Tara Chandra: I Want Go Beyond Being a Beauty Brand Founder, I Want to Be a Disrupter
Matrix and NYX Cosmetics have teamed up with POPSUGAR Australia to bring you the Unstoppable Class of 2023. Together, we’re dedicated to heroing the voices of women, people who identify as women, and non-binary people who are powering a brighter future and making an important difference – because the next gen is unstoppable. We will deliver personal essays from the individuals who are making a name for themselves. You can find all the pieces here.
Dear Future Me,
Thinking about time is so strange. There have been so many intersecting choices, pieces of luck, hard work and privileges that allowed me to get to this point.
If I could talk to Tara circa 2010, at the peak of her Tumblr and Directioner era (“it’s not an obsession!”), I know she would be proud of me. I’m proud of her too. Now, when I’m thinking about future me (hi!) it’s so exciting to think about what will happen in the not-so-distant future.
But starting with Baby Tara… Tara with braces and tie-dye socks, whose first username was fashionbambini (hugely embarrassing). Tara who cried hysterically in maths class when she didn’t get One Direction tickets. Tara with the dreams of doing exactly what I’m presently doing… we’re not that different.
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I’ve always loved fashion — styling interesting pieces and using clothes, makeup and hair to express myself. It’s powerful and fulfilling to pull together a look that says this is how I want to perceive myself; this is who I am. I remember watching YouTube vlogs of Asian American YouTubers such as Jenn Im and Amy Vagabond, thinking, I could do that. So, I did. Pretty brave in hindsight. I would post videos on YouTube, upload photos of me and my friends in our amateur photo shoots on Tumblr and attempt to figure out my style.
There were some outfit misses (but we don’t hold regrets about things we liked at the time) and some wins. My red plaid skirt paired with my Chinese wrap halter which has stood the test of time 10 years later, I wonder if we’re still wearing it in 2028? As I started to get more comfortable, adjusting to the brand-new platform known as Instagram, I started to share more of myself, my thoughts on politics and my sensitive skin journey with eczema.
Ever since I was a baby, I’ve had eczema. My mum would wrap my arms in plastic wrap, trying any and every ointment. It worked for a little, disappearing during the later years of high school, only to come back with a welting vengeance during my final semester of university, on exchange. I came home from Europe arms raw from scratching, my eyelids bright red and my body so dry that even showering hurt. All I could do was wear soft cotton pyjamas and wait for my body to recover.
Having just finished uni, I was thinking about going full-time with content creation. I had a strong sense of style, a following I had grown, and a makeup look that I liked, my signature eyeliner.
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At first, I drew on the eyeliner with small, soft tips sprouting off the edges of my eyes like I had seen everyone else wearing them. Over time, they grew to long, thick black wings that reach halfway towards my temples. But the eyeliner stung on my raw eyelids and often I had to choose between expressing myself and my sensitive skin.
Right now (as Tara with the username tarachandra_) I’m working on creating a sensitive skin beauty brand that breaks the status quo in beauty and skin conditions. Last year, working with my sister, we began developing and formulating beauty products for people with sensitive skin. These products don’t currently exist on the market. We’re making them not only for people with sensitive skin but also for my younger self.
When I think about Future Tara, it’s with big ambitions. We, I, want to be a representative of diversity in business. Asian and women founders championing diversity in the future team of employees, creative teams on shoots, talent and models.
Working in fashion now, many media teams I’ve worked on are usually white teams (with over 50 percent white men) but they cast racially diverse talent. I want to have a predominantly BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ team throughout, I want to be part of the change, carving out and demanding space for people who haven’t had that in the past. I want to go beyond being a founder. I want to be a disrupter. The current values that the beauty industry is built on are shifting, slowly, and I want to be a part of that system overhaul.
And for my roots, I want to build a sensitive skin community. When I first started posting eczema videos on social media, the number of messages and comments I received from people was overwhelming. So many of them explained how they have never seen their skin represented in the media, especially by a creator. People would say they had been bullied and made fun of for their skin.
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I want to change that by creating a space for inclusion and empowerment, normalising sensitive skin conditions which affect 70 percent of the adult population.
It’s a lot, but I’ve always been a big dreamer… maybe dreamer isn’t the right word. I’ve never felt the need to separate my dreams from my actions. Dreams are passive, but I’m motivated and so driven to bring my hopes and aspirations into real life.
So, Future Tara, that was then, this is now, and you are someone I’m so excited to meet. I know there are a million things here that I haven’t mentioned that I hope you have brought into reality. But here are some things I hope for you.
I hope you’ve been using sunscreen and protecting our skin. I hope that you still visit our grandmas as much as you can. I hope you’ve met Harry Styles. I hope that you are doing things that still bring you happiness and still allow you to express your true self. I hope that you have worked as hard as you did in the past five years as I did in 10, and that you’ve met challenges with your head held high (it’s okay to cry though).
I hope you know that I’m proud of you already.
Lots and lots of love,
You can follow Tara Chandra on Instagram.
Tara wears Blanca Delilah Sweater ($240) and Gertrude Mini Skirt ($219)
Photographer: Sevak Babakhani
Stylist: Amanda Bardas
Makeup: Emma Chen
Hair: Simone Cecchetelli