Unique outerwear line HNTRESS aims to provide strength through warmth

Lauren Tamir wears her HNTRESS cowl on a chilly fall day outside her Pepper Pike home. Photo / Amanda Koehn

Hunting for healing

By Jane Kaufman

Lauren Tamir tried to keep the launch of her home-based business, HNTRESS, simple.

She developed a patented pattern for a huntress cowl that she loved wearing and hoped to share with others. As HNTRESS’ CEO and creator, she planned to launch it in a single fleece fabric in two colors: midnight, a black, and forest moss, a green.

But it was September 2021, and the supply chain issues that wreaked havoc for many businesses didn’t stop for hers.

First, she learned the color midnight wasn’t available. She chose a second best, a color she thought was close to black. But when it arrived, it turned out to be a brown color similar to Cleveland Browns brown. She moved forward, though. 

“We have the materials, I’m launching either way,” Tamir remembers saying to the manufacturer. “Let’s offer an earth color, so we’re going with the brown.”

There was more.

“On top of that, they had accidentally sent a silver color,” she recalls. “So I ended up having 10 or 20 of those colors.”

Faced with a limited window for manufacturing the first cowls, Tamir decided to go ahead.

Adding stress, her wedding was on Aug. 28, 2021, just as she was preparing to launch. And her manufacturer had a limited window for production. 

“I was like, I’m just going to roll with it. Let’s see what happens. It was too late to turn back because I couldn’t wait for material.”

Tamir’s cowl is fashioned after a similar garment worn by Katniss Everdeen, the protagonist in “The Hunger Games,” which she first noticed when she watched the movie in 2016. Trying to heal from her own health challenges, she says she felt she had a lot in common with the character, whom she describes as a “badass,” or a modern-day female Robinhood.

“I wanted to help others feel well no matter what,” she says. “And I was like, that’s what I needed. I need a physical, tangible symbol of strength that I could wear to help me get through. And as silly as it sounds, I went on Etsy and I was like, what is this thing she’s wearing? I found it was called a huntress cowl. So I ordered one from Etsy, and it just became like my modern-day war paint.”

She says something about the design provides both comfort and protection. Others noticed the cowl and would stop her to ask where she got it. The idea for HNTRESS – which recently hit its one year in business milestone – began to germinate then. 

“It feels like when you put your hand on your heart, or like when somebody gives you a hug when you just need that extra warmth and support,” Tamir says. “That’s what it feels like when you wear it. It’s almost like a weighted blanket for your heart.”

Lauren Tamir’s designs for her United States patent for HNTRESS, which she received in June. Photo / Amanda Koehn

Beginnings and healing

Tamir, 31, was born in Mayfield Heights. She was the first child in her family to be born in the United States after her family immigrated from Kyiv, Ukraine two years before. 

She was raised in Beachwood, attending Temple Emanu El in Orange and Chabad of Solon. She attended Beachwood public schools and graduated from Hawken School in Chester Township in 2009.

Her mother, Irene Tatarchuk, worked as a teacher at Hebrew Academy of Cleveland in Cleveland Heights and Beachwood.

“Back in Kyiv, Ukraine, they weren’t really allowed to practice openly,” Tamir says of her parents’ religion. “… But when we came here, (they) didn’t skip a beat,” adding that her mother knew English, but her father, Alex Tatarchuk, didn’t.

Her parents built an electrical contracting business called DIAL Electric in Solon – with each of the letters of the word DIAL standing for the first name of each family member, starting with Lauren’s older sister, Diana.

“I was always a businesswoman at heart,” Tamir says, pointing to her parents’ example. “I always felt entrepreneurial.”

She says her parents sometimes ask her questions about culture in the United States, even now.

“I’m just in awe sometimes,” she says. “It’s like you guys came here with nothing. You built this. And you’re asking me this question? Like how did you do everything that you did? … It catches me sometimes, still.”

She attended the University of South Carolina for one year, but when the stock market took a dive, the university pulled its scholarships. She moved home, attended Cleveland State University and graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in marketing from its Fisher College of Business.

Tamir spent much of her childhood and early adulthood battling several chronic and autoimmune diseases, beginning with migraines at 12 and adolescent fibromyalgia at 16. While in college and afterward, she studied natural health to try to heal herself and others, earning several online certificates.

“I started using myself as a guinea pig,” she says. “Then I started helping others with what was working for me.”

Tamir says she tried multiple pharmaceutical and nutritional solutions, including juice fasts, supplements, herbs and enzyme therapy.

What helped her turn the corner on her physical health, she says, was confronting past trauma.

“There were a lot of traumas that I hadn’t dealt with,” Tamir says. “I never had anything major, but I think that things pile up and our capacity to deal with things as kids, sometimes we don’t have the tools.”

She says working on her conditioning and healing the subconscious and her thoughts around being sick helped her feel better.

“It wasn’t until I worked on my heart and my head that my body followed,” she says, adding that process took about a year and a half.

Today, she says she feels “really good,” although she’s experienced a few migraines lately.

Launching HNTRESS allowed Tamir to apply many of the life lessons she learned on her healing journey, she explains. The business concept partly came from her hope to provide the same sort of protection and comfort to others going through challenges.

“I really only started healing when I started to live my life in spite of not feeling well,” Tamir says. “It’s like, both can happen at the same time.”

The HNTRESS headquarters in the basement of Lauren and Tal Tamir’s home houses the stock of cowls. Photo / Amanda Koehn

Business brains

After college, Tamir lived in Colorado and then rural Michigan, working as a natural health practitioner. When she returned to Cleveland in 2017, she broke a vow that she would never live here.

“Now, there’s nowhere I’d rather be,” she says, adding that she loves the Cleveland Metroparks, the nightlife, the different neighborhoods and her own family.

After she and her now-husband, Tal Tamir, moved back to Cleveland, he took a job at a property management business and she landed an internship at a Cleveland food delivery business called Sprinly, where she learned about business operations.

Tal had already obtained his real estate license, and both were interested in trying their hand at real estate. In 2019, the two opened Premier Cleveland Investing, their real estate business devoted to investor-owned properties. She works on the operations side of the business.

Tamir says the business has a strong emphasis on integrity, and that its aim is to help Cleveland, tenants and investors through responsible property management.

“We really want to bridge that gap,” she says.

Around the time the couple launched Premier Cleveland Investing, Tamir took part in a Women IN Philanthropy Jewish Federation of Cleveland coaching group, where Wendi Pavlofsky was the facilitator. The group’s focus was on incorporating philanthropy for Jewish causes into one’s life and professional work.

Pavlofsky and Tamir had one-on-one time at Pavlofsky’s kitchen table at a time during the COVID-19 pandemic when group meetings were not held. 

“Lauren was engaged at the time,” Pavlofsky recalls. “And she had several different things she was working on. She was working on her wedding, she was working on her new protege for her (HNTRESS) business, she was working on some real estate ventures.”

Pavlofsky says she was struck by Tamir’s independent approach.

“I thought at the time, this is an incredibly intuitive girl who is excited just about life and her dreams,” Pavlofsky says. 

As the group discussed issues relating to the pandemic, “I saw a strength in Lauren,” Pavlofsky says. “It was almost like she was getting stronger and stronger. I knew that this girl was going to be a success, and I knew that she was going to pursue, no matter how hard it was or how many hurdles she had to overcome, that she was going to figure this out professionally.”

On the philanthropic side, while HNTRESS is a young business, it has donated one cowl for every 10 sold. Tamir also sent 120 cowls to Ukraine at the beginning of the Russian invasion.

Lauren and Tal Tamir are CEO and CFO, respectively, of HNTRESS. The Pepper Pike couple was married on Aug. 28, 2021 – just as the business prepared to launch. Photo / Amanda Koehn

One year in

A year after the launch of HNTRESS, Tamir has sold out of the silver color, and the accidental brown – which she calls earth – has taken off. The midnight black is in stock, as is the forest moss. Her husband is the small business’ chief financial officer. 

The couple also donate annually to Jewish causes and make a point of paying it forward on a daily basis.

Tamir considers herself “very spiritual,” and that a lot of Judaism’s basic principles line up for her.

“I really live my life knowing that I’m guided by something bigger,” she says. “All the Jewish principles just feed right into that.”

She has never been to Israel and is looking forward to going for a cousin’s bar mitzvah in 2023. “I’ve always had this pull to go,” she says.

HNTRESS’ marketing model depends on word of mouth and social media, primarily Instagram, but Tamir also learned how to set up her own website to promote her line.

“It’s like a whole new category of outerwear,” she says. “So, it’s been more of an education curve than I thought. I thought people, just like the second they put it on, they (would) get it,” adding that the cowls combine “all the best things you love about a hoodie, vest and scarf into one everyday staple.”

She also sought the protection a patent affords prior to launching, but it was still pending at the time. It came through June 14.

Now, she’s sold at some events, such as Small Business Saturday and Market 17, both at the Van Aken District in Shaker Heights, as well as several vendor events.

“I’m just doing as many events as I can,” she says.

Speaking with Jstyle in September, Tamir was planning to host a booth at a women in professional business event in New York City at the end of October.

“I’m excited just to keep educating people about HNTRESS and why they would benefit from it – why they need it in their life and also to make new SKUs (stock keeping units), so different materials, different designs, and just continue expanding, educating and getting the name, my brand and myself out there,” she says. 

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