By Debra D. Bass
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Anna Friss Taylor has been an entrepreneur all of her life. Her latest project focuses on custom wooden signs for weddings and homes.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Designer –Anna Friss Taylor
Home –Webster Groves
Family –Husband Jon; son, Simon, 8; seven weeks pregnant; dog, Trooper
What she makes –Rustic, bohemian farmhouse-style custom wooden signs (starting at $25.99) for weddings and homes and customized mugs ($13.97).
How to buy –Visit etsy.com/shop/TheNativeBride or TheNativeBride on Facebook
Baby scissor hands
“I’ve just always been good with my hands,” says Anna Friss Taylor. “When I was a baby, you know like less than a year, my mom says that she would prop me up on pillows and I’d sit for hours with a stack of magazines, cutting out faces.”
“Yup, just faces. Who the hell knows why? But that’s where I first honed my cutting skills, I guess.” By the time she was a toddler, Taylor was wheeling a knife to cut and peel her own fruit. “My grandmother would be yelling, ‘She’s going to kill herself,’ but I was just really good with my hands.”
One of her first projects was creating a fashion magazine that 10-year-old Anna sold door-to-door with a friend.
They were selling the magazines for $5 each and managed to sell one “to a kind-hearted neighbor.” Taylor said, “I think he felt sorry for us, but he got his money’s worth. We even had contests in there for our one reader.”
Around the same time, she discovered that people went to the store to buy worms. Worms, she thought, but I have a yard full of those. This struck her as a business opportunity. She managed to sell a few bags before she gave up the venture. “It’s much harder to find the worms than I’d thought, and you have to wait for it to rain; I was like forget this,” she said. Later at around 12, she developed the sewing skills to make hair scrunchies. Taylor hosted a garage sale … but only sold scrunchies.
“It was a little ridiculous. I had like 300 scrunchies.”
In high school, Taylor gained a reputation for making club clothing. She was 15 when she was referred to Nelly by a customer with connections.
She started making jumpsuits and matching track suits for the emerging rap star and his crew.
Taylor’ mom persuaded her to accept her admission to the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago and get a good job. Taylor graduated with a degree in fashion design in 2003. “Yeah, my mom told me, ‘Don’t worry, he’ll never be famous’ … yeah, I bring that up sometimes,” Taylor said with an eye roll. “I remember the first time I saw his video on TV, and I called my mom up.” After she graduated, she drove from Chicago to Los Angeles. Within a week, she was working in production as a fabric buyer at BCBG.
West Hollywood chic
Still driven by the entrepreneurial spirit, she started Taylor Studio, a screen-printing shop operated out of her one-bedroom apartment.
She developed a bit of a cult following on the gay night club scene because of her signature designs, but when she was expecting her son, she moved back to St. Louis for the lower cost of living and to be near her parents once again.
Am I blue?
Once she was back in St. Louis, she didn’t wait long to launch a custom jeans business called Blue Bird Denim. She describes it as “the biggest pain in the … that failed miserably,” but she managed to keep her small production warehouse open for nearly six years and during that time, she secured spots in boutiques across the country.
She sold her clothing online and shipped internationally. Taylor launched a clothing line to go along with the custom denim and says the clothing did better because it could be sold wholesale, but it didn’t do well enough.
In 2013, she even opened a store also called Blue Bird on Washington Avenue then moved it to Delmar Boulevard. That venture lasted a year.
Now –In addition to Native Bride, which made its first sale within days of launching on her Etsy page, she also launched Native Home because she figured that once she had a customer, she wanted to keep them by selling other goods that might fit their style. By day, Taylor works and travels to oversee overseas production for a local company that designs and manufacturers accessories for licensed and private label goods.
But in her very limited spare time, when she’s not filling Native Bride orders, she’s enrolled in an intensive LaunchCode course for computer programming that she’ll complete in April.
She dreams of buying farm land with a barn for events, weddings and retreats in Northern Michigan. She’d live by coding part-time, keeping up her Native franchise and hosting barn weddings on her property. And her husband could make as much noise as possible with his drum set.
Originally from a city outside Tel Aviv, on the bustling Mediterranean coast, she said that she’s ready for the quiet … maybe. Her family moved from Israel in 1999 because of her father’s work as a software developer and later computer architect. They expected to stay for six months. It’s now 30 years later. “They want to go back, but I’m ready for something different.
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Land that’s all my own to do what I want,” she said.