Taylor Pitera, founder and CEO of local e-boutique shoptailor.com, was supposed to be a dentist. “I was actually pre-dental going in to VCU. That’s what I was accepted for,” she said in a recent interview with RVA Mag. However, she quickly realized that cleaning people’s teeth wasn’t for her. Growing up in the Richmond area, Pietra cultivated an eye for couture and style even at a young age. After staring VCU she realized that fashion was her true calling. “I very quickly realized I wanted to do something that I loved and not necessarily where the money was going to be. I sort of figured with passion, that would come,” said Pitera.
Pitera enrolled in the VCU School of the Arts, where she would later get a degree in fashion merchandising. Yet before graduating, she knew she needed some experience before jumping directly into the world of fashion, so she picked up a job at Monkee’s of Richmond.
During her time there, the store’s largest account, Allie Ro, sent an email looking for fashion interns. “I was graduating in the spring and looking for a change of pace. I said ‘You know what? Why don’t I just apply and see what happens?’”, and ten days after graduating Pitera was on her way to NYC. But sometimes things don’t go according to plan and four days after starting her internship she was given an opportunity to become a sales assistant in the company.
Pitera seemed to be on her way: She had obtained a position at a fashion company in NYC, had been promoted, and was only a couple months out of college. Nonetheless, she was commuting two and a half hours every day and the cost of living in NYC was starting to pile up – reality was setting in. Then she came across an article in Women’s Wear Daily and something clicked.
“It was an article [about] Nasty Gal about how they were going from being an e-tailer to brick and mortar,” said Pitera. “That was sort of my lightbulb moment, like ‘You know what? New York is not for me, maybe not right now. I’m going to move home, save up some money, and I’m going to start my own business and be my own boss.’”
Being an independent person from a southern city, Pitera missed the warm hospitality of her roots, and wanted to make her start back in the city she knew best.
Photo provided by Taylor Pitera
Pitera could see the way fashion was changing, especially the way clients interacted with fashion companies, so she decided to take her company online. Becoming an e-tailer, or a person who sells clothing and garments via online transactions, seemed like an obvious choice.
Pitera’s house also doubles as her business headquarters. While most of her customers come from Richmond, she has received international orders even though she currently only ships in the United States.
“I do some styling and do take some client appointments if somebody wants to come over and shop or try things on in person. I have my office set up as an office space, a dressing room, and holds inventory,” said Pitera.
While the idea of a brick and mortar establishment for her business sounds appealing, Pitera is satisfied with staying online. “If I grow to have a team that works with me online, then that would be an option to go into a brick and mortar,” she said. “But honestly, I love the lack of overhead. I love the flexibility. But never say never.”
Pitera’s e-boutique offers brands such as Elan, Velvet Heart, On the Road, and more. She notes that everything she purchases for her shop is picked by her in person. “I really like to make sure what I’m getting is quality,” she said. “I’m not going to put my name on something that will fall apart or that you’re not going to be happy with.” The lack of overhead makes it easier for her to offer other brands rather than design her own. However, the possibility of offering her own designs is an option for the future. “I’d love to design my own stuff”.
Pitera works closely with fellow e-tailors, but says her style and clientele is what sets her apart. Her website is filled with pieces that are sophisticated and trendy, yet comfortable and affordable. That’s another thing Pitera prides herself with. “I think I offer a little bit more for everybody, [as well as] the versatility of being able to wear from desk to drinks.”
Pitera’s taste is reflective of the styles she picks for her clients, which are are trendy, professional, comfortable, stylish, and versatile – everything a fashionable modern woman needs.
When asked about her target market, Pitera laughs at the answer, “ It’s hard for me because I really try to offer something that everybody can wear or at least like.” When giving a range, she says 18 to 50. “I sort of have a following after being involved in RVA Fashion Week.”
Pitera says having her business in Richmond is ideal, “Richmond is growing within the fashion industry and growing its own little fashion industry.” Not only is able to tap into fellow entrepreneurs and bloggers to help her with her business, but she draws inspiration from the local fashion scene. “I’m starting to see a lot of younger designers start to emerge,” she said.
In terms of her future, Pitera hopes to include men’s fashion into her website within the next year or so. At the young age of 25, Pitera has already made a name for herself in the realm of e-tailers. “I think that Richmond has a lot to offer for everybody, whether it’s the history, the food, the culture. It’s a very diverse city and it’s only becoming that much more diverse.”
*top photo via: https://www.shoptailor.com