Everyone has a dream of becoming the next big dancer, actor, or singer, but that wasn’t the dream for Atlanta fashion designer Natt Taylor. Natasha Taylor, the shy New Jersey church girl, did not expect to be the fashion designer that she is now.
Remember those cute high waist pants with the bow on them? Yep, she made those!
When speaking to the designer she was extremely sweet and welcoming!
“I’m fine! I just need to step out for some air,” was her response to be asking about her busy day.
Growing up Natt always had a love for the arts; from growing up in modeling to learning how to sew in high school. Upon finding out this I had to ask her when she got involved in fashion. “I started sewing. I wasn’t really into fashion and that coupled with my love for the arts in general. For fashion or whatever it is, whether music or fashion, those two things together kind of sparked that interest.”
Taylor received a degree in accounting from Morris Brown University. She was encouraged by her pastor to attend. Being that she was always great with numbers becoming an accountant just seemed right. She was an accountant for two years and realized that the corporate lifestyle was not for her. While working she would exercise her creative skills by sewing.
“People at work started noticing that and I started taking orders from that. Once I realized that I could really turn that into a business is when everything really started to unfold.”
Growing up Taylor was not told that being a designer was actually a career. She does not regret getting a degree in accounting, it was something she had to try in order to understand that she could actually have a career in fashion.
She first started out making formal wear as in gowns for weddings and proms, which were a custom design. She also would make ready to wear pieces for herself and began to take orders for every day from her co-workers too.
“I was literally running my business from my cubicle!”
Taylor moved back up north to try her luck in the fashion world. Her big break came when she met recording artist Keyshia Cole.
“What happened with Keyshia Cole? That was really just by luck or faith I guess you could call it.”
Taylor and her friend went to a concert in the city one evening. Taylor’s friend has the “gift of gab” and somehow they landed in VIP, where they met Keyshia Cole’s road manager. Around this time Keyshia needed to someone to style her for a BET Christmas special the next day. Taylor gathered all the samples she had and took them to her apartment. After that, she would go on to style Keyshia for a year or so.
“You know it’s weird because at that time I wasn’t trying to be a stylist. But it made sense that moment because this was an opportunity for me to have my designs on a celebrity so we made it work.”
After working with Keyshia Cole, Natasha branched to working with brands like BET, Sprite, Macy’s and other companies.
When I asked Natt how it felt for her to be one of the five winners of Belk’s Southern Designer competition. She responded with “Oh that was amazing! That felt like I had reached a goal that I’d set for myself a while ago. Like getting into a department store or being on the sells floor in a department store. That was definitely a high point in my career because Belk gave us an opportunity that a lot of department stores are afraid to give. Like they basically held our hand and walked us through the entire process offered us store place in their store to sell our products. I don’t know any other designers in Atlanta that have had that opportunity besides the other winner. I felt like I was breaking down barriers of some sort.”
Because of Belk Natasha feels that she is ready to venture out to other department stores because now she knows the ropes of how everything goes.
Selling to a department store is a huge difference between selling online and boutiques. One day Natt Taylor collections will venture out to other department stores, but right now you can find it at Belk.
In the next five years Natt wants to see more diversity in the fashion industry, basically having Black fashion designers on the forefront.
She has been a participating designer in Ragtrade – ragtrade shows off local and not- local fashion designers. In the beginning, Ragtrade highlighted local designers who are in here in Atlanta with collections that are ready to go into stores. This has happened fort the past two years and this year’s show will be Oct.5.
Designing women is an intimate fashion presentation that she came up with last year because she felt (from clients and things on television) like that there were more about male designers than women. Natt wanted to make a platform that allowed women designers to shine a little bit more.
The next Designing women event will be in 2017.
I asked her what words she would have for any aspiring designers.
“Stay true to who you are as a person and as an individual and to make sure that you don’t try to start off to large. It’s ok to take baby steps and get there eventually. Instant gratification is not always the best option. I think a lot of time people do something and want to go straight to the top. The faster you get to the top the faster you can fall. Finding a mentor is another key thing. I have mentors and some of them aren’t even in fashion, but they can offer expertise in so many different elements and I can apply it the business of fashion. Generally, it helps everything across the board.”
Natt Taylor collections can be found online or Belk stores.
Photo Cred: Leslie Andrew Photography