Multi-creative entrepreneur Tatiana Johnson is earning her coins as a designer, DJ, social media guru, and writer. She owns Made You Look Studio, Inc., and serves as the Director of Digital Marketing Strategy. Local venues such as Basement East, WKND, The Back Corner, and Willie B’s book her on the 1s and 2s. She recently launched a limited edition candle line that is all things amazing. Tatiana credits Nashville for affirming her businesses as viable assets. “Nashville lets me know my businesses are working and are needed,” Tatiana said. “I didn’t know people were that interested in upholstery here … And as for social media, it lets me know that my ideas and imagination are valued.” Read Tatiana’s story, then get ready to chase your own dreams.
Dually raised in “money-earnin’ Mt. Vernon, New York, and Middle Tennessee, Tatiana’s early education years were spent here in the South. Before majoring in journalism at Middle Tennessee State University, she was a fashion design major, but early exposure to the fashion industry clarified her need for change and to follow her passion. As she shares, “I was able to intern for New York Fashion Week in my first year of college at Zac Posen.”
Creating opportunities were commonplace for Tatiana. In college, she started an organization called Culture Shock Mag. It evolved into a TV show “Culture Shock with Tatiana” and a radio show at MTSU. This entrepreneurial internship took her to Fashion Week once again and additional opportunities continued to flow her way.“I interviewed Nicki Minaj in Queens,” Tatiana said. “We did it in front of Dunkin Donuts in Queens one summer. This was when the mixtapes actually had the manager’s number on there, so I called, and she did it.” The opportunities seemed to be endless. Tatiana interviewed Drake backstage at the I Am Music Tour. She also managed to secure a spot with MTV UK.
Post-college, Tatiana returned to New York. One day after work, a chance encounter at a listening party landed Tatiana her dream job at Source magazine. She started off writing horoscopes for Source magazine and then had her big break via a print story about Jhené Aiko. I was like, “Oh my God! In print, this is crazy. That’s my dream.”
Illness brings her back home
Tatiana’s mother always told her she could be anything she wanted to be. “She would always get the magazines, take pictures, put it on Facebook and say, ‘look at my baby, pick up the new source,’” Tatiana said. “My mom was always really proud of me. She was my biggest cheerleader.”
Tatiana’s grandpa, who resided in New York, never squelched his granddaughter’s existence as a free spirit. “My grandpa always thought it was funny that I never would sit still,” Tatiana said. “As soon as I got my passport in college, I studied abroad in London, and I lived there for a few months. And after I got that, I was like I can go everywhere now. But he encouraged me. He just knew that I wasn’t the sit still kind of person.”
Tatiana’s grandmother lived in Shelbyville and taught her at a young age how to sew. Thanks to her grandmother, Tatiana can create wealth as an upholsterer, upholstery teacher, designer, and crafter of additional goods.
“My mama became sick and wanted me to come home to take care of her and my grandmother,” Tatiana said. “My grandmother had breast cancer, and my mother had cervical cancer. So, I took care of them. I had to sell everything I had in Arizona. I had probably been there for four months, but I came back home and became their caregiver.”
Tatiana served as a caregiver to her family for approximately three to four years. It was a difficult time in her life. But there were moments in the latter years of her grandmother’s life she’ll always cherish. Tatiana continued sewing with her. She even noticed her grandmother’s memory would return while they sewed together. Tatiana was unable to work traditional jobs. Her work consisted of home décor to home staging because she could bring her grandmother along. Her mother, grandfather, and grandmother would later in a very short time period.
Learning to care for self
Three years later, amid the pandemic, Tatiana finally let go and sold her grandmother’s home. She decided to end the commute from Shelbyville to Nashville, moving in April for a fresh start, closer to the city. “I’m just now, like literally learning to not be a caregiver,” Tatiana said. “I’m learning how to take care of myself. … I was just telling my friend it’s so quiet.”
The pandemic forced Tatiana to take time out and focus on self-care. She even traveled to four states in four days to step away and reconnect with nature. “I’m not just talking about pampering yourself,” Tatiana said. “But to have boundaries” as shares…”I write in my diary every day, but the writing I’ve been doing since this pandemic has been a lot deeper. It’s made me be gentle with myself. It’s made me treat myself like I treated my grandmother, to really be patient with myself”.
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