Erin Taylor’s Passion for Fashion

Erin shows three of her mini kitchen dresses, available on Etsy for $40.

Erin shows three of her mini kitchen dresses, available on Etsy for $40.

Erin Taylor is stuck with 75 yards of madras.

“I bought 100 yards of patchwork madras, thinking I was getting a great deal from a factory over in India and then…”

Sitting at a bustling happy hour patio at the new Kona Grill in Short Pump, the waitress asks for Erin’s ID. “Aww…that’s so sweet, she’s carding me!” Erin says. She’s only 25.

With her clothing line, Erin Taylor Designs, and a new home accessories line, Squirrel already under her belt, she is creating a name for herself on the Richmond art scene. And now over wine and sushi, she’s discussing something that’s often on her mind – balancing her passion for fashion with everyday life.

Erin works in an IT office by day, sews by night, and sometimes feels like she’s playing a waiting game for that day she can open her own boutique.

“I feel like I haven’t devoted enough time to it and unless I do take my fashion on full-time soon it will never take off like it should,” she says. “It’s really scary, especially right now. I feel like I’ve been chicken s*** especially when I could have taken it and run before.”

She’s already taken plenty of ideas and ran though – sometimes with a little help of some friends in the Richmond Craft Mafia, a network of over a dozen independent crafters inhibiting talents ranging from illustrating to perfume making.

Erin's bad ass clutch and pony clutch retail on Etsy for $45-$65.  The top clutch is crafted from a reused sofa cushion.

Erin's bad ass clutch and pony clutch retail on Etsy for $45-$65. The top clutch is crafted from a reused sofa cushion.

Last December, Erin and the Mafia converted a vacant downtown space along Broad Street’s First Friday’s Art Walks into the Fawn Shop, a weeklong holiday shopping boutique. With her best friend Ono, Erin pulled together “pins+needles,” a fashion show to showcase local independent designers. The girls are shooting for round two at First Friday this October.

Paris. Milan. Richmond – a fashion city? Erin hopes so.

“Back in the fifties with Miller & Rhoads, and shopping downtown, this used to be the place to come from all over Virginia, you would come to Richmond to shop,” she says. “It would be so cool if we had that again. It’s something to aspire to.”

She is trying to work with her contacts to create a fashion incubator as an idea space for new talent and encourage them to stay local. As far as what Richmond wears – it runs the gamut.

“You’ve got Short Pump dressed in all the name brands, then you’ve got scenesters in Oregon Hill that could care less about who they are wearing. You’ve got Fanites wearing vintage – it’s very eclectic.”

In what’s fondly called the Man Cave, her workshop and apartment shared with her boyfriend and a roommate, sits a modest sewing machine, a dress form, and a varied supply of fabric including that remaining 75 yards of madras.

It was this excess fabric she’s been cutting away from that inspired her to go green. While the decision is good for the environment, it’s economical too. This year, she’s concentrating on a line of recycled fashion.

“I’m taking in old men’s shirts in a color scheme of blues and greens – I’ve been taking them in, so it’s a sexy, oxford look, but fitted to a woman,” she says. “It’s mixing recycled and new. You’re the only one that’s going to have it.”

erintaylor_studioBy keeping a smaller stock of items and focusing on one-of-a-kind pieces, Erin has been able to spend more time building a business plan for what’s next. After her day job, she’ll come home, have a PB&J, and get to work on sketching and finding inspiration. Right now, she has a circus line in the early stages.

“I’ve been inspired by all the old-school posters and merging ballet-burlesque into an actual fashion line, so I’ve collected all the pictures, but I haven’t really sketched them all out.”

Erin pulls out a suitcase and out comes an assortment of her kitchy, retro-chic aprons in mod colors and patterns – olives, pink flamingos, a squirrel, and of course, her infamous madras.

It was high school visits to her grandmother’s house infected Erin with the art bug. There she learned how to crochet. College courses in drawing allowed her to take her ideas to the sketchbook. Once she enrolled in VCU’s Fashion Design program, her fashion took life.

“It really fulfills me. I get to go out and meet people and learn what other people are doing. You get to bounce ideas off of one another and get inspired by each other,” she says. “Like the whole recycling thing. It totally came from a friend so you’re not stuck with 75 extra yards of fabric. I told her, I’m going to start recycling, ‘Is that okay?’ She said, ‘Just don’t do jackets.’”

Get a piece of madras to call your own. Check out Erin Taylor Designs on Facebook and on Etsy.


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