DO YOU MY # STYLE?

Tara May­nard has moved house nine times in seven years, and is thrilled at last to call her Audlem home her fi­nal stop Cheshire Life: March 2019 Cheshire Life: March 2019

Cheshire Life - - Society - Kate Houghton John Cocks

Tara May­nard met her fu­ture hus­band, Nicky, at the age of 19, and his peri­patetic life is the rea­son Tara has be­come a dab hand at home­mak­ing, of­ten sev­eral times a year.

‘Nicky is a pro­fes­sional foot­baller,’ she ex­plains. ‘When we met he was play­ing for Crewe, but he quite soon af­ter moved to play for Bris­tol. I com­pleted my A Lev­els and was of­fered a place at Bris­tol Univer­sity, where I trained to be a pri­mary school teacher.’

In her fi­nal year, Tara fell preg­nant, which hadn’t been top of her list of things to do, but as I soon learned, noth­ing slows this vi­brant and beau­ti­ful young woman down.

‘I just kept go­ing,’ she laughs. ‘I grad­u­ated when my son, Cam­den, was nine days old. I look back now and won­der how on earth I man­aged it. I just got on with it, I sup­pose. I didn’t know it was sup­posed to be im­pos­si­ble!’

Not ac­cept­ing lim­its seems to be rather a theme in Tara’s life.

‘From Bris­tol Nicky trans­ferred to West Ham and we moved to live in Es­sex. Very soon af­ter my son, Trey, came along and very soon af­ter this I was told we were mov­ing to Cardiff! Nicky just has to go straight away when he trans­fers, which means all the lo­gis­tics – find­ing a new home, or­gan­is­ing re­movals, in­ves­ti­gat­ing nurs­eries – have al­ways been down to me.’

From Cardiff Nicky went to Wi­gan and then back again to Wales, to Mil­ton Keynes, Aberdeen and now he plays for Bury, where he is quite likely to stay un­til his re­tire­ment, giv­ing Tara the op­por­tu­nity to find a home close to both their fam­i­lies - and where she plans to stay.

‘My fam­ily are in Stoke and Nicky’s are in Wins­ford, so I wanted to find some­where in or near Nantwich. I was des­per­ate for a pe­riod fam­ily prop­erty and this place came up.’

Built in 1876, the house of­fers some of the very best of clas­sic Vic­to­rian styling, and un­like many prop­er­ties from this time is ab­so­lutely filled with light. It was in fact two semi-de­tached houses when it came up for sale.

‘I knew the mo­ment I saw it that this was the one and we bought them both. The style is just what I wanted and the pri­vacy is per­fect, but re­ally it was the lo­ca­tion that sold it to me, in a vil­lage where we can get out and walk or take our bikes to the shops.

Audlem is amaz­ing, there’s al­ways some­thing go­ing on, lots of lo­cal events and a re­ally lovely com­mu­nity feel.’

It’s also quite handy for the mo­tor­way, a ne­ces­sity for Nicky and for Tara too, as both her boys, now seven and five, have been se­lected for train­ing at the Manch­ester United Academy at Car­ring­ton, as well as play­ing for Crewe at the week­ends.

Tara’s home is beau­ti­ful, and I ask if she has em­ployed the ser­vices of an in­te­rior de­signer.

‘Oh no, I have done it all my­self. We moved in two years ago, and I am not quite fin­ished yet, but we’re get­ting there. I am eas­ily bored with room de­signs,’ she says, ‘so I have to take my time to make sure I get each one right be­fore I start. There have been a lot of struc­tural changes too, of course, tak­ing it from two houses to one. Down­stairs is all fin­ished, but up­stairs we still have two land­ings.’

Her style is a lovely mix of high street and de­signer, with a few stand­out pieces in each room that en­sure you ut­ter the wow-word ev­ery time you walk through a new door, from the glo­ri­ous goose­feather EOS light­shade in the din­ing room to the red cush­ions in the sit­ting room and the fab­u­lous bed in the guest room. Ev­ery­where you look there are pho­tos of Tara and her fam­ily, a vis­ual record of their lives as a sin­gle unit, un­in­ter­rupted by their na­tion­wide com­ings and go­ings.

Tara’s in­te­rior style and her love of pho­tog­ra­phy are two huge clues to her own ca­reer – as an In­sta­gram in­flu­encer. It’s a job ti­tle that has only re­cently come into ex­is­tence and not one you can ap­ply for. It’s one that you work hard to build for your­self – and for Tara it came quite by sur­prise.

‘I set up a per­sonal In­sta­gram ac­count in 2016,’ she tells me, ‘and it was pri­vate, just for shar­ing pic­tures with fam­ily and friends. I would post pic­tures of me in my var­i­ous out­fits but never thought any­thing of it. Then my friends started telling me that I should set it to pub­lic. In 2018 I did just that, and within a short space of time I had lots of fol­low­ers; it grew re­ally quickly, go­ing up eight to ten thou­sand a month; within five months I had more than 50,000 fol­low­ers. I would ask Nicky or the kids to take pho­tos of me when we were out and about. I started to tag in the brands I was wear­ing and soon they started mes­sag­ing me to ask me to wear their clothes.’

This is what an In­sta­gram in­flu­encer does, present clothes and ac­ces­sories pro­vided by fash­ion brands to a very wide au­di­ence, an au­di­ence that has cho­sen to fol­low said in­flu­encer be­cause they feel a con­nec­tion with him or her. There’s a de­gree of author­ity granted to these new me­dia stars by their fol­low­ers, which brings with it a de­gree of re­spon­si­bil­ity too.

‘I would never wear some­thing in a photo that doesn’t suit my style. It’s all about hav­ing an eye for nice things and not just fol­low­ing fash­ion; you don’t have to have money to be stylish. Ev­ery day I wear high street clothes; I might carry a de­signer bag, or I might not. It’s not about the la­bel or how much it costs.

‘Money can­not buy style, that’s for sure. I some­times get sent things I would never, ever wear. I con­tact the brand, say­ing thank you but I need to ar­range to send it back. Yes, I get paid to post pic­tures of me in cer­tain clothes, but there’s a lot that I am not paid for, just pho­tos of the way I live my life. I oc­ca­sion­ally show pho­tos of my trips with the chil­dren, but very rarely as it’s their life and should be their choice.’

I ask Tara how she thinks this will progress, into the fu­ture.

‘I have no idea how this will evolve,’ she says. ‘So­cial me­dia isn’t go­ing to go away. I am just en­joy­ing it while it lasts. I some­times feel like I’m go­ing to get caught, that I don’t de­serve any of this. I had al­ways wanted to study fash­ion, in some way, but just didn’t have the courage to fig­ure it out, so I went for teach­ing in­stead. Now, it’s hap­pened any­way. It’s the per­fect job, re­ally. I get to do the school run, come home and do the clean­ing, get the tea on… I get in­vited to lots of events, to restau­rants, af­ter­noon tea, beauty sa­lons, but I am very choosy. I am a wife and a mum and it’s fam­ily first, ev­ery time.’ Find Tara on In­sta­gram at @Tara­may­nard

“Audlem is amaz­ing, there’s al­ways some­thing go­ing on”

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