When you’re from a small town, glamourous lives are presented as a fairytale, rather than reality. It’s practicality over luxury. Maybe you’ll join the military or do the family a great honor by becoming a teacher or getting heavily involved in ministry. There doesn’t seem to be many career options presented to small towners – especially not a career in fashion. It’s not expected that the world’s next big thing hails from a town with a population of less than 5,000. But life has a way of extracting greatness from the unexpected. Enters Synahia Tigner, your not so typical Girl Next Door.
Raised by a family of “pretty saucy people” in Hogansville, Georgia, Tigner describes her style as a mix of some of her closest relatives. From playing dress-up in her mom and aunt’s closets and stumbling around the house in heels five times her size, to mimicking her older male cousins’ undeniable drip and fresh kicks, her style evolution was inevitable.
Though her style styling skills came naturally, her journey to truly tap into her creative and entrepreneurial side took a bit more work. A graduate of Spelman College, Tigner began her matriculation as an aspiring doctor studying biochemistry. After becoming miserable from suppressing her creative energy, she launched her blog Syn City to be a creative outlet.
Awakening her inner passion for fashion and creativity with her blog, Tigner decided next to act on a dream she had long denied herself – opening a boutique. Since it’s inception, Girl Next Door has not only stood for extremely stylish clothes but also empowering the woman in the garments to be authentically yourself, in style and grace.
We caught up with this month’s It Girl to explore how this small -town girl has managed to make massive influential fashion waves in Atlanta, all a while balancing her mental health and everyday life.
Who is Synahia? What makes you, you?
Synahia is a collective of different people molded into one. I have my Mother’s charm, my Dad’s hustle, my Aunt’s sense of humor, and my grandmother’s tenacity. I’ve done a lot of redefining myself over the past few years, so who I am is constantly changing. These days I’m nothing but a go-getter, and I eat, sleep, and breathe my vision. But on the inside, I’m still just a shy little small- town girl trying to forge my own path in the world.
What makes me, me would most definitely be my spirit. I was raised by a village of people who gave me the best parts of themselves. So when you really get to know me, you can feel their energy radiating through. I’m also a person who stays true to myself no matter what, and my authenticity is honest. That grounded energy is what makes Synahia, Synahia.
Do you still blog? Talk about your personal brand.
I haven’t been blogging lately, but I’m starting to get back into it. When I started out, I didn’t have any real direction with Syn City, so I kinda just picked it up and put it down here and there. I’ve realized though, that my personal brand is what helps people connect with and buy into Girl Next Door, so it’s being revamped as we speak. Both brands play an integral part for where I’m trying to go, and they both deserve to be a priority. Girl Next Door functions better alongside Syn City and vise-versa, so I’ll be making time for both moving forward.
Describe your journey to creating Girl Next Door.
I always knew I wanted to start my own business, but I didn’t seriously contemplate the idea of it until I got to college. I was good at a lot of things, but I was unsure of my passions. The vision was there, but it was a little fuzzy. Girl Next Door, specifically, was an idea that I’ve had since my sophomore year of college, but some part of me didn’t really think I could do it or maybe I was just unsure of how to go about it. It wasn’t until my Junior year that I decided to act on it. I would write out different concepts for the brand and keep a running list of ideas until I came up with something I liked.
The vision was there, but it was a little fuzzy.
I applied for internships during the fall that aligned with what I wanted to do, just so I could get some insight into the industry that I was about to enter to be sure that I didn’t want to just work a 9-5 in fashion. That summer I ended up working for a company as a merchandising/buying intern and I hated it. Not the work of buying itself, but everything that came with having a corporate job. I felt constrained while I was there and the job became a bunch of monotonous work that I wasn’t interested in rather than really being immersed into the world of fashion/retail. I knew that I was capable of way more than what an entry-level position could offer me and it would take way too much time to climb the corporate ladder in order to have any real impact. I figured all of that work could be put towards my own dreams instead of doing it for someone else. I already had all of the paperwork and filings done for Girl Next Door the semester before, so after the internship ended I hit the ground running.
How would you describe the GND brand?
Girl Next Door is about celebrating yourself for who you are. It’s about finding the things that make you extraordinary and seeing the value in them, rather than striving to be someone you’re not. If nothing else, that’s what I hope people take away from it. The style or fashion factor is just an added bonus to flaunt whoever or whatever that is.
What type of girl is the “#ItGIRL?”
The #itGIRL is the girl who is shamelessly herself. She knows who she is and goes after what she wants by her own approval. She doesn’t take no for an answer and works hard to be where she is. She’s the girl who overcame the things that were meant to stop her – and looks good doing so. She’s you, she’s me, she’s any girl with a story of triumph, which is all of us. That’s what it’s about — not confining her to one thing or putting her in a box.
How did you build such a large following for your brand in such a short period of time?
I think I’ve built a large following for my brand because it has such a strong message. People don’t just buy products anymore, they buy into people and stories. I have a lot of people who support my personal brand in general, so when I created Girl Next Door I modeled it after my own story. It’s honest, it’s relatable, and it’s authentic. Everyone can connect with it and because of that, people chose to support it. It was never about making a quick dollar or riding a wave. I think that’s apparent when you come across my social handles or discover my brand message. I truly love and have a passion for everything that I do involving Girl Next Door, and that’s something people can stand behind and root for. There’s nothing like seeing your girls from around the way chase their dreams and WIN. That’s kinda the vibe that my brand has.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned about business, thus far?
The biggest lesson in business has been learning to just move on. You can’t go into it thinking that you’re going to win every time. As a matter of fact, I’ve probably taken 3 or 4 losses for every win that I’ve had and that’s okay because when I do win, they triumph over the losses, tenfold. Either way, good or bad, you have to just keep moving. That was really challenging for me because I’m a harper. I used to sit and sulk in the things [I did] wrong which led to not getting anything done. Not anymore, though. I’ve learned to take the good with the bad and to move forward fearlessly. This has helped me so much, not only in business but in my personal life, as well. I know and truly believe now that there’s no loss I can’t come back from and accepted the fact that each failure gets me closer to success. Learning to move on and let things go has taken away that fear of failure actually. Now I feel like I’m unstoppable in business and in life.
What does it truly take to run a successful boutique?
Anybody can run a boutique. We see it everyday. There are thousands of businesses on Instagram that are successful or can become successful by a combination of likes and follower metrics, social popularity, or different marketing tactics. Not saying that any of those things are easily attainable or unimportant, but I believe that real successful boutiques have longevity. They have established brands that go along with the pieces they sell and loyal supporters. No matter what they sell, if you think it’s good or bad, their people will buy it. If social media [disappeared] today, they’d be okay because they’ve won the hearts of their customers. That’s the level of success I’m trying to reach with Girl Next Door.
How is it balancing healthy mental health and running a business?
It’s a struggle honestly.That’s the part people are leaving out of their glory stories of entrepreneurship, but I feel is so important to share. I’ll be the first to say that this ish is hard. Maybe the most challenging thing that I’ve done in life thus far. I push and pull myself in new ways every day and it’s really exhausting. Finding a healthy balance is difficult because sometimes I feel like I have to step away from my business to do so, and I really can’t afford to. Especially not in these beginning phases. There’s always so much that needs to be done, and I’m the only person I have to do it. I mean I do have the support of my family who help where they can, but there’s still a line drawn at some point because everyone still has their own lives. [They] don’t eat, sleep, and breath GND like I do. I struggle sometimes with my mental health outside of business too, so it definitely takes a toll on me. I’m working on it though. I understand that I can’t pour from an empty cup, so I should prioritize myself.