This week, to celebrate the Grand Opening of our Leslieville location, we thought it might be time for a Founder's Feature with our very own Health Hut founder, Tara Miller! With ten years as an independent business owner and community leader, Tara continues to grow the shop into a space where pleasure and feeling good are not only represented in the brands we carry; but in the philosophy she has firmly rooted in everything she does.
What are your top 3 most memorable moments of HH?
Ok so definitely my very first day back in 2011 in Muskoka. I had ZERO idea what I was doing, a bunch of boxes and people that wanted to buy things! Nothing was priced and I just sort of made it up as I went. I’ll never forget that. Shortly after that I was having sushi in Toronto and I overheard the table next to me chatting about “a cute hut in the Esso gas station they stumbled upon.” That was pretty cool. Opening our College Street store was really special. Even though we had our Muskoka hut and our tiny space on Harbord, that space felt like a “real” store. It was a dream come true. And now opening our third space in Leslieville! 2011 Tara would be so proud. :)
Tell us what your daily skincare routine looks like?
This has also changed a lot since 2011. I used to wash my face with an oatmeal soap bar - and that’s it! Now, in the morning I either just splash water on my face or cleanse with Tata’s Regenerating Cleanser in the shower. Then, I use either Province Apothecary’s Toner or at the moment I am using Vintner’s Daughter Active Treatment Essence, followed by Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum. I like a minimal routine, and this combo is beyond lovely. Sometimes I’ll mix in Tata’s Illuminating Moisturizer, or something from a new brand I am trying out. A few in the rotation right now are Ritual Alchemy’s Face Serum (a product in the works by our very own Julie from College Street), Lesse and Monastery (new to the shop!).
In the evening, right now I am enjoying Tata’s Softening Cleanser to take off my make-up, followed by the same steps as the morning (keeping it simple). As the weather cools I will add in a rich balm on top like Egyptian Magic, PA’s Face Balm or Monastery Attar as an overnight treatment. If I remember and am not too tired, I will use my Gua Sha stone.
What are your top Toronto eats?
So I love, love pizza and my current go-to’s are Blondie’s and Regina’s (our neighbours on College and one of the few places that will accommodate my love for pineapple as a topping!). Descendants in Leslieville is a wild ride, go hungry! Maker’s is high on my list too, so I was thrilled to see they opened right near our east end shop. Living and working across from Bar Isabel is a dream (albeit an expensive one). Their garlic shrimp with sourdough bread...I have no words. A few other favourites include: La Cubana (try the vegetarian plate!), Rudy (great burg), Scaramouche for a special occasion.
What products would we currently find on your bedside table?
Right now I have Lohn’s scent pebble with a few drops of Vitruvi’s Sleep blend, The Cure’s Body Whip, F. Miller Lip Balm, a tiny Fenwick candle in Lavender Eucalyptus, and La Vie’s Spa Nordique Linen Spray. On my bed I have a Reve Stray and Wander blanket that keep me and my (3!) pets cozy.
What’s the most challenging part of running your own business? The most enjoyable?
The most challenging, for me, is managing moments of self-doubt. I don’t have someone above me to say: “You’re doing a great job!” or “Maybe you should do it more like this.” I do however have a wonderful team, a few close mentors and other small business owners turned friends that I can regularly bounce stuff off and depend on for support. It also helps that my husband has his own business too, and is always there to give me a little confidence boost when I need it.
To me, the most enjoyable is being able to create and live a life I love.
Fave travel destination/where you dream of going next?
Europe is my favourite, so far. Particularly Italy and Portugal. And I am dreaming of when I can return to eat and drink there again!
Given your expansion into Leslieville and the difficult year we’ve all had, what does community mean to you?
Really, community is everything! To grow during a pandemic - that’s all the support of our community. We are so grateful, and inspired and motivated by each and everyone who has been a part of our journey. We're fortunate to be a part of not just one, but three local neighborhoods and commuities now. Sometimes I want to pinch myself I feel so lucky.
I also recognize how important it is to give back to our local communities. We prioritize regularly donating to organizations like Sistering, NEDIC, IRSSS, BLM - and are always adding to this list.
What else do you have cooking up next for HH?
Ohhh that’s a secret! But, a few new HH products are in the works. Stay tuned.
“This or That”
Oil or Cream cleanser? Cream
Salty or Sweet? Salty
Cook or Order in? Cook
Coffee or Tea? Tea
Binge-worthy series or Movie? Series
City or Country? Ah! Both, but if I had to pick I’d say City
Paper or Computer? Computer
Bath or Shower? Bath!
Drake or No? Depends on my mood :)
“What is your current feel-good…”Binge-worthy show? The White Lotus (K, maybe not “feel good”, but I just raced through it!)
Toronto eatery? Bar Isabel
Local Shop? I can’t name just one! But the most recent local shop I visited was Type Books
Evening Snack: I usually eat dinner late, so not a big evening snacker
Song? Gasoline by HAIM - the one featuring Taylor Swift
Ritual when you get home? Pour a glass of wine
Activity to wind down? Taking a bath with bubbles, a candle, a good book or show, wine or tea
Warm beverage? A decaf (sad I know…) latte
Self-care practice? Going to bed early
Thanks so much Tara!