We had the good fortune of connecting with Tara Klingenstein and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tara, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I started working in the fashion industry right out of college in a corporate position and then moved on to working in textiles and fashion industry sales when I moved to California a few years later. After a while I started realizing I wasn’t super happy not having creativity as part of my job. I ended up leaving the last job (in sales) without much of a plan…I just knew I didn’t want to be THAT miserable on a daily basis. After toying with my old hobby of making necklaces for a few months, I decided that I wanted to go to jewelry school and learn how to solder and make jewelry from scratch. When I finished jewelry school, Etsy was the “go to” place at the time to sell handmade goods. I started there and as my momentum grew I made the decision to GO FOR IT and make it my career. That lead me full circle back to the fashion industry where I chose the route of getting a sales rep and starting to sell to boutiques and larger corporate chain stores. I worked really really hard and long hours to make myself somewhat of a success but at the end of the day I was getting to work with my hands and create as a way of making a living instead of pushing paper every day.
What should our readers know about your business?
Hmmm, this question is tough for me. I never know what to talk about when asked broad questions about my business journey. I guess I just did what I know and for me that was the retail route. My background was in the fashion industry before starting Ouroboros Designs and I’d had all these jobs that sort of taught me the ins and outs of working with stores both small and large. I knew wholesale and how to properly mark up a product. I knew manufacturing which came in handy the few times I needed to have my designs produced on a large scale. I knew fashion lingo and how to talk to and communicate with buyers from stores of all sizes. I knew how to get myself a sales rep that had relationships with all the stores I wanted to be in. I worked really hard to maintain all of this for many years working with boutiques all over the US and world and also working with large chain stores like Free People and Nasty Gal. It was a lot for a one person show to keep up for so long and it DID get exhausting. I sometimes envy people that are better with social media than I am and have grown a huge loyal following and get to sell mostly only through instagram and other social media outlets. It seems much nicer and a bit less stressful but that wasn’t as big when I started AND it’s not my strong suit. All that said, I’ve recently made the decision to try what’s more difficult for me and go to really only selling online, direct to customer. I did what I set out to do when it comes to working with stores and while that served the purpose for a long time, I want to try the freedom of making only what I want and working when I want for a bit. I want to try to get away from 6 and 7 day work weeks making what stores want me to make and selling at half the price per piece (wholesale). I want to try to be more of an artist than a brand. Talk to me in a year or two and I’ll let you know how it goes! I’ve leaned that none of it is really so worth it if it’s not making you happy SO, this is me trying the “happy” route.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m lucky enough to live in Los Angeles where’s there’s a never ending amount of things to do…if you’re willing to do a bit of driving that is. The weather here is always nice so I’d start the week by having a day by the pool to catch up with each other and plan the rest of the week. The next day I’d show my friend around Valencia and Santa Clarita where I live. There’s a cute part of town called Newhall with nice shops and restaurants. For dinner, off to Hollywood. It’s a must for anyone coming to LA for the first time. You can have nearly any kind of food you want there and I LOVE that about it. Maybe the next day, a short hike up the coast to Santa Barbara. it’s fun to get a hotel or air bnb and spend the night so you can really take your time enjoying the area and all it has to offer. There are lots of great restaurants and shops there too. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I like shopping and eating! I happen to live close to Magic Mountain and have a season pass so that’s a great way to spend a day jumping between the roller coasters and water park. To finish up the rest of the week we could choose between Venice and Venice Beach or Santa Monica, or Beverly Hills and the Grove. I like to plan a few days for friends and then let them choose things they want to do or places they want to visit. I find most people have a list of things they’ve read about or seen on t.v. that they usually request when here.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My mom was the first person to teach me crafting when I was just a tiny little thing and then starting at age 5 she would take me to the local Girls Club where I took SO many crafting and creativity classes. I just remember always looking forward to making things with my hands. It brought me so much joy as a young person and still does. It ALL started with MOM! I will always be thankful to her for leading me down this path.
Jose Cervantes (portrait of me, model shots, desk shot, and two product shots)