Entrepeneur gains strength from personal tragedy

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The great inventor Thomas Edison once said that success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration. While those words have been overused in motivational posters to the point of cliché, they still ring true. For proof, you need look no further than Bluffton’s Tiffany Anisette, who turned personal tragedy into strength and one moment of inspiration into a calling.

The 10 percent of success that encompasses inspiration came to Anisette in 2005. Burdened down with what she calls a “black, boxy man bag,” to carry her laptop and portable printer, Anisette was suddenly struck with the notion that she could do better.

“As a massage therapist I wanted to have something that would accomplish two things,” she said. “First, to help women look good, and second to help protect their shoulders and back from pain and discomfort. So I created a bag big enough to carry things for the office that could also be used as a handbag or overnight bag, whichever today's sophisticated woman has the need for.”

The idea for the B.A.G. (for Business Active Girl) was created in that 10 percent moment. Part handbag, part wheeled suitcase, the B.A.G. provides all the neck- and shoulder-friendly versatility of a suitcase with the look of a designer bag. For the woman on the go, Anisette realized, it was the perfect solution.

For many, this might be where the story ends, with a great idea that never blossomed. But Anisette is different from most. To begin with, she gained personal strength from a childhood spent suffering various ordeals. She was born to an alcoholic and drug-addicted mother in Beaufort, and suffered abuse of all kinds from both her mother and from men who would wander in and out of her mother’s life.

“I’m not ashamed to speak on this topic because my speaking out helps other young girls and women who are still living through these events,” she said. But still, it wasn’t all darkness. “There were people in my life growing up that I looked up to that helped me look for more positive things in my life.”

Those few inspiring individuals helped fuel Anisette’s personal philosophy, codified in a credo she prints on all her business cards, “Dream Bigger than your Biggest Dream.”

But dreams will only get one so far, and it was time for that 90 percent perspiration. Anisette went to work making the B.A.G. a reality, starting with an online reality show called “The 16 Week Challenge.” The challenge gave independent entrepreneurs a chance to follow their dreams with the help of a professional network of experts. Anisette jumped at the chance, and was soon given access to an attorney to get the patenting process started.

Her legal aspects covered, Anisette began seeking out a manufacturer. It wasn’t easy. Anisette demanded that each manufacturer sign a nondisclosure agreement to protect her from cheap knock-offs, but very few manufacturers were willing to sign. She sought a few overseas manufacturers, but was stunned when they took her money and never delivered a final product. After going through several manufacturers, she finally found the right one and it was time to hit the trade shows and build buzz.

“I would carry my prototypes with me everywhere and women would have an interest because they hadn't seen anything like it,” she said. “Once, in Los Angeles at a conference, a women loved the bag so much she offered me cash without even seeing the final product and waited six weeks to receive it.”

Anisette now tours the country promoting and selling the B.A.G., living the dream but still relishing those days at home with her husband, Andrew, and their two children, Dru, 9, and Jaelen, 8. In keeping with the spirit of the Business Active Girl, Anisette juggles her roles as mom and entrepreneur. She manages that juggling act thanks to a personal philosophy that never backs down.

“Many people have ideas and never do anything with them. I’m hoping that I will continue reaching people everywhere to inspire them to take the first step to achieving their dreams.”

For more information, visit www.tiffanyanisette.com.