Tara Hill proves moms can do it all, and that opening one door can guide you on a path to discovering a world of opportunity.
In 1987, Tara graduated from Mount Saint Vincent University with a Degree in Education. Her mind was set on being an elementary school teacher.
Tara had been working as a substitute teacher for five years when her path took a turn; she decided to begin searching for investment opportunities. She discovered her values matched those of international sandwich shop, Subway. This opened a door of new and exciting opportunities.
Tara and her husband had a successful interview with Atlantic Subway Ltd., and bought the rights to own a Subway in 1991. In January 1993, Tara and her husband opened the first Subway in Cole Harbour.
Tara says she became a dedicated ‘Mompreneur;’ just seven months after opening the store, her first child was born.
“There is no maternity leave for entrepreneurs,” said Tara, thinking back to signing cheques while lying in her hospital bed. “Luckily, she was born on a Sunday.”
For several months Tara spent every day at Subway, and she did it all; wiping tables, baking bread, and customizing orders. With her smiling baby girl in a carriage at her hip, Tara would greet customers at the cash register. “People still remember the ‘Subway baby.’”
The business was so successful that they decided to open more stores in the Halifax area; eventually they expanded to three.
After Tara and her husband divorced, she become sole owner of one of their three Subway stores. “Subway gave me the opportunity to have a totally different life than I was expecting.”
However, the teacher in Tara never left.
“The most satisfying part of my career is making a difference in the lives of my team. For example, I love watching the students who work here learn and grow.”
Today, Tara is a mother of two, and the sole owner of four Subways, three in Sackville and one in Bedford Commons. She has been a franchisee for 25 years, is on the Board of Directors for the Sackville Business Association and is a member of the Centre for Women in Business.
Owning a franchise taught her how much one person is capable of achieving. A few years ago Tara suggested the Subway's Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich, which went national.
“An individual can have an impact and make a change, even in a big corporation.”
She attributes her success to never losing sight of what’s important. “It sounds corny," she says, "But it comes down to hard work, long hours, and not expecting to reap financial rewards quickly. After 25 years, I am still willing to do whatever needs to be done for my employees. I change the light bulbs, clean the dishes - I don’t feel I’m above it.”
Tara attends the CWB Power Lunches and the monthly Women Business & Breakfast series; she encourages other business owners to get involved in networking opportunities.
When asked what advice she has for fellow entrepreneurs, she expressed how valuable it is, “To be involved in things outside your business, to see different views and perspectives on the world.”
“Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable: Ask others for help. You learn so much from other business owners.”
In fact, Tara’s daily mantra is inspired from a networking event she attended.
“Michael R. Duck, President of Sure Shot Dispensing Systems said for business owners to ask themselves each day, “ 'What have I done today to increase the net worth of my business?' "