Tara Martin is the fashion entrepreneur behind DTLA Custom, My Other Bag, Bag Junkies, and Luxury Designer Resale. An industry expert with an eye for design and sharp business insight, Martin began her first company—Luxury Designer Resale—out of her apartment in Los Angeles, four years ago, and has now been credited with reselling thousands of luxury accessories and apparel for an elite clientele worldwide.
As she tells the story, the designer handbag junkie found herself walking out of a grocery store with an arm full of perishables and a burning question: “If I don’t want to stuff my produce in my Prada, where can I find a stylish, Eco-conscious reusable bag?” And so My Other Bag was born...
Tara, tell us, how did it all start? What made you decide to pursue this career? What steps did you take to make it a reality?
I have always loved fashion since I was a little girl and even though I majored in International Relations while I was an undergrad at USC I always had fashion internships because that’s what I loved. When I graduated I got offered a job at two of the companies I interned at and that was the start! I realized very quickly that I wanted to work for myself but I had a lot to learn so I chose the job that would teach me the most and allow me be the most hands on in all aspects of running a fashion brand. After 3 years and with that background knowledge having, I started my first company with my former boss in Dec 2010 LDR- Luxury Designer Resale @shop_ldr . 9 months later I got the idea for My Other Bag @myotherbag www.myotherbag.com (oct 2011) from an experience I had in a grocery store in Santa Monica and 30 days later we had the site up and running! 2 years later I launched Bag Junkies (Jan 2014) www.bagjunkies.com @bagjunkies . Lastly, I just launched DTLA Custom Jan 2015 www.dtlacustom.com @dtlacustom – “Customization on luxury leather goods… “Pop culture contemporary meets high-end goods.”
What / who inspires YOU to get through each day & overcome every challenge?
Being an entrepreneur is extremely challenging so I constantly remind myself of my ultimate goal which has been my driving inspiration since I was young, to be free. Working for myself allows me to be creatively free, free with my time and energy, free with who I surround myself with, I have the freedom to take risks and continue to challenge myself. So I constantly remind myself of this every time things get tough and it reinspires me to keep going!
What would you say is the main factor that may hinder a person from finding and pursuing his or her purpose? What advice would you give to overcome that factor?
Fear. Because it is scary and it can be risky but you need to trust yourself and if you are willing to put in the work you can make anything happen. Trust yourself.
Have there been any specific hindrances or challenges that you have had to overcome to get to where you are now, personally & professionally?
I am completely self made, I didn’t have any financial backing or support so I would say that has been the biggest challenge personally and professionally but it has also a blessing because it taught how to launch a brand in what I call the guerrilla style haha! I learned what to spend money on, what you could save or wait on, I learned that it can be done without major capital. And it was harder I’m sure and definitely required a TON of my time and energy but it’s been a great lesson and super rewarding. “You CAN do it. Capital makes things easier, but you can do it without it. You just need to be wise. You have to be creative, passionate and hands=on. You have to be scrappy. It’s taught me a lot, and I don’t want other entrepreneurs to get too hung up on funding, if your vision is clear. While there have been very difficult moments, it was worth it in the end to know that I did it, myself.”
If you were to pinpoint a few tools for success, what would they be?
Clarity about what you desire then focus, drive and passion to get you there.
What advice would you give a young girl about getting out in the “real” world
Jump right in! Your 20’s are the best time to experiment, explore, try new industries and jobs, take risks and follow your heart. “You just need to trust yourself, and know that you can make your passion a reality.”
What do you love most about your profession? I love fashion because it’s fast and furious. Its high pressure and moves so so fast but I love that kind of energy because it really keeps you on your toes and forces you to keep visioning and creating and bringing things forward in a new light.
Why do you think organizations like Lipstick Sister are important?
I’m not a member but I probably should be! I believe so strongly in women’s networks that provide support for like-minded women. we all bring a unique perspective, set of experiences, knowledge, and skill to the table so when brought together to learn from each other and support each other’s dreams the result is amazing!
When you are not busy working, what do you do for fun?
Travel, boxing, yoga and reading!
How do you create balance in your life?
This is a tough one for most entrepreneurs and I am constantly working on this. First, I always take the time to work out in the am before I come to the office. I used to cancel that first when things got super busy but I’ve learned that even that one hour is really important and gives me energy and balance for the rest of my day. Second, I do not look at my email until after my work out. I used to look immediately when I woke up and that stressed me out and made me skip my workout because I saw how much I had to do. Third, I try hard to reserve the weekends for minimal to no work (also a new one for me…except this weekend haha!). I will be really attempting to get back to this once this new company is more off the ground. Lastly, yoga!
Tell us about your personal style:
It’s kinda hard for me to pin point but for the most part its black and white- sometimes grey and navy. Its kinda edgy New York but since I’m from LA and live in LA it definitely has that California ease/ thrown together casual element.
Do you have any favorite designers?
Ayyy of course! the list is long! But my top top go to for inspiration is Saint Laurent, Balmain, Givenchy, Rodarte and Valentino on the high end and then Isabel Marant and Chloe in the middle and for their gypsy, boho vibe that I love and I live in Vince, Iro, Rag & Bone.
Who is your female idol?
Oh man that’s a tough one. So many inspirational women. Fictionally because I’m a reader it’s Dagny Taggart the main female character in Atlas Shrugged. Fashion wise Carine Roitfeld and Diana Vreeland
Do you have any personal mantras or philosophies?
Another tough one because I have so many! A few that come immediately to mind:
*What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create." Buddha
*My personal favorite right now” “The genius thing we did was, we didn’t give up.” Jay Z
*If you are not willing to risk it all, you don’t want it bad enough."
*You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings." Elizabeth Gilbert
Born and raised in Los Angeles, she graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations before following her passion to a career in fashion. After five years managing sales, defining brands, and launching new products for some of fashion’s top women’s wear lines, Martin decided to break out on her own to create My Other Bag—a line of eco-friendly, re-usable tote bags, born out of her own need for a line of practical totes with style.
Today her style empire has grown from designer re-sale, to totes, to casual wear, and now her latest venture: DTLA Custom. Also born out of Martin’s own firsthand need, DTLA Custom is making waves in the industry as the premier arthouse for luxury leather customization.
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