Tara Rex was trained as a nurse and used to work in a hospital emergency room. She later got married, had two kids and decided to stay home to take care of them. It was the end of her life-long career, but the start of her entrepreneurial voyage.
"I wanted to do something where I could be at home and still have a little income," says Rex. "It's hard to do that when you work in a hospital."
Now, her Taradara store on Etsy that has been recognized by FOX Business and had its products featured in swag bags for celebrities at the Golden Globe Awards. Rex did it all out of the comfort of her Denver home.
We spoke with Rex about her business and how she's been so successful with it.
How she got started
Rex was always creative. When she was in high school, she got plenty of scholarship offers from arts schools, but surprised her family when she decided to go into nursing.
So she started making small crafts. They were quick to make and the gratification came quickly. At first, she would give them to friends as gifts, but after a while, she realized the business potential in her hobby.
Rex initially tried to sell her wares on Big Cartel, a site that lets artists create independent online stores. She also tried Etsy, another e-commerce website that focuses on handmade items. That's when things really took off.
"Etsy really has made my business," says Rex, who still has her Big Cartel store up, but doubts that there's any items left on it. "Etsy had more of a presence online, and it was easier for people to find me with my Etsy shop."
Promoting her store
As a solo entrepreneur working out of her home and two kids to take care of, she doesn't have much time or many resources to go out and advertise. So she uses every opportunity she can to build connections and get the word out.
"I promote it on Twitter, Facebook, my blog and I'm a huge networker," says Rex. "It's my business and it's me marketing—nobody else is going to do it for me."
She does all she can, but relies on her customers to send on her message. She calls word-of-mouth marketing "a wonderful thing."
Rex also uses the Etsy community to promote her store. For instance, she has a series called Etsy Shop Spotlight, where she features other Etsy shops once or twice a week. While she doesn't ask for anything in return, the goodwill encourages other Etsy sellers to work together and promote each other.
The Golden Globes
Making all those connections paid off in a huge way. On one of her Etsy Shop Spotlights, Rex featured a seller who was doing something for the Academy Awards. Rex was blunt and asked about it.
"You have to go for it," says Rex. "Don't be jealous or scared about it. Just ask—you have nothing to lose."
The seller was a member of the Artisan Group, which works with all the big award shows and does gifting to celebrities for holidays like Mother's Day.
Rex applied, the group deemed her worthy and she earned the opportunity to have her iPhone covers featured in the swag bags at the Golden Globes.
What's next for Taradara?
Rex isn't stopping any time soon. In fact, she wants to grow her business and brand by stepping beyond the boundaries of Etsy and the Internet and entering the world of brick-and-mortar retail.
"We're in the works of making this bigger," she says. Rex has a deal in the works to get into shops in Beverly Hills. It would be an exclusive line for the stores, but since they're still working out the details, there's no official release date yet.
Photo credit: Thinkstock