By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Tiffany Miller is known for wearing a flower in her hair. One day, while out and about she noticed a woman wearing the same flower in her hair. Miller said the feeling was akin to showing up to a party in the same dress as someone else. So, she decided to create her own flowers and from there, it turned into her brand FlyBlooms by Funky Fly Flowerchild.
FlyBlooms is one of the four anchor shops located at the Bronzeville Collective at 325 W. North Ave. Miller is one of the co-founders along with Lilo Allen of Papyrus & Charms.
The Bronzeville Collective opened in late October of this year. Miller explained that the idea for it came after she and Allen participated in Pop-Up MKE and RISE MKE. Earlier this year, for a month starting in mid-August, Miller set up a physical shop through Pop-Up MKE. Before then Miller had been paying $1,500 in vendor fees to sell her products in festivals like Bastille Days or Brady Street fest. Working in a physical store allowed Miller to interact with her customers and create pieces in the same space.
Later, Miller and Allen collaborated and won the RISE MKE pitch competition. From there, they opened the Bronzeville Collective. Miller said they wanted black and minority entrepreneurs to have a place to set up shop, but more importantly they wanted to highlight the work being done by black artisans and entrepreneurs.
“Makers of color are not highlighted in the handcrafted retail centers in Milwaukee,” Miller said.
So, she and Allen decided to change the narrative.
Miller was born and raised in Milwaukee in the Sherman Park neighborhood. She also teaches special education at Milwaukee College Prep.
When she was 10-years-old, Miller recalled her teacher writing the word entrepreneur on the board. From that moment, Miller was intrigued by the concept and aspired to be an entrepreneur herself and in 2012, she became one.
“My parents always wanted me to be a doctor or lawyer,” Miller said. “I knew that wasn’t my path.”
Her father worked at Northwestern Mutual and her mother was a teacher. Miller decided to combine both. She said she always had an entrepreneurial spirit and creating and selling flowers soon led to her business. In addition to flowers, Miller sells infinity scarves, clutches, bowties, headwraps, earrings and lapel pins, plus more.
Miller said the goal behind FlyBlooms is to help people add some color to their wardrobe with handcrafted adornments.
“I make it easy for people to add color to their lives,” she said.
What makes Miller’s items so unique and special, is that she self-taught herself how to make them. The clutches, for example, took a few times to get exactly right, but now Miller has the pattern down pat.
Additionally, the items are often made from a better quality than the ones she used to purchase. The flowers she used to wear would fall apart but because she makes her own, she knows they’ll last a while.
“It’s all one big experiment gone right,” Miller explained of her business.
That also applies to the Bronzeville Collective. Miller said that one of her favorite aspects is being able to create her pieces in the same space that she sells them. There’s good energy, she said. People are inspired by other’s creativity, she added.
“It’s beautiful to have this space for myself and my business,” Miller said, but it’s even more beautiful to be able to share it with other vendors.
The Bronzeville Collective gives vendors visibility. In addition to giving creators a space to sell their handmade products, it also created a Buy Black Bingo Card.
Allen, who is the creative force behind the bingo card, explained that it was created to highlight the businesses in the Bronzeville Collective. Some of the other Bronzeville shops featured on the card include FlyBlooms, Papyrus & Charms, Alice’s Garden, Diana’s designs, POP therapy and Distinctive Designs.
The card features 24 businesses in total and is available for pickup at the Bronzeville Collective until Dec. 29.