I believe in the power of intelligence, warmth and class in women, and someone who exudes these traits in spades is Tara Thompson Rasmus, Director of Hoot, a new women’s e-commerce site and apparel line. I met Tara from her Beauty Editor days, and came to know her as a co-worker earlier this year, which has evolved into a beautiful friendship. Not only is Tara whip smart and an incredibly talented writer, she’s a gal’s gal and a great friend. Tara recently made the transition from editor to entrepreneur, and has a lot to say about finding yourself and the power of a great shirtdress. Here, in her own words, is my beautiful friend Tara and How She Does It:
On starting Hoot….
“Hoot has a little bit of a story. My husband has a company, Izola, which manufactures men’s accessories and gifts. He’s comes up with a new business idea about once a week, and he’d found the domain for Hoot online, met with the owner, and bought it because he loved the name. Over the past three or so years, he thought and thought about what he wanted to do with it, and he settled on women’s e-commerce with a focus on apparel, accessories and beauty specifically focused on stylish travel. I came on board recently along with our friend Patrick, an accomplished designer, and now it’s off and running!”
So, what’s her favorite Hoot item?
“Our friend Patrick is a really accomplished designer, and he devised the capsule collection, which is centered on the shirtdress, which I’m wearing in these photos. I’ve always loved shirtdresses; to me, it’s the ideal piece that makes me feel pulled together instantly. We make it in a few different fabrics like a silk crepe de chine and shirting with a tiny bit of stretch. The love is in the details with this dress: the seams are flawless; the button placket is covered so it appears more streamlined; it’s just a beautiful piece. Basics can get kind of frumpy, but he nailed it on this one. I wore the dress in black to our meeting with InStyle styled up and I kept catching glimpses of myself in the mirror like, “Oh yeah, this WORKS. This is the woman I want to be.”
About not being afraid to change careers…
“I’ve had quite a few careers in a short amount of time, the first being a teen actress on the WB for about ten years. As I went to college, it sort of fell away, which left me a little listless for a while. A friend of mine who worked at Clarins remembered that I had done a bit of beauty writing invited me to intern for her, and I loved it. I discovered that something I loved that I thought was a hobby could actually be a vocation. The more I did it, the more I realized I was born to do that job. As that came to a close, I realized I wanted to focus on writing, so I got an internship with Refinery29 in their beauty department, which led to a full-time editor role. I got a ton of amazing experience: writing, doing video, social media, PR – everything. I’ve now shifted to running Hoot, which is another chance to learn by doing again. When you’re doing your own thing, it’s a great challenge to stretch yourself and learn to do a good number of things.”
About protecting your creativity…
“I think one of the best lessons I’ve learned about myself is that I feel happiest when I can really focus on something and work to the best of my ability. I think when I feel like I’m spread too thin I’m unhappy because I can’t sink in and really do it well. I think that’s the challenge with protecting your creativity. Give yourself the chance to do it right, and if you’re in a situation where you’re spread too thin, step back and re-evaluate. I write, work with imagery and a good number of the creative aspects of the site, which means sometimes I start early in the morning and look up and it’s 7 pm, which isn’t a good thing. I’ve realized I have to take a step back and pace myself, that it will all get done better if I take care of myself.”
Speaking of taking care of herself…
“I’m a firm believer in the power of yoga. With demanding jobs, you can feel really stressed out, so I started going on weekends. It was so satisfying to me that I started making it part of my weekly routine. It sounds cliché, but it really is “me” time. There are so few moments in this world where we have our phones away from us, and that’s my moment to stop the multitasking and take care of myself.”
Something I’ve noticed about yoga and competitiveness…
“New Yorkers are hyper-competitive, even in a yoga class. We’re always pushing ourselves to the limits. In moments where your eyes are supposed to be on your own mat, if you look up you can catch other people looking at more advanced students and going into poses they maybe shouldn’t. We demand so much from ourselves all the time. Let go. Relax. It’s just yoga; it’s not that serious. Keep coming back and master it. I’m working on Crow pose. I’ll get there.”
A former beauty editor on her favorite beauty products….
“I’m definitely a shower person. I love Pureology because everything is really hydrating but light, and the scents are beautiful and natural (I really hate synthetic scent.) Also, I’m OBSESSED with the Gillette Venus razor. As a tall woman, I’ve always had to contort myself to shave my legs and the longer handle makes my life so much easier. I’m also obsessed with SW Basics, a line based out of Brooklyn and all the products have five items or less. All the ingredients are either fair trade or certified organic. We don’t carry Restorsea, but I love it. It contains a natural enzyme from salmon eggs that helps remove dead skin cells in a way that’s healthy to the skin. It made a huge difference in my skin; particularly with a stress-induced facial eczema problem I’d been battling.”
When it comes to makeup, we carry a line called W3ll People that’s good for you but not boring, meaning they have great pigments and gorgeous products. They have an all-over stick called The Universalist that’s great for on-the-go days. I loved Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara, and their bronzers are amazing. Also, NARS Brow Gel is to DIE for.”
On what makes her happy…
“Cooking makes me incredibly joyful, especially cooking for people I love. It’s another way to disengage from your work; it’s fun, tech-free and soothing for me. It feeds my soul. I’d rather cook for someone than give him or her a physical gift. I have a few specialties, like Caprese Pasta. I live for all things Barefoot Contessa, and the Dinner: A Love Story recipes, which is a gorgeous cookbook memoir blog. Also, Sophie Dahl has great cookbooks that are organized by season and incredibly chic.”
On getting good with yourself…
“Take time to check in with yourself and your feelings, acknowledge them because women are givers and we don’t spend any time actually focusing on how we feel about things. We’re more concerned with how everyone else feels about what’s going on. Your feelings matter, so figure out what they are and embrace them, and then figure out what you need and go get that. Maybe what you need is a change in the way you eat, a new situation, a year in Europe, some time alone – whatever it is, give yourself permission to give yourself what you need, without apology to anyone. You are worthy of your love and attention. Love yourself first.”
All photos in this post: Kristin Booker for Fashion.Style.Beauty. Shot at Highline Park, November 2014.