Fairygodbosses of the Week: Tara Elwell Henning & Miriam Williams

Photo Courtesy of Tara Elwell Henning & Miriam Williams.

Photo Courtesy of Tara Elwell Henning & Miriam Williams.

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Fairygodboss
May 29, 2024 at 3:24PM UTC
Tara Elwell Henning and Miriam Williams are best friends of twelve years who met working in the Louis Vuitton headquarters. Now, before you stop and think it can't get any cooler than that, the pair of friends are on a mission to reinvent the narrative of pregnancy with their brand, Superkin
"During our pregnancies in 2017... we were shocked to see that maternity products were so outdated," Williams explained. "It even felt that the word maternity has such negative connotations! Seventy percent of moms are in the workforce, and yet the category had an over-saturation of cheap basics and was void of emotion."

They got to work surveying millennial mothers on what they wanted and Superkin was born. 
"Superkin is not a maternity brand. Our mission is to challenge the outdated notions of pregnancy," Williams said. 
They've had challenges along the way, including the challenge of leaving their stable career paths at global brands to go out on their own. Three years later, they don't regret a thing. And they have quite a few lessons to share. Recently, they told us a bit more about their career journeys, how they manage entrepreneurship and motherhood, and the advice they have for women who want to find success following their passions. 
Tell us a little about your career. How did you get where you are now?
We met in 2008, working together in the corporate offices of Louis Vuitton, where we each spent 5 years. We’ve been friends ever since. Over the years, there have been weddings, cross country moves, late night brainstorms over a glass of wine and three kids between us! 
Henning: As a retail and brand enthusiast, I spent most of my merchandising and planning career in New York and San Francisco, working at world-class brands like Louis Vuitton and Walmart. I was an early employee at Narvar, a retail technology platform, where I ran retail strategy (among the many jobs you perform at an early-stage start up). I was the first person to have a baby at the company and wrote the maternity policy. 
Williams: I built my career in New York retail, leading operations and strategy for global brands including Coach, Louis Vuitton, J.Crew and L’Occitane. I’m a data and strategy nerd that thrives on the creative energy of the retail industry. When my son was born, we relocated to the west coast to be closer to my family and I reunited with Tara again at Narvar, where I ran logistics partnerships. During our pregnancies in 2017, we were catching up on life, retail buzz, most likely some Bravo TV gossip and the challenges we were facing as pregnant, working women. We were shocked to see that maternity products were so outdated. It even felt that the word maternity has such negative connotations! Seventy percent of moms are in the workforce, and yet the category had an over-saturation of cheap basics and was void of emotion.
Taking our own professional experiences and that of expecting mothers, we had numerous conversations with maternity designers and sent a survey to new moms. The overwhelming consensus confirmed our hypothesis: The category was outdated and millennial moms want more. From there, Superkin was born (no pun intended!). Superkin is not a maternity brand. Our mission is to challenge the outdated notions of pregnancy and reinvent the narrative.
What's an accomplishment that you are proud of?
Jumping off to start Superkin. It's both terrifying and exhilarating to leave a stable job at a successful company. But we couldn't stop thinking about the idea, so sitting back wasn't an option.
What's a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
Early on, we encountered a problem in our production that could have been a huge financial nightmare. Luckily, we were able to overcome the situation with our ability to manage the relationships within our supply chain. For many reasons, we’re glad it happened early on, because now we always use that experience as a filter with every contract we sign and partnership we build.
What's the No. 1 career tip that you'd like to share with other women?

Henning: Networking is key. It's always important to maintain contacts and relationships you build along your career. The world is so small and generally people are always willing to help. 

Williams: Your manager matters. Your talent is a given, but your boss can facilitate opportunities for growth and exposure, and ultimately will advocate for you with the leadership team. Don’t take a job without understanding your boss’ management style and a high confidence level they’re not going to leave before you have a chance to get your footing.

Why do you love where you work?

We're so passionate about building a brand for modern women and moms. Superkin is not a maternity brand and we believe the time is now to redefine what it means to be a pregnant, working and multi-mastering woman in 2020.

Who is your Fairygodboss? Why?

Serena Williams! She is a warrior, both on and off the court. At the same time, she openly shares her journey on motherhood — the good and the bad. She is strong, yet graceful. Not to mention, she can win grand slams with a pop of style.

What do you do when you're not working?

Henning: Spend time outdoors with my family.

Williams: I love to visit wine country!

If you could have dinner with one famous person — dead or alive — who would it be?

Henning: Oprah. 

Williams: Britney Spears. Need to get to the bottom of this whole “Free Britney” business.

What's your karaoke song?

Henning: You don't want to be in the room when I'm doing karaoke but 100%, hands down: "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" by Whitney Houston.

Williams: Celine Dion, "My Heart Will Go On." Preferably standing on a chair with a fan blowing my hair in the wind.

What's your favorite movie?

Henning: "Top Gun." 

Williams: "Broadcast News."

What book would you bring with you on a deserted island?

Henning: These days, I wouldn’t mind being stranded on a deserted island! Something classic from Hemingway and the latest from Reese Witherspoon's book club! 

Williams: "Becoming" by Michelle Obama.

What's your go-to self care activity?

Henning: A mani-pedi! 

Williams: Yoga in the morning (and avoiding the news cycle!).

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