Interview: How Taradara Made It!

Please meet Tara of taradara on Etsy! When I found her blog, I quickly realized that Tara is a terrific resource for handmade artists. I learned so much by looking through her posts; she’s involved in creative events, workshops, conferences, and groups that I’d never even heard of before.

I was intrigued by Tara’s achievements, and the more time I spent researching for this interview, the more everywhere she seemed. I hope you find as much inspiration from meeting her as I have! Enjoy the interview:

iPad cover by taradara

Tara, you opened shop on Etsy in February of 2010. How long had you been making your covers and cozies at that point? Was opening your shop on Etsy the first time you’d sold online?

I had started making wallets at the beginning and basically added to my line as the iPads, the Kindles, and the iPhones were launched.  When I see something that might fit my style and my product line, I will make it and see how they take in the shop.  Etsy is the first time I’ve sold online.

Do you remember what that first Etsy sale felt like?

I do remember.  Well, I remember my first ‘non friend’ or ‘non family’ sale!  LOL!  It was really self fulfilling as if ‘they found me and they really like my product!’  I called my mom in Canada and told her!!!

On your blog you say, “I now make my art and our home in Colorado.” How do you harmonize work life with home life? And how does that work-at-home freedom taste?

I have essentially accepted that my home life takes precedence over my work life during the day.  I say this because my boys are young and I really do believe that they are only young once and I truly do love doing things with them.  When they go to bed, that is when my ‘work day’ begins.  Like now, I’m answering these questions as 10:30pm.  I wanted to be able to stay home for a reason and they are the reason.  So, when they go off to school, I will find more daylight to work.  My harmony is everflowing.  I never can stick to a schedule as we are pretty spontaneous with our outings or just our day to day activities.  So staying flexible has really helped me to not stress out and to enjoy working from home.  Being accepting and welcoming of my work at home life and challenges has helped me get through some challenging moments.

Tara’s studio, photo by Farrah Jobling Photography

Please describe your “zone”. What’s your studio like, and what’s the mood when you’re creating your products?

My zone can be clean one minute and a disaster the next.  I’ve actually posted pictures of what the ‘zone’ is like during my creating time for the 2012 Golden Globe swag bags … it was a disaster ‘zone’, it should’ve had yellow tape!  But then, I tidy up and something else will hit, and I mess it up again.  It’s a vicious cycle really, but I’m okay with that {I blend in with the boys!}

I love an artist with a cause. You donate 10% of your profits to Girls with Sole, can you tell us about the organization and how you got involved?

I was looking through a Traditional Home Magazine, believe it or not, and found that they honored 5 Classic Women.  They were all women who founded non-profits.  I got their addresses and sent them each a card holder and a card expressing how proud I was of them for believing in something so real and following through to such a high level.  I told them that they have done so much for others, that I thought that they should have a little gift for just themselves. They all responded with a thank you of some form.  Liz Ferro, founder of Girls with Sole, and I ended up communicating and becoming ‘friends’.  I have wanted to donate something my mine back to a fundraising entity, but could never decide which one.  Breast cancer, lung cancer, and Heart and Stroke are all big in our family and I thought about donating to them.  I just never did.  I really wanted to donate to a smaller organization that needed funds as well and that would go to a good cause.  So, as I learned more about Girls with Sole, I decided that this was definitely something I wanted to be a part of and to contribute my hard earned money to.  And since I started contributing, you would not believe the amount of wonderful things that have happened for my business!  It’s really something. Coincidence, perhaps.  But, I love what Girls with Sole does for abused girls and how it incorporates athletics into their lives to make it positive and turn their lives around.

taradaramadeit.com:: Have your “pin it” button ready!

I’m drooling over the opportunities, accomplishments, and awards you mention on your blog. { Dear readers, you must check out Tara’s In the Press Page. She’s an inspiration of opportunity!

Among other things, you were named one of the Top 100 Leading Moms in Business your product was included in this year’s Golden Globe swag bags, and you sold your products at West Elm

I’m so glad that I’m following you on your website (taradaramadeit.com), and on Twitter and Facebook so that I can find out what you’ll accomplish next! You’re doing things that most of us have never thought of, and what I really want to know is, how in the world do you think up or expose yourself to all of these wonderful opportunities?

I truly cannot give you a definitive answer.  I wish I could.  Asking questions could be my number 1 answer.  If someone is doing something that I thing is pretty cool, I’ll ask them how they got involved or who the contact is.  All they can say is no or I don’t want to share this with you, but most times you won’t run in to that.  If you do, then you just need to be more creative and go at if from a different angle.  If I’m at a conference, I ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS connect with the event organizer, the keynote speakers, or the attendees I know who are going that I NEED to talk with.  Sometimes it happens intentionally, but a lot of times, it happens organically.  I collect business cards and will often write on them if they are someone I need to connect with and WHY.  Networking is a huge aspect of business and I make every moment count when I’m in a time sensitive atmosphere.  I often know who I need to connect with, I have my ‘elevator pitch’ ready, and I have my game face on.  It’s go time from the moment I walk in the door.  Yes, I sound all ‘BOOM’, but in real life I’m very relaxed and cool.  It’s about making the most of your time and being focused.Another way I expose myself is that I am not afraid to put myself out there.  It’s in me to be a go getter, always has.  If there is something big happening in my business, I will send a press release out and FOLLOW UP on it.  I don’t wait for them to call or email me back, this could take weeks or not at all.  Press receives a ton of emails daily, so I really stay on top of it and make sure that I’ve done my work to ensure they received and saw my email.  Goodness, I’m on a roll!  I could go on and on, but the point is that YOU are your own marketer!  You need to OWN your business and truly OWN it, deep down in your core.  Once you do this, you know that nothing can stop you and that EVERYBODY should know about your product!

So, go do it!  Go OWN your business and make sure EVERYBODY knows about it!

Tara was recently invited to apply for the television show, Shark Tank. Did she make it? Find out here:

Shark Tank Update!

Embellished Wallet by taradara

What has been your proudest handmade moment?

There have been many.  Hard to choose one.  Being chosen to be in the 2012 Golden Globe swag bags was a big one.  Being in the Celebrity Mother’s Day gift bags that went to Beyonce, Uma Thurman, Jessica Alba, Jessica Simpson, and 21 other celebrity moms was another.  And, of course, being *this* close to being on Shark Tank is the most recent cake topper.

What piece of advice would you offer somebody who is just starting out and looking for their first sale?

I would say to have good pictures with good lighting and good backgrounds.  Don’t have busy backgrounds for your products to compete with, people are buying online so your pictures are your 1,000 words.  They cannot touch or feel your product so you have to make it LOOK the most appealing to them as you can though the lens of a camera.  Do your research!  Look around for your price points for your product and your materials you’re using.  Do your research on your POSTAGE pricing!  This can make or break your first sale!!  I did a story on this to help Etsy sellers understand shipping pricing.

Thank you, Tara. It’s been incredibly insightful. Check out the taradara shop and read more about her adventures on her blog. If you’re a blogger too, grab a cup of coffee and sit down with her page dedicated to Blogging Tips. Until next time and all the best ~
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Comments

  1. I love this post – Tara was one of the first shops/bloggers I noticed and started following when I first opened my Etsy shop – I also find her inspiring and love all the success she has created for herself. It was great to learn more about her and thanks for shining the spotlight on her for all of us.

    • Bonnie, that’s an interesting connection! How neat that you’re already familiar with her work, and what a small world 🙂

  2. Bonnie, really??!! That is so wonderful! I had no idea. I’m off to visit you now!
    xo

  3. Thanks Lisa for this inspiring interview. Tara, I will be following your blog. I espicially loved what you said about finding the harmony between work life and home life. I find this to be one of the greatest benefits of being a home based business. You get to be with your kids while they grow up and still do what you love.

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