Chattanoogan: Tiffany Rogers – It’s A Mad, Mad World

Saturday, September 14, 2013 - by Jen Jeffrey

Having her own business is enough to keep Tiffany Rogers busy, but juggling two businesses and singing in a traveling band makes for craziness that she actually craves.

Tiffany came into this world with the same liveliness and the doing-her-own-thing attitude that she has today. Parents Rick and Debbie Worley had lived in Marion County and were moving to Chattanooga the day she was born – actually during the time that she was born. Tiffany entered this world in the back seat of a Cadillac between Marion County and Chattanooga.

“My mother had gone into labor and my grandparents were driving her from there to Chattanooga, telling her the whole time she was not in labor and she ended up having me on the way here in their brand new car,” Tiffany concedes.

While Debbie was a stay-at-home-mom, Rick worked in a coal-fired power plant with the local boilermakers (not far from Tiffany’s shop in North Shore) and retired a few weeks ago. “He loves being retired but on the side he is a very artsy type person and likes art and building furniture and things like that. I’m not sure, but that’s probably where I get my creative side,” Tiffany says.

The adventure of her Cadillac birth may have been enough for Rick and Debbie to focus on their loving little handful and Tiffany remained an only child.

To stay entertained she played with friends, but Tiffany had an active imagination and explorative nature.

“I always wanted to know how things work and to take them apart and put them back together. I was the child that made you gifts and came up with different things all the time. My dad was like that and his mother, who was a folk artist, could also take anything and make it beautiful - so I was around that a lot,” Tiffany insists.

“My parents kept a book about my childhood and, each year they would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Almost every year, I said that I wanted to be a mad scientist - not just a scientist, but a mad scientist. I don’t know what that was about!” Tiffany laughs.

“There was an art exhibition in first grade where I won a blue ribbon for drawing a ghost that was attacking a scientist of a laboratory and he was screaming ‘oh no-no-no!’ and every time I look at that picture I think, ‘Wow that looks kind of disturbing.’ I am not sure where all that came from and I don’t know why my parents didn’t decide to do a study on me at that point,” Tiffany jokes.

Music was also a huge part of her life growing up from the time she was five years old and today.

“I come from a musical family as both my mother and my father are wonderfully talented musicians. My mother is a pianist and soprano singer and my dad is also a singer and a guitarist. My mother’s mother was a fantastic singer as well and she played an organ and a number of instruments. It was just an influence that I was always around. It was a natural gift for me and I grew up in a family that always encouraged it,” Tiffany says.

She took piano lessons, but didn’t stay with it. Tiffany continued to sing in school musicals and, when she went to college, she was part of the singing group with Baptist Collegiate Ministries and toured around to different churches.

“I had always listened to my dad play the guitar and I thought I could do that so I went back to Ed Brown, who was my former piano teacher, to get him to teach me guitar. Ed Brown is a fantastic musician and well-known in folk music and bluegrass circles. Ed got me on board and now I am in the Cumberland Band and we travel around and play together,” Tiffany says.

“I likely would have majored in ‘mad science’ if I could, but it was not offered at UTC. So I went into human ecology or child and family studies. The psychology of the family and how humans react to each other just interested me. I got an internship while I was in college with the UT Extension Service, which heads up the 4-H program,” Tiffany says.

After college, she ended up working with 4-H in Hamilton County teaching fourth grade through high school kids all over the county. Tiffany met her husband Matt Rogers while at UTC.

“He was artsy as well and we were in the same drama group. We were excellent friends in college but didn’t date until two years after college,” Tiffany recalls.

While working and traveling as a 4-H agent, Tiffany felt her job was keeping her from home more often than she liked, so she and Matt had a conversation about starting a business doing what they both liked.

“That is how Everyday Eclectic was born. It was our first business and it started out with us making soap and candles. I got into candle making during college. It’s one of those heritage skills that people have done for centuries and I love history so I studied up on it. I did a lot of research and thought I could do it pretty well,” Tiffany maintains.

Matt had a hobby of making all natural soaps. He worked for a marketing advertising firm as a web master and designer and did computer graphics, but on the side he would make soap like his father and grandfather had done.

“Matt was fascinated by this and he started tweaking recipes of his own. We put Everyday Eclectic online to see if we could sell any,” Tiffany says.

As their online business proved successful, Matt and Tiffany decided to try it at the Chattanooga Market and eventually in their own shop beginning with a small studio in the Business Development Center and also at Brainerd Road and finally on River Street. 

Everyday Eclectic expanded from candles and soaps to all types of crafty novelties and, as they continued to bring goods to the Chattanooga Market, the couple brainstormed to come up with a food product with the same ‘all natural’ philosophy as the soaps and candles.

Pure Sodaworks was born using all natural ingredients. Tiffany and Matt wanted to create some type of beverage with unique flavors to have for customers while browsing their items at the Market.

“We started at home in our kitchen. This has to be the way it was done before all these artificial ingredients were put into sodas. We started messing with it and we thought we came up with something pretty good,” Tiffany says.

Enlisting the help of Shawn Clouse who knew a little about home-brewing and also construction, they had him make the soda cart and have added him to the partnership.

“He built a soda fountain on wheels and we took it to the Market, but we didn’t expect the reaction we got. People had never seen this before and they started gravitating to it,” Tiffany says.

“We take different kind of herbs and we brew it and then we add sugar to it to make a syrup. We have a carbon dioxide tank hooked up to a water tap and the tank puts carbonation into the water and we add to the syrup mixture. It really is as simple as that. Cold water and carbon dioxide and you’ve got bubbles!” Tiffany states.

Matt had found a root beer recipe that dated back to the 1800’s with 14 different spices and the couple attempted to make root beer flavor.

“Our only issue was … like with all the good old ingredients that your grandma passes down – there were no proportions. A little ‘pinch of this’ a little ‘dash of that’ – whatever!’ Tiffany laughs.

“The first three were awful and tasted like grass! The fourth attempt was perfect. I still have the recipe book and I had written down a big #4. We decided to leave that on there and we called it ‘Root beer #4’,” Tiffany says.

Exploring new combinations of spices was next. With ‘Strawberry Jalapeño’ and ‘Honey Lime’ sodas, Tiffany discovered customers liked the odd groupings. It was Shawn who came up with the flavor of Strawberry Jalapeño from an Hispanic candy he remembered tasting as a child.

“After we made it, Shawn had a crazy look on his face like ‘I don’t know about this…’ and I said, ‘No it’s great - people are going to love this.’ He was really encouraged by that so we put it on our soda fountain and it was immediately one that people kept coming back for. People will ask, ‘Is it hot?’ but that’s not what it is made for. The two flavors actually marry very well. It’s not that we’re trying to burn your face off – it is just something that your pallet is not used to,” Tiffany asserts.

Success doesn’t always happen with every flavor they attempt. One soda that just didn’t work out was a watermelon concoction.

“It is the same thing that you have with a fresh watermelon - if you don’t eat it all and you put it in the fridge, it does not taste the same and it has sort of a weird flavor to it. So the soda that day was the best stuff ever – the next day it tasted really disgusting and made all of our faces squench up really bad,” Tiffany says. “That was definitely a one-day soda. I haven’t given up though; hopefully I can figure out how to make that one work.”

The large space at the Makery on River Street holds the workshop for Everyday Eclectic and Pure Soda Works. Tiffany and Matt are proud to show customers that what they are buying is actually made right there.

“When you come down here, you walk into our store front which is not a very big thing, but it shows you what all we make in this building. We have other artisans who come to the shop and work on their art, like Hollie Berry. We have plenty of space and work tables and we let them come here and use this space to do their work. Hollie makes beautiful journals for us and sells them in the store front,” Tiffany says.

She and Matt came up with a new line called ‘Bee in Your Bonnet’ which has the same idea of Pure Sodaworks by infusing certain flavors together, but for honey.

“We have Hibiscus Honey, Peppermint Honey Jalapeño Honey and Cinnamon Honey. It has really taken off and we already have a request from a local grocery store. Enzo’s approached us about it and they will have it in their stores next month,” Tiffany says.

This weekend, Tiffany will be at an Atlanta show displaying her jewelry line and, as far as Pure Sodaworks, the couple is exploring a sugar free soda to offer to the public.

“We never stop. We aren’t afraid to throw something out there and, if it works, great - if it doesn’t, great. That’s just how we roll,” Tiffany says. “Matt and I never stop having ideas - one idea tends to lead us to another. We already have ideas of the next products that we will be releasing in the next coming months.”

Tiffany has come fairly close to becoming the mad scientist that she always wanted to be. With several creations, concoctions and new ideas forming all of the time, it has become a mad, mad world that Tiffany loves.

“If I can bring joy to other people by doing what I love to do, why not? I enjoy bringing something unique to the market place and see customers who continuously come back to us,” Tiffany says.

“We are doing something we enjoy and we push ourselves hard to create, but our joy is seeing the smiles on people’s faces.”

www.facebook.com/EverydayEclectic

www.facebook.com/PureSodaworks

jen@jenjeffrey.com


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