Q & A with Tara Abraham
On Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Women
Tara Abraham, Chairman and Co-CEO of Accel Inc., an award-winning contract packaging company known nationally for innovations that have increased speed to market, quality and efficiency, recently relocated the business she started with her husband and Co-CEO David to New Albany’s Personal Care and Beauty Innovation Campus. Described by Manufacturing magazine as the “Silicon Valley of personal care and beauty,” the campus has attracted industry leaders to offer one of the most comprehensive, vertically integrated supply chains for consumer goods packaging. A passionate advocate for women-owned businesses and workplace diversity, Abrahams shares her insights on entrepreneurship, innovation and women in business.
How did you develop the Accel concept?
I was the 73rd employee at Bath and Body Works and had my ah-ha moment while standing on the skids in the distribution center frustrated by the lack of quality, consistency and efficiency in the packaging of our gift sets most of which were outsourced to China. I knew there was a void in the market for a high quality packager who could engineer innovative solutions that address these concerns, but would also be relentless in pursuing new technologies to reduce costs, turn-around time and waste.
How does innovation play a role in your business?
My husband and I are both entrepreneurs. Challenging the status quo to find better ways to do business is in our DNA and is part of Accel’s value proposition to our clients. I call David’s team of engineers and designers the “MacGyvers,” because there never seems to be a problem they can’t solve. They have revolutionized package design and kit assembly from every point of view — aesthetics, cost, quality, speed, sustainability.
What sets entrepreneurs apart from corporate professional?
It’s the willingness to take risks. In our case, it is introducing creativity into the process and always keeping an eye on what’s next and what’s needed through trend forecasting and the kind of partnerships we have with our clients.
What sets female entrepreneurs apart from their male counterparts?
Like men, we lead strategically and intellectually, but we also lead emotionally. I think the level of compassion that women have innately is important in running a business. There is an emotional quality to corporate cultures and if we identify, embrace and expose those qualities we can capitalize upon them. Men are more black and white. Women see these gray areas, whether it’s about inclusiveness or diversity in our workplace or other considerations that have implications for the bottom line.
You are on the board of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and serve as its representative on the President’s National Women’s Business Council. Tell us about your work.
I am beyond passionate about women in business. Women make eighty-five percent of all consumer purchase decisions. Fifty-five percent of our workforce is made up of women. There are 74,000 women-owned businesses in Ohio alone. I had a great female mentor and I want to give other women the same chance that I had to nurture their leadership and business skills and, through the Council, connect them to corporations that want to contract with women-owned businesses.
Any tips for young aspiring businesswoman?
Follow your passion and the money will follow. Be persistent. Be patient. Be resourceful. And, above all, be respectful. I also thinks it’s important to get involved in the community that takes care of you.
Why did you decide to locate your business in New Albany?
The Personal Care and Beauty Innovation Campus has given us the opportunity to align ourselves with the best of the best in our industry. No one else in the country can competitively do what we will be able to do with the range of businesses moving into the park. We have a deep and broad supply chain that will increase speed, nimbleness and innovation. And, I believe, all of our businesses will grow exponentially as a result of the partnerships and supply chain innovations that will result from our proximity to each other. New Albany has done a stellar job of marketing itself to businesses and aggressively pursuing innovative opportunities like this campus that create competitive advantages for those businesses.
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