Tara Bennett – Designer & Director of the Provider Store
Posted October 26, 2017, by Jenny Sakr
When Tara was 19 she packed up her life on the Central Coast, drove to Melbourne with $200 in her pocket and managed to stay there four years before basing herself in Sydney. For the last six years, she's called Sydney home and is where she runs and designs for her business, the Provider Store, "an online destination specialising in things for the home."
Tara spends 90% of her time creating products or thinking about things she could make, reading design mags and drinking red wine. Read her career story here!
What did you study and what are the steps you took to be where you are today?
Fashion business + journalism. Quite different to what I ended up in but every job I had taught me something and got me to where I am. I turned my hobby and what I am good at into my job.
What inspired this career path?
Having a good eye for design and being able to create and source well-made and ethically produced items for the home.
Tell us what the Provider Store is all about...
Provider Store is an online destination specialising in things for the home. Most of the products are either handmade by myself or by local and international creatives. Each piece is crafted under the “slow made” principles, where wastage is minimal and the experience is unique. The Provider Store places emphasis on producing ethical and sustainable homewares.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
A news reporter, the host of Playschool and then to one day open a shop.
What was your first job?
I worked at the local Deli café when I was 14.
Tell us a little more about your role and explain a typical day on the job
Each day is very different. I usually check emails and see what orders I have to get out. Sometimes I spend my day totally creating products for stores or coming up with ideas. Other days I am booking couriers, designing emails or working out my finances.
What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to you in your career?
Probably my recent collaboration with Butter Sydney where I had to paint ramen onto 25 limited edition cushions. Or when I flew to Bangkok to meet a ceramist – it totally could have gone either way but she’s a dear friend and manufactures a lot of my products now.
Name the best and worst parts of your job
Best is that you’re your own boss. I get to create products I love and basically go to work with a smile on my face every day.
Worst is when you start a small business it NEVER stops. There’s no day off or downtime.
What’s the most important career tip someone has given you?
There’s more currencies than cash. Meaning if you can trade a skill for a skill or a product for a product, do it. It’s great being able to trade candles for a window decal or some press for a cushion.
What do you wish someone had told you before starting your own business?
That the mistakes you make will eventually turn into huge blessings. That money isn’t something that comes easily.
What advice would you give someone starting his or her own business?
Whatever happens, it will be ok. There’s always a solution.
Also, do things slowly. Don’t race out and quit your job with no savings and don’t expect things to happen overnight. Good things take time.
What qualities and skills should people who want to start their own small business possess?
Depending on what it is but people skills are invaluable. If you can hold a good conversation and engage with different personalities, you’ll be surprised how much this will help. It’s also a lot of who you know, not what you know so start networking. Basic accounting skills always help too.
Name a career highlight:
Probably teaching candle making classes at The Old Clare, being featured in some of my favourite magazines and when I stopped asking to be stocked in stores and stores started asking me. Oh, and signing my first commercial lease!
What’s next for you?
More candle making workshops, designing multi-purpose products and another trip to Japan to source some home goods.
Jenny found her way with words while interning during uni, since, she's produced articles on it all – from hair and beauty to homewares, travel, career advice and study tips. On a weekend you're most likely to find her lining up for a table at the latest cafe or restaurant.