VanTayStyles, blending passion, fashion, and purpose

Guyanese-born fashion aficionado, Claire Taylor.
Charles D. High

VanTayStyles LLC, creator Claire Taylor, was inspired by the fashionable outfits and accessories, worn by her now deceased mother, and a desire to retail outfits akin to today’s chic styles in her online store, while using her platform to help at-risk youth.

Taylor, a Guyanese-born fashion aficionado, told Caribbean Life, that VanTay is a store that offers women apparel and home décor. The clothing appeals to the woman who wants timeless, quality fashion that is sultry, stylish, elegant and slick. For the home, customers are offered an assortment of hand-made or custom décor items.

She said it is a divine collaboration of two women whose interest in sewing and fashion, blossomed from watching their mother’s artistically transform pieces of fabric into stylish unique outfits or beautiful drapery, pillows, and linens.

The 24-hour shopping experiences also offers upholstery, drapery, pillows, seat cushions, bed covers, table runners, among many other items, geared to the online shopper, as well as persons who would like a closer look at the items.

The primarily, online business, that also offers in-person sales events, had its soft-launched in 2019, and had planned a full launch for spring 2020, that was unfortunately, sidelined due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, fortunately, for the entrepreneur, this year, she hosted two successful Pop Up Shop events in NY and GA, with another scheduled being finalized for this month in New York.

The offerings include Women’s clothes purchased primarily from Italy, VanTay Collection of garments designed and made by Donna VanTull, VanTay Custom Collection — garments made to order, home goods of pillow cover, throws, and curtains, made by Donna Van Tull Home decorating, personal service.

With a price point suitable to every pocket, Taylor’s collection of women’s clothes, from $25 – $300, VanTay Collection cost, $40 – $500, VanTay Custom Collection – $75 and up, with a variation of pricing, depending on fabric and design.

She, however, ended the business in 2005 after being promoted to director of Customer Contact Center, which required her to relocate to Charlotte. She ultimately retired from that position and corporate America in 2017.

The business was affected by the pandemic. A soft launch of the business was held in November 2019 with plans for in-person events in FL, GA, NY and MD prior to the full launch on the website in late spring 2020. Registration was completed to attend a Fashion Sourcing Event in NY in February 2020 and another one in Miami in October 2020, but those plans never came to fruition. Other sourcing options were used to acquire existing inventory, she explained.

Prior to pursuing this entrepreneurial path, Claire was a results-driven leader with excellent relationship-building skills and the ability to effect positive change. She thrived on making a difference in the organization, its policies/processes and the lives of the employees. She utilized her creative problem-solving abilities and strategic, solution-focused mindset to develop original solutions.

Taylor who holds a Master’s Degree in Business Management from Nova Southeastern University, a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Pratt University and a Bachelor’s in General Science from Fordham University, said she remembers pictures of her mom as a young girl wearing fashionable clothes and accessories, that left a lasting impression on her.

As she and her sisters grew into young women, their love for fashion remained strong. Van focused on designing and making clothes while Tay focused on modeling. They both inherited an innate sense for quality and attention to detail.  When their paths crossed at a fashion show in Brooklyn, NY, their bond was immediate and 30 plus years later their friendship and passion for fabric and fashion have led to VanTayStyles.

“I can clearly remember the red and white polka dot swimsuit with cape and crownless hat that I modeled at four years old. My mother crafted many creative garments free-hand, without patterns, for family and friends,” said Taylor, who, in 2003 launched Eye on You Fashions, a Fashion Consulting – Wardrobe Planning Company in Cary, North Carolina.

The fashion experts, who are following in their mother’s footsteps, began showcasing their talents at a very early age. Like Van, who sewed her first dress at the age of 10, and boldly stepped into modeling at 15. Similarly, Tay followed one of her older sisters into modeling at four.  She proudly sewed her first piece — a purple shorts, at eight years old.

“I always knew that upon retirement, that I was going to pursue my passion of owning a clothing business and working with At-Risk youth, said Taylor, who fulfilled her heart’s desire to help others.

“I was able to use my passion for youth, fashion and modelling, while living in Florida, as a member of APEX (A Progressive Exchange), an organization with a mission of motivating and career-orienting students.”

“We held fashion shows in the community to fund scholarship programs for graduating high school students. I also used modelling as a non-traditional way to build self-esteem with other at-risk youth in the community,” said the benevolent lady.

“In 2018, I had the opportunity to start volunteering with the Young Men/Women of Excellence Program in Seminole County Schools. The mission of YMOE/YWOE Initiative and Curriculum is to increase the overall academic and leadership achievement rates of minority male and female students in Seminole County Public Schools.”

Right after then, in 2019 she was motivated to start VanTayStyles, as an on-line store for women’s clothing and home décor goods.

“My passion for fashion and helping at risk-youth is inspired by my (deceased) mother,” said Taylor.

“The pictures of my mom as a young girl wearing fashionable clothes and accessories certainly left a lasting impression on me. I can clearly remember the red and white polka dot swimsuit with cape and crownless hat that I modelled at 4 years old. My mother crafted many creative garments free hand (no patterns) for family and friends.”

“My mother spent her life helping others and would give her last to anyone who was in need. I grew up seeing my mother feed, clothe and house,” said Taylor, who continues to be inspired by the matriarch, herself, taking up many causes, and has served on the Board of St. Rose’s High School Alumni Association USA.

She is also an active member of Palm Coast Flagler County Alumni Association of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and enjoys living in Orlando with her spouse, and son, Clifford Taylor IV.

All items can be purchased and shipped in the US via the website at www.vantaystyles.com, or by emailing [email protected] overseas shipping is not being offered at this time.

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