From the age of 5, Tara Shaw knew that her life would be different. Raised by her maternal grandmother, she experienced constant adventure in lieu of a conventional upbringing. An otherwise boring trip to the market would quickly turn into a quest. Together her grandmother and she were shopping mavens, on the hunt for beautiful things at the best price. No victory was too small. From her grandmother, Shaw learned at an early age the value of quality, the importance of fair pricing and the merits of generosity.
Shaw’s early years in the apparel industry in New York and Texas still influence her design esthetic. Her “ah ha” moment came when she took a clandestine turn onto a street filled with European antiques while traveling in the apparel industry. She was able to envision the perfect marriage between her finely tuned negotiating skills and her love of furniture. This quickly led her back to her roots, “on the hunt for beautiful things at To-The-Trade prices.”
The city of New Orleans, steeped in French culture and bathed in the glow of gas lanterns, sparked a kinship with Shaw’s European heritage and became the home of her new business venture, “Tara Shaw Ltd., To-the-Trade.” In 1993, with $14,000 and a plane ticket to Europe, Shaw began her journey to build her new business venture. She returned from Europe with a container full of French and Italian antiques, staging every piece in a warehouse at the Port of New Orleans. Tara called every designer and antique dealer she could find, within fifteen minutes of opening the door every piece was sold. From that humble beginning, Tara Shaw Ltd., To-the-Trade has grown into a multimillion-dollar business.
Realizing that one-of-a-kind treasures from Europe were slowly disappearing, Shaw began work in 2004 on building a reproduction line, which she calls Tara Shaw Maison. Her commitment to reproduce European furniture honoring the authentic finishes and hand carving sets the Maison line apart from all the others in the marketplace. As the Tara Shaw brand continues to provide beauty in the homes it has touched, it will continue to evolve as a lifestyle provider adding new categories including textiles, lighting, accessories, tabletop, bath and bed, wall art and flooring.
Shaw’s signature style of anchoring a room with timeless Old World pieces mixed with Maison, contemporary art and upholstery open the door for her to design celebrity homes, appear on design television programs including HGTV and don the covers of international shelter magazines.
The self-taught importer, designer and manufacturer is a fixture in the landscape of the design community. Her commitment to giving back to her city and communities has helped countless numbers. Be it employing the marginalized of the city, generously contributing time and money to rebuilding New Orleans or putting a new roof on a factory in Asia, Tara knows that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Shaw and her husband, Robby Walsh, live in the New Orleans Uptown area with their running partners, Jack, a 12-year-old whippet and her newest addition Brother Lucca, a 1 year old whippet.