Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Cultivating Self-Assurance through Sustainable Fashion: An Interview with Anya Cheng, the Founder of Taelor.style

Anya Cheng, the innovative mind behind Taelor.style, engages in a stimulating conversation with Entrepreneur Mirror, exploring the symbiotic relationship between confidence and sustainable fashion. Cheng elaborates on Taelor’s core objective: empowering individuals through personalized styling solutions tailored to diverse scenarios such as professional settings and romantic endeavors. Through its pioneering clothing rental subscription model powered by AI algorithms, Taelor aims to prolong the lifespan of garments, thus championing environmental sustainability. Cheng underscores the pivotal role of self-assurance in forging authentic connections and underscores Taelor’s mission to liberate customers from the perpetual cycle of consumerism. Additionally, she shares insights into strategies for promoting sustainability while prioritizing customer satisfaction, fostering a culture of inclusivity for all involved. Cheng concludes by spotlighting Taelor’s competitive advantage, rooted in its unparalleled personalization and steadfast commitment to driving innovation and sustainability in the fashion landscape.

Elevating Confidence with Personal Style

Anya Cheng

We initiated the interview with the inquiry, “Could you recount an experience where you contributed to someone feeling more confident in their appearance? How did you go about achieving this?”

Anya Cheng responded, “One significant memory involves a client preparing for a pivotal job interview. A recent graduate in North Carolina, he faced the challenge of transitioning from a casual work environment to a corporate one, feeling uncertain about his attire’s suitability. With guidance from his stylist, he ultimately secured a position as a Data Scientist at a prominent tech firm in the Bay Area.

Dating is another area where individuals often seek assistance in enhancing their confidence in their appearance. Research conducted by Banana Republic suggests that 67% of daters experience anxiety over their date outfits, and studies, such as those published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, reveal that well-dressed daters receive 27% more likes and messages. Danny’s experience serves as a testament to this — we assisted him in refining his dating wardrobe for a photoshoot for his dating profile, leading to a successful date!

This concern resonates with many, and it’s where Taelor excels, offering personalized styling services tailored to individual needs. How does Taelor’s men’s clothing rental subscription operate? It commences with customers signing up and completing a style assessment, enabling Taelor’s expert stylists and AI to curate a personalized array of garments based on the customer’s size, style preferences, and upcoming occasions. The meticulously selected garments, cleaned and ready for wear, are then delivered straight to the customer. They have the flexibility to enjoy these pieces for weeks, with the option to return or purchase them at a discounted rate. Upon returning the items, customers receive a fresh selection, ensuring their wardrobe remains current and diverse. Through this rental model, many customers explore new styles, gaining a renewed sense of confidence post-transformation.”

Building Rapport

How do you believe personal confidence contributes to successful interactions and connections with others?

Anya Cheng emphasized, “Personal confidence is instrumental in shaping successful interactions and connections with others. It functions as an unspoken language of self-assurance, speaking volumes before any words are spoken. When inquiring about the impressions customers aim to convey while wearing Taelor clothes, they frequently mention descriptors such as “fit, put together, professional, with style, and clean,” rather than simply “fashionable.” This suggests a desire to appear prepared and stylish without appearing excessively flashy or overly effortful. Both Taelor’s human stylists and AI strive to achieve this balance. Ultimately, at Taelor, our goal is to empower our customers to embody their best selves.”

Unlocking Benefits


In what ways do you envision sustainable fashion impacting individuals and the environment positively?

Anya Cheng remarks, “Sustainable fashion signifies a pivotal change in clothing production, consumption, and mindset. Its benefits transcend environmental, economic, and social spheres, enriching not only our planet but also individuals and communities. Many of our clients express fulfillment in contributing to waste reduction while enhancing their personal style. At Taelor, our distinctive approach ensures each garment enjoys a complete and meaningful life cycle, being rented multiple times before being sold as like-new pre-owned items. Furthermore, our advanced data analytics empower fashion enterprises to cater to authentic consumer preferences. Through collaborations with eco-friendly brands utilizing innovative materials such as recycled coffee grounds and plastic buttons, we strengthen our commitment to sustainability.”

Sustainability Trend Monitoring

Anya Cheng

How do you stay updated on trends in sustainable fashion, and how would you incorporate this knowledge into your role at taelor.style?

Anya Cheng outlined, “Remaining abreast of sustainable fashion trends requires a comprehensive approach involving continual education, industry collaboration, and the utilization of cutting-edge technology. At Taelor, our network extends to over 300 fashion brands, fostering a rich ecosystem of knowledge exchange. We are privileged to glean insights from our esteemed strategic investors, comprising industry giants such as Lululemon, Nike, Hugo Boss, and Uniqlo, alongside the guidance of a Board Member from a prominent circular economic foundation.

Immersed in the startup sphere, we are at the forefront of emerging sustainable practices, models, and technologies. However, our role transcends mere observation; we are trendsetters in our own right. Through innovative data analytics, we ascertain the durability of garments, leveraging AI to discern trends and insights. As the visionary behind Taelor, integrating this intelligence into our platform is paramount. It ensures that we not only deliver stylish and pertinent choices to our clientele but also remain steadfast in our dedication to sustainability.”

Resourceful Measures

Describe a time when you had to creatively extend the life of a garment. What was the outcome, and what did you learn from the experience?

Anya Cheng, “Our business is founded on the principle of prolonging the lifespan of clothing. Through our innovative approach, we incentivize brands to create garments designed for longevity (embracing the ethos of slow fashion). Each piece enjoys an extended life cycle through multiple rentals, benefitting both the environment and consumers. Utilizing cutting-edge technology, we employ advanced cleaning methods to maintain durability, coupled with meticulous inspections to ensure every returned item meets our stringent quality standards before re-entering circulation.”

Empowering Confidence Responsibly


Anya Cheng with Team Taelor Style
What strategies would you employ to promote the values of taelor.style and encourage customers to embrace their best selves without constant shopping?

Anya Cheng elaborated, “At taelor.style, we champion our values by empowering customers to radiate confidence in the weeks ahead. When our stylists assemble outfits for our clients, we go beyond merely selecting their favorite five items from the shipment. Instead, we focus on creating versatile combinations that yield three complete looks, preparing them for upcoming engagements while boosting their self-assurance.

With our diverse range of premium-quality items and rental model, each garment has the opportunity to be enjoyed multiple times by different individuals. This approach not only allows our customers to explore and embrace their unique style but also mitigates overconsumption. Moreover, should a customer develop a deep connection with a particular piece, they have the option to purchase gently used, second-hand clothing, ensuring they can continue to cherish and wear it for years to come.”

Tackling Customer Dissatisfaction

How would you approach a situation where a customer expresses dissatisfaction with their appearance despite wearing taelor.style products?

Anya Cheng, “Addressing a scenario in which a customer expresses discontentment with their appearance, despite donning Taelor.style products, necessitates a blend of empathy, attentive listening, and tailored solutions to cater to their concerns. Our adept customer service lead, with prior experience heading customer service at eBay, spearheads this endeavor. We meticulously scrutinize every customer feedback during our executive meetings on a weekly basis, striving to refine each customer interaction to perfection.

Operating on a rental subscription model, our service empowers customers to explore a diverse array of items, allowing for the return of unwanted pieces. Each shipment comprises five items, enabling customers to enjoy and utilize the remaining four while returning the unfitting one. Before each subsequent shipment, customers can relay their feedback to their personal stylists, ensuring a more tailored selection for their next delivery.

In instances of profound dissatisfaction, customers have the option to reach out to our customer service team. Additionally, our AI rapidly learns from individual preferences, swiftly adapting its curation approach within weeks, thereby progressively aligning with users’ tastes as they engage with taelor.style more frequently. This feature is purposefully designed to mitigate instances of customer dissatisfaction over time, enhancing the overall user experience.”

Anya Cheng’s Former Initiatives

Can you provide examples of initiatives or projects you’ve been involved in that align with promoting confidence-building or sustainability in your previous roles?

Anya Cheng, “For the past decade, I’ve championed individuals seeking career excellence, urging them to harness their strengths to cultivate confidence and resilience in challenging times. This journey has seen me deliver two TED Talks and pen two bestselling books. Drawing from my own experiences navigating the job market post-graduate school during the Great Recession, where my background in journalism proved invaluable, I share actionable insights. From patiently waiting outside office buildings to secure meetings with hiring managers, to leveraging volunteer opportunities for networking at conferences, and even tracking down executives of major corporations, I’ve employed unconventional methods to land opportunities. My driving force is a fervent desire to inspire others and empower them to unlock their potential.

My co-founder, Phoebe Tan, shares a deep-rooted commitment to sustainability. She is a sought-after speaker at events focusing on circular fashion and sustainability. Our investor, Sean Chao, serves as a Board Member for a foundation dedicated to circular economics. Moreover, at Taelor, we actively seek out sustainable brands, curating products like clothing crafted from recycled plastic bottles and coffee grounds.”

Balancing Customer Satisfaction


Anya Cheng
How do you balance customer satisfaction with environmental considerations in your product or service offerings?

Anya Cheng, “Focusing on both customer satisfaction and environmental impact within the realm of Taelor.style requires a careful equilibrium between delivering top-notch, personalized fashion experiences and embracing sustainable principles. Our approach emphasizes quality and longevity over quantity when selecting clothing items. It’s a straightforward equation for us: garments that can be rented out multiple times reduce the need for excessive purchasing. By embracing a rental model, we substantially diminish the demand for new garment production and its environmental ramifications.

Furthermore, we actively engage with our fashion brand partners, offering comprehensive feedback to guide the creation of future collections aligned with consumer preferences. This collaborative effort minimizes waste in the fashion cycle, fostering a more sustainable industry.”

The Language of Personal Style

Entrepreneur Mirror’ Share your thoughts on the relationship between personal style and self-expression. How does this relate to taelor.style’s mission?

Anya Cheng, “The intimate connection between personal style and self-expression serves as a potent means of non-verbal communication, enabling individuals to articulate their identity, emotions, and principles without uttering a single word.

Consider our clientele: a furniture designer seeking attire that harmonizes with their design ethos, a middle-aged individual eager to exude youthful vitality in their dating ventures, and another client desiring garments that silently assert, “I may blend into the background from afar, but up close, my style commands attention.”

Personal style transcends mere clothing; it’s a meticulously crafted manifestation of one’s essence, shaped by life experiences, aspirations, and the prevailing cultural milieu. In today’s context, sustainability emerges as a pivotal factor in shaping individuals’ self-perception. By championing sustainable fashion, Taelor.style empowers its customers to authentically express their identities with integrity.”

Championing Diversity and Inclusiveness

Entrepreneur Mirror’ How would you contribute to creating a positive and inclusive environment for both customers and team members at taelor.style?

Anya Cheng highlighted, “Our commitment at taelor.style is to empower our customers to embrace each day with confidence by providing them with the support they need. We have a proven track record of assisting individuals in reaching their goals, especially in environments where they may face challenges due to underrepresentation. From prestigious events like the Disney Premier, Oscars, Grammys, MLS games, and Cannes red carpet, to guiding career paths in fields such as data science, interior design, and law, we are dedicated to helping our customers turn their dreams into reality.

For our team members, we prioritize placing them in roles where they can truly thrive. Taelor was founded by two minority women, and we take pride in the fact that 67% of our employees are women, with 8% identifying as non-binary. Moreover, 75% of our workforce comes from diverse backgrounds, including Asian, African American, and Latin American individuals. We actively seek out vendors founded by minorities and ensure that our models represent a variety of ages, ethnicities, and body types.

Additionally, we cater to a diverse range of customer sizes, offering sizes from S to 2XL, and provide a waitlist option for those beyond our current size range. Our commitment to inclusivity permeates every aspect of our operations, ensuring that everyone who engages with taelor.style feels valued and supported.”

Securing Competitive Advantage

Anya Cheng
When confronted with the hypothetical scenario of a new competitor with a similar mission but a different approach, how does taelor.style uphold its unique value proposition and competitive standing?

Anya Cheng articulated, “Our strategy revolves around ‘Personalization at Scale,’ harnessing advanced data analytics and AI to deliver unmatched personalized styling services. This ensures each customer feels uniquely catered to, distinguishing us from competitors. Our AI investment isn’t solely about efficiency; it’s about enhancing customer satisfaction while expanding responsibly.

Taelor’s AI functions as the ultimate ‘Outfit of the Day Advisor & Inventory Predictor,’ offering distinct benefits for consumers and fashion brands alike:

For consumers: Our AI tailors recommendations to individual preferences, facilitating effortless outfit selection based on occasions, personal style, and trends. Additionally, it encourages users to explore new styles, enhancing the fashion experience.

For fashion brands: We lead in Inventory Prediction technology, providing insights to optimize inventory management and tailor offerings to evolving consumer demands, thereby driving business growth and satisfaction.

With the apparel market valued at $400 billion, circular fashion’s 23% annual growth rate underscores significant opportunities for innovation and expansion.

There’s considerable room for growth in circular fashion, and we welcome new entrants. Increased competition not only fosters innovation but also educates consumers about sustainability.

Rent the Runway and Nuuly exemplify the potential for growth in rental subscriptions, attracting new rental customers and affirming circular fashion’s promise.

Ultimately, new entrants enrich opportunities for innovation, sustainability, and consumer engagement.” – Anya Cheng

Connect with Anya Cheng on Linkedin

Visit Taelor Style to learn more about it

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