It’s that time again…time for the kiddies to go back to school, to start pulling those cozy sweaters out from storage and time to introduce you to a new ‘Girl in Focus’. We are SUPER excited to introduce you to Tara Teng, this fall’s ‘Girl in Focus’! Tara is a woman of many, many hats! Some of you may recognize her from her reign as Miss World Canada in 2012 or maybe from the time she was named Canada’s “Women of the Year” (NBD) or one of The Globe and Mail’s “Top 25 Most Transformational Canadian’s”. Nowadays, she’s a Blogger and Instagram Influencer, a TV Host, a Birth Doula, a Human Rights Activist that works with various organizations around the world to combat gender-based violence and human trafficking, a wife and a momma to two little ones. Oh and she’s launching her own business soon…
CeeCee: Hi Tara, we’re so excited to be working with you! I know that your blog is something near and dear to your heart so why don’t you tell me what made you decide to start a blog?
Tara: I first started my blog when I won Miss BC 2010 as a way of keeping friends and family up to date with my travels. Over time blogging became a way that I could creatively express my heart through written word and beautiful imagery. It also offered me a way to share resources for ethical fashion or educate others on my advocacy work to end human trafficking and invite them to make a difference both locally and globally.
CeeCee: Your blog feels very authentic and real to me. I love that you write about what your passionate about, even though it might not always necessarily be what you’d expect to see on a ‘Life and Style’ blog. Lately it seems that you’ve been putting a little bit more of your energy into Instagram. Tell me how instagram has affected your blog?
Tara: The Instagram community is truly amazing. I’ve made genuine friendships from people all around the world through these tiny squares and even many of my “IRL” friendships began on Instagram. As a blogger, I’ve found incredible inspiration by connecting with other creatives and the sisterhood of entrepreneurs has been so encouraging.
CeeCee: I’ve worked with numerous social media influencers over the years and have really noticed this sense of “community”. Everyone seems to know and support each other – even though many of you are going after the same “piece of the pie” so to speak. What’s the best part of being a blogger?
Tara: Again, the community of other bloggers/instagrammers is amazing and the ability to challenge myself and grow creatively has been really meaningful to me personally.
CeeCee: What’s your biggest strength?
Tara: I am incredibly empathetic. Everything I do is driven by heart and conviction. Everything I do is with the desire to make the world better for us all.
CeeCee: That is a great strength to have and I think that it definitely comes across to your followers. How do you plan on making your world better in 2017?
Tara: I want to try and slow down more and be intentionally in the moment. It’s always a challenge for someone like me who is so driven and likes to stay busy with lots of different interests. But I don’t want to miss the present, just because I am excited about the future.
CeeCee: I’m also trying to work on that. What’s your next BIG life goal?
Tara: I’m currently in the process of launching Justly Market, an online marketplace to make ethical shopping easier. I’m really excited to be a resource for customers seeking to make justice a lifestyle and to assist great companies who are making a real difference in the lives of others through fair wages, safe environments, dignified work and sustainable practices.
CeeCee: That sounds amazing! Ok, so where do you see yourself in ten years?
Tara: I honestly don’t know! 10 years ago I never thought I would be doing what I am today. Sometimes I don’t think you can predict how life is going to go…but that’s the beauty of it! The adventure keeps life exciting!
CeeCee: Definitely! I feel like if you are too focused on getting to that certain “place” then you’re going to miss out on some amazing opportunities. What are you most excited about these days?
Tara: I’m excited about all the lives that are going to be transformed through Justly Market. I believe that we all hold the power within us to change the world and I’m really excited about the winds of change that are slowly shifting to bring ethical living and more sustainable, more just choices in to the mainstream.
CeeCee: I second that! As someone who tries to be a conscious consumer whenever possible, it’s really encouraging to see all these new choices out in the market. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Tara: My dad taught us to live with integrity. If we couldn’t live up to the words we spoke, then we shouldn’t say them at all.
CeeCee: Nice one dad! What was the best thing that has happened to you this past year?
Tara: The birth of my daughter. I’m so blessed to have two incredible children who bring me joy each day. Parenting has been the most intense challenge of my life but it has also been the most rewarding.
CeeCee: I have to say, your daughter is quite the little trooper (or fashionista in the making)! She spent an entire day shopping with us and most of another day on set and it didn’t really seem to faze her! I think she has better stamina than I do and she’s only 7 months old!! Ok, so time for the BIG one – what made you decide to enter pageants?
Tara: It was a bucket list item I always wanted to try but was intimidated of. So eventually I stepped out and did the pageant because I wanted to be more brave. I never set out with the intention to win; I just wanted to have courage and grow both professionally and personally. In the end, the judges saw something in me and I was blessed to take home the titles of Miss BC 2010, Miss Canada 2011 and Miss World Canada 2012.
CeeCee: I love that your choice to join, what can sometimes be seen as something that’s focused primarily on a woman’s outside, came from a place of wanting to build your inner strength and courage. Speaking of perception, tell me about some common misconceptions about pageants and the women who participate in them?
Tara: People seem to think that we don’t get along but this isn’t true. Some of my strongest friendships are with women who I participated in pageants with and we still remain close today, even the women who live all around the world! Plus these women are incredibly inspiring, accomplished and intelligent! In my class of Miss World 2012, we had an Olympian, a neuroscientist and a politician.
CeeCee: That’s amazing! Tell me about your favourite memory from Miss World.
Tara: My favourite memory was stepping on to the stage at the 62nd Miss World competition in Ordos, China and looking up to see 118 flags from all the countries participating. To represent my country on the world stage was such an incredible honour and it makes me emotional every time I think of it.
CeeCee: I love that! I know that a big part of who you are is being an activist. Tell me, what does activism mean to you?
Tara: Activism means actively working to make our communities and our world better. It means finding a way to effectively and strategically bring positive change. Most of the time this isn’t glamorous, it’s a lot of hard work over many hours that no one gets to see. But in the end it’s always worth it.
CeeCee: What causes are close to your heart?
Tara: I believe in freedom and working to end human trafficking. It is atrocious that there are more slaves today than ever before in human history and that it is 100% completely preventable.
I also believe in women supporting women and raising up the next generation to shatter glass ceilings and that there is room enough for us all to stand in the sun.
CeeCee: Amen sister! I know that you have had the privilege of working with numerous organizations around the world that combat gender-based violence and trafficking. Tell me what you learned working with survivors?
Tara: I learned that it happens everywhere. Both in distant third world countries and here, in our neighbourhoods at home. My work to end human trafficking began when I found out that a young woman from our street had been trafficked. It hit so close to home and I couldn’t ignore it. No one is immune; traffickers will prey on any weakness, insecurity or vulnerability they can find. For some, that can mean poverty, gender inequality, family history of violence and abuse, or ethnicity. In Canada, it is often indigenous women and girls who go missing and murdered because they are trafficked. But truly, it can be anyone from any ethnicity and any social economic status.
CeeCee: I think that’s a very dangerous misconception that people have. Trafficking doesn’t just happen in remote, impoverished areas. It happens everywhere. Ok, now on to some lighter questions! How would you describe your style?
Tara: I’m a free-spirited boho country girl…with a touch of glamour and sparkle!
CeeCee: You definitely sparkle! Who is your style icon?
Tara: My favourite fashion blogger is @officiallyquigley! The girl can do no wrong!
CeeCee: What style trend are you excited to rock this season?
Tara: I’m really feeling the embroidery trend that is everywhere! I definitely think its something that you must use sparingly but I really like the added detail it brings!
CeeCee: Love it! What’s your must-have item this season?
Tara: The sock boot trend is really fun. I wasn’t too sure of it at first…but once I tried it with a bunch of outfits (styled 5 ways!) I was hooked! I love that I can wear it with my ripped denim jeans and also with a dress when I run off to meetings or out for date night! I’m all about the versatility!
CeeCee: I know right! I wasn’t too sure either but now I love ’em! Who are your favourite Coquitlam Centre retailers?
Tara: Right now I’m loving Below the Belt because they carry so many incredible brands that are ethically made and giving back! Plus, its comfy chic…which I’m all about! I’m also a big fan of Saje. A few years ago I made the big decision to swap out all the harsh chemicals in my house for natural alternatives. It’s better for me and better for the environment. I don’t think I’ll ever go back.
CeeCee: I 1000% agree. I’ve been chemical-free for a long time and I will never go back #cantstopwontstop. What are your go-to accessories?
Tara: I’m a hat girl. I love a good wide brim hat; it just helps make an outfit feel complete!
CeeCee: You definitely rocked this hat! What is the best fashion secret you’ve ever learned?
Tara: Double sided tape! I used it all the time in pageants and I still use it all the time now. No wardrobe malfunctions here!
CeeCee: Oooh good tip! If you could only wear one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Tara: A good fitting, comfortable and flattering pair of jeans. Hands down.
CeeCee: Yes! Jeans are so versatile! Dress ’em up, dress ’em down, they work for almost anything. I love that there is no one “right” style of jeans right now so find a pair that works for you and go with it! I know you fell in love with a pair of Silver Jeans from Below the Belt and were really happy when you found out that they were made in Canada. Talk to me about ethical/concious shopping.
Tara: Ethical shopping is about buying better, not more. It’s about intentionally seeking products that are better for us, better for the environment and better for the people who make them. It is fair trade, safe conditions, dignified work, and sustainable practices.
CeeCee: I think that’s especially important in the beauty industry! Speaking of beauty products, what are your favourite beauty products?
Tara: I am in love with my highlighter stick from Elate Cosmetics. It’s all-natural, no toxic chemicals, made in Canada and gives me just the right about of glow. Perfection!
CeeCee: Oooh I’ll have to look them up. What’s your beauty trick for getting out the door fast and still looking great?
Tara: The scrunchie. No joke. If I’m really running late I can pull my hair up into a pony with the scrunchie, wrap my tresses around it and tuck it in…done.
CeeCee: Hahaha! What do beauty/skin product do you never leave home without?
Tara: I’d like to say something fancy but I’m actually pretty low maintenance so the honest truth is deodorant lol. I’ve been trying to years to find the right all natural deodorant and I finally have: K’Pure Naturals. Made small batch in Mission BC and totally works for me!
CeeCee: I will DEFINITELY look that one up! Natural deodorant is all about finding the right one for your body chemistry. What is your go-to skin saviour?
Tara: Baby wipes. It sounds weird but I’ve been using them for years (long before I had kids) to wash off my makeup at night. Most days I’m too tired or too lazy to do anything fancy but since I’ve been using baby wipes I have been blemish free!
CeeCee: What are 3 things in your bag you can’t live without?
Tara: Minus all the baby stuff in my bag…phone, wallet, keys (and lipstick).
CeeCee: What’s the best way to decompress?
Tara: A quick drive out to the beach and a walk along the pier. Or a late night drive along my favourite country back-roads.
CeeCee: What advice would you give other working moms?
Tara: Find yourself a village. Motherhood is haaaaard some days and without a community supporting you, it’s easy to lose your sanity. Also have something that you do for you, which makes you happy; for me it is blogging. As mothers it is very easy to give so much of ourselves to our families but we cannot lose ourselves in the process. Personally I want to show my children that they can have both family and career if they want to.
CeeCee: I think you are well on your way to doing that. What values to you hope to instill in your children?
Tara: Compassion, integrity and perseverance. At the end of the day, my foremost concern is raising good humans to be generous and kind. If I’ve done that, then my mothering has been a success.
CeeCee: And on that note, I think this is a great place to stop. Thanks so much for sitting down with me!