In a fuchsia dress and thick gold jewelry, she flashes a warm smile. When she removes her designer sunglasses, she reveals deep, expressive blue eyes beautifully framed with heavy black eyeliner. She's a journalist turned PR maven, but the nickname given to her in the early '90s has stuck. "I will always be known as Queen of the Night," she says. "I would like to be remembered as a person who was part of the puzzle that helped to create a global destination out of a little patch of beach full of rundown art deco buildings."
Behind all the glamour that surrounds 52-year-old Tara Solomon is a small-town girl. Her eyes light up when she talks about Fort Myers, where she was born. She says she spoils her nieces during monthly visits there. And she spoke to her beloved daddy several times a day until his death in December 1999. This is the Tara people rarely see.
The more familiar side is the one that's been making headlines since she moved to the city in 1987, when South Beach became a Wild West of nightclubs, art deco hotels, and characters. "Miami truly transformed itself in the '90s, particularly Miami Beach," she says. "Nightlife was a totally different being. Today, people are actually making money."
Tara changed with the city, from clubland personality to syndicated columnist as the Miami Herald's advice diva to public relations powerhouse. Now the boutique PR agency she founded ten years ago, Tara, Ink., has offices in Miami Beach, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and, most recently, New York. Almost any agency would envy her client list. Her first account was Arden B., followed by Wet Seal and Louis Vuitton.
"Most people don't realize how much work and money goes into maintaining an agency," she explains. "We have extreme work ethic and attention to detail."
Her employees are like family, she says. "You have to be hypercreative but have a strong business model. There are a lot of Tara, Ink. graduates that have gone on to do their own thing — some more successfully than others."
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But does she miss her days as a columnist?
"I was a born communicator. But when I wrote for the Herald, I wasn't loving how much I was being edited. Doing PR, I loved that I could control the voice and create the message."
And in a city where so many powerful women are attached to powerful men, Tara has been in control of her image from the beginning. "I've always been very independent. But I don't feel like I'm a woman of power, just a woman of intelligence. That's what gives me my advantage."
Jillian Mayer | Chris Hubbard>>