We talk to a lot of important women at Glamour—astronauts, pro athletes, executives, and the occasional First Lady. And while they span the professional spectrum and live all over the world, we’ve found that high-ranking women tend to have one thing in common: They’re truly excited to hold the door open for the women coming up behind them. In our Future Forward series—part of our College Women of the Year coverage—we asked some of those industry leaders to welcome the next generation to the table with their hard-earned life and career advice. Fashion designer Tanya Taylor shares hers below.
Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, it seemed only natural that Tanya Taylor would study business. But something felt like it was missing as she balanced sheets and crunched numbers. She found it in an art class that asked its students to don a white jumpsuit, roll their elbows in paint and, as they crouched over a large, blank canvas, express themselves in color.
“It was my dream,” Taylor tells Glamour. “I was like, wait, I can do this in school?”
Taylor earned her business degree, then promptly enrolled in the fashion program of Parson’s School of Design. She interned for Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s new Elizabeth and James line. And at 25 years old, Taylor launched her namesake fashion brand, which has, in its young decade-long existence, outfitted the likes of Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, and Sandra Bullock.
The brand embraces bold and playful hues — a purposeful choice on Taylor’s part: “I really think that fashion is a tool to refresh yourself,” she says. “It’s a way that you can change your own moods, and a way you can communicate something to somebody else about yourself.”
She adds, “I think the brand that I always wanted to build was inclusive. I always felt like there was room to be more inviting. And I think color is the best way to invite people into your world, because it’s just something can have a story attached to it. There’s a lot of narrative behind why you chose what you’re wearing — or what red makes you feel or what blue makes you feel.”
Through color therapy classes — held everywhere from retail locations to hospitals — Taylor has encouraged women to explore their feelings through hues, asking participants to choose a color that represents how something from their life made them feel: a first kiss, a deep loss.
“It’s like a little coloring book of your life,” Taylor says. “And I think fashion is kind of the same way: You can look in someone’s closet and you can really see who they are.” (If these classes sound as amazing to you as they do to us, follow the brand’s Instagram for more information.)
Taylor will mentor Kennedy Whisenant, a Glamour College Woman of the Year who dreams of making fashion more inclusive. (We know they will have a lot to talk about!) But here, she shares her best advice for dealing with rejection and finding success, and the future of fashion.