This month, as the world celebrates women, Klarna is spotlighting a selection of female business owners and industry leaders within the Klarna network to share their stories of entrepreneurship, challenges and growth.
Tanya Taylor is the Founder of Tanya Taylor.
Hi Tanya! Tell us your story. How did you get to where you are today?
I was raised in Toronto, surrounded by three generations of fiercely ambitious women whose purpose, strength, and optimism inspired me from an early age. I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs with a strong focus on business, but my mother always encouraged me to explore my creativity—she even let me have full reign of painting the walls of our basement.
I graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance and realized I had a desire for creative exploration that needed to be fulfilled. On a whim, I pursued my passion for fashion design and enrolled in a summer program at Central Saint Martins. From there, I moved to New York City and graduated from the A.A.S. program at Parsons The New School for Design. Upon graduating, I landed an internship at Elizabeth and James that quickly transitioned to a full time job as an assistant womenswear designer under the direction of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. While working at Elizabeth and James, I realized I could have a career that blended my love of business with my desire for creative exploration, so after two years at the company, I left to start my own brand launching Tanya Taylor LLC in 2012 at the age of 25.
Has being a woman empowered you to make any bold decisions in your career?
I grew up surrounded by women in business, so I didn’t understand the disadvantage of being a woman in business until I went to college and was surrounded by men. The lack of representation of women business owners and CEOs empowers me to keep going, to show other young girls that they can do anything they want to.
How does your brand empower women? How does this compare to where your industry is in terms of gender diversity and inclusion?
I started Tanya Taylor with the mission to empower all women. I believe in bringing happiness and confidence to women through artful, colorful, energetic clothing. Each size-inclusive collection is designed with real women in mind, and is made to fit, function, and feel good so that women can use our designs as a tool to feel like the best version of themselves each day. In addition to our collections, we are a brand driven by passion and purpose, dedicated to spreading optimism, inclusivity, color, and joy beyond the scope of clothing. We are committed to empowering women by sharing the stories of women within our community, uplifting their voices and experiences, and exposing our community to new perspectives.
What is a challenge you’ve experienced as a woman in a leadership position?
I have found that female leadership can be a double-edged sword. Women leaders are asked to be both hard and soft, and that expectation can sometimes feel unreasonable and create a difficult balance. I often find it challenging to outwardly project poise and “look the part,” while having to be assertive in the management of the business in order to provide financial stability.
Do you have any advice for aspiring young women or other female business owners?
Women are taught to compete against each other and that’s a lesson that we need to shake out of us. I want women to know that it’s ok (and recommended!) to ask for help and support. More often than not, I found that when I reached out to someone I admired and asked for guidance, they were more than happy to speak with me and offer incredibly valuable advice.
Share one business tool, tip or trick that has changed your life.
Finding role models: I look to many women leaders to find support. I really like the point of view shared in the book “Chatter” by Ethan Kross that it’s important to distance yourselves from situations to find rational perspective.
What are two products that have helped you be creative and productive this year?
Happy Not Perfect is an app that I do every day to help spark my creativity and at the beginning of the year I bought myself a beautiful notebook and colorful pen that has kept me productive and organized.
What was the biggest lesson you learned in 2020?
That I’m resilient and also how important it is to surround yourself with people who support you.
What about your business or industry are you most excited about in 2021?
A silver lining of last year was being able to stop and strategize on what the brand is and what we want to do. I’m so confident in our plans and am excited to continue to spread optimism and joy to our community through new product categories and initiatives.