Chic Galleria Interview

MEN’S ACCESSORY DESIGNER MARLIN JONES DISCUSSES TAYLORDBLU

Full Name: Marlin Andre Jones

Current Title/ Company: CEO, Owner, Designer of the TaylordBlu Clothing Brand

Educational Background: Warren G. Harding high school graduate

1.5 years License Practical Nurse School with the US Army Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Graduated Nursing school from Fort Bragg, North Carolina

1 year Certification Polysomnography Technician School for Sleep Disorders and Treatment of CPAP and BIPAP

Certification for Health Technician for Ocular Digital Retina Imager for detection of diabetic retinopathy

1-year certification for IV administration instructor

3 classes away from getting my 2 years Associate Degree from ETI Technical College for Paralegal Studies GPA 3.86

HIV Counselor Certification for pre and post testing

1 year Phlebotomy certification US Army course

BLS CPR instructor certification US Army course

ACLS (advanced cardiac life support) US Army course Fort Irwin, Ca.

Marlin, thank you so much for doing this interview. Tell me, what was your first job and how did you land that position?

My first job was working as a cook at Kentucky Fried Chicken in my hometown of Warren, Ohio. I worked there from summer of 1987 until I graduated high school.

I landed that job by looking in the want ads in our local paper, and at that time the only reason I started working was to have some extra money in my pocket while in high school.

How have your designs evolved since your first sketch?

Great question….Well, many people don’t know I first started sketching and designing for baby’s clothes (i.e. bibs, blankets, and fitted hats). At that time I was buying already made products and adding my logo to the clothing. My first logo I ever used was a Marlin (aka swordfish). How this logo came about was visiting Columbus, Ohio at a TGIF restaurant, after seeing it hanging on the wall décor I asked for a pen and paper. That’s when my imagination took off fantasizing about having my own clothing line. The next day after returning home, I took my sketch to a local embroidery shop where they, in turn, created an embroidered stitch patch, which I used for several years. My hope is to someday incorporate this logo back into my collection.

After baby’s clothes, I decided to take my designs into screen printing t-shirts and polos style apparel. That was fun, but I still wasn’t satisfied. So after years of watching the fashion trends on and off the runway, I saw the need for revitalizing men’s accessories. Over the past decade, men’s attire has become more casual and acceptable in social settings. For example, the men’s pocket square is now considered to be the men’s neck tie. Men now are more involved in how they look than ever before, so we decided to give men another selection and options of quality accessories they can appreciate. Since 2012, I have focused my time and creativity to designing high-quality accessories incorporating color, patterns, and one of a kind fabric into my brand. The TaylordBlu collection prides itself on meticulous aesthetics, craftsmanship, and attention to detail on every single piece we hand make from the most beautiful silks from around the world.

We now specialize in bow ties, neck ties, silk lapel and tuxedo flowers, pocket squares, and cashmere scarves.

Many people don’t know the story behind the name TaylordBlu. It’s a rather simple but dear to my heart. My daughter’s name is Taylor, and my favorite color is blue. So I married the two names together and the TaylordBlu collection was born (pronounced tai·lored / + ˈblü\).

What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your career and how were you able to overcome them?

I would have to say that my biggest challenge is where I currently live. I live in a very small city in Ohio, where fashion is not the scene. Imagine living in a city where steel mills and manufacturing plants dominate the landscape, and me trying to sell that person a neck tie…..lol, then you get my point. It has been somewhat challenging, but my goal has always been to help change the culture in the way men see fashion, and luckily I have been doing that one person at a time.

So, I being ambitious and thinking outside the box saw the bigger picture of me impacting not only where I lived, but the entire country. I have to give my sincere thanks to a few people that made my dream a reality in believing in my vision, and helping me achieve my goals of reaching a broader audience; Michelle Pajak-Reynolds, Katie Hildreth, Jen Abrams, Hyela Makoujy, and the co-founders of the Nolcha fashion lounge Megan McAstocker and Kerry Bannigan. It has been those that have given me support, advice, and taking me under their wing and introducing me to industry. Jen Abrams and Hyela Makoujy have been so gracious in incorporating some of my pieces with some of the biggest names in sports from the NFL, MLB, and models at her New York studio; working alongside Jen Abrams, they together have transformed the National Football League.

I would be remised if I did not mention my photographer Julie Stanley for capturing my vision and allowing it to speak through photographs for the entire world to see. Last but not least, Special thanks to Anna Citino, Rocco Basciano, Deborah Wojonarski, and Linda McNair all whom from day one have been supportive and encouraging me from the start. I must say that I am enjoying this ride and hope the TaylordBlu collection will be successful in bringing life back to men’s accessories. This has been long overdue and most anticipated, and I am glad that my brand is at the forefront of making that a reality.

I also would like to thank Katie Hildreth, graphic designer at NoizePro.com for helping me in getting my business off the ground. Her expertise and knowledge have been vital in launching my brand. She was responsible in setting up the TaylordBlu website, creating and designing my look book used at my first Nolcha fashion lounge showing, creating my Facebook page, and maintaining/updating software that keeps my website running smoothly. Her hard work and dedication have been instrumental to introducing TaylordBlu to the world.

So as you can see, there is no “I” in team. I am humbled and grateful to all that have played a part in making the TaylordBlu Collection the brand it is today. Experience the movement…

We want to hear about your inspiration as a creative! Where does your inspiration come from? Do you seek it out? How would you describe your design style?

My inspiration literally comes from nature. If you look at the cascade of colors that you see in the flowers, trees, leaves, fields, and the sky. They provide a different perspective on the plethora of colors within the eyes reach. From a matte to vibrant shades of color, nature gives one a wide color pallet to choose from. Studies suggest that certain colors tend to evoke an emotional response in people. “Most people are unaware of the profound effect color has on their behavior.” For example, the color red, yellow, and orange used mainly by the fast-food industries are said to increase appetite; while the color blue enhances creative awareness. Nature has been my canvas when deciding on certain hues of color to use in my collection. Color adds that little bit of “umpf” to a man’s collection making it a more versatile part of his wardrobe.

Especially when designing my silk lapel flowers, silk pocket squares, bow ties, and neck ties. I love deep subtle to vibrant colors, giving each piece its own unique qualities. Every product that we create is handmade and I usually only produce 3-4 pieces of that product making it more exclusive. We believe attention to detail, meticulous aesthetics, and craftsmanship should be the standard in quality. This is the standard the TaylordBlu collection.

I would describe my design style as sophisticated, elegant, and timeless. Our philosophy is simple; we are committed to redefining how men dress. My goal is to stimulate emotion when designing, and hopefully, I have achieved that.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed juggling various events and guest appearances? How do you handle that stress? What do you do for “me” time?

Absolutely, this comes with the territory, sometimes you have to say to yourself “ok, it’s time to shut it down.” So balance is a must! Even when making guest appearances scheduling ahead of time is the most important thing keeping you on track. I have been in situations in which I had to be in two different places at the same time; and it’s never fun to have to cancel an engagement, especially when you gave your word that you will be there. Stress is inevitable! It’s hard not to get caught up in the emotional sides of stress because you are a representation of your brand. So practicing deep breathing exercises and carefully coordination of events and your time is a MUST! The other part of combating stress is having a great team on board. Assistants are great to have because they are an extension of you when handling fires that need immediate attention. So in looking for an assistant it is crucial that you pick a person that understands the day to day operations of how you run your business and someone that you trust in making certain decisions when you’re not available.

What do I do for me time…well, I also write poetry, love music, and traveling which helps bring a plethora of ideas to the table when creating or designing new products. Coming back mentally, physically, and emotionally rested is important in the creating stages of any business. So I make downtime a necessity for longevity in any business; the most important thing of all to staying relevant in an industry that is forever changing.

From securing funding to writing a business plan, managing employees, and operating the day-to-day aspects of your label, running a business takes time and commitment. How did you learn the ins and outs of owning and operating your business?

Since starting my business, I have had to learn all of the ins and outs on my own. Fortunately, I am not at a point where I have to manage employees. I currently have a home office that cuts out the overhead needed versus maintaining a building, business taxes, utilities, and other day-to-day expenses that are required in operating a business. My goal has always been to stay small, which offers me some exclusivity with my brand. That way, I have the creativity control by staying small without bringing in any outside investors that potentially can influence the way I do business. By being the only investor of my brand, I have the autonomy and freedom to do what is needed to ensure that my business stays competitive and relevant to the industry needs.

As a business owner, how do you achieve a work/life balance?

Well, I think what I do and who I am as a person is one in the same. You’ve heard the saying “I love what I do, so too me, it’s not work,” my sentiments exactly. But like I‘ve mentioned in previous question’s, you have to say “Ok, I need to put this down, “and resume a normal balanced lifestyle away from “work” in order to continue to bring new ideas and creativity to the table. That mental break is necessary to the creative process and vital to thinking outside the box on future designs. 

What do you see in the future for TaylordBlu. How do you hope to grow the business?

My goal would be to build more connections in the fashion industry. I would love to work with incredible talent in the music, film industry, and professional sports. My hopes are to make the TaylordBlu brand a household name as it relates to men’s neckwear and accessories. We stand beside our motto…”Our philosophy is simple; we are committed to redefining how men dress.” Our mission and purpose would be collaborating with stylist, wardrobe departments, and personal assistants that have access to Hollywood’s A list actors and actresses in the business.

Growth in the business to me means, staying pertinent to fashion trends and longevity in the business. Although, one my future goal’s would be to own a small boutique where I could showcase my line would be a dream come true. But for now, growth equals longevity and that’s what I strive for every day.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I would have to say doing what I’m passionate about, and that’s designing and creating pieces for the TaylordBlu collection. The other part I would have to say, is seeing pieces of my collection acknowledged in some capacity; knowing that my creativity and hard work has paid off. I often tell people, “If I was in this business just to make money I would have quit a long time ago!” I don’t think making lots of money equals your happiness, and if it does then at some point you will get a rude awakening.

Just knowing pieces of my brand have be showcased, photographed, and mentioned in articles that have access to fashion bloggers, readers, and the world is quite humbling and rewarding at the same time.

What advice can you give women who want to break into the fashion design business?

The best advice I would give, would be stay true to who you are; and if you are doing this for just money, then you’re in the wrong business. Also, be original, think outside the box, and follow your instincts always! If I don’t like something chances are others may not either. I am very detailed oriented, so subtle details matter to me in the bigger picture. Make sure you have you “I’s” dotted and “t’s” crossed, because what you put out there is a representation of you and a reflection of your business.

I would also tell them surround themselves with people that are willing to give them some sound advice from a business perspective, suggestions, and team up with a mentor that can show you the ropes by helping you network and making new connections. There is no “I” in team, so those that you collaborate with should be given the upmost respect and appreciation for bringing you in on various projects.

Last but not least…..COMMUNICATION is a must!!! Be clear in your dealings with vendors, stylist, or models when your brand is being used for editorial, photo shoots, promotional ads is a must. Being specific is essential to meeting your expectations.

What is a typical workday like for you?

There is no typical day for me; aside from my business I also have a full-time job. So my days start at 7:30am-4pm, and then after that my business ventures begin. So my nights may end anywhere between 9-10pm depending on what I am working on. Over the years, I have mastered my time management, so my bedtime hours are just as important as my work hours…Remember balance is a must and key to the creative process, but more importantly to the success of your business.

Best moment of your career so far?

Wow…great question! I have had several great moments of my career. In no particular order, would be my first showing at the NYC Nolcha fashion lounge was epic; and after my showing then getting the email for Kerry Banningan, that Paramount picture was looking for a designer to create some bow ties, and to find out it was for Pee Wee Herman’s new movie Pee Wee’s Big Holiday for Netflix. The movie has since released early March 2016; next, I would say working with Mark Savoy and Mark Forrest for VH1 Unsung Hollywood for Ms. Vivica Fox. I styled these two gentlemen in some of the TaylordBlu collection. In addition, my line was picked up for the number comedy show on BET television, starring the Ms. Brandy Norwood, called Zoe ever after. Special thanks to Ms. Rita McGhee for bringing me in and pairing my brand up with the brilliant and upcoming actor, Mr. Tory Devon Smith, who played Valente, Brandy’s assistant on the show.

Another highlight of my career has been working with the one and only Ms. Jen Abrams (JenAbramsStyle). Her eye-catching style has been showcased on many of the top NFL players, red carpet events, and professional models in the game. Her impeccable taste, attention to detail, and knowledge of the player’s she styles has been thoroughly recognized. If you’re in the industry and don’t know her, then you have missed out an opportunity of a lifetime. She is by far one of the leading stylist in the game today, taking player’s that have no idea of fashion and turning them into fashion icons of the league. She has worked with many to include Rashad Jennings of the NY Giants, Oliver Vernon, defensive end, who has played with the Miami Dolphins and NY Giants, and currently the highest paid defensive player in history to date just to name a few. We have connected from day one, and today pieces from the TaylordBlu collection have been the accessory pieces of choice when styling these humble giants.

My most humble and most rewarding moment has been the launching of my own magazine called Style Trumps Fashion the TaylordBlu Collection. We launched our magazine on Issuu.com, one of the world’s largest digital free magazine sites with publisher’s from around the globe this past Jan. 2016, and since then we have gone to print.

Again, I would like to thank my photographer Julie Stanley for taking my vision and putting it into photographs, Carl Antzack, ‎Creative Director at Trajan Design for her expertise, patience, and hard work for helping format each page that has become the piece of work that it is today; we both worked together for months selecting the right photos that would convey to the world why we are the new face of men’s accessories. Experience our journey as we try and transform the way men see fashion.

So, as you can see I have had some incredible moments in this industry, and God willing many more will come my way. I am humbled on how the industry has received my brand with open arms. In an industry where the trends are constantly changing, so far I have survived the new and trendy culture of what we call men’s fashion. I hope to continue to be a contributor and inspire many that wear pieces from the TaylordBlu collection, as an example of what one can do when they dream the impossible. I hope to encourage men and women alike from small towns to big cities across America and around the world that anything is possible. Hard work and perseverance are keys to success.

What advice would you give to your 24-year-old self?

Hmmm…..LOL, I have never really thought about it. Now since you have asked I would say there is no better time to start living your dreams, than right now. When I was 24 years old I was serving in the military and exploring my young adulthood. I believe timing and everything happens for a reason.

Go-to coffee order?

Well since I don’t drink coffee, only having tried it once in my life. I would say lemonade would be my go-to-order.

Best advice you’ve received?

My dad used to tell me “you will never be able to please everyone, so you need to be happy with the decisions you make for yourself.” Well said dad….best advice ever!

My perfect day off would be spent?

My perfect day off would be some place tropical, sitting in a recliner, large straw hat, glass of wine, and music playing in the background.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

LOL… I am told I resemble a few people. The names of those individuals will remain anonymous (smile), but I have no idea who I would want to play me in the movie of my life. Something to think about!

Favorite shoes you wear while running errands?

I just bought a pair of ColeHann Pinch Canvas Weekender loafers. This shoe is casual, comfortable, and stylish!

The Nolcha Shows are a leading award winning event, held during New York Fashion Week, for independent fashion designers to showcase their collections to a global audience of press, retailers, stylists and industry influencers. Over the past seven years the Nolcha Shows have become established as a platform for discovery; promoting cutting edge innovative fashion designers through runway shows and exhibitions.

The team at Chic Galleria is thrilled to again be collaborating with the designers who will be featured at the Nolcha Shows.  We are looking forward to showcasing these talented designers and attending their shows this fall. – Beth Anderson, Founder and Senior Editor, Chic Galleria 

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