January 2, 2024

Small Business Stories - Featuring Tiffany Wachtler, founder of The Kindness Concierge

Amanda: Hi Tiffany - I am thrilled to be connecting with you today. Can you tell us about how you got started with your business?

Tiffany: Sure! I started the Kindness Concierge in 2023 after working in the nonprofit sector for the last 23 years. In every organization I worked with, including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Lung Cancer Research Foundation, I was moved by the sense of community and impact that was created by people coming together for a good cause.

I was inspired to create the Kindness Concierge after witnessing acts of empathy and learning how to meet people where they are at. My personal experience with grief after losing my mom in 2017 showed me how needed a service like the Kindness Concierge was. So, I started it.

So, what is The Kindness Concierge and how does it help people?

The Kindness Concierge is a paid service and giving platform that helps guide people to meaningful ways they can show up for someone who has had a loss of some kind.

I think for many people it can be hard to show up for someone who is grieving. There's a lot of fear about doing it wrong or misstepping that keeps people frozen in place. Sometimes people just give a quick reaction or double tap on a social media post, which is not very meaningful.

I created a company with a mission to help people get unstuck and show up in a way that will make the person who is grieving feel less alone.

A concierge typically helps people make arrangements or manage something. We are helping manage grief and arrange kindness!

Wow - talk about impact. Specifically, what services do you offer?

We offer a $50 Concierge Consultation via phone and video to help people who are not sure how to show up for someone. In that consultation, we learn about the relationship and grief situation to assist them in tapping into meaningful ways to show how much they care. This meeting is often very helpful in aiding people in processing their own feelings about the loss. We customize three meaningful ways they can show up for the grieving person. We then decide if they can execute any of the suggested courses of action on their own or if they need some support with carrying out those acts for an additional fee.

We also have an online e-commerce shop that allows you to purchase a care package or card.

Can you tell us more about your grief journey and what you learned from that experience?

The gift of showing up is important and this lesson came from the experience with my own personal loss. In 2016 my mom suffered a stroke; and although she recovered and was a stroke survivor, she had less cognitive ability and some physical challenges that led me to be a caregiver and step into her life in a new way. It was overwhelming. I had two jobs at the time and I was just so unfamiliar with the world of caregiving. The one thing that was truly remarkable is the way some people showed up for me.

Unfortunately she was diagnosed with lung cancer in October of 2017 and died two short months after that. The grief I experienced was unbearable.

I noticed some people in my life knew how to show up really well. Some people did it clumsily, but tried. And there was a whole group of people who did nothing… and at the time it felt like distance, absence… it felt hurtful.

I think as someone who's very social and surrounded by people, there were some assumptions that everyone else, or someone else was taking care of me… especially after my mom had been gone for a while and folks had forgotten that I was still working through my grief journey.

Now, almost six years later, I realize so many of those people wanted to do things but just didn't know how. So I created The Kindness Concierge to help people like them, so no one has to go through grief alone, and so that people understand that grief is ongoing.  

When I reflect on what people did to show up when I was going through my grief journey, I don't always remember the exact thing they did. I just remember them being there… and I also remember the people who weren't.

Showing up in a meaningful way is important. What are some common misconceptions about grief?

When many people think about grief, they often lean into death. That's the first thing that comes to mind. But we can lose lots of things... we can lose confidence, a job, a relationship or a pregnancy. In all those experiences, it can be very lonely. We need a community that can talk about our losses and show that grief isn’t a bad word. We need to change the conversation around how we show up and try to make people feel supported and seen.

So, how do you recommend showing up for someone who is grieving?

One piece of advice is “Don't be afraid to talk about a person’s loved one.” It's a wonderful thing to be able to say my mom's name and talk about who she was and what she meant to me. When people are afraid to bring her up, I feel like people are worried that they're going to remind me or tap into some sort of pain by bringing her up. For me, it’s the opposite - it warms my heart.

Also, be mindful of times of year and celebratory topics. My birthday is the hardest day of the year for me, and holidays can be hard for someone who's grieving.

Reaching out just to say “I'm thinking of you today” is really thoughtful. And I like to ask “How's your heart today?” because sometimes that gets to the heart of what's going on with them.

You mentioned you have a social challenge for everyone related to keeping social media social and grief. What is that?

This is a potentially controversial challenge - I challenge you to show up for people’s grief on social media beyond just a reaction, double tap or simple “I’m sorry for your loss” comment.

When I was going through my grief, there were people who popped up in messages on Facebook Messenger to take a moment to say something personal and real to me. Those messages transcended a reaction and were tangible and meaningful moments of connection.

Someone who I had worked with 10 jobs ago sent me a Facebook message that said “I also lost my mom and I just want you to know that I'm carrying you and your family and my heart” and it was a genuinely wonderful thing to say that led to a true moment of connection on social media.

I want to invite people to be more courageous and bold when seeing someone’s grief on social media. Although we often want to scroll by someone's bad news and keep going, I challenge you to pause and live in that moment with that person, hold space for grief and then send them a genuine message of kindness.

What is your offline social activity like, and how do you bring that online?

My husband jokes that I'm in the business of bad news, so it is important to me to celebrate and take moments to pause and appreciate people so that it’s not all bad news. Recently I hosted an in-person launch party - it was a chance to celebrate, create connections, show gratitude, and spread kindness.

I am a very social person; I love to capture and share photos online while building friendships. I learned the value of photos on a different level after my mom died. There are so few pictures of the two of us together, especially as an adult. I wish I had these photos and I could capture those memories in a tangible way, more than just in my mind's eye, because with grief you can forget so much.

So now, when you look at my social media over the last six years you will see so much in my real life documented because I know how valuable it is to capture those things. It's not performative. It's not for people to look and see what I'm doing. I'm trying to embrace and capture joy in my life. With grief, joy and sorrow have to live in the same space.

One thing I learned from my grief lesson that I share with my community through my content is that grieving is very individual and can look different for everyone.

How has social media impacted your business?

Recently I had a client who was following me on social media after a recommendation from a mutual friend. She reached out to me and scheduled a consultation for a grief situation she was going through. She was looking to support her friend entering hospice and wrestled with whether or not a physical gift made sense.

Ultimately, we decided that it wasn't appropriate to send a physical gift and showing up with her presence would be the most meaningful gift she could give. She was nervous to spend time with her dying friend but through our conversations we uncovered the courage needed to show up during her friend’s end of life journey. She just needed some encouragement! She was able to spend meaningful time with her friend before she passed away. All of that happened because she reached out to us on social media!

Nitty Gritty - how often and where do you post on social media?

I use Facebook and Instagram and try to post multiple reels per week. Every week I share an example of how someone showed up for someone else, tips about going through grief and how to show up for others who are grieving.

You show up in a lot of your content, which is something that feels challenging to many business owners and creators. Did you need to overcome fear to create that type of content?

It was not comfortable. I feel like I could talk in front of 1000 people on a stage and not even blink, but looking at that device felt petrifying.

I thought, “how do these influencers do it?!” Authenticity and being real is important to me! I want to be able to share the things I didn't know going into grief, the things I've learned and what grief has taught me. If I was just doing graphics, people would be very bored. And so I think it is important that I add some personality and let people see who I am.

What does Keeping Social Media Social mean to you?

Keeping social media social is staying grounded in humanity. It means offering a lot of kindness and grace to people online and off. I think that the reputation social media has is that it breaks people down but for me, it builds community and is a place of support.

Social media gave me the opportunity to help people see me and support me through the hardest period in my life. And for me to come out of that with joy and appreciation is a wonderful thing.

What’s next for TKC and What partnerships are you looking for?

I am looking to build a strong community of people who care. I want to have more proactive ways of reaching people. I’d like to connect with people in HR, or working in a role related to company culture - they're often the first ones to learn of a loss because of a bereavement policy. I’d like companies to offer the Kindness Concierge services as an employee resource.

How can we connect with you?

Go ahead and follow us on Instagram @the_kindness_concierge and spread the word!