InterviewsPurposeful Business

Tara Milburn of Ethical Swag on doing business on your own terms

Starting and running a business while raising a young family is a challenge many women have started to embrace. Tara Milburn, Founder of Ethical Swag, has been slowly nurturing her mission driven business providing sustainable branded products for the last eight years and is now ready to go full force. Tara’s story is that of a mother on a mission to create a life that not only provides for her and her family but also create something bigger than herself.

What does meaningful work mean to you?

Meaningful work means I do what I love, while making sure it provides benefits beyond me and my family. The whole must be greater than the sum of its parts.

Tell me about your company and why you started it.

I have always been an “entrepreneur” regardless of where I was working at any given time throughout my career. I also knew I wanted to create something much larger than myself but didn’t know what that was going to be. So I had my top 5 most important things to me and constantly kept my eyes and ears open for a business opportunity that aligned with my top 5.
  1. Global opportunity
  2. Must align with my values
  3. Has to be fun
  4. Cannot be “fee for service” business model
  5. Must work with like-minded individuals
Then, in 2010, I was meeting with a CEO that was discussing their commitment to sustainability and was given a branded gift that did not support that mission. That was my AHA moment and Ethical Swag was born- providing sustainable branded products .

What is the greatest challenge you had to overcome to make this idea a reality and how did you go about doing it?

My biggest challenge was balance. While I saw a huge opportunity, I also knew what kind of commitment it would take to get the business launched in the way I visualized. With a young family at the time, I chose to incorporate Ethical Swag and take it slow. I knew Ethical Swag would always be there and I wanted to be there for my kids while they were growing. I also wanted to show my kids that you can go after business opportunities on your own terms. My kids and husband have been by my side since the beginning and now that they are a little older, it’s time to realize that vision fully!

What advice do you have for people wanting to start their own mission driven business?

Do it! And surround yourself with like-minded people. Seek advice and support because it is out there, you just have to ask.

Do you have a philosophy you live/work by?

My philosophy is give more than you take, be nice and “Press ON”. I have attached a picture I have hanging over my desk. It was given to me by my father, a man that lived this philosophy every day. The picture beside it, is my parents (Note: My father gave me this saying over 30 years ago on a piece of paper that I have carried with me ever since and it is full of coffee stains and rips. My mother typed this up and put it in a frame when he passed away).


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Amanda Minuk

Amanda Minuk

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