Degelis Tufts – Using Resourcefulness and Creativity to Chart Success

Degelis Tufts, Founder and CEO of Tribe Tats grew up around entrepreneurship. As a result she came to fully appreciate the challenges and rewards of such a path.

Degelis Tufts, Founder and CEO of Tribe Tats grew up around entrepreneurship. As a result she came to fully appreciate the challenges and rewards of such a path. Despite that not being her initial career path, she eventually made her way back toward what she knew best. Diverting from her investment career, she was inspired by her own “tribe” (circle of friends) to create the brand Tribe Tats, as a solution to an already existing product with many pain points.

The success she has experienced is evidenced by the many business relationships she has forged with big names like Facebook, Amazon and Nyx Cosmetics. Read about her story to gain more insight into who she is.

What did you eat for breakfast?

Avocado Toast

What’s your workout?

Pure Barre + Soul Cycle in New York

What picture is on your phone’s home screen? Share it with us.

A pineapple floating in turquoise water. A reminder to be a pineapple: Stand tall, wear a crown and be sweet on the inside!

Tell us about your work. What inspired you to start your business? Where did you start and where are you now?

I left my role investing in the stock market in 2013 to learn more about running a start up. I served as COO of 2 other female-run startups before launching my own. Metallic tattoos are a fun, beautiful product that make people happy and I decided to give TribeTats a shot! We now work a lot with other brands, music festivals and event planners creating co-branded, customized temporary tattoos for them.

What do you see for your future?

I am in process of launching a new brand in the cannabis industry, TribeTokes. I’m excited for the regulatory changes underway and am looking forward to use what I’ve learned about building a brand and apply it to a new industry.

Tell us a success story about funding your business.

I raised a small angel round from one of my mentors, who is also a successful entrepreneur, for my initial inventory and marketing tests. I chose not to raise traditional venture capital funding, and saw it as a personal challenge to bootstrap the business. It forces you to cut what isn’t working and only scale what is profitable.

What do you love about being an entrepreneur?

I love waking up every day and figuring out what needs to be done to be successful. In a corporate hierarchy, you’re often told what to do and what processes to follow, and it’s a professional growth exercise to be creating the processes yourself, recognizing what works and what doesn’t, and iterating from there.

What would you say is your “entrepreneurial superpower?”

Resourcefulness. I pick things up pretty quickly and am a good self-learner, which has gotten me a lot farther with less resources.
Photo of Degelis and instagram sensation (“the fat Jewish”) at the BABE sparkling rosé launch party

Who is the entrepreneur you admire most right now? Why does s/he inspire you?

One entrepreneur I admire is one of my close friends in New York, Katie Shea, who is not even 30 but has already started or helped launch multiple startups.  She is passionate not just about her startup but about businesses generally and has a rational approach to how to analyze, grow or improve them. She is also genuinely herself in all situations and not intimidated in male dominated environments.

What’s the best and the worst thing about being an entrepreneur, as a woman?

People not taking you seriously at first. I have long blonde hair and am kind of a goofball, and I don’t think people recognize my inner nerd until I start talking about stocks, digital marketing or why a certain business model does or doesn’t work. When I worked in finance, I used to “defeminize” myself, trying to dress more masculine or not act like my genuine self for fear of judgment — which I have largely given up on and am much happier!

Do you think male entrepreneurs are “different” from female entrepreneurs, and if so, how? If not, why not?

One thing I have noticed is that men seem to be more aggressive with fundraising, whereas I feel that women make more “calculated risks” – for better or for worse. For example, at the first fashion technology start up I joined where I was COO, the founder and I realized that if we raised our Series A we wouldn’t be able to achieve the metrics we needed to raise a second round – the economics of the business weren’t working out as we hypothesized. We had raised a friends & family round, but the thought of losing more investor money seemed irresponsible, and tabled the project and moved on. I remember thinking at the time, most male founders probably would have just raised the round anyway. I’m not saying one is better than the other – who knows – it’s just a behavioral observation, related to risk aversion.

What the best advice you ever got, and from whom?

My dad has always encouraged me to make decisions based on my truth north – to not make decisions for the wrong reasons (such as purely based on money) and to have high standards about who I work with and who I spend my time with. I think that has served me well.
Visit her website or connect with her on instagram.

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