Tara Ghei is an Atlanta mom of two and the Founder of a kid’s rental clothing company with a mission to maintain the joy of dressing babies in cute clothes but eliminate the workaround parents face with storing, organizing, and getting baby clothes out of their homes sustainably.
Were you always an entrepreneur? What did your career path look like before starting a business?
I worked in finance for fifteen to twenty years in investment management, capital raising, acquisition financing, and FP&A. My job was a huge part of my identity.
My husband also had a demanding career as a physician. With the pace of life, I was feeling burned out and saw there weren’t good solutions to help busy parents, and working parents to make their lives easier and also make conscious choices for their families.
It was when I was in the process of cleaning out old baby clothes that I’d been holding onto for years that I came up with the idea of Romp & Tumble (now Rent a Romper) a service providing gently worn, rented baby clothes to busy parents.
“We need to be intentional if we want to leave this world a better place for the next generation” – Tara Ghei
It was about a one-year process to start my company. I tend to prefer to do my homework vs. just jumping in. I’d always contributed financially so wanted to make sure I was thinking things through, also the mental shift was really big for me. I was able to acknowledge some of my fears about the transition during that time.
The Lola, a women’s club and coworking space in Atlanta was an important part of me figuring out what’s next. I learned how to start customer discovery and I leaned on the community by hosting focus groups with other Members.
Kafi London of Smart Women on Fire, also a Member at The Lola helped me talk through my new role and what might life look like after.
Can you tell us more about Romp + Tumble and why you started your own business?
It’s a direct-to-consumer business, that rented baby and toddler clothes to consumers. With Romp + Tumble, we wanted to maintain the joy of dressing babies in cute clothes but eliminate the workaround of storing, organizing, and getting clothes out of your home sustainably.
I also worked with small brands to develop their circular solutions to try to change the system overall. Testing the consumer side helped us offer the right solutions for businesses and vice versa, one would inform the other.
I started it because I wanted to make an impact in the world and solve a challenge of my own.
“According to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of clothing and footwear waste generated by Americans each year ballooned from around 1.4 million tons in 1960 to over 13 million tons in 2018. Around 70% of that clothing ended up in landfills, while only 13% was recycled into either new clothing or for other use.” – Bloomberg
You’re the mum of two kids. How old were they when you started your business and what have been the highs and lows of navigating entrepreneurship and parenthood?
My kids were five and eight when I started my business amid a pandemic. We were juggling online school and managing a new normal, while I was trying to start a business. It was challenging.
For me, the high was the kids seeing what I was doing. They would help, build boxes, and hang baby clothes. They saw the full journey, it’s the exposure they may never have had.
I also had to figure out the lows, I often felt alone with the lows. I didn’t want my family to feel stressed out about “mom freaking out,” which is part of being together all the time.
Has being a working mom or becoming an entrepreneur ever been challenging in your marriage? How did you both navigate that and how do you make time for each other?
Sharing problems with a partner can be hard, they can see when you’re stressed, but our perceptions of what was a big deal and what wasn’t varied. I started filtering our conversations, I swung between sharing too much and not enough. I didn’t always know how to talk to him about the business.
I realized that a support system is vital so I set boundaries. I said when I wanted his point of view, and when not. I also started going to therapy so he didn’t have to be my all and be all.
Being an entrepreneur taught me a lot, especially about the importance of putting boundaries around who I talk about the business with, and who I don’t. Some friends stay with you and some don’t. That’s ok.
How can working moms avoid “mom guilt” and society’s biases when working or running a business and having a family?
Honestly, I’ve never had mom guilt, sometimes I felt guilty about not having it! Could I have made different decisions through the process? Sure, but I just see that as part of the learning process together.
My family knows I’m doing my best, even if I don’t do it all right. I ask for help when I need it for myself, for my kids. I take and seek help for my kids when I can’t provide it myself.
What other insights could you share with other Atlanta moms who are considering becoming an entrepreneur?
Do your discovery. It’s important to understand your end customer. Not just at the beginning, but throughout the process. Also, build something with an eye on how you’re going to monetize it. How are you going to make money? Set yourself clear goals. Is it a business or is it a hobby? If it’s not making you money it’s a hobby, and that’s ok, but don’t make your hobby your business.
Why did you decide to sell your business?
I was at an inflection point. We needed to raise more money or figure out a different way to grow. As we were thinking about ways to grow we reached out to other brands and enjoyed those conversations.
Rent a Romper was a similar business to ours but on the west coast, while we were east coast. They had done some things differently to us, but our models were mostly the same. Their business was complimentary to ours, we felt like it would be a good fit and acquisition would be the best option. I’m still involved and staying on as an advisor for a year.
What did the process of selling your business look like and how did it feel?
Trust is such an important part of the process. We wanted to be forthright and clear about what we both needed. Our relationship with Rent a Romper Founder, Lauren Gregor, had lots of respect on both sides.
Check out Rent a Romper and rent an endless wardrobe that grows with your little one.