We were introduced to Market Mafia by Marti & Cait at Bridge + Bloom a few months before Boss Babe Club’s launch in June. B + B designed both of our sites and thought a collaboration could be a good fit in the future. They were so right. Not only is Market Mafia the best thing since dry shampoo for locals & travelers alike, but the Founders of Market Mafia are welcoming, funny, & they have great taste in movies (we’ve gotta have movie night soon, ladies!). We’re so excited to share their words with you as they gear up to smash some goals this year, including growing their audience, establishing an advertising program & merchandise, and developing a presence in and around Tampa Bay for their brand. More on their goals here. Check out their Boss Babe Wednesday feature below & stay boss. xx
Tell us about yourself and what you do!
Tara: Hoosier transplant since 2009; Indiana will always be “home” but the living is good in the sunshine state. I’m a happily married cat lady, going on plant lady. Outside of the Mafia, I’m a health coach to seniors, overall fan of weird adventures and lover of new experiences.
Kim: Born and raised right outside of New Orleans, Louisiana, I’ve now been a Florida resident for over six years. I’m married (going on seven years) and have one fur baby Bichon who is the light of my life. When not working on Market Mafia, I’m an executive assistant and commercial property manager for a local, family-owned real estate business.
How did your business begin?
Tara: We were driven to create Market Mafia out of our own love for exploring local markets and from our fascination with the talent of hand-crafters throughout the Bay. In visiting markets regularly, we soon found ourselves talking about how difficult it was as a visitor of markets to find out what was happening on any given day/week/weekend if you weren’t already aware of a particular market. We found ourselves wishing there was one website that featured not just one market, or one group of markets, but all of them large and small throughout Tampa Bay. We searched high and low for an all-encompassing resource that we could use to guide us on happenings and keep us in the loop… and found it didn’t exist. In recognizing our own need, we felt sure that others out there in our community would also benefit from a one-stop-shop type of site. We soon felt that not only visitors to markets could benefit from this type of resource, but vendors could also keep track of new or upcoming market opportunities they may not be aware of or participating in already. It became apparent this “ideal site” had the potential to support all parties involved in the market scene. With the encouragement of our friends and family we decided someone needed to make this idea a reality, and why not us? Seth Godin said, “The only thing worse than starting something and failing… is not starting something.”
As far as our name, Market Mafia, that was a cheeky nickname Kim gave us long before the idea for the website existed. We laughed about being in the shadows, making a hit list of markets to visit. Hiding under wide-brimmed hats and behind our camera lenses, we ourselves aren’t the focal point of the Market Mafia; to us it’s all about the makers, the markets and the community.
What’s 1 challenge you’ve faced and 1 success you’ve had since you’ve created your business?
Tara: Goal setting has been a big challenge. It’s tough honing in on next steps for our business and determining what we want the future of Market Mafia to look like; we’ve realized how many directions our website could take us. We have to constantly be working in the now, reminding ourselves of what we want our next step to be, and ensuring what we are spending time/money/energy on lines up with our goal. My biggest sense of success was in the first few weeks of launching our site: the first time someone wrote us “just saying hello” to thank us for helping them find opportunities being new to Tampa Bay, the first market who requested “add my market”, and the first time a vendor told us that because of our website they’d found three new markets to vend at. It was amazing seeing the purpose of the site come to fruition.
Kim: One challenge: time management. It’s difficult at first to find that happy medium between running a business after a full day at work and still trying to have a personal life. It really ebbs and flows with how much time Market Mafia demands, but I think after a year of working on this (and investing in one heck of a planner) I’m finally getting the hang of it. One success: we co-curated a local market - Sunshine City Souk - with Feathers Fate & Steel boutique…that could be one of my proudest moments of Market Mafia.
What do you love about markets and makers?
T: I wrote about this at length in a blog post, Market Feels with Tara, on our website. The Cliffs Notes version of what I love about markets and makers: discovery, inspiration, meaning, intrigue, bravery and community. I encourage you to read it only for the fact that it can fully explain my passion for this project. The easiest part of a passion project like Market Mafia is the passion, it’s figuring out the rest that’s work!
K: I’ve never been talented in the arts department. Never had much of a voice or learned an instrument. Dabbled in doodling and painting some, yet weekly visiting our local markets I am continuously enamored with the volume of geniuses I witness: musicians that are so mesmerizing, handcrafters of all kinds, jewelry makers, artists who use unique mediums, and incredible chefs. All of these genuine souls from our community come together and showcase their gifts at these events and I couldn’t be a more happy patron and supporter. It’s hard for me to put into words what I love about these happenings and the market experience as a whole, but I do know I want to help share that awesome, indescribable feeling with as many other local lovers as possible.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and has it come in handy for you?
T: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”. If I had a penny for each time my husband has reminded me of this I’d be giving this here response from my own private jet. However, the advice is solid and it’s a great reminder. Even (or especially) when you feel overwhlemed, you have to take control, buckle down and just start somewhere. My personal favorite for self-motivation is “Well done is better than well said,” by Benjamin Franklin.
K: “If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.” For years I felt as if I wanted to do “something more” with my professional life than my 9-5 job; something that pertained to personal interests a little more than commercial real estate. Then one day last summer Tara and I did just that on this idea of Market Mafia and we haven’t looked back. “Sometimes the only suitable transportation is a leap of faith”.
When are you at your happiest?
T: I may be easy to please but a lot of things make me super happy. Some of my happiest moments are: exploring new places without an agenda, taking photos of plant life, connecting with interesting people, being near the water, reading a good book or seeing a movie at a theater, spending time with family and friends, and practicing yoga. I also love when my cat allows me to hold her (she’s in charge of the holding).
K: I’m happiest doing activities that I love. Enjoying live music, exploring new cities, wandering around taking photographs, lounging on the beach, and Sunday afternoon naps with my pup. These are just a few of my favorite things.
What do you tell yourself when things get difficult?
T: It’s not that deep. Whatever challenge I’m facing, personally or professionally, that feels difficult most likely is “not that deep”. Keeping things in perspective is a constant challenge but of utmost importance. Put your big girl pants on, power through and remember tomorrow is a new day.
K: Oh, this answer could be a mile long. I am a strong believer in positive affirmations. If you intake good, you’ll output great; so when I’m tired and discouraged and frustrated, I typically take to reading. Spiritual readings, motivational nonfiction, and memes (of course in the digital age). Elizabeth Gilbert and Anne Lamott are two of my favorite writers for encouraging words; that’s in addition to scripture which also provides comfort for me. Maybe in short, “this too shall pass”.
What’s 1 personal goal and 1 business goal you plan to accomplish this year?
T: Personally I’d like to keep all of my plants (succulents, recently planted trees and vegetables) alive!
Professionally, I’d like to successfully cover other major cities across Florida in our market calendar; this means expanding beyond Tampa Bay.
K: Personally, purchasing a home in Clearwater is on the to-do list this year; and professionally, I’d like to expand Market Mafia's website into Phase 2 and add at least one other city in Florida by the end of 2017.
Where can you be found on a Tuesday afternoon?
T: Market Mafia meetings seem to have fallen on Tuesdays lately, but if I’m not with the Mafia I’m most likely at the gym where I enjoy body pump and body flow.
K: My weeks really vary, but if we’re not in a Market Mafia meeting on an upcoming collaboration after our day jobs end - I enjoy afternoon jogs around Kapok Park in Clearwater. It's about five miles of pure heaven along the quiet path and a real highlight of my weekdays. Just the sunshine, my music and a good head-clearing activity.
How about on a Friday evening?
T: Those are reserved for hot dates with the husband, celebrating survival of the work week. We call after work hours our “second day” together, so our second day on Friday is extra special. We have a running list of restaurants we want to try in St. Pete, so on said hot dates we try a new eatery and typically catch a sunset while sipping an adult beverage.
K: My Friday nights are spent at home mostly. Glass of wine and a book in hand (I am forever reading!). Makes my heart happy.
A Sunday morning?
T: Sundays morning is a wild card. Most likely you can find me enjoying my hammock, sun worshipping at Pass-a-Grille, or hitting the market at Corey Avenue.
K: Sunday mornings are all so different. Sometimes it’s breakfast out and then errands/chores, other days it’s a market adventure, and during the months That aren't too blazing hot – it's coffee on the beach followed by beers on the beach. Sunday afternoons are most ALWAYS naps with my fur baby.
Finish these sentences:
I love: Elin Hilderbrand, Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, Ernest Hemingway.
I’m always looking for: bobby pins, my glasses, the best bloody mary.
I’ll never: compromise my values or conform to an idea.
I love: my life.
I’m always looking for: a new market to add to our website calendar.
My inspiration is: my faith. In good times and in bad, I always have my faith to rely on and it fuels my soul and dreams. Sometimes it needs a refresher, just like most everyone else’s, but it always gives me strength and encourages me to keep going.
I’ll never: intentionally take my blessings for granted. I count them every morning. All I’ve attained and all I still want to accomplish; I’m a very fortunate woman surrounded by a phenomenal support system of close family and friends and I thank the heavens above every day for these godsends.