Teaching & leading from the heart

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TKFay founder Tamara K. Fay inspires clients to maximize strengths and overcome challenges. Her passion to help people stems from a family legacy of building a business with quality, service, and hard work.

Tamara’s grandfather immigrated to the United States in 1905, carrying all his belongings in a single suitcase. Determined to make a life for his family and a name for himself, this man turned that suitcase into a mobile business by developing a portable inventory of useful goods to sell. As the personable Grandpa Kaleel routinely turned chance meetings into business transactions—and even into lasting friendships—his business grew.

In time, Tamara’s grandfather and his business took root in a rural community in Illinois. He continuously improved the enterprise: first walking from farm to farm, then investing in a horse and buggy, then opening a storefront in town. Tamara’s grandmother minded the store (and the house and children) while Grandpa continued the “field sales” efforts. Their clothing, shoes, linens, and other household items satisfied a growing community.

Tamara’s father assumed responsibility for the operation in the 1940s. Today, Tamara’s brother and sister continue to run the family business in Oswego, Illinois.

For more than 100 years, this family business has provided quality products and personal service to loyal customers. All her life, Tamara worked and watched.

“From the time I was six or seven, I worked the store. We all did. We walked to town, and my dad put us to work. When I was very young, I dusted the patent leather shoes and broke down boxes from the latest shipments. As I got into my teenage years, I had the coolest job: My dad gave me free reign to do all the merchandising. I was very involved at school, but we all had to work the store. Grandpa died at 99, so he worked right alongside me.”

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Tamara even returned to the store as an adult, in one of the most significant career transitions of her life.

“I was home raising the kids and wanted to reinvent myself. So I worked for my sister and brother as they set up a new segment in their business: The Prom Shoppe. With the money I earned helping them, I bought my first computer to start my own training and development company. Now, that business has evolved into TKFay Consulting LLC.”

Observing her entrepreneurial family in action, Tamara saw the hard work it takes to achieve success. She saw problems transformed into opportunities. She learned to treat all people with the same respect, regardless of their positions or situations in life.

“My dad never met a stranger. No matter if they scrubbed the streets or were top executives, he would talk to them. I remember one time I opened the back door to a man begging for money. Dad didn’t turn him away. He invited that man in and took him right through the store to the restaurant in front, where he bought him a full meal and something to go.”

Most important, Tamara experienced how an enterprise can generate far more than income; by providing goods and services, a successful businessperson can evolve strong relationships and improve people’s lives.

Today, Tamara carries these principles forward in her own business: TKFay Consulting. (The K stands for Kaleel, as in Grandpa Kaleel.) Better yet, through her workshops, coaching, consulting and other client interactions, Tamara is sharing her family’s values with a broader circle of businesspeople.



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