Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler" - the interview

They say that if you don't ask, you don't get. So I asked Tiffany Beveridge if she would tell me more about creating Pinterest sensation "My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler", and she said yes! Tiffany's eye for imagery, unique turn of phrase and biting satire have made her amongst the first "social media stars" on the Pinterest platform, and I was fascinated to understand more about how it came to be and how she felt about her success. 

What form of writing do you currently do?

I've been working as a freelance copywriter for the past seven years. I've written everything from catalogs to radio ads to product packaging and blogs. It's a lot of variety and a lot of fun. 

How is creating content for Pinterest different to other formats (long form, Twitter etc)?

For me it was very natural but also very accidental, if that makes sense. I wasn't out to prove a point or do something new, I just started building a story to entertain myself. There isn't a character limit like Twitter, but I try to keep the captions short. I try to pack in as much "story" in as few words as possible and give a new twist on the details of the photo. And of course, the photo is a huge part of the content. I try to write captions that make you look at the photo in a totally new way.

Where did the idea come from?

I have two boys, so I never got to dress a little girl. I had always imagined that to be a lot of fun. When Pinterest came around, it gave me an avenue to explore that little fantasy. But then, of course, my imagination and sense of humor got the better of me.

How would you describe the "voice" you have created for it?

Quinoa and her mother are both very strong, Type A personalities. I am anything but Type A, so the voice for both is a lot of stuff I would never say or do. That's the great thing about being a writer; you can try on different voices as easily as trying on clothes.

Who were you writing it for? Who was your imaginary audience?

I have to credit my sister Leslie. She loved the idea from the beginning and would ask me for updates. I really had no other audience in mind. It was very much a silly sideshow, kind of a creative release I'd engage in every now and then. My husband and kids didn't even know about it until things took off. 

What has been the most surprising thing about its success?

I think I'm most surprised at the broad appeal. There is quite a spectrum of people enjoying the board. There's one end that is revelling in the social commentary and the other end that is laughing, but wondering where they can buy the clothes for their own kids. 

How do you see it developing?

I've always dreamed of writing a book, so that's what I'm pursuing first. But the great thing about Quinoa is that she thinks big. I'll try to follow her lead and go wherever she wants to take me! 

What has it taught you about Pinterest and/or what opportunities do you see for satire on it?

I've said before that Pinterest has always been about storytelling. Explore somebody's boards and you'll have a good understanding of who they are as a person, or who they hope or wish to be. My board just took that storytelling down a more overtly fictional path. It's fun to think about following a specific story line pin by pin. I hope there will be more boards that explore it as a fictional medium.

Who would be Quinoa's Instagram counterpart?

I think the obvious answer is Alonso Mateo. That is one stylish kid and he's the real deal! 

If Quinoa started a Board about you, what would it be called? 

Probably My Would-Be Writer Mom or An Imaginary Wardrobe for My Clearance Rack Mom.