Tata Harper, Tata Harper SkinCare, Entrepreneur

imgresI am one of those people who buy new products when I read about them.  Curiosity has kept our our house with an endless supply of goodies to try, taste and just look at.  What can I say?  I read about Tata Harper a few years ago, pulled out the page, put it in my “to try” pile and pretty soon I was checking out the product.

One of the many amazing people I have met in LA happened to have invest in Tata so he put me in touch to hear her story.  Her energy and passion for the products she makes is impressive.  The reality is Tata Harper Skincare is an extension of how Tata believes one should live a healthy life.

Tata grew up in Columbia in a small industrial town on the Caribbean near Cartagena.  Her father was the President of Xerox in Columbia and traveled extensively.  Her Mom was an entrepreneur.  She had started a liquor company with her new husband when Tata was ten.  She was not only a distributor but she made her own stuff.  Her parents had divorced and she wanted to make sure that her daughters controlled their own destiny.  She put them to work and raised them to have zero sense of entitlement.  Tata would go from school to work where she would count boxes in the warehouse or whatever was needed of her.  Her mother has been a tremendous inspiration to Tata.

Tata’s Grandmother was really into beauty.  She would make her own facial scrubs and masks. Pampering extravaganza’s were memorable.  Her Grandma would have spa days and all her friends would come over and she would make them feel amazing.  Tata was part of those spa days.  Her Grandmother believed (and so did her Mom) that you should be the best you can be and look it too.  Sloppy was not ok.

Tata studied in an American high school in Columbia.  After high school she took a year off and first studied French in Canada and then went to Paris.  She started her college studies in Paris but moved back to Mexico for the majority of it.  She really wanted to do something in fashion but her Mom pushed her to come back to Latin America to go to the MIT of Mexico and study industrial engineering.  Her Mom wanted her to educate herself in something meaningful where she could be in charge of her own life.  Although in high school Tata was passionate about a fashion line that she created and sold, engineering was the way her Mom pushed her to go.  In the end, she really loved having that background in manufacturing.

After graduating college, her Mom says come back to Columbia and get a job.  Tata has other plans.  She wants to go to Paris and get a masters in fashion design.  Her Mom says, stay for 6 months and then go to Paris.  Tata lands a job as the Chief of Staff for the CEO of a cellular company in Columbia.  It was 1999 and times were changing.

In the meantime, she applies to go to Paris, gets accepted and finds an apartment.  During the transitional time in Columbia, before she takes off to Paris, she meets her husband.   She meets him at a party.  He is from Columbia but his Mother is an investment banker in NYC so that is where he grew up.  Six months later they move in together, he gets a job in Miami and Tata much to her Mother’s dismay goes with him.  She was 23.

Tata lands a job in a club/restaurant that is opening where she learns about engineering, architecture, licenses and coordinating decorators.  Then her and her boyfriend (eventually husband) begin building buildings in Miami, even building a hotel in Aspen.  They become real estate developers.  They figured that eventually they would end up in NYC but during that time in Miami they would go to Vermont every weekend.  They bought a farm there because both of them loved the land.  They looked all over from Berkshires, Aspen, Hudson Valley, etc and landed in Vermont.  At this point they are also married.

Five and a half years after of being in Miami her step-father gets diagnosed with cancer.  Her Mother is beyond stressed and asks Tata to help because she will be calm.  It was through this that she started to look into the concept of you are what you eat.  She started looking into food, cleaning products, skincare, shampoo and everything she finds has some synthetic chemicals in it.  She was so angry and disappointed and decided that she was going to change that.

Tata hires a beauty consultant to help her think about how to start a skincare company.  She figured out really quickly that the advice she was getting was wrong.  Everything in beauty companies appears to be outsourced.  Looking behind the curtains she learned that many of the products use the same formulas but the brands just add filler and put their label on it.  She would have nothing to do with that.  The labs she talked to thought she was crazy.  That was how it was done and there was zero way she could make a 100% natural skincare product.

Tata hires 8 chemists to help her develop a line of 12 products with nothing synthetic.  It took 5 years to develop because the products were made from scratch.  They made everything on the farm in Vermont.  They had a big barn, were able to grow organic products that are native to the Northeast and it wasn’t near an industrial park.  Absolutely perfect.

5 years to develop, now 5 years on the market and in for ten years.  She sells on her own site including spas and high end stores such as Neimans, Saks etc.  She lives full time in Vermont with her 3 kids and couldn’t be happier.  She loves what she does and she now has 100 people working with her across the country.   Tata beat the system and is making a difference.

As far as Tata is concerned, she is part of a movement.  I couldn’t agree more.