Tata Harper is the founder of an eponymous natural skin care and makeup line she runs from her 1,200-acre property in the Champlain Valley in Vermont. Since launching the company in 2010, she’s transformed the former dairy farm into a state-of-the-art facility from which she’s introduced more than 60 products, overseeing every aspect of production on-site. Harper is also the mother of three children, ages 9, 8, and 6. Here’s how she gets it all done.
On her morning routine:
I wake up at 5 a.m. The first thing I do is scan for any urgent emails that have come in from the night before, and then I like to take a huge glass of warm water with lemon — it’s really good for your liver. At 5:30 a.m. I’m in my home gym with my trainer, doing an hour of free weights, abs, and a lot of strength training. After I exercise, I love to meditate for 20 minutes while I’m alone and the house is totally quiet.
At 6:45 a.m. the kids are getting up. I help them get dressed, give them breakfast — the whole going-to-school thing — and then I shower around 7:15 a.m. After I shower, I have breakfast, typically fruit mixed with yogurt, honey, and granola, or avocado toast with eggs. I have a one-minute commute from my house to the barn, but before I leave, I like to respond to emails, get some urgent thoughts out of the way.
Around 8:30 a.m., my meetings begin. I have 10 to 12 each day. I am almost never alone, so I carve out every Monday morning to go through my email and things I need to follow up on. Tuesday mornings I meet with my assistant and we spend all morning together going through my schedule. Other than that, my day is meeting after meeting, with different teams at different times. When I first launched the business, I was more involved with operations, planning, and production, but that has evolved into focusing on marketing and content creation and our branding initiatives.
On finding out what customers want:
I do a lot of beauty classes around the Midwest and Europe. I love to have a connection with the client. For example, we just launched a line for blemish-prone skin because for the longest time older women with adult acne have been coming to my classes. The things that are out on the market are really targeting teens — it’s all about sebum production and drying out the skin. When you’re in your 40s and 50s, that doesn’t fly. So we created a line for them.
On handling production from start to finish:
Every single one of our bottles comes from the farm — we make it here. Typically, beauty companies subcontract everything. I’m an industrial engineer and I love the idea of making things and having a factory, so I decided it would be best for the brand and our customers that we make our products. It just doesn’t make sense that other people handle the most important part of your business — even if that’s the norm. I also love the idea of having our product on the shelves within two to three months of making it; that’s really what the farm has allowed us to do. We’ve been able to put out products that are super fresh, super quickly.
On her office culture:
Our offices are pretty casual. They’re in a giant open barn, and it’s an entrepreneurial environment. There’s no dress code and as long as there’s nothing inappropriate, people can come dressed however they want. People have a lot on their plate — many of us wear multiple hats — but it’s a fun environment where everyone is treated like family.
Everybody has standing desks. I implemented that three years ago. We spend so much time in front of our computers and in meetings, I felt that if we’re all sitting, our muscles are degrading.
The office is very kid-friendly, too. Every time school is closed, everyone brings them in. People work from home a lot. For us, it’s about getting things done wherever you are. I manage the company like a Google Drive with video conferencing.
On traveling (alone and with her three children):
I travel constantly for customer events, fashion week, launches of products, for ingredients, retailer meetings, and shoots. Some months I’m traveling three weeks, other months I might be traveling just ten days. It’s constant. The city I go to the most is New York — other than that it’s San Francisco, L.A., Paris. I always have an open bag in my walk-in closet and it’s there either to be packed or unpacked. And I have a suitcase that has all my stuff in it. I have two sets of a lot of things so I don’t have to think about packing them: my blow-dryer, my tools, my toiletries, my supplements. I love to bring my kids when I can. The girls love fashion week, in-store events, and shoots. My boy loves to be in the factory and going with me to packaging shows.
On keeping an organized calendar:
I believe in spending time planning my time. Things don’t happen automatically — you actually need to dedicate the time to plan them. I have a system with my assistant for the meetings I do weekly, the meetings I do biweekly, the meetings I do monthly, the meetings that I do quarterly, and she keeps up with all of that and all of the additional things that come up. It’s a lot to review and it takes being very detail-oriented and very organized. On Monday and Tuesday mornings, that’s all I’m doing — decongesting my schedule and decluttering my inbox and seeing all of the needs of my time.
On winding down:
I’m back at my house at around 5:30 or 6 p.m., and that’s when I see my kids again. It’s the beginning of the most relaxing part of my day. They like cooking, so if it’s the summer, we’re typically outside doing a barbecue. At night we watch a movie or read a book.
I get them off to bed at 9 p.m. and then I do social media and go back on email to see what happened in the afternoon. I like to organize everything the night before for the next day.
I have a beauty routine for the morning and a beauty routine for at night, and that is non-negotiable. I love putting products on every day. I’m typically in bed around 9:45ish, and I love to meditate for 20 minutes. I fall asleep by 10:30 p.m.