By Meg Crane
Tara Davis claims there are no altruistic motives behind her boutique, located at 246 McDermot Ave. in Winnipeg, Man. In fact, she even goes so far as to call herself selfish for choosing to do what she loves: run Tara Davis Studio Boutique in downtown Winnipeg, a shop that sells handmade items from across Canada. But her actions speak volumes above her words.
“I have the privilege of working with the cream of the crop when it comes to makers, artisans, designers, crafters, artists and customers. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself and count my lucky stars for the opportunity to have these people in my life,” Davis says, no mention of what she does for them in return.
Davis has found ways to financially support artists whose wares are on the shelves of her shop when they’re going through a tough time and she offers to gift wrap purchases in exchange for a $1 donation to ArtBeat Studio. “It’s a great feeling to know that just by doing what I love to do, I get to help others do what they love. Sometimes it’s even more meaningful, like helping a single mom have some spending cash or helping a woman I really care about get out of debt,” Davis says.
She’s also thrilled for the artists when she sells large quantities of their work, such as the time a local film company came into Tara Davis Studio Boutique and bought 31 pieces of art. “I just felt so great for the artists. I mean, it was good for the business as well. But some of these artists have been showing their work here for three or four years and I sell bits and bits, but not like that. So, to be able to tell them, ‘oh, I just sold 11 of your works,’ is a pretty great feeling because I know how it’s impacting their lives,” Davis says.
She carefully handpicks each maker whose wares she sells in the shop. Not only do they need to have something she adores, they also need to be someone she can see herself working with. “I still try to meet the people I work with every chance I get. I love to know what the person is like, what their story is and be able to share that with our customers,” Davis says. She considers most of the 100 artists whose work she sells to be friends. “I feel so invested in the product and the people. So it’s really exciting for me to both tell people about it and share the stories behind it,” Davis says.
Davis started out in Nelson, BC where she sold mostly her own handmade goods. As someone who was passionate about both customer service and handmade goods, it felt like a good choice. Even though she leased the space and opened five days later without any real prep, other than years of pretending to own a shop. “You know when little girls play house and stuff? I actually played shop. I would put little stickers on all of my mom’s stuff. It wasn’t my stuff! So, little dishes and things like that and then I’d sell them to my mom from the shop and it was actually my allowance in a way,” Davis says.
When she moved the shop to Winnipeg, she started with 50 makers. Creating a business model around selling exclusively goods handmade in Canada is difficult, Davis says. And it isn’t particularly financially rewarding. She says she won’t be able to buy a home or car as the owner of Tara Davis Studio Boutique, but that’s a lifestyle choice she was happy to make. “Some days I can hardly wait to get to the shop to work on a display and I end up staying late because I got lost chatting with one of many amazing customers,” Davis says.
She’s about to sign another five year lease for her space and is busy getting stock on the shelves for the holiday season, when she expects the shop to get so busy she’ll need to bring in extra staff.
This woman is bringing joy to a lot of folks. Let’s spread a little back. Drop by Tara Davis Studio Boutique to make a donation to ArtBeat Studio, chat up the fabulous Tara Davis herself and find a few treasures to gift this holiday season.