In a special series, please check out our feature on these wonderful local businesses, non-profits and artists who bring local loveliness to us all! Please enjoy meeting Tara Claeys, owner of Design TLC out of Arlington, VA.
Tell us about yourself. (Who are you/ What is your business name?)
Tara Claeys. My business is Design TLC, and we make websites for nonprofits, small schools and enrichment programs. I am also a partner in Nice Work, LLC, with Evelyn Powers, and we make websites for local businesses.
What has it been like with the Covid19/ Quarantine Scenario and how have you had to pivot your business?
We have helped clients create online courses and virtual tour videos. It has been important to create COVID-related content and announcements on websites as well.
Have you always had the entrepreneurial or community minded spirit?
Yes! When I was a kid, I used to make jewelry and craft items and sell them at the local market. My parents made leather belts and bracelets and we went to craft fairs on the weekends, so I was often around creators and entrepreneurs. In college, I designed and had t-shirts made and sold them on campus before football games (Go Irish!)
Do you have a morning routine?
I usually get up early (6 am or earlier) and go for a run with my running group (or during COVID, with one friend 6ft apart). I love starting the day with exercise, followed by a cup of coffee and a nice breakfast while perusing the Washington Post. I use a Panda Planner journal to list tasks for the day, and also note 3 things I am grateful for and 3 things I am excited about.
When did you decide being an entrepreneur was right for you?
When my first child was born, I decided to leave my marketing job at MCI. My boss had seen some illustrations I had done and given as gifts, and encouraged me to have business cards made and start selling them. I don’t think I intended to be an entrepreneur or start a business, but was always open to learning and trying new things. I love the term “accidental entrepreneur.”
What made you choose this location?
I have always loved Washington, DC. Growing up in Connecticut, I came here on a scholarship in high school for a government workshop sponsored by Hewlitt Packard. I fell in love with the city, and knew I would live here one day. I love the multi-cultural nature of the city, the history, the beauty and the diverse community. I met my husband here in the summer of 1987 when we were both interns, and we shared a passion for Washington, so it made sense when his job brought us here after we were married. We have lived here since 1991.
What made you choose Falls Church? Arlington? McLean????
We first lived in Old Town as newlywed renters. That was such a fun place to live! When it came time to purchase a home, we looked near metro stations, as we had one car. We bought our 1940’s colonial in Madison Manor thinking this would be our starter home, but fell in love with the neighborhood. We built and addition on our home in 2004 and I have the house of my dreams, the only home I have ever owned. I actually have nightmares that we sell this house and then I have horrible regret and can’t come back!
How do you think your company or non-profit is different?
We are truly part of a team with each and every client. In both of my businesses, we take a strategic approach to every project and apply our marketing, design and technical skills to create the most effective digital presence and experience for our clients. We are also extremely responsive to support requests.
What problem are you solving?
We help organizations clearly communicate their message and call to action on a website that represents their brand and personality. We create websites that are easy to use and that make our clients happy!
Where is your favorite place to go in NoVa for a secret escape?
I love running along the C&O Canal
Is there something you want people to know about your business that no one knows?
My initials are TLC, so I always knew I would use it in my business name. My former business was TLC by TARA, which was a stationery and graphic design business.
Tell us a secret about your company.
When transitioned to digital/website work, I initially changed the name to TLC Design, but that domain was taken, so I ended up reversing it to Design TLC!
What word best describes your company?
If you weren’t running your business what would you be doing?
Volunteering at various nonprofits in Arlington.
What is your life motto?
Work smarter not harder. And be nice!
When you started your company or working with this non-profit, did you have an idea about what would go into the day to day?
No! It has evolved over time.
What is playing right now in your playlist?
Yola, Brandi Carlile and Maggie Rogers
Do you have a favorite instagram?
No – I follow lots of people but don’t think one stands out.
Do you have a favorite hike and bike trail?
C&O Canal, and I also love hiking in the Shenandoahs
What fitness regimen do you follow?
I work out 6-7 days a week, with a few harder workouts than others, but I try to get exercise every day, and usually in the morning.
What trends do you think we should be looking at now?
I am not trendy 😉
What is your style?
What is your favorite food? Do you have a favorite local hotspot?
I love pizza, of course – from The Italian Store or Lost Dog!