Empowering women has been a major driving force in Stacey Tarrant’s career.
After a 10-year career at Family Transition Place (FTP) as manager of development and community relations, it would have been difficult not to walk away with a passion for women, especially in the workplace.
“FTP was more than a job for me; it was a life-changing experience in so many ways,” said Tarrant. “It really brought to life for me the idea of women supporting women. There was a culture that I’d never experienced before that gave me a taste of what it was like to be surrounded by strong women.”
Tarrant helped with the implementation of the Purple Scarf Campaign, was the creative mind behind 10 Guys 25 Ties and other campaigns that have brought awareness to violence against women and helped raise funds for the shelter and its programs.
And though she loved her job at the shelter, Tarrant admitted it had never been the plan for her to make a lifetime career out of it.
“As much as I loved the work, was passionate about FTP and will always advocate to end women’s abuse, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” she explained. “I just couldn’t find my thing.”
The original plan had been five years at FTP, a plan which her boss, Norah Kennedy, was aware of. But that turned into ten years. Tarrant had a photography business on the side, but she was still searching for that thing that would drive her forward.
About two years ago, Tarrant and her family went through a stressful and difficult period when her husband, Steve, underwent heart surgery.
Nearly two weeks after the surgery, he experienced severe complications, and the possibility of losing him became that much more real.
“I remember praying to God, to the universe, to whoever would listen,” said Tarrant. “I said that if he made it through this, I was going to live the life that I wanted, not what everybody expected of me.”
Steve survived, and Tarrant held up her end of the prayer bargain, starting Say It With Stacey, a business with personalized custom gifts. The business exploded, and for the first year, she juggled it in conjunction with her position at FTP.
It was some nuggets of wisdom by her son, Jett, that finally gave her the push needed to make the leap. They were sitting on an airplane, and she shared with him that she had been thinking of leaving FTP, but was afraid, in case things didn’t work out.
Jett, who was only about 11 at the time, replied, "Mom, you know everybody. Someone will hire you."
“I realized, he believed in me, so I should start believing in myself. I didn’t look back,” shared Tarrant.
Say It With Stacey has continued to grow, with Tarrant hiring her first part-time employee recently. But her entrepreneurial goals extend further than just this business.
“This was a creative outlet, a natural synergistic business with the photography part of it,” she explained. “But I see it growing into more of a small business marketing company.”
Ideally, her goal is to help empower other "girl bosses," as the title goes, helping women to build their businesses and find their own footing as entrepreneurs.
“Women can relate to women in the sense that we know what it feels like to be one,” said Tarrant. “When you have likeminded women supporting each other and rooting for each other, it’s an addictive feeling.”
Tarrant’s motto is “community over competition.” As she has continued to push the idea of women supporting women in business, she’s noticed others starting to repeat the mantra.
“I’ve had competitors tag me in posts on Facebook, and when I thanked one of them, she replied with ‘like you always say, community over competition,'” said Tarrant. “I’m inspired that people are paying attention to that.”
Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner