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From Paris Fashion Week to Uplands Market to Urban Foundry Director – The Tara Tarapetian Story

From Paris Fashion Week to Uplands Market to Urban Foundry Director – The Tara Tarapetian Story

Tara Tarapetian has truly lived a life of diverse experiences. Now, as a newly appointed Director of Urban Foundry, she continues to break boundaries in the world of business and creativity.

The beginning

Tara’s journey with Urban Foundry began in 2015 when she was employed part-time to handle the admin of the busy Uplands Market and Marina Market. Since then, her hard work, dedication, and impressive project management skills have paved the way for her to take on bigger and more influential roles within the company.

But Tara’s talents extend far beyond her work at Urban Foundry. With an impressive background in fashion, having spent time at both London and Paris Fashion Week, Tara has always had a keen eye for creativity and design. And despite her busy schedule at Urban Foundry, she continues to nurture her passion for fashion.

In this interview, Tara speaks about her work at Urban Foundry, some of the exciting projects she has been a part of, and her ongoing love for fashion.

Fashion background

My background in fashion began with achieving a First in BA (Hons) Fashion Design from the University of Glamorgan (now University of South Wales). I was fortunate enough to gain invaluable experience in the industry through my work at London and Paris Fashion Week. Afterwards, I worked for Thread Design, a product design consultancy in Cardiff that specialises in textiles, and even had the opportunity to work for renowned fashion designer Jayne Pierson.

Alongside my fashion career, I also volunteered at the Mission Gallery in Swansea. It was here I saw the advertisement for an admin job at Uplands Market, I thought it would be an interesting part-time job. Little did I know that this decision would lead me on a path to becoming a Director at Urban Foundry, where I’ve been able to merge my creativity and project management skills.

Swansea Bay Street Markets

Out of all the projects I’ve worked with, I have to say that I loved managing and growing Swansea Bay Street Markets. The experience of meeting new people, discovering new businesses that were starting up, and seeing them evolve and develop within the market was fabulous. I was responsible for all aspects of the market, from management to logistics.

It was a very challenging but rewarding job. And of course, our markets have multiplied to locations across Swansea Bay – I’m proud to have managed that process.

Working with Gordon Gibson was also an incredible experience. He’s a legend in the field of urban design, and passionate about regeneration. I learnt so much from him during my time at the markets, and I’m grateful to still work alongside him. He’s my idol!

Pop-up events

One of the things I love about my job is managing events, such as at Quadrant Shopping Centre. Events with families, children and art can be quite chaotic, but I find it fascinating to be in a more commercial setting and to work on a different kind of event than the markets. It’s all about engaging with the community in a commercial environment, and that’s a challenge I enjoy tackling.

Working with Swansea BID has also been a brilliant experience, especially when it comes to arranging successful events like Vegan Day and bringing music into the City Centre. It’s always satisfying to see the community come together and enjoy themselves at these events, and I’m proud to have been a part of making them happen.

Unit Nineteen and the change

Unit Nineteen was one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve managed. The challenge of turning a huge empty nightclub into something completely new was really exciting. We transformed the space into a multipurpose venue that could host street food nights, live music shows, and even yoga classes. It was incredible to see the space come alive, with a whole indoor green park complete with trees and artificial grass. We were expecting 50 people on the launch night, yet we had over 500! We were all working behind the bar on that night.

For me, this project marked a shift in my role within Urban Foundry. It was where we branched out and pivoted towards new and exciting projects. Until then, the company had been focused on Ben and his consultancy work, but Unit Nineteen showed us a new direction. From there, I managed the PopUp Wales initiative that came along very soon after Unit Nineteen. It was a turning point for Urban Foundry, where we were able to practice what we preached and really make a difference in the community.

HQ Urban Kitchen

HQ Urban Kitchen was another amazing project for me to manage because I was able to learn so much from all the other projects we had worked on before. I was responsible for designing the interior and helping with everything from staffing to events to make it a success. Working alongside Hannah Davies, the previous creator and owner of the successful Junction venue in Blackpill, was a great experience.

HQ Urban Kitchen was really an evolution of Unit Nineteen. We took everything we learned from that project and used it to make HQ even better. And now, a year down the line, it’s still going strong. I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished with HQ Urban Kitchen.

As a designer, I love using natural products like wood and industrial metals, as well as recycled materials in my venue designs. It’s all about creating a space that’s both functional and aesthetically pleasing, whilst also being environmentally conscious. And I’m thrilled to have been able to incorporate those principles into the design of HQ Urban Kitchen.

What’s next?

It’s been incredible to see how Urban Foundry has grown from just me and Ben in a tiny office in Princess Way to where we are now, with a fabulous space and 15 staff. I’m proud to have designed The Engine Room @HQ, where we also share the space with other like-minded companies.

But we’re not stopping there. We have other places and projects in the works, and the future looks bright and exciting for Urban Foundry.

Urban Foundry is committed to ethical and sustainable business practices, as evidenced by our B Corp certification and status as a Living Wage employer. These credentials reflect the company’s values and commitment to social and environmental responsibility. This means so much to me as a person.

If you want to chat about any of the work we’re doing, you can always meet me at my monthly Anti-Social After-Work Drinks event, which takes place at 5pm – 7pm on the third Thursday of every month at HQ Urban Kitchen. It’s a great opportunity to connect and learn more about the exciting projects we have in the pipeline.