Tiffany is wearing our Indy dress. She intuitively felt drawn to it. After telling her the dress is dedicated to those affected by cancer, she tells me her mom is fighting breast cancer—a meaningful moment for her and me. 10% of all Wynsum sales are going to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation through the end of October.

Her hair is almost as long as she is tall. Light radiates from her as she offers a dynamic recounting of her life. She rocks between joyful laughs and reflective moments, making short rhythmic pauses for sadness that are subsequently transformed into statements of gratitude or forgiveness. She has a personal history you’d never guess accompanied such a petite, feminine form. It becomes quickly obvious that her size is in no way an outward expression of the magnitude of her wisdom, heart, and capacity.

“It’s okay to admire a tiger from outside its cage. You don’t have to get in the cage,” her mom tells her—wisdom Tiffany holds onto. Her family experienced great wealth in her early years, but when she was 10 they lost it all. Her dad was devastated, and as a victim of generational violence himself, regretfully resorted at times to abusive behavior. As she says this there is no anger in her tone. But it’s not like she excuses the behavior either, she just forgives—evidence she’s embraced her mom’s wisdom. To protect the children, Tiffany’s mom left with 10 kids in tow. For months they hopped between relatives’ homes until her mom secured a night shift job at a Walmart that paid enough to cover rent. Tiffany remembers walking into stores with her hungry younger siblings and stealing food so they had something to eat. She tells this all to me while holding her 20 lb. 8 month-old baby with the cutest chubby legs and cheeks, the perfect picture of health and abundance, and you can see she doesn’t take it for granted.

In her early 20’s Tiffany found work in LA as a hair and makeup artist for photo shoots and runway models. She had many transformative experiences that shaped the way she defines beauty and worth—they are intrinsic characteristics to be guarded from the criticisms of others and yourself.

“It was another day of work. I walked onto set with the photographer and someone announced we were ready to begin. The director looked at me with disgust saying, ‘What is this? Are you kidding me? She looks nothing like her photos! She is too short and stout for this concept, this isn’t going to work!’ He spoke loudly, angrily cursed, and did not care in the slightest if I overheard.

I cleared my throat as I approached him and said ‘I’m the make up artist.’ (awkward pause) ‘And I owe you dinner!’ he sheepishly retorted. I was glad I had the confidence at the time to be more embarrassed for him than I was for myself. He was kind the rest of the shoot and took me out to dinner at a rooftop restaurant to try to make it up to me…”

Another tiger, another cage.