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Tamara Morin-Harding Brings New Life to Fallen Trees

by Rachel Barret

Two years ago, local advertising maven, mother of two and well-loved bon vivant Tamara Morin-Harding decided that she would approach her 40th birthday and new empty nest household with an unconventional shift in focus and life purpose.

“After years of journaling, reading, life coaches, energy readers, meditation… at the end of all that I realised all the answers I’m seeking really lie within me, inside my soul. I decided 40 was my cutoff point, shut [our] advertising agency down and had an ’aha’ moment deciding I was going to work with wood. At the time, I didn’t know anything about it. I just liked rustic-looking furniture and saw this as my calling.”

Since then, Morin-Harding has built a recognised brand of sustainably produced wood furniture and collectibles, Mara Made Designs. Ranging from dining tables, stools, sconces, decorative objets d’art to even jewellery, Morin-Harding has fine-tuned a process by which she gathers reclaimed wood from all over the island. She treats and sands it in her workshop, and makes unique art that ends up in homes, hotels, offices and restaurants across the island. Most pieces take her months to make, as each piece of wood and design is carefully crafted in her Kingston workshop with the intended use and owner’s personality in mind, ensuring that no two pieces are alike.

“My process is very tedious; I only use salvaged wood so my business is very eco-friendly… trees down from construction sites, felled from natural causes, bad weather, etc.



I make things based on where it’s going, to create what I feel would work best in that space, so it’s very personal and hands-on and takes a lot out of me.”
Whilst she has sent some of her works abroad to the Cayman Islands and the U.S., the business has picked up pace pretty quickly. As a result, Morin-Harding is keen to expand her operations and plans to open a second workshop in Ocho Rios.

“I already do all my own metalwork, and I have a spray booth. Ocho Rios will hopefully be two to three times larger than my Kingston workshop so that we can also build a Carvers Co-op and have [other artisans] work in my workshop using the tools I provide… I also want to have people come from Haiti, Japan and all over to [train] and be able to mass-produce items for the tourist market.”

As she eyes expanding the business, however, Morin-Harding proudly insists that her design and inspiration remain purely Jamaican. “I am 100 percent Jamaican… All ‘this’ is because I’m part of this island and trying to decide what kind of contribution I can make that is rooted in Jamaica and what sort of legacy I can leave for my kids.”

Photos Courtesy of Tamara Morin-Harding