Sustainability is big news at the moment, but few brands are willing to put their bottom line where their mouths are, Except Taylor Yates. An eco-friendly brand who create luxury sustainable leather accessories centred around sustainability, familial values and social responsibility.
We chat to mother and daughter Karen and Ellen Yates, founders at Taylor Yates about sustainability, running a business and what they’d love to see happen to fashion in the future
What’s the hardest thing about running your own business?
Being head of every department! We are still quite a new business and as a start-up that means every day will bring something new and a new job title to add to the list. We have decided to use British leather and produce our bags in the UK so our production costs are higher, which can be difficult at times.
Where do you find your inspiration?
We often start with a combination of trawling through trend boards. Or delving into our own favourites, whether it’s from Karen’s collection from the 90s or something we bought whilst travelling. It’s usually the shape that we start with and because our leather is so soft it enables us to create shapes and folds. Our colour range is inspired by the stunning north coast of Ireland. It is hard not to be influenced by the beauty of Ireland the sea, sky and land produce some amazing natural hues.
Do you think social media is a help or a hindrance?
I think it can be a bit of both. We have made some great connections through our Instagram and are often taken for a much bigger and more established brand, which is great. Sometimes it can seem like you are shouting into a void because social platforms are full of new brands so it can be hard. But it has definitely helped us more than hindered.
Have you always wanted to be entrepreneurs?
We don’t really think of ourselves in those terms really. We love what we do and figure that if we keep doing what we are doing and customers keep liking it, we can build a really cool sustainable business that also does some good.
What was the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To read Shoe Dog, the story of Nike, It’s full of the leaps forward and the steps back that are involved in creating a brand. It really helps on the tough days!
What have you learned over the years?
In some ways we are lucky, Karen has lots of experience in the industry and has been involved in the process from design concept through to production. So she often has to tell me to be more patient as it can often take more time than I would like to get a new bag design right. So a few deep breaths later we have a beautiful product to share.
If could go back and do it all again would you change anything?
We have taken part in a few pop ups that haven’t really worked for us. They have been an expensive lesson in doing better research and asking more questions before we commit.
What’s your plans for the future of Taylor Yates?
KY: We are currently working on our first circular economy collection, using the waste leather from our main collection. This may include some menswear pieces. Ultimately, we would like TY to be known as a brand with people, planet and purpose at the centre. We would love to be able to create a capsule collection of clothing at some point in the future too.
EY: I think the development of our circular economy collection will be so great when it is finished. It will let us expand our audience more. I want to see us grow our following and to create a real community of people. I also want us to have a presence in New York and London as well as at home. Whether that’s through other retailers or in our own locations – it would be amazing.
Why is sustainability important to you?
EY: For me I am conscious of the effect that everything, especially the fashion industry, has on the planet. I think it is so important to be aware of the impact that you are having as a business We source our leather as a by-product of food production in the UK. So everything – as much as possible – is local and we can control our impact, to a point. We are always working to be more sustainable and we are currently looking at packaging and alternatives which are more eco friendly.
KY: I’m really interested in the idea of conscious consumerism and people buying quality, well-made products to last rather than just throw away fashion. I also want to build a social good business that gives back. To help girls around the world understand that they can do and be anything they want to be.
What would you love to see happen with sustainability in the future?
Sustainability is becoming more mainstream now which in itself is a massive step forward. Especially thanks to the David Attenborough effect. We would love to see more being done by the big players in fashion. From the luxury sector to the highstreet. If the changes are made at the top it could really help to push the whole industry to change. Also a rise in the use of natural, sustainably sourced materials will help to combat the use of plastic.
What’s your favourite pieces in the new Taylor Yates collection?
Honestly it depends what day it is! We love Mavis and Agnes for day to day. They are both so easy and big enough for a laptop which is very important for us. Tilly, Doris and Frances are brilliant for going out to dinner or to a wedding. Our favourite colours are definitely the Petrol and Storm but again it all depends on the outfit too!