Founder Feature: Tara of Health Hut

Posted by Jenny Tellier on

Health Hut has been Toronto and Muskoka's haven for natural skincare, clean beauty and curated lifestyle products for a long time - 12 years to be exact!

This month, we're sitting down with our founder, Tara, to celebrate and reflect on her journey as an entrepreneur in the wellness space.

In this interview, Tara shares the skincare routine she rarely deviates from, the oft-overlooked routine hack that makes all the difference and, of course, where's she's drinking her decaf misto when walking her shop dog, Artie.

HH: When you walk into Health Hut you can’t help but feel the vibrant energy of the community you’ve fostered, from local brand owners to first-time customers, there’s a place at the table for everyone. Can you share with us some of your most memorable moments with the HH community?

TM: I think one has to be that first weekend back in May 2011. I was surrounded by boxes of products, and had no idea what I was going to do. My very sweet mother-in-law was my first customer and I just told her to take what she wanted and I would bill her later - I didn’t even know how to process a sale! Luckily, a lot has changed.

Following that, my best moments outside of opening our new locations, and launching our house line of products, have really been the small ones. Someone taking time out of their day to visit us, another trusting us to send their friend a package to cheer them up, a regular popping in to say hi and let us know what they’ve been up to.

I think the thing that still shocks me is that this fun summer experiment has turned into something that not only means so much to me, but to other people, too. 

HH: As the founder of Health Hut, we know your appreciation for natural skincare runs deep. We’d love to know what your current skincare routine looks like - what are the staples in your routine you can’t live without and what seasonal faves are you loving right now?

TM: I am a less-is-more type when it comes to my routine, and when I like something I stick to it. Experimenting is so fun, and I wish I could do it more (we get so many amazing new products to try around here), but my skin prefers simple and consistent.

Skincare staples include:

In the summertime, I find I can skip the cream, and a toner/oil combo is enough. I will add in Salt & Stone’s Lightweight Sheer SPF 40 if I am spending a lot of time in the sun. Otherwise, that’s usually it! 

HH: With 12 years of experience in the wellness industry, how have your own perspectives on beauty and wellness evolved over time?

TM: Oh, this is a good one. I have become very passionate about pushing back against beauty and wellness standards after years working as a Holistic Nutritionist. In my one-on-one sessions, I saw how much anxiety people had around food and product choices, body image, and achieving a perfectly “clean” lifestyle. Their self worth was attached to these choices, and occupied a tremendous amount of their mental space and time.

Rather than contributing to well-being, this version of “wellness” was causing panic, fear and stress.

Since then a big goal of mine for Health Hut has been to create a space that encourages people to honour their individuality, intuition, and to let go of rules or ideas that are not serving them.

Less perfection, more pleasure!

My hope is that instead of thinking “what should I do?” they can turn inward and ask “what feels good for me?” and trust that they have this answer.

HH: The HH community loves a good skincare hack. Are there any unique skincare rituals or commonly overlooked products that you swear by for glowing skin?

TM: My skincare hack: getting to know your skin. What does it need more of/less of? We love hearing what others do (myself included!), but what works for me may not work for you (like so much else in life). It takes more time, but starting a good relationship with your skin is worth it. Play around, pay attention, and adjust as needed.

I’ve learned my skin loves a good nights sleep, a simple combo of water (toner) and oil (serum), and not too much else - or it lets me know!

HH: As someone who values everyday pleasures and little comforts, what are some small joys and rituals bringing you pleasure and making you feel good these days?

TM: Something new for me is reading in the morning. I used to wake up and get going right away, either to work or the gym. This shift has been a welcomed change of pace. Not to mention that as a morning person I am now flying though books. In the past, I would only be able to read a page or two before falling asleep in the evening.

I recently started working with a local garden design company in planning our outdoor space. It is a big job that felt overwhelming at first, so it has been fun and exciting to make more bite-size plans and dig into a new hobby.

As the weather warms, I love taking my dog Artie to sit and hang out by Trinity Bellwoods and enjoying a (decaf) misto at Morning Parade. It is so sunny and peaceful, I could sit there all day.

And in a little change of gears, weight lifting is also something that brings me lots of joy. I love the challenge and seeing my progress as I get stronger.

Finally, re-falling in love with cooking. Over the past few years cooking felt like a chore, but I am relieved that I have been able to find enjoyment at the end of the day again in preparing (albeit simple) meals again. Nothing like a change in seasons to get inspired. 

HH: Let’s take a peek into a crystal ball and fast-forward a few years. What bucket list items do you hope to check off?

TM: Professionally, I am having so much fun growing our HH line. I can’t wait to continue sharing what’s to come with our community.

And personally, three things that come to mind are: a trip to Greece next year to celebrate my 40th birthday and 10th wedding anniversary, learning to play the drums (will this ever happen? I do not know…), and getting another dog as we currently have one dog and two cats, but I like even numbers. ;) 

HH: Lastly, we're all ears for your personal recommendations. What are your go-to Toronto eats, favourite after work/weekend activities and must-read books that you recommend?

TM: Dining out is one of my favourite things to do and Toronto has sososo many amazing spots. Tonight I'm going to Sunny's in Kensington, but some of my tops I never ever get sick of: Bar Isabel, Enoteca Sociale, Foxley, Terroni.

Other must-tries around the city: the cheese croissants from Morning Parade (formerly Tampered Press), the vegan simit at Pasaj in Leslieville, zeppole (italian donut) from Alimentari on Roncy, oysters at Oyster Boy, the new Pompette bakery on College has a delicious sourdough baguette, the smash burger at Cotê de Boeuf is next level…I could keep going.

Favourite after work activities: go to any of the above restaurants, have a glass of wine or gin martini on a patio/my porch/in the bath, read, cook a simple meal of fresh tomatoes, basil and pasta or BBQ-ed fish with a big herby salad, kiss my pets, water the plants, tuck into bed early.

Good reads from the past year: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (I finished this months ago and still can’t stop thinking about it but note: *trigger warning*), Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante.

Next up on my bedside table: City in Flames by Tomas Hachard (our neighbour on College Flying Books latest release), and Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin.


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