Sewing Artist

How did you get into sewing?

I started sewing over 25 years ago {I know, hard to believe since I’m only 29 … according to my kids}. My mom was a seamstress and taught me. Both my grandmothers sewed as well, so we all have the sewing talent passed down. I have dabbled with different sewing crafts from garments to curtains to quilts and now what I make my living with. Accessory covers, wallets, passport covers, cup cozies, and more. I just love being able to take a piece of cloth and turn it in to something beautiful and functional … that’s really what got me into sewing.

How did you get your skill to the point that you could actually create these cool pieces that you make now?

I believe that quilting is really what pushed me to where I’m at now. I started quilting and really loved it but they take a long time to complete. I have 2 little boys at home and found that I would start a quilt and NEVER finish it. So, I started ‘quilting’ on a smaller scale. I’ve always been artistic; I took many art based classes in high school, and on through adult life as well. Many mediums of art from painting to pottery to photography has molded me to the artist that I am today. So, quilting and the ability to put colors to together and to make patterns without having a pattern. I can look at something and simply ‘make’ my own pattern for my products. So they really are a taradara product.

How do you market yourself and your items? What have been some of the most successful ways for you to get your product out to the public?

I market myself and my items mostly online. I have sent out a few Press Releases when my iPhone covers were in the 2012 Golden Globe swag bags and received 3 wonderful international media responses as a result. I’m a true believer in the power of Press Releases, if you use them correctly and follow up. You NEED to follow up if you do not hear from the media outlet you targeted. Often times, they are bombarded with emails, so it is imperative to do your work and follow up until you get a response {in my mind}. Another way is Twitter and Facebook {social media routes}, I use these avenues daily. They drive traffic to my blog, and to my shop, daily. I form relationships on twitter and a lot of times, they are great working relationships to where I’m marketing and they don’t even know it {and neither do I!}

What I’m saying is that when you’re forming relationships, you are in a way marketing yourself, but in order to be authentic and real you almost have to put the ‘marketing myself’ out of your brain. There is a place for targeted marketing, and then there is a place for building and forming relationships to where it just might turn out to be the best kind of marketing you’ve ever had. All my marketing has pretty much been FREE.

If I attend a conference, I’ll often offer to sponsor giveaways/door prizes. This gets your product out there and gets people talking about it. Then you go up to the people who won your piece and talk to them. Again, a way of forming a relationship with someone and you never know where it could lead. Again, this is a FREE avenue for marketing your product.

I have done a few craft shows and I absolutely love the face to face contact with customers. They get to touch and feel my products, ask questions, and I also get to hear feedback from them in person. Everyone that passes through my booth gets a business card or two from me and I talk to everyone. Making a great first impression is important, so I always try to put my best foot forward and market myself in the best light possible.

My products are in the hands of many celebrities, which is wonderful product placement. From the marketing point of view, this has been a jackpot. It’s finding the correct contacts and being able to publicize that ‘Beyonce has a taradara cup cozy’ or ‘Rachael Ray has a taradara wallet’. Once you get going, it’s hard to stop!!!!

Where have you found that you get most of your clientele from, internet, stores, boutiques?

Most of my clientele is from the internet. I get a lot of traffic from twitter, facebook and general searches. My products are not in stores or boutiques. There are a few craft shows we do a year that my products will in front of people and we get to visit with people face to face {which is always wonderful!}.

Are your ideas for design inspired? Is there a method to your madness? My ideas for the covers came as they were launched. The iPad came out, so I designed and made a cover for it, same with the kindle and iPhone. When the iPad 3 came out, that was a great time PUSH the iPad covers. So, I guess there is a method to my madness in that I stay on top of what’s being released and try to figure out how best incorporate the taradara style to cover it. As far as color palettes, I get a lot of inspiration from anything colorful and bright. Most of my pieces are vibrant and dynamic unless I have a special request of something a bit more muted. I do try to go with the seasons, but I often find myself sewing brightly colored pieces in the middle of winter.

What would you say to someone that was interested in entering the sewing art business, what would be some pointers and some warnings?

I would say that be flexible, pay attention, but stay true to your art. When people hear that I sew, they ALWAYS say, “Oh you should make _____, you’d sell so many of them!” Some ideas are great and I welcome input all the time, however, my line of products have a certain look and style. So, I were to make something completely off track of what my line is, it would confuse my customers. Also, it might be something that I don’t enjoy sewing, so it would be more of a chore than a joy to be doing what I love. I hope this comes across the right way. I just have learned that I cannot not sew everything to make everybody happy no matter how much I would love that to happen. It did take me a bit to really solidify my line and style, and now it’s truly ‘taradara’. People know it when they see it. So, just stay TRUE to your art.

I offered giveaways and gift certificates on other blogs to get noticed. It was really great at the beginning to get my name out and get noticed. But I fell in to the trap of giving out more than I actually made! I learned from this mistake. Although, I do believe whole heartedly to give is to receive and the more you give the more you receive. While all that is true, just be careful and maybe make up a budget for your business for ‘giveaways’ and don’t be afraid to be picky about who you do giveaways with. It’s your business.

If you were teaching someone to start a business like yours, what would be the starting point, what would be a few things they should do right from the start?

This is a really great question. I’ve thought about this a lot. I would say have business cards and carry them with you ALL THE TIME. Don’t be afraid to use them and hand them out. YOU are your own marketer! Nobody else is doing it for you. When someone asks you what you do, don’t shy away and say nothing or that you simply stay at home with the kids {if you have kids}, TELL THEM YOU HAVE A {SEWING} BUSINESS and what you make … and hand them your card! So, that’s tip number one, if you have this business, really OWN it! Tip number two, have a blog or website! Very important in our electronic age. People need to be able to find you. 3/ Get on Facebook and Twitter. Even if you don’t have a clue how to use them just yet, at least go get your business name so that you have it when you’re ready to take the plunge. 4/ Be good at what you do. 5/ Love what you do because it’s a long process and you’re going to want to quit sometimes when it seems so tough, but if you really truly LOVE what you’re doing … it will keep you in it!!

Where do you see your art evolving in the future? Where do you envision and dream that your business will be 5 years from now?

I see my product line growing. I love working with fiber arts so you may see some evolution in my product embellishments. You will see my products in the stores, not saying which ones at this point, but, they will be there! There are so many avenues that business can take someone down, so I’m really open and have a vision, but don’t have a concrete plan. I just got through the application process for Shark Tank and was pitched to the ABC network by the Shark Tank producers. I was very close to being on Season 4 of Shark Tank, but was not chosen this time. My point is that I wouldn’t have even had Shark Tank on my list of goals from 8 months ago. Never in a million years did I imagine that I would have been remotely close to this point. I think it’s important to be flexible and creative in your goal setting, so in saying that, I just see taradara being a much bigger business than it is now in 5 years.

“Like” Tara on Facebook. Re-Tweet her tweets on Twitter. Lastly, Pin her artwork on Pinterest.