Tara is the owner of Fable a thoughtfully curated boutique of form and function. The Fable aesthetic is born from emerging American designers with mindful manufacturing, smart design, and intriguing textures and patterns.
What does Fable offer that you won’t find elsewhere in KC?
For starters, Fable is the only women’s shop in KC that exclusively carries clothing and accessories that are produced in the USA. One of my goals with the shop is to bring small, emerging designers to my community. Many of these designers aren’t yet household names, but they’re creating garments with fashion-forward silhouettes as well as custom fabrics and prints that will endure for decades. Many times, I am the only stockist outside of New York or Los Angeles; Fable is a treasure trove of hard-to-find pieces, not items you can Google and find at 20 other online shops.
The storefront wasn’t part of your original plan. Would you share how that all came to be?
I had recently quit my day job and had been working as a clothing designer for only about 6 months when the retail space at 1515 Walnut came to my attention. I was having a glass of wine with Jamie from The Hair Parlour, and she casually mentioned that a client of hers was seeking a tenant for his new development and said I should check it out. Honestly, I kind of laughed it off and only agreed to the meeting in the spirit of saying YES. When I saw the space, however, (which was still months away from completion) my wheels started spinning out of control. Suddenly having a storefront became paramount not only to the success of my line, but to educating Kansas Citians about the fashion industry. I had always dreamed of owning my own shop (albeit 5, 10 years in the future), so I already had a vision and the pieces came together pretty quickly; Fable opened its doors 5 months after first seeing the space.
You’ve said that self-promotion hasn’t come easy for you. How are you approaching it now?
At the end of the day, self-promotion is somewhat of a necessary evil for me. I believe I struggle with it as much as I do because Fable is a one-woman show, so it feels as though I’m constantly saying, “Look what I’ve accomplished!” even if it’s promoting another designer’s work at the shop.
BUT something I positively love to do is go through my photo catalog on my phone at the end of the night. Few experiences give me more joy than seeing a photo from a few months back and being surprised at its contents. So, I’ve decided to approach social media/self-promotion from that perspective. What will I want to remember from this day? What did I get done and am proud of? I make myself post something every day if for no other reason than to remind myself what interesting circumstance I encountered: the arrival of a beautiful new dress, a splendidly merchandised table, or a slow day reading the shop’s Kinfolk while drinking tea.
What have you learned about your clientele in terms of who they are and what they’re really looking for?
I’ve learned that women are first and foremost looking for clothes that can carry them through the day without limiting their personality, comfort, or style. I really despise occasion-specific garments (going-out dress, work pants), so I bring things to the shop that can move seamlessly through these segmented parts of our lives. Your clothing is meant to be worn and loved, not saved for special moments or regulated to serve one purpose.
In a similar vein, I really try to encourage quality over quantity, and my clientele appreciates that. More than likely, you don’t need 4 kinds of jeans; you need one solid pair of dark denim that you can wear to cocktails AND to the grocery store. However, clothing isn’t purely utilitarian; there’s great joy in clothing and finding a piece that really expresses your approach to dress. For that reason, I’m very careful to only bring in items under $300. I still want you to be able to wander into Fable and fall in love with a top and go home with it that same day without selling a kidney.
What is your latest epiphany?
I’m beginning the wholesale process for Tara Light! I have a select list of small, like-minded shops across the country I’m planning to present my collection to for consideration. It would be amazing to start a small manufacturing facility here in the city with a handful of seamstresses or women who want to learn the skill and grow with the company.