PACSUN Feature | She is a Force to be Reckoned with
by Christine Kim·
Creative visionary Tiffanie Marie talks all things confidence and pursuing dreams – basically how not give a sh*t what others think.
For those who enjoy photography and creative content on Instgram, chances are you've come across Tiffanie's feed. (If you haven't, we could blame it on Instagram's new, seriously confusing algorithm.) From her dreamy, first-class photos, to insanely ingenious content, and empowering messages, she exudes passion and confidence – generating a community of empowered individuals to fearlessly pursue their dreams. We talked to the Los Angeles-based photographer, model and content creator on how she gained her confidence and what she envisions for this new year. You definitely don't want to miss out. Continue reading and find out the whole story. "I would say that I'm more of a creative visual person. And so whether or not I'm in the photo, in the back or behind the camera, as long as I get to be a part of that planning process that like vision crafting process, that's where I'm happiest."
UPRISERS: How and did you get connected with UPRISERS and Michelle K. Hanabusa?
TiffanieMarie: Francis Kenneth is one of my closest friends. He was like: "Hey, come meet my friend Michelle. I think you'll love her." This is back when I was still really shy. I lacked a lot of confidence in every aspect of my life. This was 2017, when I met Michelle and she just was the coolest human I've ever met. Everything about her vision, what she wanted to do with her brand, everything that she envisioned for UPRISERS, I was struck by it and I was like, wow, I will support you to the f*cking day. And that's literally how I felt. It's interesting because that vision of empowerment of the Asian community, it all trickles down, right. It's empowerment of yourself as an individual. It's the rising of yourself to a cause. And then from there, the rising of a community together.
How significant was the collaboration with UPRISERS in 2017 to you?
I would say that UPRISERS was a very, very important collaboration because it kind of was the beginning of me becoming a content creator and this version of myself that I am today. I think it really spoke to me because her event was the last one I went to before I ended up getting into a really, really devastating car accident. I shattered my spine and ruptured a bunch of my organs. I still have enormous scars from surgeries and everything to this day.
A few months after I started my recovery process Michelle said: "Tiff, I want you to model for our pop-up shop in Little Tokyo." I was rebuilding myself. I learned how to walk again. I was learning how to be confident in my body after all these scars, after this near-death experience. And I really felt what I wanted to be someone that was proud. Proud of the story that I had gone through and to really build that confidence within myself. I was like: "You want me? This five-foot-two little Asian girl to be part of this launch?"
"Old Tiff" would've probably been too insecure and rather not do it because I'm a photographer. Then she was like: "No, it's because it's more than just about being a pretty face or being cool or whatever." It's about the story that you represent, the whole story behind this person, this body, this mind. I feel like my story is so tied to this brand as a whole because it was a part of helping me build that confidence and always motivating me to give back to my community. Always motivating me to to be proud of where I come from.
How do you see yourself different in comparison to the Tiff before and after the accident?
Well, there's a lot of course, there's like so many people, so many factors to do with that. But I would say, Michelle asking me to model for her.
I think that as women, we spend so much time caring about physical appearances. I used to be very, very picky about myself and then I was like you know what... I'm never going to achieve the perfect version of myself that I'm imagining. That's how I thought of it before. But then after the accident, I remember laying there in the hospital bed thinking of all these things that I cared about so much before, it could've been gone in an instant. Would it have defined me? No. If I was five pounds heavier, ten pounds heavier, would it have defined me in the moment that I died? No. And so these physical things no longer mattered.
People say I looked the same before the accident, but somehow I got prettier. It's not about what I look like physically. It's how I feel mentally. I back it up from the inside out. It was me making that decision that regardless of what I look like or whatever, it wasn't going to be something I wanted to care about anymore.
When you realize that none of it really matters, that's when you're f*cking set free, right?
How significant was it being part of Hate is a Virus?
Asians were like the bottom of the barrel because of the fact that, we would never speak up. Asians were taught to just bow our heads and lay low and not cause shit, not stand up for ourselves because we're just trying to blend in.
I think that for the first time, because of our generation and Hater is a Virus, Asians all together as a whole have decided that we're not going to stick low, we're not going to shut up and take it. We're not going to just bow our heads and wait for this phase to be over. This time we actually said something about it. Michelle, starting this movement and really, really empowering everybody to come together it was so important.
I got a lot of racist comments and messages, and it's no longer the right thing to leave it alone. But it also was not about angrily fighting back. It wasn't about replacing their hate with our hate and our anger. It was about us being like: hey, look, see us as human beings, treat us as human beings. We're contributors, we're creatives, we're beautiful people here that are just trying to live a life and trying to pursue happiness just like you are.
How excited are you to be a part of the PacSun launch?
I think that it's just so f*cking cool that UPRISERS is going to be an Asian-American woman-owned business that's going to break into PacSun– this is the American dream. The American dream is for us to be seen as not just a niche in the Asian community. It's meant to acknowledge Asian Americans and give all the respect to that.
We deserve to be in the stores and not just as an Asian product– it's not the supermarket. This is something that's made by Asians and not just for Asians, but for the world. Do you understand what the f*ck we're doing? Listen to us. Look at us, this is what's happening now. We're here. We're actually f*cking here.