With Mothers Day 2021 being just around the corner, we deemed it the perfect opportunity to sit down with our Mum and co-founder, Tara Solberg.
A constant inspiration to the team here at Few & Far, Tara is the epitome of 'Super Mum' and has an impressive juggling act down pat. From managing Few & Far, creating her online course plus much, much more behind the scenes (all will be revealed), Tara continues to make time for her main priority, being her family.
Mother to two gorgeous children, our Tara (a.k.a. the busiest boss-lady we know) sat down with us to chat about the trials and tribulations of simultaneously running a successful business and a household. Enjoy!
How are you?
In a nutshell? I'm great! A little exhausted from a pretty 'full on year' and more recently lots of very early mornings of filming for my upcoming TRADE WINS retail course, but otherwise, I can't complain! Family life is great, life on the South Coast is wonderful, our business is thriving and we've just had the most action packed school holidays with lots of 'This is the best day ever's' so I'm feeling pretty good right now!
Last year was huge with covid and bushfires, both on businesses and families. How were you affected and how has this year been so far?
One word (or maybe let's go with 2). Extremely stressful. It was like a rollercoaster... up and down with lots of twists and turns. With COVID coming at us almost straight after the bushfires (you can read about our experience with this, living in Manyana here)
It felt impossible to predict what would happen next. Throw homeschooling a kindergarten child in there when you have staff calling you wondering if they still have a job - everything felt tough.
I have spoken a lot about this period of time and the challenges we faced in the business (you can listen to me talk about it here), but what we didn't expect was the year that we've just had where the business has grown substantially at such a fast pace. This in itself has posed challenges, just trying to keep up (with stock and staff)! It's definitely been a crazy year that nobody could have predicted, but I am extremely grateful for the results we've had and also for how we've handled ourselves and our business along this journey.
This year has had an extremely positive start, and we are going from strength to strength. Jonah is much more settled at school, we've got our routine down pat and the business is at a level that we had only dreamed of reaching a few years from now. It will be maintaining this momentum that will be the challenge! But there is always the uncertainty. It makes it so difficult to plan ahead when you don't know what could happen from one day to the next.
What lessons did you learn? How has it affected your outlook?
The biggest lesson I've taken away from all of this is that as a business, we have to remain adaptable. Being comfortable is a death sentence and that is why we always have to be at the top of our game. We need to constantly be discussing new ideas and have our eyes open to new ways of doing things. We're lucky that we have always had this approach, but this period of time has really reinforced how important it is.
What does a day-in-the-life look like for Tara?
A day in the life of Tara will always be different! I wear many hats and am constantly juggling motherhood with business and making sure I maintain some kind of 'balance' if there is such a thing.
Monday to Wednesday: The kids usually climb upstairs to our bedroom and jump into bed with us for what begins as a nice calm cuddle, but is shortly followed by a wrestle or fort building exercise that completely destroys the perfectly neat bed! Some days either Danny or I will wake up in Sari's bed, because even though she's now 4, she still doesn't sleep!
After getting up, we all go downstairs to start making breakfast, pack school lunches, Danny and I discuss what we have to do that day and get ready for preschool and school. Sari argues with us about what she is going to wear or if she's going to let me do her hair, the kids brush their teeth and we run out the door and up to the bus stop to see Jonah off. Depending on what kind of mood Sari is in, we'll have an easy drop off at preschool or a difficult one that takes a little longer and a bit more convincing...
After drop offs are done and dusted, I race home to start work... at around 9am, knowing I only have about 5 hours to get a whole lot done before school pickup. I work through my priority lists and plan for the week ahead. Some days I have meetings at the warehouse (operational, marketing, trade fair planning or retail discussions) in Huskisson or I travel to the stores to re-merchandise or meet with the staff. I try to travel to these places straight after drop off to make the most of the time I have available. I don't mind the travel as it's 'my' time to just think or to listen to podcasts (instead of 'Dance Monkey' or 'Gangnam Style' blasting through the speakers).
Once I've settled into work (I like to make sure my workspace ie my dining table! is clean, tidy and nicely 'fragranced') I tick off as many items on my 'to do' list as possible and then I race out the door to pick up Sari from preschool and Jonah from school (if Danny and I haven't made arrangements for him to get them - which he often does - the other mums at school have often commented on what a good dad he is showing up for pickup so often! Or so that's what he tells me!). And then, there are the kids extracurricular activities like swimming, gymnastics and tennis...
When we get home, we have a bit of 'play' time, preferably outside before coming inside for a bath, dinner, homework and bed by 7:30 (after Shaun the Sheep!). Neither Danny or emerge from the kid's rooms until about 8pm (usually me first because Danny has fallen asleep and I have to go and wake him up - sometimes 2-3 times!) and then, depending on how much we've got to do, we'll sit down and start work again, or I'll find some mind numbing show on television to finish off the night while Danny googles the latest mountain bikes, boats or 4WD gear... haha!
Thursday and Friday: All of the above but with Sari in tow... Danny and I usually take it in turns to have her on these days so the other can work, or Danny's Mum has her for her 'Grandma' day on Thursdays, so we'll schedule a day at the warehouse or out and about.
Weekends: Completely clocked off and enjoying all that the weather has to offer - fully immersed in family time, the beach, swims in the rockpool below our house, bike rides, BBQ's, running around outside with the kids or playing on the swing and rope course Poppy made.
It sounds hectic, but I do enjoy it! If you asked Danny, he'd tell you my workload is all self inflicted, which a lot of it is, but I can't help it. I always think bigger and further into the future. Although my goal is to 'lessen' the amount of 'actual' physical work I have to do and just oversee more (Danny keeps telling me my word for the year should be 'delegate') so that I can be more organised at home when it comes to planning meals and just being 'present' - as I know the demands of school will increase and I really want to be available for my children, especially through these extremely important years of their development.
What’s the best advice your mum ever gave you?
My Mum has definitely taught me resilience. She is a strong woman and I really admire her. I think the world of my Mum and am so grateful for the close relationship we have with each other. I'm not sure if it's so much 'advice', but something my Mum has always said to me that I think about all the time when something is hard or I have to deal with some kind of physical or emotional issue is 'it's character building'. If we've ever gone through any form of hardship or have had to work through challenges, it's what I always refer back to, and it almost puts a positive spin on a negative situation. I know I've thrown that phrase around our house a bit too!
What are some of your self-care go-tos?
Haha! You've seen my 'Day in the Life of Tara'... self care isn't really fitting in there at the moment... but I do think getting out and moving is a definite must. A good dose of salt air and exercise never goes astray - and the benefits of exercise are always so clear whenever I take the time to squeeze it in. If I find the energy or a slice of time in the mornings or afternoons, I'll go for a walk or a run or even a swim. Jonah has been loving his bike riding lately, which is exciting, so going for a ride with him is always fun.
I also believe diet is really important. While I have neglected it a bit of late, I am definitely making the effort to make that a priority. When you feel good, you are happier, more productive and more energised to get through those bigger days!
As a working mum, we often deal with Imposter Syndrome. Have you experienced this? What’s your take on it?
I don't think I would be human if I didn't experience Imposter Syndrome in some form or another, I think we all do to some degree. I wrote a post about it on my @tarasolberg instagram feed a little while ago:
"Imposter Syndrome aka The Confidence Killer. I know I get a good dose of it regularly. I feel like a fraud, undeserving of my own success, believing that I've just been 'lucky' when really I should be patting myself on the back and congratulating myself for how hard I've worked to get here (and I actually know so much more than I think!).
I was invited to speak at the local Women in Business event about 'Thriving, Not Just Surviving' in times of uncertainty, where I met so many amazing and beautiful women who were not only encouraging and supportive, but interested in my story! It felt a little surreal that I was speaking about my business and the global award we won last year in front of a group of women who were inspired by what I have achieved.
I've been labelled before as #humble but this is just who I am. I'm a silent achiever and definitely not a bragger, but would say that I am quietly confident when it comes to setting myself goals and remain focused and work really hard to achieve them. However, the challenge will always be to maintain this level of confidence in my ability once those goals have been achieved and to recognise that yes, I created this, I have earned this and I deserve this, instead of downplaying my success. I have learnt so much over the last 12 years. Some days it's surreal to think how far we've come, but when I take a moment and look at it all from above, I feel incredibly proud."
That pretty much sums up how I feel... but I do believe that sometimes it's all 'mind over matter' and you just have to tell yourself to 'get over it and get on with it'.... and that's how I get through it!
What does your dream Mother’s Day look like?
I think I experienced it through COVID! I had my birthday through COVID lockdown and then Mothers Day shortly after when we were allowed 5 guests... I invited Mum and Dad and Danny's Mum down to our house and we all sat on a picnic blanket and had a picnic lunch in the backyard, looking out to the ocean with champagne, a delicious grazing platter, music and beautiful sunny weather. The kids took charge of the music and we spent the afternoon laughing and playing outside. It really was the perfect day. I'd be happy with the same again!
What are your top five wish list Mother’s Day products?
GOSH! That's a hard decision!!! Let's see....
1. I do love interiors... and I've got a thing for mid century design at the moment so I've got this the Sorrento Table Lamp in terracotta on my list... I can't really decide whether I want the terracotta or the green!
2. There's nothing I love more than my kids drawings and painting. At preschool every year, they made the kids fill out a form answering questions about Mum or Dad - the answers are classic and I'd love to be able to keep them in a book somewhere - which is why I love this book
that allows the kids to fill out and I can keep as a memento!
3. I love to have a calming or refreshing oil burning when I'm working at home... and beautiful oil burners are hard to find... until I found this one
4. I was in the Bowral store the other day and in the front window we had the Celeste Bedhead
styled with soft pink, grey and white bed linens with a pop of colour in the scatter cushions... it looked amazing!!! Not to mention it would go very nicely back with my lamp!
5. I've come to love a good cup of chai tea with breakfast each morning. When the kids actually 'allow' me to sit down and eat it, and enjoy the moment of being 'still', I always like to make sure it's in a good mug... and it seems that even though I own a homewares store, for some reason I have neglected to make sure I have some nice mugs - Danny's Mum always makes a coffee when she comes down and wonders why i don't have any mugs! Haha! So I'll need some... and these mugs
are my favourite.
Images: Michelle Fiona