Hi Tara! So excited to chat with you today! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Tara Miko Ballentine. My husband Jason and I have one child, Poppy (7). I’ve been in Austin for about 10 years. I grew up moving quite a bit as a kid and went to about 20-ish schools before I graduated high school. I think, honestly, I lost count! Some key life-changing places were Santa Fe, NM, which instilled my love of nature and the desert, and San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Mexico. While living in SMA in my early twenties, I spent two years documenting the stories of folk artists. This experience led me to my love of storytelling and doing what I love in life. These experiences were the start of my path to becoming an entrepreneur.
I moved from San Miguel to LA to pursue a career in fashion. The company I started slowly built traction, working with high-end retailers and celebrities, including Beyonce and Brittany Spears, and even spearheaded a collaboration with the Kardashians. The years of working late and living out of a suitcase took a toll on me, and I decided to exit the industry.
I had an opportunity to rethink where I lived and what I wanted to do. I started a health and wellness company and moved to Austin. Even though I earned my way onto the shelves of Whole Foods, Central Market, and 5-star restaurants all over the US, I didn’t make it. All the successes and failures are lessons, and each time I learn something new to take forward to the next company!
My motto has always been and still is, “let’s go on an adventure.” Sometimes, that is a plane across the ocean or discovering something new in Austin. Our family mantra is we are always ready for what the day might bring our way, to be curious, and always keep learning and doing! From traveling to new countries to trying new foods, we are always on a new adventure as a family!
We’d love to hear more about Bright Littles!
When I could not find the tools I needed to have big conversations with my (then) 5-year-old daughter, my entrepreneur side saw a huge problem that needed to be solved. My motherly side knew that the need for these products could not wait for another missed opportunity to do better for our future leaders. I started researching, learning, and creating the resources to meet my daughter where she was in an age-appropriate, fun, and interactive way in a quickly evolving world. Thus, Bright Littles was born and became my second baby!
Our products are for children ages 4 and up and were created with preparation in mind. From stranger safety to who can touch your body to big feelings, we cover a wide variety of subjects. Our first product, the Convo Cards, are made up of 100 questions and 25 activities across the topics of diversity, nature, health, safety, and self. Each card was designed to meet the child where they are and addresses each topic at an age-appropriate level.
Our Conversation Journals are the newest product. The Bright Littles Convo Journals allow for children to complete activities and write their thoughts, working at their own pace through the topics with us as parents there to guide them with tips to help every step of the way. For each topic, your child can earn a badge signifying accomplished learning that can be placed throughout the book for completing each activity.
I create all of the Bright Littles products with a learning scientist, educational engineers with a Ph.D. in education, and kids! Bright Littles just won best new product at the NY NOW shows.
Our mission is to Give Moms the Gift of Time — What are your best time-saving tips/resources as a mom?
Ask for help! All moms, at some point or another, are guilty of not asking for help! I know this is hard, but I also know I can’t do it all. I need a team around me to support me, and asking for help is a strength, not a weakness.
Say No. I am a people pleaser, which means I say yes and over-extend myself. In the past couple of years, I have changed my priorities and set boundaries, and I say no with no explanations or apologies.
What are some of your biggest challenges you are currently facing within your business?
One of my biggest challenges is getting the word out about Bright Littles. Everything is pay-to-play these days! So word of mouth is critical to the success of Bright Littles. Nothing is more valuable or validating to a small business than a mom sharing her experience with others!
Where do you see Bright Littles in the next 5 years?
In five years, I hope to be part of every school curriculum and be available in multiple languages.
Any promotions or events that you want to share with our community?
We have a booth at the upcoming Mini Market, so come see us!
Also, we’d love to extend a discount code for you to get your own set of Bright Littles. Use SAMOM15 for 15% off!
Now time for some favorites!
Favorite restaurant in Austin: June’s All Day or Papolote Tacos
Favorite coffee place in Austin: Hands down Maaribu on South First
Favorite place to grab drinks in Austin: Watertrade – best old fashion!
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why and how long would you stay?
Mexico City!! I would love to live there!