The Profile: Tara Miller of Health HutBeauty
For Tara Miller, a holistic nutritionist and founder of Health Hut, eco-friendly products should be of high quality, and also look good on a bathroom shelf. The Toronto-native, who found an old ice cream hut on a gas station property owned by her grandfather in Ontario’s cottage country and then turned it into a summer haven for all-natural beauty products, is currently looking to expand her already burgeoning business. She opened a permanent shop downtown in 2014, as well as having an online shop that ships nation-wide.
Here, she tells us where her love of eco-friendly products stems from, how she edits the many products that come across her desk and where she plans on taking Health Hut, and her career as a holistic nutritionist, in the next five years.
How long have you been a lover of all-natural products? What started this for you?
I remember when I was in school for holistic nutrition in back 2010 and we were asked to do an assignment on the products we used daily at home. We were to take take 10 items from our bathroom, write down their ingredients, and research them all. I could not believe how many strange chemicals, fake scents, and unnecessary fillers there were in my shampoo, lipstick, cleaning products—everything! It was a really cool learning experience. I started to slowly switch stuff over, which was harder back then. The biggest difference I noticed was how amazing natural beauty products smelled—and the aromatherapy effect they had. I loved the relaxing action of lavender and the energizing feeling of citrus and peppermint. Since then the green beauty industry has exploded, making finding and using these types of products super easy.
Was being in retail a lifelong dream or one that stemmed from your love of natural products?
My grandfather was in fashion and retail [he was the original owner of Andrews in Yorkville, has owned a restaurant, as well as owned a Ralph Lauren and Great American Sportswear location in Toronto], and my mom used to own a ladies fashion store (named after me!) [in Oakville] and now owns an art gallery, so even though it was not something I had actively been dreaming of, I think it was in my destiny! After graduating from The Institute of Holistic Nutrition and starting my private practice, I took a chance and put a bunch of my new-found favourite natural products into an old ice cream hut in Muskoka. I had no idea that six years later it would still be there—along with an online shop and Toronto location, too!
Are there needs that each product in your store has to meet? How do you edit the brands that you work with?
I do my very best to avoid all chemicals, most importantly the ones listed as the dirty dozen by David Suzuki. I source local when possible—Toronto has some super talented makers including Wildcraft, Province Apothecary, and Chris Chanter Botanicals. Second to the ingredients and formulas, the design and packaging is also really important to me. I think it is about the whole experience and emotion you get from using a product, from the inside and out. You want something beautiful sitting on your vanity or bathtub, don’t you?
When it comes to fashion, are there any sustainable brands that you look to when getting dressed?
The beauty and skincare world has made huge headway in becoming more natural and sustainable, but it feels like the fashion industry is slower to catch on. Or maybe it is that my head in buried so deep in green beauty I have not noticed! Either way, I’m excited to see how this evolves over the next few years.
Where do you see yourself and Health Hut in 5 years?
I am currently in the process of expanding into a larger space in Toronto. I am looking forward to adding new lines, offering more workshops for my customers, and also growing my private practice in intuitive eating, health at every size, and body positivity. Through my years of consulting I have seen so many people in the pursuit of health lose touch with themselves and their bodies. I am so excited to reconnect them to their internal cues and help them cultivate true physical and psychological health through self-care and compassion.