My name is Tara Grier, and I am the founder and CEO of Fluffy Layers, creators of fashionable and functional farm products.
I grew up in Annapolis, Maryland which is far more sailboats and topsiders than it is 4H and county fairs. But every summer my parents sent me for two months to sleep away camp in West Virginia. See where this is going? When I was away I rode horses through the mountains with my friends and enjoyed being surrounded by nature. I’d always been an animal lover as a kid, but my summertime escape instilled in me a lifelong appreciation for the great outdoors and all its critters.
When I came home from camp, I went back to my usual activities: art projects, sewing, and smashing up old eye-shadows to make lip glosses I wanted to wear but the mall didn’t carry.
By the time I had to apply for college the decision for me was simple: I would study fashion, textiles, apparel, and marketing. The college I decided to go to was West Virginia University so I once again got to soak up all the goodness of nature without skipping a beat on my lifelong passion for fashion.
After graduation I did what most people in my industry do; I headed to New York. I spent years working in showrooms for designers. I loved the pace of the work but when I got married and decided to start a family the bright lights of New York started to dim.
My husband got a job as a PE teacher and football coach, so we moved back to Maryland where I quickly settled into suburban life. I had two kids, and a beautiful home in the country but something felt like it was missing. I wanted my sons to grow up loving animals as I did so I got my first few chickens and coop. It seemed like a great way to teach them about responsibility and where our food comes from.
Because I love to shop, I started to look for accessories for my coop and my chickens. Hopping from farm and feed store to outdoor shop I was shocked to find so many bland options and prints. Surely I was not the only person who wanted to feel artistically represented amongst her animals. I started making chicken feeders out of old chandeliers and designing prints I thought should be at the stores I frequented but weren’t.
Then, one day, I was lying in bed sipping my wine and watching the housewives duke it out on Bravo when my best idea came to me: I should bring fashion to the farm. If I was craving it, other people must too.
I was so very right. Fast forward a few years and the tiny little local company I started from my bed now sells in over 500 stores across 50 states and internationally.
It has taken an incredible amount of work, sacrifice, and dedication to grow the company to where it is today, but it all started by being true to myself and listening. I love color and prints and loud personalities. I also love animals and country life. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive because for me they have never been.
I believe that the clothes you wear are an expression of who you are. I believe there is a little bit of farm girl in all of us. That is my style theory.
I brought pop and style to farm life because, for me, that is right where it belongs.
My company has tripled in size since we began in 2014 and with so many exciting partnerships on the horizon, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Fluffy.
My advice for female entrepreneurs is simple: work hard and be original.
If you stay true to yourself and refine your vision what you do will be untouchable.
What you do will be unique.
What you do will be a creation all your own and individuality looks good on everyone.
My name is Katie Russo, and I am the COO at Fluffy Layers. Like our Founder and CEO, I also grew up in Annapolis, Maryland. As a matter of fact, she and I lived just across the hall from one another where I employed her as my main provider of clothing from ages 8-16.
Now, I have to admit, I wasn’t sold on the whole chicken thing when my sister started Fluffy Layers back in 2015. "You are making what? Why? For who?!"
I’d never been a big animal person. Growing up when she was outside making wreaths for her hair out of flowers I was reading under a tree or compulsively trying to nail my lay-up shot. But in 2017 when I was traveling and working in corporate public relations she asked me to help out with a press release for a new chain of stores she was going to work with.
As I typed and retyped and typed some more it dawned on me: I think my sister is actually squawking about SOMETHING.
I know what you are probably thinking, “Sister who work together? That must get messy sometimes!” But, lucky for us, we started our first business back in 1992. At that time we were selling snow globes to neighborhood kids. Tara made them out of old glass bottles and crayon shavings and I sold them.
The model still works beautifully 27 years later as we continue to expand across the US and internationally.
The best part is: I still get to steal all her clothes.