Tiffani Thiessen Talks Life After the 'Bell,' Motherhood and Her New Nursery Line (October, 2010)
Tiffani Thiessen may forever be Kelly Kapowski from "Saved by the Bell" to many of her fans, but the actress who went on to play vixen Valerie Malone on "Beverly Hills, 90210" and, currently, stars in USA's "White Collar," is now a 36-year-old mom and savvy businesswoman.
Thiessen has partnered with celebrity designer Lonni Paul, of HDTV's "Design Star," to create PetitNest, an upscale furniture line for babies. Thiessen and her husband, actor Brady Smith, welcomed daughter, Harper, June 15, 2010.
ParentDish recently spoke with Thiessen and Paul about the new line and why they decided to join forces.
ParentDish: Tiffani, I have to ask, do you still have people coming up to you and calling you Kelly Kapowski?
Tiffani Thiessen: Yeah, I tend to get that a lot, yes!
PD: You are now an adult and a new mom?
TT: I am, I am.
PD: How is baby Harper?
TT: Good. I am actually looking at her on the monitor as I talk to you. She is sound asleep for a change. She had a rough few days because she just had her 4 month shots.
PD: What is she doing these days?
TT: She rolls from her back to her stomach. She can't roll from her stomach to her back quite yet.
PD: I read that you didn't have the easiest road in terms of getting pregnant?
TT: I had mercury poisoning so we decided to wait until I was mercury free to try and get pregnant. I had to go through a whole process, which took over a year to get rid of all of the mercury that was in my body.
PD: How did you get mercury poisoning?
TT: I was a non-meat eater for 15 years. I would only eat fish and ate tuna twice a week, which I did not think was a big deal. Apparently, it was. Tuna is high in mercury and did not do well in my body.
PD: So Harper is your little miracle?
TT: She is and she is doing great.
PD: Sounds like she needs a sibling?
TT: No, we are done for a little while.
PD: Between caring for your daughter and starring in "White Collar," where did you find the time to create PetitNest?
TT: I don't know, we are crazy women. I guess it started when Lonni and I met. It was on a TV show called "Design Stars." My husband and I were fortunate enough to have her as our designer for our guest bedroom, which we fell in love with. Yet, at the same time, we also fell in love with her and decided to bring her back to do our kitchen, create a playroom and then the nursery because I was pregnant.
PD: And just like that PetitNest was born?
TT: We noticed that the furniture we had looked all the same so we decided, why not create something that appeals to our style and hopefully to others, as well.
PD: Describe each of your roles in the business.
TT: Lonni is more of the designer. She puts more work into the design aspects of the stuff.
Lonni Paul: Tiffani is more of the techie. She is a total tech guru.
PD: Lonni, does being a mom help you design the collection?
LP: I have 4-year-old twins so, yes, having that experience does play a key role in knowing how to create. You have the mindset of a parent to understand what a parent needs.
PD: What do parents need?
LP: For example, with our gliders, we use fabrics that can be cleaned easily and can be used in other rooms in the house, and not just the nursery. We also try to design chairs that both Mom and Dad can use and are eco-friendly.
PD: How important is eco-friendly furniture to your clients?
LP: Important. A lot of people are trying to be eco-friendly, so we honor that request by using recycled things when making our products.
PD: Since we're slowly coming out of a recession and people are careful how they spend their money, is your stuff affordable?
TT: It is not something you would find at Target or Babies R Us, but it is not crazy over-the-top prices, either. One reason we don't have a low price tag is because all of our products are made in the United States. It was really important for us to build a company here and create jobs.
LP: While a lot of stuff made overseas comes with a lower price tag, we felt it was important to get people who needed jobs back into the work force. The other benefit: The quality of our line is top notch.
PD: And the state of the economy didn't scare you in terms of launching your company?
TT: It is always scary to start a venture -- not to mention how we both have full-time jobs and are taking care of our children. But, like they say, there is no time like the present.
PD: Given all the recalls we read about, do you work with safety specialists to avoid making those lists?
TT: Yes. Our cribs meet the standards and have been put through a series of tests. We are also with the JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association) and do not make drop side cribs.
PD: So, what's the next step?
TT: We are working on conversion kits so when a baby outgrows their crib, they can convert it into a toddler bed.
PD: Tiffani, your former co-star Mario Lopez just became a dad. Has he reached out to you for a crib, changing table or glider?
TT: He already had his nursery done for awhile.