If you ask Tara Carsner, the 360 mile move from her home state of Iowa to the hustle and bustle of Chicago, was well worth it. And if her growing events busines (Hometeam, LLC) is any indication, her apititude for creative events and catering to clients as well as consumers is just as strong as it is for sneakers. We saw it for ourselves in her second (jam-packed) bedroom which, of couse, is really a second sneaker closet. From color codes and meticulous numerical orders, Tara's 400+ collection is packed with OGs, Retros, and rare picks that you'd think would be on ice. But, no - each has a certain distinction and the kinds of creases you see when someone wears their shoes. They don't call her CopEmNRockEm for nothing.
Tara, who runs a business driven by bringing stories to life, does the same with her sneaker space. Every inch, from wall to ceiling, is lined with box after box—but what we couldn’t ignore are the little touches of memorabilia and collectors items that tell an even better story than the shoes. Priceless Tinker (that would be Tinker Hatfield for those of you who are new here) sketches, rare sneaker art, and even a piece of the old Chicago Stadium floor where MJ and the Bulls won their first three championships pretty much make this closet our most intriguing yet. You won’t be disappointed. Welcome back to the CNK Closet.
Scroll through the images below to see Tara's favorite pieces and read about her thoughts on personal style, her definition of SneakHER Culture, and why not every hero wears a cape.
THE 411 ON TARA…
"I am an entrepreneur striving to bridge the gap between corporate and culture, providing opportunities + resources for young creatives and small businesses. I’m extremely passionate about basketball, sneakers and hip hop, so a lot of the work I do falls into those worlds."
SMALL TOWN ROOTS, BIG CITY COLLECTION
"I’m from Iowa and there the sneaker culture is pretty non-existent in comparison to major cities. My older sister lived in Dallas when i was in 7th or 8th grade and she really put me on game. Even before that, she had me runnin around the neighborhood in a Barkley jersey three times too big for me at 10 years old, yo! She would come home often and always bring me the exclusive AF1s that didn’t release in Iowa and so that’s when shoes kind of became my thing. I got a job at Finishline right after I turned 16, and that’s when my love turned to an obsession. I quickly become “the girl with all the sneakers” to what seemed like the entire city because we really only had one mall.
It was like me and 10 guys who copped all of the Jordan releases. These were the NikeTalk days--I would create excel spreadsheets to keep track of projected release dates. Oddly enough, if it weren’t for 1 of those 10 guys who copped from me all of the time, I don’t know if I would be where I am now though. Shout out to Curtis - he connected me to my internship at SuccezZ in Chicago where things really took off for me!"
JUMPMAN, JUMPMAN, JUMPMAN…
"I’m a Jordan girl through and through. First pair I bought with my own money were the [Air Jordan] Bred 13s in ‘05. I'd waited for them to go on sale because no one was buying them then. I paid $35 for them + the next day at work i copped the [Air Jordan 13 Retro] Flints for another $35. I’ve been hooked ever since. My favorite silhouette to wear is the AJ1. Since I got the AJ1 Fragments in ‘15, that’s been my go to silhouette. I’ve become less colorful over the years so I stay away from crazy colors for the most part, but to me it’s more about materials and storytelling."
Shop The Sneaks:
THE SECRET TO HER IDEAL SNEAKER CLOSET
"It really depends on the person. I think the most important piece is being true to you and what you like. Like i said, i love storytelling, so that’s why I have all of my boxes--the box is a part of the shoe. I also know my color codes and have thing organized numerically so I can find any 1 of my 400 pairs in 5 seconds. I also think it’s important to have more than just sneakers if you can to add some dimension. I obviously have a 2nd bedroom I use as my closet, so I have the space to obsess the sneaker storytelling through art pieces. I have some Tinker sketches, some rare sneaker art and even a piece of the old Chicago Stadium floor where MJ and the Bulls won their first 3 championships. I feel like this makes it a complete sneaker experience."
TARA’S STYLE TIP: KEEP IT AUTHENTIC AND PRACTICAL
"My style is very versatile. But if I had to categorize it--definitely tomboy/sporty. I almost always have on sneakers (hence the name CopEmNRockEm), purple lipstick, and a top knot. My outfit has to be comfortable, functional + cute because I’m always on the go and never know where I might end up.
I’m extremely authentic, so of course. I may still have 400 pairs, but believe it or not, I do get rid of things that no longer fit my style. And I don’t buy into any of the hype stuff anymore so it allows me to make more practical purchases. If I can’t walk into the store and buy it without asking a favor or I don’t luck up on something for retail, I don’t buy it. Do I love the Volt Off-White AF1? Yes. Are they practical? No."
“If I can’t walk into the store and buy it without asking a favor or I don’t luck up on something for retail, I don’t buy it.”
Not All Heroes Wear Capes = Female Heroes of Chicago
"My business is in charge of curating events for Champs Sports in their flagship, Chicago store. Our two goals with these events are to celebrate Chicago and to impact the community. Marvel’s 'Ironheart' is the first print issue with a black female lead, written by Eve Ewing--a Chicago native. We saw this as the perfect opportunity to celebrate Eve and other unsung female heros of the Chicago community. Every woman that was a part of the initiative were chosen for not only being an innovative leader in their respective careers, but also have a deep passion for empowering those around them and always aiming to have a positive impact on their communities. The event was built on not only celebrating these ladies but also celebrating their natural “super power” or traits that have propelled their careers forward. The point in doing so, was to remind everyone that we possess the potential and the power--it is just up to us to use it. And use it the right way.
The initiative was amplified with free Champs variant copy of issue 1 with women footwear purchases at multiple locations across the US the week of the Marvel launch. You will definitely see more events like this coming from my business. Creating events like this are the reason Hometeam exists, and we don’t plan on letting up any time soon. We hope to continue to provide platforms to celebrate and highlight others while creating an impact on both those in attendance and the community at large."
PASSION x PURPOSE = CREATING EXPERIENCES
“I am most passionate about creating unforgettable experiences for people--that’s what brings me the most happiness in life. I know it may sound corny but when I lost my job at Nike I really had to dig deep to find out when I am the happiest so I could help make sure I made the right next move with my life. That passion has shaped everything I do as an individual, as a consultant, as a friend. It’s a core premise of my business--providing platforms and resources for creatives to bring their craziest ideas to life. And in my everyday life, I’m always doing something extra to make the average moment more memorable. My nephew even jokes that I over-do it on movie nights!”
TARA’S CURRENT ROTATION IN 3…2…1…
"DSM AJ Is, Wht/Wht AF1s, Fragment AJ Is, Bred XIs, SBB Is (blk/satin)...very basic. ... I’ve been joking around lately that I’m just going to rock all white AF1s but no one ever takes me seriously. But if i could only keep one pair from my current collection and never put another shoe on, I’d have to go with my Fragment 1s."
Shop Tara’s Rotation
SNEAKHER CULTURE IS MORE THAN SURFACE
"I miss the days when girls who wore sneakers really knew everything about their history and the cultural moments around them. We all had a super unique bond back then. At the same time, I love how it has grown, the streetwear scene is mainstream now and it’s cool to have more women to connect with that share love for sneakers. I’ve been able to meet some amazing women through sneakers and sport via social media and that’s the coolest part! I have some great connections with women around the world, and it’s always fun to finally meet IRL! We all support one another and there’s nothing better than women cheering each other on!"
All images shot by Lani Tons // @laneeez
Want more stories like this? View our Closets series.
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