What do Lena Dunham, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and Michelle Obama all have in common? Aside from being major girl bosses, these celebrated women all sport Tanya Taylor's eponymous line on the reg. At only 28, Tanya's womenswear brand is a force to be reckoned with on the fashion scene. She is an anticipated installation at New York Fashion Week, a 2014 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist, and a spirited entrepreneur. We caught up with Tanya in the midst of Resort season prep to talk about her career and advice for other young designers.
TIA: Hi Tanya, how are you? Can you tell us a bit about what you are working on right now at Tanya Taylor?
I am doing very well, thank you! We are currently deep into designing our second Resort collection and developing a new e-commerce website slated to launch this summer.
TIA: Wow, it's so exciting to see how far your brand has come. How did you get started in fashion?
When I was little, my mom used to dress me in a designer named Marci Lipman and always made sure she had the matching outfit. This is surely where my love for print and color was born and has stayed with me to this day. After studying business at McGill University, I completed a summer course at Central Saint Martins and then at Parsons in New York City. Upon graduation, I landed a job at Elizabeth and James and after a few years left to pursue my own creative vision.
TIA: Where did the idea for Tanya Taylor originate?
After designing twelve deliveries a year at Elizabeth and James and being committed to the demands of a fast-paced contemporary market, I recognized it was time to reevaluate my creative ethos. I felt that by building a brand that was equally artful and commercially accessible, I could inspire other women who value creativity and quality. I saw an opportunity in the market for a brand with a female designer’s point of view that was expressive [and] approachable. I wanted to learn everything about the roles within a fashion business while also discovering and challenging my creative vision. After four months of market research and creative exploration, I started my business in August 2011, motivated to understand how art and business interacted in New York City’s fashion landscape.
TIA: What does the Tanya Taylor brand represent?
Tanya Taylor is an optimistic voice that empowers modern women to pursue life more joyfully, We aim to strengthen each woman’s personal expression through our distinctive language of color and print. We believe in artful femininity thoughtfully communicated through design that motivates, entertains and activates the imagination
TIA: What is the best advice you have for a young person starting their brand?
The single most important thing that I have learned during my career is if you need help, ask for it.
TIA: What challenges have you had to overcome and how did you do it?
At the beginning of my career, I struggled with knowing how to ask for help and [this] was a barrier for growth. The most important change I have made in the past year is to be fearless and look to people who have specialized knowledge and experience. It is imperative for me to surround myself with industry leaders who are able to advise, mentor and help position my success.
TIA: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
The most rewarding aspect of my job is seeing the collection come to fruition; from the early development stages all the way to the runway show. It’s a much more involved process than what people understand and it is a process I love.
TIA: What would surprise people about being a fashion designer?
It certainly isn’t as glamorous as it may appear. I spend countless late nights and weekends at the office. Being an emerging designer requires constant dedication to your craft and passion.
TIA: Who in the industry, or in life, inspires you?
Natalie Joos, Caroline Issa, Giovanna Battaglia and Iris Apfel are inspiring industry leaders. All have a great sense of style, but are strong business women.
TIA: How does a typical workday go, from start to finish?
A typical workday starts around 8 am at Oatmeals, my local breakfast spot. We kick off the week with a team meeting; since we are such a small team, it is important to know out what all departments have mapped out for the week. We are currently deep in development mode, so after my morning meetings, I spend a few hours designing and developing the pieces with my Associate Designer. At lunch, I often touch base with my PR team to discuss new or ongoing initiatives. I work with a various creative partners and always have exciting projects on the go. After lunch, I hop in a cab midtown to our website team who are currently building the new TanyaTaylor.com e-commerce site. On my way back to the office, I try to pop by a few of our stores to check out the collection, like Bergdorf’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. Once back in the office, I catch up on a few emails and try to leave the office around 8pm. If I can, I try to squeeze in a yoga or SoulCycle class and then head home to cook dinner.
TIA: If you could change something about the fashion industry, what would it be and why?
There are so many opportunities and initiatives in the works and seasons seamlessly connect together. It takes a conscious effort to stop and take everything in because it is easy to get caught up on the hustle of the daily routine. On the flip side, the fast paced nature is what makes it all the more exciting.
TIA: What are your goals for the brand?
I envision Tanya Taylor becoming closer to its consumer, more defined with its message and bolder with its creative expression. I see my creative expression growing stronger through additional collaborations with other creative influencers. This gives me the opportunity to share my voice within other product categories, such as accessories and home.