Tara Young is using jewelry and creativity to empower women.
By Sommer Brugal, Photos by Courtney Runn
Tara Young spends her days working at Google. But like many other entrepreneurs and go-getters, her free time is and has been marked with managing and organizing a passion project.
Hey Girl Earrings started more than a year ago after Young’s other business, a nonprofit called 2Fold, hosted an event that invited all women in the Austin community to a free shopping experience. The event was Grateful Thread, and its mission was to build community and foster friendships.
Through 2Fold, Young was able to learn about different organizations in town that included women who were, in some way, in need or in a vulnerable situation. One of those organizations worked with women who were re-entering society after being victims of sex trafficking. According to Young, 2Fold and Grateful Thread fueled what became Hey Girl Earrings.
“I wanted to work more closely with that organization,” Young says. “I wanted to help propel [women’s] digital skills and training.”
The goal of Hey Girl Earrings is not just to encourage customers to buy and wear fun earrings, but to provide women with the digital skills they need to submit a resume, write a formal email and learn how to sell products online. To teach such skills, the company hosts free one-day events for women in the community to learn new technological skills. Workshops include topics like search engine optimization, coding basics and getting started with email, spreadsheets and presentations.
Workshops and classes can range as long as 12 hours a day to just a few hours at a time and are customizable. A couple of hours in a session typically works best for most people; it simply depends on each student’s needs and desires. To further cater to individuals’ needs, the workshops typically include groups of just three to four students but can also feature individual advising.
“It’s really about [creating]the most impact,” Young says. “If I can’t deliver a session on a skill they need, I’ll go find another expert in that area to bring them in and augment [the class]that way.”
In just a short period of time, Hey Girl Earrings has helped close to 50 women in a workshop setting, but Young is always eager to acquire more students.
As Young is a full-time Google employee and the founder of Hey Girl Earrings, it’s hard to imagine how she does so much in a day’s time. She’s always been a busy bee and insists she’s the type of person who operates better with a rigid schedule.
“Balance is a tough thing and that’s always going to be the case,” Young says. “But everything I do at Google really bleeds over to what I’m trying to do here. It just doesn’t ever feel like work.”
She says her combined passion for empowering women and technology motivates her and that the desire to fill her days with both simply seems natural.
Perhaps the most stunning component of Young’s story is that she launched Hey Girl Earrings in just three weeks. And while it works just like any other boutique might, selling different items to customers, its primary mission is to serve its community. Recently, Young partnered with a few local artisans and is currently working on creating a section on the website that will feature pieces only made by local artists.
Moving forward, Young doesn’t plan to expand Hey Girl Earrings too far outside of Austin. Instead, she wants to spend more time focusing on supporting those in need locally.
“That’s my goal, to really make sure that our community is well-supported,” Young says. “With that, I can go deeper and further with organizations that I’m closer to.”