Tanya Taylor 2003
Tanya Taylor 2003, recipient of the 2018 Dr. Susan Ditchburn Young Alumna award, exemplifies the characteristics of an Old Girl embodying Havergal’s ideals of imagination, diversity and excellence.
At Havergal, Tanya had wild blonde curly hair, was a fastidious student in math and science and had a flair for fashion. She obtained her bachelor of commerce degree, majoring in finance, at McGill University, graduating with distinction in 2007. While at McGill, she volunteered on a whim to design for a charity fashion show, thus beginning her career in fashion on an altruistic note. Despite having no experience in fashion design and lacking even a basic sewing machine, the show was a tremendous success and reawakened in Tanya her love of colour and the art of dressing, both of which had been instilled by her mother and grandmother. After that experience, she pursued further education at Parsons: School of Fashion, Art and Design in New York, and worked for the Olsen twins at their fashion label, Elizabeth and James.
Tanya launched her own line in 2012 and, since then, has grown her business to support a staff of 20. She recalls starting her own line in the cutthroat fashion industry as being enormously difficult – especially being from Toronto, with no network in New York or the fashion business. She was riddled with insecurity and felt like a very small fish in an overwhelmingly large pond. Tanya has tried to maintain this perspective as her brand has grown exponentially, always making time to welcome and lend advice to aspiring designers. Today, she sells to 100 stores (including Saks 5th Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf’s), has been recognized in Forbes’ “30 under 30” and has dressed amazing women: Michelle Obama, Beyoncé and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, to name a few. She counts as one of the most surreal moments in her life when she was recently invited to represent Canada at the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange at Buckingham Palace.
Tanya’s clothing represents a joyful approach to life, and her designs feature artful prints, bold colours and feminine cuts. Her clothing is both energizing and empowering. She also believes that access to fashion shouldn’t be prohibitive based on size, and so she recently launched extended sizing to fill a gap in the market for feminine, flattering and optimistic clothing in sizes larger than 12.
Beyond Tanya’s uber-success in the fashion world, she brings her joyful art into her community by painting an art shack at a kid’s camp in upstate New York, replacing hospital pediatric ward curtains with her sunny prints and hosting uplifting art therapy classes nationwide. She believes in teamwork and contributing directly to the society in which she lives – she and her team regularly volunteer at a local Mission food shelter and are designing head scarves for cancer patients at a New York City hospital. Her dream is to start an art institute in Toronto that brings children from all different neighbourhoods, perspectives and experiences together to create.
Tanya is honoured to receive the Susan Ditchburn Young Alumna award. She has always admired Dr. Ditchburn’s poise and fondly remembers when Dr. Ditchburn mentioned her warm smile during a parent/teacher interview in high school and when she supported Tanya during her first collection at Holt Renfrew in Toronto.