liz Moore and Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan. Both are great!
MUTHA: What are you obsessed with right now?
TIFFANY BEVERIDGE: Candied jalapeños. I make them and put them on everything: sandwiches, nachos, tacos, pizza, anything. Unbelievable.