Dawn has broken, the sun is shining and a gentle breeze is blowing. We are walking along a little dirt track about to venture into the fascinating world of Numero 74. From a distance, we can hear a Bon Iver song playing. This idyllic spot in the heart of the Spanish island, Ibiza, is where the brand's European headquarters are based.
Tara (who goes by 'Poupy'), the founder and the spirit behind Numero 74, resembles a princess from a classic fairytale: dark, long locks, an unwavering smile and a turquoise gaze. In between cups of tea and bouts of laughter, Poupy tells us how the Numero 74 adventure began and speaks enthusiastically about her humanitarian project in Thailand.
How was Numero 74 born?
It all started in 2009. I had stopped working a few months before and my cousin's wife, who had just given birth to twins, asked me to decorate their nursery. So I bought some vintage beds, knitted some blankets and made some cushions. After that, she suggested selling my pieces. After my son was born, I started selling children’s birthday products online. Then, I launched Numero 74!
Who is behind Numero 74?
There’s quite a gang of us [laughs]! A lot of women. Manop and I manage production. We have a team in Europe made up of several people who take care of admin and sales. We also have a production team in Thailand, made up of around 60, plus 400 craftswomen who work in our workshops. We’re a real family! I don't differentiate between my family and work; everyone is essential for the balance of the company.
Where did the name of your brand come from?
When we decided to create the company, we added my age to Nancy's, my cousin's wife, and that came to 74!
What is your philosophy?
I think we grow up so that we can make our childhood dreams come true, and I believe that that is the purpose of life. Once I realised that, I tried to connect as much as possible with my childhood dreams. The aim, through Numero 74, is to provide a means to make our dreams come true, as they are all compatible or complementary. To follow our philosophy, we have created a foundation to support social projects that focus on children. We recently bought some land, where we can welcome Thai children and young people to the countryside, and teach them to live in harmony and connect with nature.
What does your everyday routine look like?
Every day is totally different and I don't really have a fixed home, [laughs] but I mainly work between Thailand and Ibiza. I wake up between 5 and 6 am, I start work when all is calm around me and I answer emails that come in from Thailand, because of the time difference. At 9 am, I feel like I have done a lot without having used much energy. I then have breakfast and sometimes do a bit of yoga. I go to see the girls or, if I’m in Thailand, I take a walk around the workshops to look at any technical or logistical issues. I am lucky enough to be able to be where I want when I want, and this freedom is really important to me. Apart from that, there are no rules, no schedule. Sometimes I even go to the beach for a couple of hours, then continue working in the evening. I spend most of winter in Thailand, then in the summer I’m mostly here in Ibiza. But with the project coming up, I think I will be one month here, one month there.
Could you describe your creative process when you are designing a new collection?
We do just one collection per year and most of the time it's a bit of a muddle. I design it with Nadia. In this period, I often go off on my own for a while, and after a few days my imagination starts to bloom and a lot of ideas come into my head.
What are your sources of inspiration?
Often it's an idea or a film, as I don’t live in the city, I don't read magazines and I don't do a lot of shopping. My ideas essentially come from childhood memories, or from seeing my friends' children. Sometimes the idea comes from a product for adults, which I imagine being adapted for children, and vice versa. When the prototype stage has started, I generally have it all planned out in my head, so the collection is almost finished.
What are your brand’s day-to-day challenges?
Keeping this process 100% by hand. Being able to respect good working conditions and quality standards. This aim enables us to review our decision-making process constantly and adapt our commercialisation model accordingly. However, the Thai production process is very different to the European one. The more we want to produce, the more women we need and the further away into the villages we need to look for staff, which is expensive. Everywhere else it's often the other way round! But we still want to maintain these working conditions, stay in the countryside and carry on these artisanal, environmentally-friendly practices.
What would be your advice to anyone starting out on an entrepreneurial adventure today?
Never, ever, ever stop believing in your dreams. Ever. Because they will always lead you to the right place. The only mistake we can make is making choices for someone else: for our parents or for a company, for example.
Tell us about your biggest dream.
I’m in the middle of realising it [laughs]! I want to help children from our modern society who are totally disconnected from nature, from love. There are kids who are online 24/7, whose self-esteem depends on the likes they have on Facebook, and I truly hope that changes, because it scares me! I want to try and reconnect them to the essential things in life.
What is in the future for Numero 74?
I have no idea! That's how it goes, that’s what's great about it. We have decided not to grow too much.
What do you like most about Smallable?
I think there is something special at Smallable, and that is the profound belief in the potential of small designers. I think it is great to put the spotlight on these brands, which would not be here today without Smallable. That is part of the magic and it is very generous.
How do you spend your time when you are not working?
At the river.
The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts. I waited a long time before reading it. We live in a world where we are always looking for security. With this book, I realised that the less we look for it, the more we find security, far away from guarantees and all the contracts that keep us reassured.
At the moment, I am listening to a song by Michel Berger called Plus de sentiments.
Favourite restaurant in Ibiza?
La Paloma, in an orange grove. Address: Carrer Can Pou, 4, 07812 Sant Llorenç de Balàfia, Illes Balears, Spain.
Best activity to do with kids in Ibiza?
The Can Musón organic farm, where children can learn to make cheese, to grow crops.