Photo by Ruta Smith

A Little Joy

The Tiny Tassel’s new downtown storefront is the culmination of years of work to expand the trendy, locally handcrafted clothing and jewelry company’s offerings. Even amidst the pandemic, with an emphasis on support for Black-owned and local businesses, The Tiny Tassel has seen growth in 2020.

The company was created “on a whim” in 2015 when owner Mimi Striplin started making tassel earrings by hand. “[It started with] my older sister, her being so practical, she got me a pair of tassel earrings for my birthday, and she was like, ‘You know, you could really make these yourself,’” Striplin recalled. “It was like, ‘I’m going to prove her right.’”

Photo by Ruta Smith

Striplin’s handcrafted accessories are often vibrantly colored, featuring tassel earrings or beaded necklaces and bracelets. “I may just be in the store and see a really fun color that I love and just think, ‘Oh, we don’t have a tassel in this color, let’s add this color,’” she said.

The Tiny Tassel’s clothes and accessories are meant to appeal to fashion followers across the spectrum, giving people something they can match with jeans and a T-shirt or a statement outfit, Striplin added.

The business has mostly functioned as an online store over the last five years, but Striplin has hosted pop-up shops and co-owned Cannonborough Collective on St. Philip Street, where she sold Tiny Tassel wares.

In that time, Tiny Tassel has been featured in publications like People Magazine and Popsugar, and has been featured in Facebook’s Buy Black Friday challenge. Striplin noted that, since the summer, sales have increased as more local and national attention has been put on Black-owned businesses.

“I’m hoping that continues and it’s like a real thing all year round, not just in these trendy hotspot times of year,” she said.

After the business began to gain steam online, Striplin’s mother, Keiko, and sister, Aiko, got involved with their own unique talents. “My sister and I design our beaded style and our mom makes all of our clothing,” Striplin said. “It’s been really fun to work with them sort of in a family business aspect that we never expected.”

Striplin is going through the final process of securing city permits and hopes to open The Tiny Tassel to the public this month. A brick-and-mortar shop, according to Striplin, will let customers better experience the brand of the store. 

Photo by Ruta Smith

Upon entering, guests will be greeted by a “rainbow across the shelving,” displaying the lively colors The Tiny Tassel is known for. Inside, patrons will also see Striplin and others making the handcrafts in the back of the store. 

“It will be a really happy, colorful space that they can come in and hopefully find some joy right now, especially in this crazy time we’re living in,” she said.