Meet Taylor Smith, The Designer Upcycling Old Clothing

Nov 1, 2020 | Interviews

Taylor Smith is here to show us that sustainability doesn’t have to be boring. Made from old fabrics usually found at thrift stores, Taylor completely reinvents them giving you a unique piece to suit any occasion.

Hi Taylor! Are you able to please introduce Taylor Hollan and yourself?

Hello! My name is Taylor Smith and my clothing brand is Taylor Hollan, it was named after my first and middle name. I go to the college of Charleston in Southern California and I’m doing business marketing right now. It all started in quarantine, everyone was so bored, I was just trying to take up some time. I noticed on social media there were a lot of sustainable brands coming out during quarantine. I was trying to get in on that for a little bit but all the brands were always sold out. I’ve always known how to sew, my mom taught me how to sew and ever since I’ve always tailored my own clothing. My first top that I made was from my old sweater and just cut it all up then made it into something new. After that my friends were like that’s so cool, I’ll pay you to make me one. I thought, let’s try starting my own brand. My friend is in PR at her own school, she also loves fashion. She’s more of the business side of my brand. She’ll learn about these concepts and then apply them. I do drops once a month but it’s kind of busy with school. I feel like this is really good experience whether this continues or not.

What’s a song you can always listen to?

Clair De Lune! It’s so relaxing. I also love Frank Ocean, Role Model and Dayglow.

What are you currently cooking and eating?

I love Asian food, it’s my favourite food ever. My mom has also taught me so many recipes. I love teriyaki tofu with brown rice and bok choy. I also will just make a bunch of chicken and eat it with anything.

Are there any designers you look up to?

I definitely get a lot of inspiration from Rua Carlota. She does a lot of similar stuff to me and is super sustainable as well. I also use Pinterest and see whatever I see from there. Also just seeing other people walk around and seeing their style. 

Has it been difficult to source your fabrics? I know you get everything from thrift stores.

Yeah, definitely. I’m originally from California, I’m here now. It’s really different from Southern Carolina so the thrift stores are really different. The fashion scene is really big in California. It’s a lot more prevalent so there are some really cool thrift stores. It’s more for teenagers and a wider variety. In Charleston, there’s not that many and it’s also hard because I don’t have a car. So I just go thrift shopping here and just bring all the materials to Charleston. Usually, I’ll get 15 pieces and that will make 20 pieces from that.

What made you want to get into sustainability?

I just feel like ever since this year, it’s been a big thing that i’ve been seeing on websites and social media. I know it’s a really important thing and I thought I may as well try and help out the environment if I’m going to start something. Especially because I do clear out my closet pretty often and found myself bringing bags and bags to thrift stores. So I thought about creating something new that people would like.

What is the process of making a piece?

So my mom has a little mannequin she gave me, I basically will just cut up pieces and pin them up on the mannequin. From there I’ll just sew. It normally takes me 4-5 hours to make one top. I trap myself in my room and make it at once. It’s hard to balance with school so I’ll try to designate days for school and days to do my brand. With each drop I try to not repeat a style but there have been a couple styles that people request them so I do remake them. I try to make new styles though. 

Do you have a favourite piece you’ve created?

I love them all, I just made my first pair of pants for Mia Regan. She’s bought one of my tops before and as a thank you I made her a pair of pants. It’s still the same outside stitching. That will be my debut and in the next drop there will be pants. The pants took me 3 days to make, I was working on them for 4 hours a day. I’m just starting and as I keep making things, I’ll get quicker and quicker. The pants took 3 whole sweaters and a quarter of a sweater would make a top.

What’s the hardest aspect of being a small business owner?

I think just managing it. Because I have my own timeframes and everything, it’s hard to keep on myself and get everything out when I say. I need to do a lot of time management as well as school. And I’ve got to do photoshoots to get people excited and be on top of myself. My school I have in the mornings and then I’ll do a quick 4 hours of sewing, then I’ll eat dinner and then I’ll go out with my friends. 

How do you prevent yourself from burning out and what do you do when you feel unmotivated?

I do take some breaks every once and while, I do like three days of intense work and then I’ll go to the beach or something. When I sew, I usually listen to really calm music and it gets me in a calm mood. I write everything down and then it keeps me organised. There have been times where I feel burnt out and I take a break. I’ll do some fun things with my friends. I normally get a feeling and I’ll start to miss sewing. I really do love it! But it’s just a cycle sometimes. 

 Is there anything else you’re planning for Taylor Hollan and looking to expand in?

I’m planning on doing some sweaters and transitioning. So there’ll be some tanks, t-shirts, a dress and one sweater. Then I’ll do less tank tops as it gets colder. I haven’t made the sweaters yet but I’m assuming it’ll take me a couple of days as well.  

In the future, I could possibly hire some people to help me sew but I don’t think I would ever go to the length of doing major production with factories. I want to keep it kind of small and intimate and be able to manage everything and make it my own. In the future I think I’ll definitely expand with the styles and I’ll always keep a couple of my styles from now. 

Follow Taylor, Taylor Hollan and shop Taylor Hollan.

Interviewed by Anna