When Taylor started Tucker Blair back in 2007, the Colgate grad watched corporate life recede like a boat off his beloved Cape shore. In place of working a passionless 9-5, he started one of the most well-respected needlepoint vendors in the modern preppy world. For this, he certainly deserves of toast of his favorite gin and tonic… buying one of his belts wouldn’t hurt either, they’ll last a lifetime.
We were lucky enough to interview the man himself:
The ‘Cac: How do you choose your patterns?
TL: We take a lot of customer input. If enough customers show an interest in a particular pattern, we’re definitely going to launch it. We even do design contests every few months which helps us formalize our customer input.
The ‘Cac: It seems like needlepoint accessories pop up on the mainstream radar only after certain events, like when one of your headbands appeared on an episode of Gossip Girl. However, your belts also have a loyal following that is independent from popular culture. Do you design for both the trendsters and the trads?
TL: Our company is largely a classic preppy look, with a very target customer demographic. Most of our customers come from places like Greenwich, Ct and Bethesda, MD. With that being said, our Opening Ceremony partnership is the first of many steps to expand our reach and bring the preppy needlepoint belt to customers that aren’t as “Trad” so to speak. We’re working on some other really cool partnerships right now that I’m very excited about!
The ‘Cac: One event that sparked interest in Tucker Blair among the high fashion world was your collaboration with Opening Ceremony. You paired your signature well-crafted belts with patterns that aren’t typically considered preppy. How did this collaboration come about?
TL: We built up a relationship with some of the folks at Opening Ceremony. They liked the needlepoint aesthetic, but wanted to design some patterns more fitting to their customer. The first 5 patterns came out great, and have been selling very well in the OC stores. We’re looking to build on those first 5 now and expand the partnership. It’s also created a lot of interest from other brands wanting to partner with us which is awesome.
The ‘Cac: On her blog The Daily Prep Muffy Aldrich displays three Preppy commandments: Authenticity, Stewardship, and Graciousness. Have these qualities found their way into your business model?
TL: I would say our products are very authentic and genuine, but I’m not sure what they really mean by stewardship and graciousness. That’s probably over-thinking it. We just try to create cool belts that people love, it’s nothing more complicated than that!
The ‘Cac: What’s the oddest design request you’ve ever gotten?
TL: I thought Leopard print from Opening Ceremony was a huge stretch, until I saw it and realized its pretty awesome! The Opening Ceremony team has an incredibly eye for design. That pattern really opened my eyes to all the designs we should be pursuing but haven’t in the past.
The ‘Cac: Why the mallard?
TL: My mom’s family had a duck farm on Cape Cod and the mallard logo is just a genteel design that sums up the brand identity we’re trying to foster with Tucker Blair.
The ‘Cac: If you could drive only one car for the rest of your life, which car would it be?
TL: Definitely an old beat up jeep waggoner on the beaches of Cape cod. So old and beaten up that you can literally hose down the inside. I can’t imagine anything better.