By Michelle Love
Pictures of Christina Dennis
Lydia Taylor will tell you that since her teenage years, she has wanted to work in fashion.
“I always wanted to do this,” she said. “I’ve always loved clothes and I knew I wanted to do something fashionable. I can’t draw to save my life, so I knew fashion design was out of the question.
Lydia’s love of fashion is what led her to launch her online store, Taylormade Clothing, in August 2020, and what fueled her desire to open the physical store in Helena. The doors of Taylormade officially opened to the public on Saturday April 9 with a special ribbon cutting sponsored by the Helena Business Association, but the buzz surrounding the store’s arrival was more than positive anticipation.
Taylormade started in August 2020 as an online store and mobile app. In 2021, she started doing in-person popups where she would showcase her merchandise.
“I loved doing that because I loved interacting with people,” she said. “That’s what brought me to this. I was selling very well in person, and online it was doing well too, but it just takes a long time to do online to get it to where I want it to be.
Lydia said she loves the individual aspect of working with people in person, because being able to let them really experience and appreciate the clothes is something you just can’t get with online shopping. With this in mind, she started to think about the possibilities of opening a real showcase.
“I thought I would do just fine opening a brick and mortar,” she said.
Prior to the establishment of the Taylormade storefront, Lydia grew up in Hueytown. She went to Southern Union State Community College in Wadley where she played softball and earned her business associate degree.
Although she is not originally from Helena, she has family here and said moving to Helena was a definite possibility.
“We’d like to end up on this side of town eventually,” she said. “We would like to raise children here.”
When researching a possible location for Taylormade, Helena seemed like the perfect fit due to the lack of competition and the community’s willingness to support local small businesses.
“When I realized that, that’s what made me say, ‘This is the best place,'” she said.
Once the decision was made, Lydia dove into preparing for the opening. The focus and preparation work involved in stocking a boutique requires careful planning. All items offered on Taylormade are sourced from wholesalers, and sometimes items take almost two weeks to arrive. Fortunately, the Internet is incredibly useful.
She mainly sources her supplies from FashionGo, which offers a catalog of thousands of sellers for boutique owners to choose from. Lydia will review several different vendors looking at different styles, fabrics and sizes. She describes it as being similar to online shopping for friends, as you need to keep in mind what your shoppers may or may not find appealing.
“When I look at merchandise, I always try to think about my customers and what they would like and what they want to see,” Lydia said. “It’s about thinking about what would sell best, and I like having all those vendors at my fingertips.”
Lydia describes her style as “southern modern,” a reflection of classic southern styles with more modern touches. Her store has a variety of sizes and the shelves are full of everything from blouses, dresses and even cozy t-shirts. Shoppers browsing the store are sure to find something they’re looking for, whether it’s loose fit, frills or comfort. This is something that was Lydia’s goal from the start.
“I want to have things that your everyday mom would like when she comes here, but I also want to make sure that the high school girl who comes after school has things that she would like to wear too. It’s kind of a really good mix of inventory when it comes to several things that people of different ages will love. I want to have dressy stuff like dresses and cute tops, but I also want to have stuff that you can wear to work and can dress up and dress down.
The boutique space is designed to reflect Lydia’s modern southern takes and also to give her customers a glimpse of who she is as a person. There’s plenty of natural light that reflects her bright, sunny personality (she makes it a point to greet everyone who walks through the door with a smile and a friendly “hello”). The walls are powder pink with a drawing of her golden retriever hanging on the door. She said that she is very attached to the BOHO style at the moment and also wants to emulate this style throughout the store.
Lydia said the main aspect of her store that she has always tried to convey is that it is a safe space where people can shop and feel good about themselves.
“I’ve always struggled with self-confidence,” Lydia explained. “It’s just something that I struggled with, and I don’t want other people to feel that way. I really want it to be something that I talk about in my business: I want every woman who comes in here to walk away with something she feels best in.
With every sale, Lydia is very enthusiastic about helping people find something they feel good about, and even if you don’t buy anything, she hopes you’ll stop and say “Hello”.
Taylormade is located at 100 Brook Drive Suite C in Helena. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.