Having a lovely shopping experience and shopping online do not usually go hand-in-hand. Taigan.com is the exception. It is a wonderfully curated selection of hard-to-find items, allowing you the joy of discovery from the convenience of your computer. Taigan has partnered with many individually-owned boutiques and brands from across the country to mimic finding that fabulous locally-owned business that we all often stumble across while traveling (or find in our own backyards). These same stores and brands are now accessible through Taigan.com. Today, meet Founder, Mary Catherine McClellan, and CEO, Elizabeth Nichols.
What made you first want to bring the Taigan model to market?
Mary Catherine: I so enjoy the hunt. In the discovery of extraordinary people and their talents, I had a desire to introduce them to an audience who otherwise might never have the opportunity to encounter them. Connecting people is rewarding, and Taigan allows me to connect a wonderful artisan or purveyor with a person who will appreciate their collection/product, as well as their amazing stories.
When did you hire Elizabeth as your CEO?
Mary Catherine: Not a moment too soon, and NOTHING was the same thereafter. In comparison, everyone around her appears to be moving in reverse. She is the person you want leading your company. It is a blessing to know, if I had it to do over, that she would be my pick!
What unique skills do you bring to Taigan that make it such a great brand?
Mary Catherine: I am a bit nutty about details — maybe fanatical! At Taigan, we are relentless in the editing and presentation of our products, so maybe some of my obsession helps here!
What most excited you about Taigan to join the team as CEO?
Elizabeth: The “person”: the opportunity to work with someone whom I greatly admired, Mary Catherine McClellan. We didn’t really have a team then … we were the team!
The mission: Taigan works tirelessly to give the little guy, our small-batch designers and artisans, a fighting chance in a mass-market world. If no one advocated on behalf of the small guy, what would happen to the American Dream?
The excitement of starting something new … something that could leverage my experience and challenge me at the same time.
Additionally, I love being on the hunt, a core competency of that sighthound from Kyrgyzstan, known as a Taigan. I honed my hunting skills under a master hunter, my grandmother. What an eye she had! At Taigan, we hunt tirelessly to uncover elusive products for a discerning consumer.
Are there any recent changes that have made Taigan a better platform for buyers and retailers alike?
Elizabeth: Every day is a new day at Taigan! We continue to evolve our platform to provide a quicker, more dynamic and robust experience for the consumer and the retailer. Most notably, our proprietary one-step payment process was a significant milestone in the company’s evolution.
You have run large companies in the past. How is the experience of heading up a start-up company different and/or challenging?
Elizabeth: Actually, small companies are my passion. When I financed the first Walmart in Middle Tennessee, Walmart was not a credit-rated company. When I joined JDN Enterprises (to develop shopping centers), we had three employees. We built that small business to a publicly traded company (NYSE) with 200+ employees. Growing a business is the fun part; being “grown” takes all the fun out!
What advice would you give to women yearning to start their own business?
- Are you passionate about your endeavor?
- Are you willing for it to take longer and cost more than you expected?
- Believe in yourself and give new meaning to perseverance.
- Everything takes longer than you think it will; be patient and give yourself plenty of runway.
- You better LOVE what you are doing, or your job will always be just that: a JOB; if you LOVE what you are doing, it will be a pleasure.
- Think you can. If you don’t, no one else will.
- To quote Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so explore … discover!”
What is your favorite part of shopping on Taigan?
Mary Catherine: Anticipating the delight of a friend receiving my gift from Taigan!
Elizabeth: I just simply LOVE the products.
What is a good mother-in-law gift for the holidays?
Elizabeth: I think a pair of silk PJs from Kumi Kookoon on Taigan. They are scrumptious!
What is a good father-in-law gift for the holidays?
Both: A fire pit from Fire Pit Art!
Where was your last best great meal in Nashville or while traveling?
Mary Catherine: A dish I repeat in the summer in Nashville is the fruit tartine at Marché. A collaboration of fresh peaches, ricotta cheese and a drizzle of honey on toasted Silke’s wheat bread. Simple, yet a perfect pairing.
Elizabeth: Every meal at Lockeland Table is a great meal, particularly if you sit at the pizza counter on Thursday nights when chef Hal Holden-Bache is doing his pizza duty. Order the pig pizza!
Name a piece of advice that you’ve used throughout your life.
Mary Catherine: Strive for a heart of gratitude.
Elizabeth: Be careful of the toes you step on today; they may be connected to the ass you have to kiss tomorrow.
Name three light-hearted things you can’t live without.
- Brussels sprouts
- Fresh air
- A hot bath
- A wonderful two-hour dinner every night – I simply don’t “DO” lunch, or breakfast for that matter!
- A hair session with Jill Scissom in my kitchen
Thank you Mary Catherine and Elizabeth!
To experience Taigan’s products up close, look for their pop-up shops throughout the South over the next few months. The next pop-up is at Elizabeth’s beautiful home in Nashville, TN. Everyone reading is invited to explore 13 featured Taigan designers. Join Elizabeth and Mary Catherine on Wednesday, December 3, from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. at 416 Jackson Blvd., Nashville, 37205. Drink wine and shop! For more information on each designer, see this article in FETCH, the Taigan magazine: fetchmagbytaigan.com
Today’s photos were captured by Ashley Hylbert at the production facility of Fire Pit Art (a company we’ve talked about several times on StyleBlueprint, as we are huge fans! They are proudly sold on Taigan.com). To see more of Ashley’s work, visit ashleyhylbert.com.