“I want you to feel good, too” says CEO and founder of Taylor Jay Collection, Taylor Jay when asked about the ethos of her brand. For the Oakland store owner, Bay Area native—Taylor Jay collection has always been about providing women comfortable basics that extend past seasonality and trend.
“We partnered with Solespace because they understand what we’re about and vise versa, the space is great for our customers who want to come and feel the fabrics and really get the down-low of what we do” Taylor tells me as we walk around her newly opened pop-up on the corner of Broadway and 24th in Oakland. The shop is positioned perfectly next to some of Oakland’s local watering holes, Drake’s Dealership, McMullen, New Parkway Theater and so many more. The space itself has a home away from home vibe, where you can see yourself lounging for hours with a good book—familiar and yet brand new. The space reflects Taylor’s lineage as a designer—from the cult classics she began with to the newly designed collection for Fall/Winter 2019. “I began designing because my body had gone from a size 2 to a size 12 within 6 months, so I needed garments that could be stylish and also serve as function” she explains as she shows me the first dress concept that’s still available to this day in the store. She soon discovered that many other women shared the same experience, and what began as a journey of self-discovery had become a promise to all women to empower them with clothing that will adapt to their evolution.
The space reflects her values with signs that say ‘inclusivity, elevated comfort, sustainability,’ Taylor believes in her customers ability to shop mindfully. “We’re always wondering how the brand can reach a variety of women. Whether they’re 18 or 34, 55, and so on—how do we design for all women? Design for inclusivity.”
When we asked about how business got booming for the seasoned store owner and entrepreneur, Taylor didn’t miss a beat, “With business thriving and upon returning home to the Bay Area to open a second boutique, I created the first collection,” she tells us as we wait for our editorial assistant to try on a variety of pieces, “the Taylor Jay Collection, inspired by my own journey and body challenges. The clothing I designed impressed local customers and boosted demand encouraging me to pursue my very own brand full time in Oakland, now home to the Taylor Jay atelier.”
As Sofia, our editorial assistant comes out in Taylor Jay pieces, “yes! You have a cute figure—this set (a soft creme top and skirt) can be dressed up with heels, say for a wedding or you can dress it more casually with a pair of ‘tennies’ (tennis shoes)” she says to Sofia as they both discuss the outfit in the full length mirror positioned close to the fitting room. A spark lights up in Sofia’s eyes as Taylor readjusts the waist band to be an over the shoulder dress, the magic of a woman loving the piece she’s in. But Taylor herself is more than just a fashion entrepreneur. Tough challenges early in her life only fueled Taylor’s pursuit of her fashion dreams. She has not only become a role model for her daughter, but for many black women entrepreneurs on the rise. She is often featured as a panelist to share her story and perspective. She hopes that her experience and designs can inspire other women to walk confidently and comfortably towards their dreams.
“I’m going to be on a few panels and talks through the rest of 2019, like the Girl Gang Small Biz Summit,” Taylor says as she’s helping Sofia into her next outfit. “I think it’s so important to not only pursue your dreams but encourage others to do so as well—we live in such a time where women can really jumpstart their passion projects on Instagram and by voicing encouragement can we spark the flame of women success stories.” Not only being inclusive to other women shoppers, Taylor gives back to the community by also shopping local herself, “I love brands like DOPP and McMullen, what they are doing—women who support each other especially in this retail climate. We’re all in this together.”
So what’s next for Taylor Jay, the seasoned designer has the world in front of her. Everything from speaking engagements, more collections, new storefront opportunities—there isn’t much stopping her. At the end of the day—filled with sweat and grit, “[I want to] continue to design beautiful clothing that lasts a lifetime and makes every woman feel and look amazing. Simple as that.”