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Female Founders: Fashion Stylist and Coach Tara Dupuis On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

The world needs more women in leading positions period. The more women we get in high ranking positions and founding or leading companies, the more it shows young women and girls that they too can achieve this for themselves. Women are just as capable at achieving success in business as men, but they need to BELIEVE that it is a possibility for themselves.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tara Dupuis.

Tara Dupuis is a fashion stylist, model, and musician with over 20 years of experience in the entertainment industry. As the founder of Tara Dupuis LLC, she is on a mission to impact as many women’s lives as she can through her personal services and her style and business coaching. She empowers other women to have increased confidence in themselves so they can achieve their goals in style!

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I have worked in the entertainment industry for two decades, primarily in music as a touring and recording rock’n roll musician as well as in the music festival and tour booking space. Style has always been a powerful tool for me on and off the stage. When I moved to Los Angeles about ten years ago I started working as a fashion stylist and model while continuing my career in music. It was during this time that I really saw how many women lacked the knowledge and skill set to use style effectively in their everyday lives. What you wear has a huge effect on how you feel and how you are perceived by others and there really is a lack of confidence in this arena for so many women out there.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

In the beginning, I did almost every aspect of my business myself from building the website, branding, advertising, and creating all the content. When you step into being an entrepreneur, be ready and willing to learn a ton of new skills! Having coaches or mentors to help keep you on track is incredibly valuable. Also, by having such a hands-on approach in my business I really got to see the client journey in its entirety from acquisition to completing services. This creates a deeper connection to clients you are working with and when they are happy or see success in their lives it feels great to know you were a part of that. You can really feel the impact you have had and I feel quite invested in my client’s successes.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I started to film video content for my first online course I had to do so many takes! Because I am used to being on stage as a musician or in front of a camera as a model, I was completely thrown off guard at how difficult it was to really nail a good video take. Learning how to pace myself and how to keep the content engaging took some practice. The video creation process took way longer than I had scheduled for so I had to reschedule my whole marketing strategy pushing it back several weeks. Lesson learned that when doing something for the first time to allow a tiny bit of wiggle room in case it takes longer than expected.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I had a colleague who was establishing her own company along the same timeline as me and we have been accountability partners along the way. We committed to getting together on Zoom every few weeks to discuss small milestones, frustrations, and to encourage each other along in building our respective businesses. As an entrepreneur it is easy to get tunnel vision! So I think it is integral to get some outsider feedback.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

I think there are still societal expectations and gender norms that hold women back from believing they can be successful in founding or leading companies. Due to this, women often lack the self-confidence to chase their dreams. There needs to be more women in high ranking positions and women in business so there are real role models out there for other women and girls. I also think investors still have a gender bias when it comes to investing, which is another hurdle for women entrepreneurs.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

Changing what girls think they can accomplish starts with how they are treated from a very young age. I think it is important for society as a whole to treat girls the same as we do boys, that the same potential is there for all genders. Creating programs for girls that teach them leadership and business skills, showcasing more women leader role models in the media, and supporting women owned businesses are some small but mighty ways that we can showcase that what is possible for men is also possible for women when it comes to the business ecosystem.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

The world needs more women in leading positions period. The more women we get in high ranking positions and founding or leading companies, the more it shows young women and girls that they too can achieve this for themselves. Women are just as capable at achieving success in business as men, but they need to BELIEVE that it is a possibility for themselves.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

I think there is a fantasized vision that you simply come up with a great business idea and that you will gain success overnight. Instant success happens for very few people, even for those with the most amazing business ideas. For most, the early stages of a business is a slow build and requires an incredible amount of dedication to make it work. You need to put in the hard work at the beginning and keep your eye on the larger goal so that when you have small setbacks, which you will, you can bounce back and keep moving forward.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

This is a really hard question! I do think there are certain personality traits that are more aligned with being a founder BUT more importantly it is about a person’s drive. I’ve seen introverts, extroverts, people of all ages, and people of all backgrounds achieve success in their businesses. Certainly, being organized and accountable are great traits for founders, but they cannot compete with a woman’s commitment to succeed.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Determination — More than anything else I think women who succeed as founders are those that have determination. Figure out what is your ‘why’. Why are you starting this business? Really get clear on the change you are seeking in your life so that you are determined to make it work.
  2. Organization — I know this may not be everyone’s strong suit but getting some semblance of organization when it comes to your business is integral as you grow. Start implementing organization from the very beginning. Make sure to block time on your schedule that is specifically for maintaining your systems and documents regularly.
  3. Patience — When starting out expect everything to take longer and be more complicated than you expected! Go easy on yourself when things don’t go quite as planned. Trust that you are moving towards your goal even if things are slower than you would like.
  4. Flexibility — You never know what curveball might be thrown your way. Businesses also morph and change as they are coming to life and this is totally OK! Be open to this as the market may demand something slightly different than the plan you started out with.
  5. Curiosity — As a founder you will have to wear many hats. Having the curiosity to explore and learn about areas of running a business that may not be the most exciting parts of your business will help you in the long run.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

My grandmother taught me how to sew at a very young age. I understood garment construction, fabrics, alterations, and how to really make clothing work for me. When I began working as a fashion stylist I saw that so many women lacked this skill set. As a stylist, I can pick out clothing and dress any woman and she will look great, but this doesn’t serve her in the same manner as education. I am always teaching. Fabrics, color psychology, body shapes, whatever I can slip into conversion when working with a 1:1 client. This was also the inspiration for my first online course. Every high up official or CEO has a stylist because style is important and it influences how people perceive you. Women need to use any type of leverage we can in the business world and in our personal lives. Using style to convey who you are and how you want to be treated can change how people interact with you and if you achieve your goals. I really hope my work helps other women accomplish what they want to in their lives.

I also think it is important to bring other women up with you as your success increases. Every person I hire for my business is a woman or has a woman leading their team. Redistributing income into other female businesses is an intentional decision that I have made in my business.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I think it is important to contribute back to your community, and not just in a monetary sense. If you are passionate about what you do, consider volunteering to mentor young women or share your skills in some way. Young women and girls need to see role models — it is so important! You never know how you can influence or inspire another person just by offering up a small amount of your time.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I would love to sit down with Sophie Amoruso. She is scrappy, funny, true to who she is, and I think we would have a lot to talk about!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.

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