As I walk up to local designer Tara Ferreira, she’s sporting a well constructed top knot, a cool summer dress layered with a crocheted vest, and glasses. Tara isn’t the only stylish one at the coffee shop. She toted along her four year old daughter who is decked out in vintage clothing (her shirt actually belonged to our School Relations and Marketing Director, Claudia Dencer, when she was kid). For a living, Tara is a photo stylist, not to be confused with a photographer. A client will hire her to give their shoot a certain look, and it’s Tara’s job to recreate their vision. If that isn’t cool enough, she also designs and makes clothing, jewelry, and paintings. It may come as a surprise that when asked if she thought she would be designing and styling photos in high school, Tara responded “I never thought I would. I wanted to be an art teacher.” It truly is art that she produces on a daily basis, whether she’s recreating retro scenes for a shoot, using Florida Gator skin and woolly mammoth bone beads to create unique pieces of jewelry (displayed below), or recreating paintings.
When it comes to fashion, Tara gravitates toward a retro-modern look, crediting Brigitte Bardot and Jackie O as a couple of her fashion icons. This mix of the old and the new is evident in her clothing designs. She takes vintage pieces and reworks them to create modern looks. Though she loves Michael Kors and Neiman Marcus, she is aware that all of that can be pricey, so she likes to use them more for inspiration as opposed to current purchases. When I asked Tara what fictional character she would like to meet, she mentioned another style icon: “Lana Del Ray! She’s her own fictional character. She branched off and created Lana Del Ray.” Tara, like Lana, pulls off that retro-modern style flawlessly (see her modeling her mother’s wedding dress, which is 50 years old. She styled the shoot but Daybreak Studios photographed her).
When asked what her favorite part of design is, Tara, without hesitation, answered “making something one of a kind.” Though full of charm, St. Augustine is still very small, so people tend to shop at the same places and end up with the same pieces. Tara enjoys creating unique pieces that no one else will have. Her clothing designs clearly encompass that idea, and her jewelry designs do as well. That’s right people, she doesn’t stop at clothing, she uses her designing expertise to create one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces!
Tara first got a taste for the design process in high school. “My mom would make all of my dresses. We had to out of necessity. So I was designing back then I guess.” Tara explains that they didn’t have a lot of money, so she would tell her mom what she wanted her dresses to look like and her mom would sew them. Though she was basically designing in high school, Tara didn’t embrace her knack for the unique quite yet: “I tried to fit in. I didn’t really go off in to my own niche until college. In art school it was encouraged ‘the weirder the better!'” Now, Tara really enjoys creating those “weird” pieces. Though she loves designing, she is adamant that she never wants to be mass produced! Tara is very clear that once something is produced in quantity, it loses everything she loves about her designs: the uniqueness. She would love to get in more boutiques to have her individual looks on display!
When speaking with someone so talented and fashion forward, it is only right to get some fashion advice! Staying trendy isn’t always simple, so how can you keep up with all the latest fashion? Tara’s advice to stay current is 1)buy a lot fashion magazines and find looks that seem to be trending. 2) Utilize Pinterest! You can find your favorite fashion bloggers or people with style you want to emulate and follow their boards.
To wrap things up, Tara Ferreira is a refreshing, amazingly talented, jack-of-all-trades designer. She can recreate anything and takes pride in doing so. What’s the one piece of advice she has for you fellow trendsetters? “Start your own trends! Don’t do what everyone else does. Be weird…weird is good!”
Want to see more of Tara and her pieces? Check out her website at stylediner.com and find her on Instagram (StyleDiner).