Posing with the famed fashion designer Ralph Lauren, gracing the cover of Vogue and palling around with royal baby Prince George. Does this toddler's life sound too good to be true? That's because it is.
Meet Quinoa, Tiffany Beveridge’s “imaginary, well-dressed toddler daughter.” Quinoa's imaginary online world showcases the style and class common among all children. OK, just the children in fashion magazines and on Pinterest.
In a world of designer clothes and often-emotionless faces, Beveridge highlights the humor in these unrealistic illustrations through witty Pinterest comments crafted around her imaginary child.
“Though she tried to make it work with a double cardi, high bun and vintage skateboard, Quinoa was going to have to tell Gucci that she couldn't endorse their reinvention of the Mom jean,” Beveridge wrote below a picture of a pouting child on her Pinterest board "My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter."
In ways, Beveridge’s own family life propelled her into the realm of toddler fashion.
“My two sons are amazing, interesting, funny people, but they wear a constant parade of T-shirts and basketball shorts and are too old for me to dress them," she said in an email to the Deseret News. "The only thing that ever made me pine for another child was seeing little girl clothes, which is ultimately not a very good reason for having a baby. So, instead of having another child, I started a Pinterest board. It's been much more economical, and there are no diapers to change.”
Some of Quinoa's activities include training seeing fashion dogs for the color blind, games of "Who Wore It Best" and small gatherings on private yachts. The captions highlight how outrageous the culture of childhood fashion can seem.
“Yes, it pokes fun at some of our social norms, like the urge to have our children too well-dressed, well-mannered, well-educated, well-liked, etc., instead of just letting them be kids and figure it out. I'm guilty of being that parent at times. There are other social ideas and trends that show up on the board, and I obviously have opinions about those, too, but I don't have an agenda other than to make people laugh.”
Although Quinoa’s schedule of elite activities seems far-removed from many fans' lives, Beveridge’s childhood memories are much more relatable. The writer grew up the sixth of eight children and was born and raised in Sandy, Utah.
“Utah was a great place to grow up," she said. "I loved summer vacations at Lake Powell and fall drives up through the colorful canyons. There are few things as perfect as a cool summer night in Utah, except for maybe one of those big pink frosted cookies at the gas stations there.”
Beveridge began her writing career at Mrs. Fields, doing gift catalogs, and she still writes for the company. After her husband graduated with his Ph.D. from the University of Utah, the family moved to the East Coast and has lived there since.
Her idea that began on Pinterest has now helped Beveridge meet one of her greatest goals as a writer: creating a book. "How to Quinoa: Life Lessons From My Imaginary Well-Dressed Daughter" will be available June 24.
The idea that started it all began in 2012. Having only boys of her own, Beveridge saw pins of adorable girls but felt ineligible to pin them.
“But then I realized that Pinterest is all about exploring fantasies — delicious meals, gorgeous homes, picturesque vacations — so I created a board titled 'My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter' and started pinning them there. ... Around the same time, I noticed that quinoa, the grain, was becoming extremely trendy. So trendy, I thought, someone was bound to name their child Quinoa. And then I chuckled and realized that person would be me. Once I named my imaginary daughter Quinoa, the character and the story really built from there.”
Beveridge never intended for the Pinterest board, which has more than 86,000 followers, to get so big. But after being picked up by some big-name bloggers, the board went viral.
“Now it's a business for me. It's the first item of the day instead of the last,” she said.
After the Pinterest board went viral, agents began contacting Beveridge. Within a little more than six months, she had signed an agent, received a book deal and written a manuscript. The book will be available from Running Press, the same publishers of "Feminist Ryan Gosling."
“It's been a surreal experience, since writing a book has been a lifelong dream," she said. "I never imagined that the first book I'd write would be a humor book, but it was a great place to start and a fun book to write.”
Beveridge's natural inclination for storytelling has contributed to Quinoa’s success.
“Without realizing it, I was using Pinterest in a way that it hadn't been used before: to tell a story, and a humorous story at that. I think that was a big part of the initial popularity. Pinterest can be sort of a buttoned-up, not-so-funny place on the Internet.”
But Beveridge thinks other things have brought people to Quinoa and kept them there.
“I also think that people enjoy the story and characters for different reasons. Quinoa is a total tyrant, but she has good intentions. She thinks the key to world peace is for each child to have a pair of Gucci pajamas. She has a very specific point of view, which is completely misguided, but I think it makes her interesting and endearing. Some people seem to enjoy the board for the social satire, others for the fashion and photography, and still others for the humorous ideas about kids and parenting.”
A strong element of the platform's humor is the names Beveridge gives the imaginary children in Quinoa’s world. They are ridiculous, relevant and surprisingly realistic.
“As a native Utahn, I understand the importance of selecting a good, unique name. ... I look for words that have some kind of current relevance that sound interesting and can be reinvented as a first name for a child. A lot of inspiration comes from some editing work I do for a local restaurant chain. They have a pretty sophisticated menu, and I've gleaned several great names while proofreading them.”
Beveridge had a hard time choosing a favorite name aside from Quinoa and Chevron, one of Quinoa's friends.
“I'm pretty fond of Hashtag. And Aioli. And Vyvanse. And Haricot. And Bandeau. You get the idea.”
Beveridge now finds inspiration in her imaginary daughter's ambition, and she has high hopes for where their relationship could take them.
“I see endless potential," she said. "Quinoa is a big thinker. I've had to make a habit of thinking big just to keep up with her.”
To follow Beveridge's and Quinoa's stories, visit Beveridge's social media platforms.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company