MEET THE BRAND:
TARA WILSON DESIGNS
Our collections are filled with beautiful products from niche brands, each with their own unique story. This week, we're introducing you to Tara Wilson, founder of the eponymous design brand. Tara and her team reimagine household accessories - including trays, boxes and, of course, picture frames - as customizable decor that displays your most treasured memories.
Below, Tara shares the story behind Tara Wilson Designs, where she comes up with new home accessories to reimagine, and how she spends an average day.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOU LAUNCHED TARA WILSON DESIGNS?
I was an executive producer at VH1 for more than 10 years, following my favorite celebrities and musicians while overseeing movie specials and shows like Rock ’n Roll Weddings, Janet Jackson’s Greatest TV Moments, and Before They Were Rock Stars. Before that I was at CNN and TNT.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE YOUR CUSTOMIZABLE PRODUCTS? WHY ACRYLIC?
While taking a summer break from TV, I took photography classes in New York City. I loved taking pictures of my children and my friends' kids. I wanted to give the photos as gifts, but just printing them felt too boring. So, I found some acrylic items (before they were everywhere) like trays and frames, and I put a new spin on them with the photos. I love boxes and found a local company to make me some with a magnetic photo lid. I gifted these to all my friends and they were a hit!
A friend with a bag line said that I should start it as a business and she signed me up for a school holiday show. I said, “No way. I have no actual product, and I’m going back to TV. This is for fun.” But low and behold, I did my first show months later with printed frames, trays, boxes and pen holders. I have never looked back.
HOW TO YOU FIND IDEAS FOR NEW PRODUCTS?
I get inspired by living in NYC. I try to think of items that haven’t been done yet, but are still practical and popular. For example, we have added a bunch of mahjong and pickleball items (word frames, cocktail napkin holders and keychains) - two HOT games in the world of pop culture.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY LIKE FOR YOU?
I start my day driving one of my sons to school, then I “work" - which is something I genuinely love. The people I interact with daily are amazing and inspiring, so the days go by quickly. In NYC, no day or night is the same.
I KNOW THIS IS A HARD ONE! WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR VERY FAVORITE TWD PRODUCT OR DESIGN?
My favorite design is probably my true first design, as it was unique 12 years ago: our photo box. The lid is magnetic, so it’s easy to put in your own photo, art, or cool paper. You can write messages on the bottom, personalizing it even more. I feel a lot of our products drew from that design. I wanted a custom feel that was still easy to DIY.
ARE THERE ANY NEW PIECES YOU'LL BE PRODUCING YOU CAN TELL US ABOUT?
We have amazing frame and cocktail napkin lines - those will keep expanding with some unique themes. We are also going to have some out-of-the-box boxes soon. Can’t wait to see the final product!
WHAT ITEM FROM TRULY GIFTED WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE AS A GIFT? WHAT ITEM WOULD YOU LIKE TO RECEIVE AS A GIFT?
I think pictures frames with a special photo are thoughtful gifts, so I would give one of our scallop frames. For a gift to receive, I love the bud vases and candles on your site. I think we need to make our work and living spaces peaceful.
HOW DO YOU LIKE TO SPEND YOUR TIME OUTSIDE OF WORK?
I have two teen boys, so they keep me busy. I adore hot yoga and tennis. I have also started consistently playing mahjong and pickleball - getting back to social activities is such a joy.
WHAT IS SOMETHING PEOPLE WOULD NEVER GUESS ABOUT YOU?
I met Prince in his Los Angeles kitchen at 4am after an Academy Awards show. I was so starstruck that I told him I’d make a call for him to the VH1 execs (as if they wouldn’t take his call).