August 20, 2009

An inside look at Tucker Blair

Hi Taylor. Welcome to The Pink Tutu! We are all looking forward to learning a little more about you and Tucker Blair. Let’s get started.

The Pink Tutu: If you would, share with us again about your personal story, background and what gave you the idea for the business and business name. Why needlepoint?

Taylor Llewellyn: I always had a love for needlepoint belts but the cost of buying through brick and mortal stores was prohibitive. I felt like if I could make the same quality products and cut out the middleman (retail stores) I would have a great business model – so far it’s playing out how we had hoped! I decided on needlepoint because I felt like it was an underserved niche with not as much competition as some of the other products in this category.

TPT: Can you tell me a little about the overall process of producing needlepoint items starting at the beginning with design ideas and going through production?

TL: We have a team of designers that I work closely with in the design process. We are always working on new ideas and what you see on the website is just what we feel is the best based on requests from our customers. After the design phase our concepts are handstitched by our production source and then distributed directly to customers through our web only sales platform.

TPT: How long does the design and production process take?

TL: The process really depends on the product – from belts to fobs to flops.

TPT: Tucker Blair’s motto is Classically Casual, which perfectly suits the items. The pictures of those wearing Tucker Blair on the Web site look like all-American, wholesome people, living life to the fullest who are exactly that — Classically Casual. Is this the type of people Tucker Blair appeals to?

TL: Absolutely, we realize Tucker Blair isn’t a mainstream product and that is by design to a certain extent. Within that group that Tucker Blair appeals to, we aim to create products with a range of themes, colors and interests to suit the times and events of the collective customer market.

TPT: What’s it like in the office? I imagine a very fun and creative atmosphere. How many are on your team?

TL: It’s awesome. We try to buck convention wherever possible. Right now we have a handful of people on the TB team carrying out the functions of warehouse fulfillment, PR, design and then we have about 50 college reps. And of course our production source.

TPT: My favorite items are the starfish belt, polka dot headbands and the crab flip flops. What are your personal favorite Tucker Blair products and what items do you wear?

TL: I really like the Nautical Flag belt – the burnt orange color is really vibrant, which I like. We also have some new stuff in production that I’m pretty fired up about.

TPT: Can you describe your everyday style for us?

TL: Sure, Top siders, seersucker shorts, a ten-year-old Tee Shirt from the LandHo on Cape Cod, and maybe an Orinda country club hat. My wardrobe hasn’t evolved much since college! I also regularly work in my Nantucket Reds, some worn-in polos, and a new pair of Bonobos shorts I got this summer.

TPT: I see that needlepoint dog collars will be available soon. My family dog is a black lab that would look adorable in one! Are there any other new designs in the works for the fall launch?

TL: Oh yeah, we’re launching a handful of collars, a handful of children’s belts, and about a dozen more needlepoint belts. And a few other things that we’re keeping under wraps for now.

TPT: Where do the inspirations for designs come from?

TL: The things we all wish we were doing while we’re at work.

TPT: Can you tell us a little about the custom design process? Do customers choose the colors and design? Also, customers may not know, but monograms are now available. Tell us a little about that.

TL: The custom design process allows for the customer to have anything they want put in to one of our great products – it lends itself to a lot of individualism and creativity. The monograms are a great way to specialize any of our traditional TB products and really make it your own.

TPT: What are the best-selling items?

TL: Sailing Belt, Nautical Flag belt, and all the flops.

TPT: As an online only business, in what ways do you reach out to customers and get the Tucker Blair name out there? Twitter, blogs, Facebook?

TL: Some of the traditional stuff you’ve just named and then some other ways. Lets just say we have to be really creative with our marketing dollars.

TPT: Tucker Blair’s policy is one that is very admirable, with the focus on the customer getting the value. What made you decide to do that and has it made a big difference?

TL: It has a made a huge difference. It shows a true commitment to the customer and allows us to bring products to the market at prices that haven’t ever been seen for these types of products. As our team brainstormed ways we could be really competitive we kept coming back to the online only model and it’s been a great move.

TPT: You are very upfront and available to customers whether on the phone of through email and really strive to make the experience better. Has it been very worthwhile to be so involved? Any great stories to share along this line?

TL: The overarching theme is that if you obsess about your customers and go out of your way to please them it will pay off in droves in the future. And we try to do this with every single customer that shops TB!

TPT: Your story is one that many can relate to. Being stuck in an office or cubicle and dreaming of days on the water or at the beach. What advice do you have to encourage everyone to reach out and make dreams happen?

TL: Hahhah, for me it was a no brainer starting my own thing, but that’s just because of my personality. It’s hard and definitely not for everyone. All I can say is that to me working on a Sunday is no different than working on a Tuesday – and I think if you can find a work place where you feel that way you’re doing that right thing.

Thanks again for talking with me Taylor. I wish you and Tucker Blair much success and happy days!


MCW said...

I wish I looked normal in belts...I would so get a TB one!

Pink Maple said...

Very interesting! What a great post!

Erika said...

I had never heard of Tucker Blair before - now I'm off to check out the shop. Wonderful interview! :)

short southern momma said...

loved it!! hope you have a great weekend!! = )

Headbands and Hand Bags said...

Great post! Love there stuff!

BAH said...

I love that you put your journalistic skills to work and posted an interview! What a great idea! I've also had the pleasure of speaking with Taylor since I was the UCF campus rep last year, and he's definitely very passionate about his brand. Kudos!

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