As luck 'wood’ have it: Mara Made Designs
"Growing up in the '70s and '80s, it was all about being in a profession or a business. Owning a company through a creative discipline was never an option."
So Tamara Harding tackled scholastic pursuits in the field of business in school and for 20 years, worked assiduously in advertising alongside her husband. However, one day, in 2014, she shut down her agency's operations and began to find her true purpose. She shares her unique discovery with Outlook.
Harding explained that after going through a series of events for almost six months, she had an epiphany. She found herself thinking along the lines of nature. And as luck 'wood' have it, Mara Made Designs was the result.
Being business-oriented, she revealed that she actually made her logo and tag before making her first piece. With no training, no background in art or woodwork, Harding relies primarily on designing pieces from the mental space, something that has presented its fair share of difficulty when explaining ideas to both her clients, as well as her team. But she pulls through on creativity and successfully completes each mission. Jamaican to her very core: it is her roots that continues to motivate her, bringing forth her natural abilities to produce amazing artistry.
Today, Harding creates one-of-a-kind, bespoke pieces made from wood, metal, resin and cement, designed to accentuate and rejuvenate the office space, restaurants, bars, hotels, villas and homes.
"I love all my pieces: they're made from my soul and each have a part of me in it. I particularly get attached to the ones I have worked on for months. But if I had to think of a memorable order, it would be the lights hanging in Deli Works at Sovereign. That design I conceptualised specifically for that space, and bringing it to life has brought me so much joy."
Everyone, she expressed, has been so supportive and encouraging of her new journey. People have even gone out of their way to stop her and convey their congratulations, and express how inspired they are by her work and accomplishments.
"It's a humbling experience, and each and every encounter I have touches me, too," she added.
A woman in a man's world, her team consists of solely men, so the entrepreneur makes it a point of duty to not only exude confidence, but embody strength as well.
"It means always seeming like you're in control when you really feel like you're falling apart. The days are long and the nights are short. It's tough, hard work, but at the end of each day, when I'm covered in dust and exhausted to the bone, I feel a level of satisfaction and contentment that can come no other way," she told Outlook.
So, what's next for Harding? She has been bursting at the seams with ideas for other lines and products she wants to start designing. To facilitate this exciting venture, she has decided to open up a design house before the end of the year, to assist with development and creation. She believes in dedicating time and energy to her business' success.
And so, when she's not in the workshop, she can be found in the resin studio, at site visits, in meetings, or in office catching up on administrative affairs.
"When I do get the occasional break, I like to head to the beach or river, or seek an adventure up in the hills with my family or close friends."
According to Harding, creatives typically feel all they have to do is create to be successful and so they fail to navigate, grasp and get a handle of the most important aspect: the business side. So her advice to aspiring artists who want to create outside of the box is to, "Start with a business plan - you can download free templates from the Internet. And if that isn't your thing, get help; but success can't come without proper planning."