I’m a Hustler But In a Good Way

Grateful for the experience. Thank you NYC!

Grateful for the experience. Thank you NYC!

With sweat soaked clothes, worn out calves, and tired shoulders I wait anxiously for the C train to catch the next bus that will deliver me back to my studio. It’s there that I’ll create with gratitude and love the work to fill these new orders.

Standing on the platform, looking down at the litter, the subway rats, the filth, a rush of love radiates through me and out to all those sharing this platform, out to those flying by the passing D train, and out to those above at street level. My eyes water and I choke up a bit as I flow this feeling.

“Thank you”, I silently say as I visualize reaching wide to hug everyone all at once.

The sweat is still drying on my skin. The passing train stirs up the dirty subway air and I am relieved to feel cool. I try to just breath deeply. I don’t have much time to catch the next bus. Another train flies by. It’s not mine though it fans me again.

“It’ll only be a few more minutes”, I say to myself as I attempt to bypass the anxiety that is trying to creep in. The weight of the stressful side of business, the debt, the road blocks, the challenges, all trying to force themselves on me and cloud my vision. Devilishly, it tries to trick me into a state of worry and stress distracting me from forward motion.

Finally! The C train is here to take me to the bus. After a dash through Port Authority I arrive a few minutes early for the bus. I board my ride to enjoy the journey as I lift out my keyboard and attempt to write a bit.

I breathe deeply as I think back to the most recent anxiety attack from the subway station. This business has grown bigger than me. It is a source of consistency and innovation to my retail partners. It supports the livelihood of the artists who I collaborate with, and my staff who rely on regular hours and consistent pay. It aims to transform the family property into a creative haven and take over it’s financial responsibility. This is not just a want for success as it once was over 11 years ago, (when I started the business and I was my only staff) it is a need to continue to provide and grow.

I breath. I think again about the thousands of people that I’ve made happy by sharing my creative work. I think about the many buyers who call on me for their special requests, and the dozens of retail establishments who honor me with the floor space for their buyers to shop. I think about the new accounts I just landed, and the new ones still solidifying. I think about being included in a recent trade magazine’s write up ‘Best of Shows’ (from winter’s recent trade shows). I tear up again. The happiness and gratefulness flood back stronger than the weight from just a few minutes before. I am thankful to be blessed with so much opportunity to serve those around me.

I am a hustler but in a good way. I have more ideas than hours in the day! I absolutely love my work! I love the ability that I have to provide a lifestyle that brings something special to those in my circle. I have an innate desire to share beauty and light with the world. I clock 12-18 hour days at least 5 days a week. It used to be 6-7 days weekly with those kind of long hours but something else that comes with age and experience is awakening to realize that I need to prioritize days off to enjoy time my fiancé, family, and friends. I need those times spent breathing salty air and hiking in the woods. I need to leave the studio in order to be fully recharged. Although, I never really ‘leave’. I am an artist and every experience is somehow filtered into my work.

My clothes are dry now. My mind is more calm. It feels good to get these words out there. I am ready again to create.


Updates from Tari Zarka

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I hope this finds you well. This weekend has brought such beautiful weather. I was finally able to get outside and enjoy the perfect temperature and get some landscaping done. Rejuvenated by the outside air and sunshine I psyched myself up for some computer work.
It’s been a long time since I’ve sent an update. A lot has been happening on my end. First off, I got engaged in February!! Ed and I are scheduled to take the leap and get hitched August 2016. Another reason for my lack of updates is that I had a lot of custom work to take care of plus I attended two trade shows since January where I picked up a number of new retail locations.
That being said, I’m not doing many retail shows this year. I only have maybe two in September. I’m going to miss seeing you out at the shows but please know that I am here for you. I’m adjusting my schedule to open my weekends up so that I may find time for a personal life (something I’ve been greatly lacking in years past). I also want to make time to work on my fine art. I intend to paint and draw this year!!
I’m happy to tend to your requests, send you pictures, and continue to help you find great gifts made to bring home the smiles. Please also visit my list of retailers to see if my work is now stocked at a location near you.
I’ve been posting new pics of my works on my facebook page. I’ll be updating my work online in the coming weeks and will put a short email out once there is new work to shop online.
Thank you for your time, interest, and support.
Best wishes for a beautiful spring season!!


Tari Zarka
Owner and Resident Artist at
Gallery phone: 215-249-3934

AAOTE in the news


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It’s awesome getting noticed.  Transforming a factory into an artists’ haven is a tremendous effort but increased exposure lightens the load. Last year the Intelligencer reached out to us to do a feature story. Last week Fox 29 Philly included us in a piece there were doing on Whole Foods Market’s local vendor program. We are so thankful and blessed to be receiving attention like this:

AAOTE in the Intelligencer

AAOTE on Fox 29

Welcome to the new AAOTE.com!!


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We launched our new version October 2013 to finally give you a fun, user-friendly, and more exciting site to enjoy our online home. This new site has many features which I hope that you’ll enjoy. When you get a moment do check them out. The ‘custom order requests’ tab top right makes it simple for you to order a special piece made just for you or your loved ones. Plus, I am uploading hundreds of new pieces to the online store weekly. There’s also a blog (which is where this post originates). Please enjoy and if you have any feedback, ideas or questions you can use our new contact form to easily reach out to us. Thanks for reading!

Big thanks to Nectyr in Warminster for designing this awesome site! Do reach out to them for your web needs. They’re extremely talented and know their business well.




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Every day that we get out alive is a blessing, let alone getting out unscathed. Today I started out with tears falling on my complimentary breakfast as I first saw the footage of the destruction which tortured our friends in OK. It shouldn’t take a tragedy to take a step back and be thankful but sometimes it does. My heart goes out to all those suffering from devastation and the cruelty of nature.

I am so thankful today for being 800 miles north of where I started, safely tucked in a hotel room north of Richmond, VA. Today was full of lightning, thunder, torrential downpours and a rainbow.

This trip has been absolutely fantastic! I got to take my mom on the road w/ me and my man flew in to enjoy a weekend in the Keys (which resulted in at least one new account, yeah!). Since last Monday we’ve experienced the Outer Banks, Savannah, Ft. Lauderdale, Everglades, Fl Keys and soon DC. We saw sights, snorkeled, ate so well, met many fantastic folks, saw so much wildlife (too much if you count all the mosquito, nocium and chigger bites our group is dealing with) and opened new accounts for our work.

To go on at this hour would be a detriment to my health. There is too much to write about and sleep is a must. Tomorrow is a long day in DC and there is much to do to prepare for this bountiful future. Onwards I go to making these dreams fruitful for all those around me. Thanks again, anyone and everyone involved.





Savannah is a place I could easily spend more time enjoying. The mixture of the scenery filled with Spanish Moss and palms, sweet southern charm exhibited by many natives, extensive art scene, old world architecture and lack of an overcrowded, cruddy city vibe does it for me. We spent a brief part of our evening strolling the Riverwalk and Factors Walk area. It’s bumpy cobblestone and brick walkways, skinny yet steep stairways channeling us up and around numerous pubs and shops really brought me back to time spent in old world Europe. I loved the live music filling the streets and all the artists set up street side selling their work.

I gotta write about my eating out experiences as I don’t do much of it as in order to be fueled on a cleaner diet that fits my budget we travel w/ a cooler full of breakfast, lunch and snack items. So the meals I spend on are usually well researched. I had a feeling seafood wasn’t going to be fantastic here so instead I searched for an organic restaurant and found Cafe Florie 4.5 starts on Yelp and I rated it a 5. In my book white linens and stuffy environments aren’t necessary for a 5 star restaurant rating. It’s a shack in an old neighborhood with a little lot and tight interior quarters. Their attention to the food’s origin, preparation and taste is exquisite and better than what I’ve often received for upwards of twice the price. Two of us ate 2 entrees and a dessert for $35 plus tip. The owner spent a lot of time chatting it up with us. He was extremely kind and I just wish the best for him and his place.

I didn’t score the instant new account however I have some good leads that if I take the time to follow through on I feel I could find a new home for TZ glass and friends here in beautiful Savannah.

Sunrise comes early on these trips. Tomorrow sees us on another 7+ hour drive and I am greatly anticipating landing in Ft. Lauderdale for a much needed 2 nights in one place.

On the road when the studio calls so loud


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It’s a stretch to go out on the road and extend yourself beyond your comfortable and extremely productive studio space. It’s a cool week, in many ways but I’m referring to the absolute perfect temp to be working in my metal box aka the glass shop at AAOTE. I’m fresh off a place of stress and the absolute gorgeous air that cools my freshly crinkled brow is a welcomed chill to my soon to be sweltering summer skin. I know I’m just days (if I’m lucky, weeks) from a 120+ degree studio that forces me back into a nocturnal state. I already miss the studio but this trip is something I envisioned coming to life. 

Here we are- resting in Nags Head, NC in a roach coach style, artist’s-budget motel whose character is salvaged by being steps from the Atlantic’s edge. Our sunset walk balanced the 8 hours earlier spent in the car and yielded 2 super cute doggies one being a 7 month old version of Cody and a washed up, freshly-passed blow fish. Against my best judgement and with respect to my appalled mother I did not pick up said blow fish and bring him with us. 

Now, seafood no sea creature carnivore should turn from is found at Armstrong’s Seafood. This relaxed place features fantastic seafood (better than some I’ve had for 2-3xs the price elsewhere) that filled the two of us up for under $35 with a shared slice of FL Keys key lime pie for dessert and the service full of wit and NC charm. I’m definitely going back to bust the chops of the jovial staff and enjoy their kick ass food next time I’m here.

So the real reason to come to OBX in route to FL wasn’t really just to say I finally made it to the OBX. Cause if you know me you know I’m a hustler and I’m here to make it as an artist and to bring my artist friends along with me. A new account in every town is my mission and today this mission was solidified.  Just a few stores down from Armstrong’s Seafood is Cloud Nine, a great bead store run by a super cool mama named Ginny. She was so gracious to give me her precious time and spend her hard earned cash to give my work and the work of my friends a shot. Now folks who stroll into her shop to take a class or just pick out finished jewelry can shop my newest glass works, wood necklaces, and Merideth’s Uncanny collection.

Now it’s time to shut this self-indulgent ramble fest down, finish this glass of wine and prepare my body with a full night’s rest. Tomorrow’s goals are waiting to unfold in their own bright way.