Tifanny is the kind of person you immediately like and want to chat to. She is quirky, positive and has this kind of ‚let’s do it‘ aura over her head. Tifanny is originally from Manila, Philippines and moved to Sweden 12 years ago. Living on a farm just outside Malmö, with three boys and a successful business.
Tifanny is the founder of Timi – a fashion accessories and gift brand that is just as fun as she is.
Let’s read how she juggles entrepreneurship, motherhood and farm life far away from home:
Please introduce yourself:
My name is Tifanny Drennow. I am a MOBO (mom of boys) Max the police, who is 7, Franz the clown, 4 and Ian the chubster 7 months. I live in a beautiful ranch just outside Malmö. It’s close to the beach, lots of open space for my kids to run around, social enough to not go crazy because we rent out stable boxes and we can socialize with the people who rent the boxes, and if I really need a dose of city life, Malmö is just 20 minutes away. I own a gift company selling postcards and small jewelry, which I run in my office at the ranch.
Where did you grow up and go to school?
I am a 3rd generation Chinese born and raised in Manila, Philippines. I went to a private, Catholic girls’ school from kindergarten up to high school, so I have 35 year friendships with some of my closest friends. I graduated as a Manufacturing Engineer in Manila.
How was your own childhood?
I had a great childhood. I had my cousins and grandparents lived next door to us, so my sister and I never felt alone. Our granny would always bring us to our vacation home in the mountains and we could run free the whole summer. There was never a chance for us to run along the streets of Manila for fear of kidnapping or just plain crazy drivers. We would be picked up by the pony owners and beg our grandma to allow us to ride for hours on end, or we would roller-skate and ride our bicycles until it was time for dinner.
I was part of the Philippine national team in swimming and traveled abroad for training and competitions.
What did your parents do?
My mom was a housewife until we started to get serious with our sports, then she started her own business with her uncle and my dad was a businessman.
Do you remember what or who you wanted to be become when you were small?
I think I wanted to be a scientist then I wanted to make tissue paper, ergo studied Manufacturing Engineering until I realized Math and Physics don’t like me.
When you finished school, what did you do next?
I was really lost. I didn’t know what to do.
I invested on my ex boyfriend’s internet business because it was offered to me, which was a total failure.
I got into fashion Jewelry, which I am still doing now as a fluke. I had a lot of friends who bought Jewelry from Thailand. Coincidentally, my mom suggested that I go to Thailand to perhaps look at some plastic food containers that I could import and get a business going. I actually managed to buy some of these necklaces that my friends were selling and I happen to go to a store that was also selling the stones, so I bought a bunch of them and made these necklaces when I came home.
A friend of mine saw what I made and asked me if she could show it to some chain stores that she was already supplying to. I got a lot of orders there right after, so I had people helping me at my parents’ kitchen to begin with, and then we took over the garage and some parts of the living room.
What were the next steps in your career?
I had to sell the company when I moved to Sweden, so there would be someone who could take care of my employees. I’m lucky enough to do the same thing in Sweden. I actually didn’t know how to look for a corporate job in Sweden, so I started another company and sold Jewelry to some stores in Sweden.
You live in Sweden now. How did that happen?
My husband is Swedish. We met in Manila. He was an expat. He then had to move to Singapore and in the end, he decided to go back home to Sweden and asked me if I wanted to see how it felt like to live there. This was 12 years ago.
Do you miss the big city vibes of Manila? Or the Asian spirit in general? It must have been quite a change to move from Manila to Malmö…
I did miss in the beginning but I think as a mother, we are resilient and we adapt to our current environment quite fast. I, of course, miss my friends and family very, very much. I remember screaming really loudly before and my husband asked why and I said that the silence was deafening. But now I am living in a ranch and there are no neighbors. I do enjoy the silence, since I also have 3 boys that constantly make a lot of noise.
Being an entrepreneur on two continents- what are the biggest differences?
The cost! I could leave the office early in Manila and have a better social life because labor is not so expensive, but I really have to plan my days better here when I have my employees in the office, so I know that they are stimulated with their jobs.
It’s very hierarchical in the Philippines, but I think I have learned a lot from working in Sweden when it comes to respecting employee times and breaks and we have really made the factory in the Philippines very Swedish.
I think my employees there are very happy with that, because we work shorter days, more vacations, flexible working hours and that makes them very, very efficient.
How important is a career to you?
It’s pretty nice to feel to be needed and to achieve something at the end of the day, so I think career is pretty important for the soul.
How is your husband involved with the family organization and how do you keep your marriage interesting?
My husband is pretty good in taking care of the kids when I remind him to. He will gladly change their diapers when asked and he loves to be part of their after school activities like jujitsu or football. We were better in booking a dinner date before, but we have been bad at it lately.
We are currently renovating the house, but we have been sneaking some golf rounds after dinner once a week. We try to travel to at least 1 place a year that we have never been to, so we look forward to that.
My husband tells everyone that I am in charge of our social calendar, so he asks me who we will meet and what activities we have planned for the week. I think it’s nice that he trusts that I will keep it balanced for the whole family.
We also try to go through the week’s schedule like who we will meet, which activities the kids have to go to and which days we can play golf.
You have 3 children, a job and a husband – do you find it easy to organize everything?
It’s not easy but it forces me to be organized and put everything in a schedule, which helps a lot.
Any tips on how to balance being a working mom and family life?
Take things into stride. If my kids want to be in my office because it’s 20 steps away from our home, just because they want to hang out with me, I let them. They should of course behave and not disturb but other than that, they are welcome. They end up being well behaved because they find new things in the office that keeps them busy anyway, plus I get to spend time with them.
If you have tried and it failed, dust yourself off and move on. Don’t dwell on the failures or mistakes because there are a lot more challenges ahead.
If I don’t manage with my deadline, I talk to the one I’m delivering to and try to work things out. People are nice enough to understand. You will be surprised that humans are naturally nice as long as you explain why you need their something from them.
Do you have a good support system in Sweden?
Yes, the daycare system is awesome! It really gives moms a lot of time to be able to achieve a lot of things during the day. And knowing that the kids are having a blast in school, I don’t feel guilty when I leave them and I think that takes a lot off the load from a parent.
I have also an au-pair who helps out at home. This gives me more time to hang out with the kids after work or going out and having a short round of golf or dinner with my husband.
Do you personally find it difficult being a mom of three and having a career?
Yes, but I am lucky to have a very flexible work situation and I think it’s nice to also have some of those work hours in my day to think of something else aside from what to cook for the evening.
Is there anything you would change to make things easier for women in the business world?
I would encourage that they get a flexible working schedule. I implement this in my own factory in the Philippines. I allow moms to bring home their work, so they can spend time with their families and continue working when the kids have settled down. I also make very short work days for my employees, which I think forces them to work more efficiently and gives them more time to spend with their families. By doing this, their loyalty increases and they are more focused in doing a good job for me.
Women are natural organizers and we just need to encourage and give them guidance on how to make things as efficient as possible, and that makes a whole world of difference for women to easily increase in ranks in the business world.
Where do you find inspiration for your jewelry and gift products?
I find it everywhere from nature and funny things that people say, and the office we are sitting at is very inspirational, so it’s not hard to be creative. I also travel to get inspired.
When you look at your own children, what do you want to teach them for life?
I want them to have a great childhood. This is the foundation of what they will be when they get older. I want them to be good persons. We are all born good in our hearts, but as we grow older, the lines between good and evil become blurred.
If they can go back and are confident that they don’t need to be evil to achieve something and not cheat their way into getting what they want, then I will be so happy and proud.
What is the best piece of advice you ever got?
KISS: Keep it Simple, Stupid. Life shouldn’t be complicated or at least we shouldn’t complicate it more than it already is.