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If you are a devotee of the Soft Surroundings brand, then you're in luck—the lifestyle brand will be celebrating its grand opening at The Mall at University Town Center on Friday, August 11, from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. And! The first 100 shoppers get a serious swag bag, filled with tons of fun products. Can't make it in time? No worries: everyone gets 15 percent off their entire purchase that day, plus complimentary beauty treatments, drinks and treats.

Not familiar with Soft Surroundings?  Well, I caught up with President Tara Ellef to get the scoop. Read on! 

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Tara Ellef

For the uninitiated, tell us what to expect from Soft Surroundings.

Soft Surroundings was founded on the premise that women’s time is fractured, and they often put themselves last on their priority lists. So what we’ve tried to do is create an experience where women can come in, relax and have fun while being good to themselves. The women of Sarasota will find apparel, bedding, furniture and beauty solutions, all hand-chosen with [their needs] in mind. 

 

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There’s a lot going on at a Soft Surroundings—how to do you maintain a cohesive aesthetic season after season?

We are fortunate to have passionate designers and merchants who travel the world for inspiration, and find and design unique products. It’s important that we understand current trends, but interpret them in a way that’s relevant and right for our customer. We want to present our products in an inspiring way that make women feel good about themselves. 

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Is there a woman who influenced your path?

My grandmother—she was a trailblazer. She had an executive job at a bank during a time when women didn’t typically hold those types of positions. She always had to dress professionally, so naturally she loved to shop, especially for shoes and accessories. I think I gained that passion for business and fashion from her. 

What is the best part of your workday?

No two days are alike. What I love about my job is that I work with incredibly talented and passionate people, whom I still learn from daily. I have the opportunity to work with product, so it’s like Christmas every day, and I get to interact with customers, which is very satisfying. There is nothing routine about my job. 

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And for fun, what’s your favorite city and what do you always do when there?

New York City. I lived there for many years, and I still love going back to visit the city and see old friends. There’s so much visual stimulation there, and of course amazing food and hospitality. I don’t know that I’d ever want to live there again, necessarily, but it’s always a fun place to visit and see.

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