Tamara Robbins Griffith is a former stylist and editor with a career mojo that has helped her leap from one desirable industry to another. She’s worked as a design and managing editor at Style at Home magazine, appeared on CityLine as a guest expert for over ten years, made a jump to the marketing department at IKEA Canada (jealous yet?) and is now the PR and Social Media manager for HomeSense and Tri-Brand (including WINNERS and Marshalls) at TJX Canada where she gets to exercise her creative and strategic muscles. A mom to two littles who are 1 and 5 years old, she says freelance life isn’t the more desirable path for her right now because she’s lucky to be in a position that allows both her career and family to flourish.
“I love decorating and styling. To this day, I still have a few private clients and it gives me a chance to connect with some of the tradespeople and vendors who I have built relationships with over the years. I began my career as a floral designer during university and then started playing around with merchandising and styling. I had been obsessed with magazines from a very young age, so when I landed at Style at Home, I couldn’t have been happier unearthing trends and collaborating with photographers on beautiful shoots. And it was through the magazine that I first started appearing on CityLine and getting used to being an on-air expert.
While I adore the bright lights and creating beautiful rooms on set, there’s another side of me that loves seeing the bigger picture, developing long-term plans and making creative business decisions. And my company lets me express those skills more than a freelance styling or decorating career could. There are a lot of opportunities for me to learn and grow on the job, which is especially exciting at a time when retail, marketing and media are changing so fast.
However, I recognize corporate life isn’t easy for a lot of working moms and it wouldn’t be easy for me if I didn’t have an amazing support network in place. I believe that when it comes to parenting, there’s no shame in reaching out to family, friends and neighbours for help. And of course, the most amazing partner and resource is my husband. His work allows him a lot of flexibility. He’s very involved with the kids and he takes Noah to school every day and watches Amelia two days a week… I admit it would be more difficult for me to have my job if we both worked traditional hours with separate commutes. Every family has challenges when both parents are working and this is how we make it work for us.
“I’m surrounded by smart, funny and inspiring women every day who certainly all want results for the business but they also believe in life outside of work.”
I loved reading Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family by Anne-Marie Slaughter. She’s a working mom, international lawyer and foreign policy analyst who happened to serve as the Director of Policy Planning under Hillary Clinton. She says to take that corporate seat and don’t short change yourself, however there are certain conditions you need to make it possible without going crazy and one of them is an understanding partner. Unless you have tons of money for childcare, parents often have to take turns focusing on their individual careers, and it will get easier for both of us to follow our passions at the same time as the kids get older.
Another important point she brings up in the book is seeking the right conditions at work, which I’m so fortunate to have. A big reason why I’m at TJX Canada is because I really respect the women I work with. I’m surrounded by smart, funny and inspiring women every day who certainly all want results for the business but they also believe in life outside of work. I think because we are a fashion and decor retailer, our organization has a lot of female associates and absolutely gets the needs of working moms.
When I was offered this job, I was a new mom to a 9-month old. For me to start working sooner than later, I needed access to a private room once or twice a day to pump breast milk at work and it was made available to me. There are even parking spots for expectant mothers and a flexibility and trust that retains not only working moms but also meets the expectations of millennials who like freedom of movement and working dads who are sharing the load at home and at work with their wives. I really believe forward-thinking companies should all adapt to attract top talent.
Most of all, I have a lot of fun at my office job. I wear a lot of hats and can be on set shooting a creative one day and in an executive meeting the next. There is truly never a dull moment and I adore my team. I hope that when they settle down and have kids (a lot of them are still in their 20s), they feel like they can find the right balance in the corporate world with littles and I want to be there to support them. I also hope my kids see their parents as a role models for their own families one day. There really is no one right way to raise a family while working anymore. There’s just a whole lot of love.
HOME TOUR A small space with plenty of personality
KEEP IT QUIET
GET ON BOARD
HEARTH & CIRCUMSTANCES
GOOD & PLENTY
IT’S A SMALL WORLD
BOY MEETS DEN
HEIR APPARENT I
HEIR APPARENT II
MY FAVOURITE THINGS
“I’ve never been one to wear all black or stick to a uniform. Patterns and colours make me happy in my home and in my wardrobe. I enjoy variety and I know I would get bored wearing the same thing over and over again.” Jacket, Smythe; Skirt, J.Crew; Bag, Chloe.
“It’s kind of perfect that I work for WINNERS and Marshalls too. I love certain brands and high end designers, but I hate paying full price. I do have some shoes from other retailers, but most are from WINNERS. I have a lot of glamourous high heels, but truth be told, my favourite shoes are my Frye Engineer boots (not shown). I live in them on set and when I’m with the kids on weekends.”
“My hair just has a mind of its own. I have to literally bend it to my will. These days, I let it be curly more often but I will smooth them out with a wand and Living Proof Restore Instant Protection Spray. When I have a bit more time, I’ll use Moroccan Oil and then blow dry it first and either smooth it out or add some tamed waves with a flat iron. Either way, I don’t like to heat style too often, so I try to get a few days out of any style. That’s where Oscar Blandi Dry Shampoo comes in handy.”
“I love all these design books but The Perfectly Imperfect Home stands out. The author, Deborah Needleman, was the founding editor of Domino magazine and anyone who was a magazine editor when that pub launched will remember how influential the aesthetic was. I still have every single back issue. Her book is beautifully illustrated and shows how to have great style that reflects your personal story without being too precious or perfect about it.”
“Perfumes are an obsession I’ve had since I was a tween buying scents at The Body Shop. Then I graduated to Theirry Mugler Angel and CK One. I’ll always love Jean Paul Gaultier Classique. I’m still breastfeeding once or twice a day, so I put on my perfume after I feed Amelia, otherwise I would put it on right after my shower.”
“A lot of my jewelry marks special moments. When I left Style at Home, I was given a Holts gift card and was able to buy this Alexis Bittar resin bracelet and to celebrate my permanent position at TJX, I bought this Gucci watch—I call it my big girl watch. The bracelet from Tiffany’s has an ‘N’ for Noah and I’m going to add an ‘A’ for Amelia.” Leaves necklace, House of Harlow; chain with pearls, Alexis Bittar; and the vintage gold bracelet with pearls is close to her heart as it belonged to her maternal grandmother.