Today we are sharing our latest interview with fearless nomad: Tory! Tory is the co-owner of the popular northwest lifestyle brand Wish You Were Northwest, she runs the business with her sister Tahnee who is pictured below.. We love everything she and her sister are doing in the entrepreneur world and especially love the creativity that comes from these two. We particularly love WYWNW because they do an amazing job of getting their brand noticed, and sharing beautiful lifestyle images of their products. They are doing something right, because soon their Rain and Fog shirts will be available at Zumiez! 

Anyway, let's hear what Tory has to say about building her business.

Tell us about who you are and what you do?
My name is Tory and I co-own a clothing & lifestyle brand called Wish You Were Northwest with my sister, Tahnee.

What are you currently working on right now?
We just released some new things for our fall/winter line that I'm really excited about and now we're preparing for the Holiday season!

What do you love most about running your own business?
Everything, to be honest! Our dad is a small business owner and I've always been inspired by his risk taking, his work ethic, and his determination to overcome challenges. I love the sense of adventure and the unknown that comes along with having your own business. Everyday is different and there is no end to the amount of time or creativity you can put into your work. You can do things your own way and be as unconventional as you want, and I really like that. 

How did you get started in the industry?
Tahnee and I used to do wedding videography together and after we stopped doing that we always talked about working creatively together again. We both love fashion and one day Tahnee told me she had the idea to make a shirt and just put it online and see what happens. We hand printed our first NRTHWST tee, she photographed it on me in our parent's front yard, and we listed it for sale. It just grew from there.

What is the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur?
For me I'd have to say learning how to set hours for myself. I get really absorbed in the things I'm passionate about, so I have to consciously make an effort to take breaks. My dad told me last year to "do something every day that inspires you" and that has really stuck with me.

What is something you learned the hard way?
This is a great question. I think how NOT to get upset over learning the hard way was something I had to learn the hard way, haha. I definitely beat myself up over making mistakes more in the beginning than I do now. But I'm figuring out how to focus my energy on moving forward and being thankful for the lessons learned rather than re-hashing what went wrong.

What is it like working with your sister?
I can't imagine doing this with anyone else but her. She's amazingly talented. We are very different in many ways, but we come from the same place, and it's that glue that holds it together. We are both pretty driven by our gut feelings, so it's great to work with someone like that. Another perk is that our meetings are always fun. We get to hang out, laugh, eat cookies...you know. 

Where do you come up with all these silly and wonderful sayings for your shirts?
I almost think of our shirts as songs ...only you can wear them and there aren't as many words to remember, haha. But I'd say our process is comparable to songwriting in the sense that it's a form of self expression for us, and often starts with a feeling we want to convey, the same way you would when writing lyrics. We also have a unique relationship with our customers, so we listen closely to them, and our hope would be that they can apply the sentiments to their own life, in their own way, whether that gives them a sense of adventure & empowerment or just that it makes them smile!

What advice would you give someone wanting to run their own business?

Oh man, I still have so much to learn! But I'll say three of the biggest things that come to mind:

1. It's easy to become paralyzed by wondering what people will think or how they might misinterpret you, but even if you try to please everyone, you never will. And the truth is, you don't need to! I think everything is more rewarding when you do it with conviction, and chase authenticity over popularity. One of my favorite quotes by one of my favorite artist's is Sting's "be yourself no matter what they say." That sums up my best advice for starting a business, or taking any risk.

2. Treat everyone with respect. People and their stories are the most valuable thing in life, and you will never regret being sincere and really caring about them.

3. Know why you're doing what you're doing and have a strong vision that you filter everything through. But at the same time, be open to growth and change. I think owning a business is similar to raising a puppy in the sense that it starts out very needy and dependent on you but then it begins to have its own personality so to speak. And that's when things start to get really fun! You will enjoy the ride a lot more if you let go of control a little bit.

What do you do when you are not creating and running a business?
I think that's one of the the fun parts of a lifestyle brand, it really is your lifestyle. So I mean, I would be exploring, taking photos, and making videos even if we didn't have Wish You Were Northwest! But I also love music, dogs, dancing, experimenting with hair & makeup, watching YouTube, eating cute desserts, being at home...and I really, really love to sleep. 

How has travel and adventure influenced you and your business?
This goes back to Instagram and the amazing adventure culture that exists there. We are so thankful to have been able to tap into that community and for the people we've connected with because of it. I literally spend hours just looking through hashtags because it inspires me so much to see other people's work and the adventures they're on.

How did you figure out the idea behind wish you were northwest?

We were born and raised in the We were born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, in a log home on wooded property to be specific. Our parents would take us on day trips most weekends. They both love to just get in the car and go without a destination - they still do that to this day - so that was normal to us and where we developed a love for this area. There is a certain feeling that is particular to the PNW. It's hard to put a finger on, but it's this mysterious, magical sort of thing that transcends beyond the region, and we just want to invite people into that world with us, even if they're not from around here.

What’s next for Wish You Were Northwest?
I don't know for sure, and that's the most exciting part!

We know you love the northwest :) but tell us, where is your favorite place to find inspiration?
In my car, with my music as loud as it can go.



OutdoorsLexi SmithComment