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Roztayger Founder Interview

May 12 2016

Since it's been just over 5 years for us at Roztayger, we wanted to take a moment to bring all of our clients up to speed through a simple interview with our Founder Elizabeth. She searches high and low, all around the world to find the best products she can, those which reflect quality and reflect a celebration of craft above all else– irrespective of trends. Along with this interview we've shared some of the imagery from Elizabeth's Work/Travel/Life experiences, as these are the foundation for all decisions in regard to Roztayger.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself; who you are, your style preference, greatest influencer, and favorite quality in an individual.

I grew up in California but have lived in NY for 18 years now. Having been lucky enough to travel a fair amount in my youth due to a family that loves seeing other parts of the world, I have always been intrigued by other cultures. As corny as it sounds, I really love to connect with like minded people and sharing music, art, food, culture and design is a way of doing that. I would say this Is a big part of who I am and what drives me.

I have always loved mixing feminine elements with menswear looks. A good example: the Le Yucca brogue. For years I looked for the perfect men’s brogue for women. Many designers make them now but in my mind only Le Yucca does the perfect balance of feminine and masculine design elements. The fact that they are ridiculously comfortable and great for your feet is just an added bonus.

My favorite quality in an individual is hard to narrow down to one. Honesty and loyalty are first and foremost. Kindness and empathy are also imperative - add a touch of creative quirk and you have my dream person to hang out with. Finally, they have to love good food and be willing to share.

Q: What precipitated the inception of Roztayger?

For many years it was my hope to open a retail store. After graduating college with a degree in Art History, I was not necessarily set up to do much in the way of practical career path but I always loved and enjoyed beautiful works of art and the stories/context behind them. It’s not a huge jump from studying art history to working in design oriented fashion. I started off working in local boutiques in Berkeley - merchandising, display, and helping clients find products that resonated with them. I got very close to opening a store in SF a few times but in the end I got cold feet. Sometimes when you know too much it can be inhibiting, as this is not an easy business. I moved to NY in my late twenties for a job in wholesale. I worked in an accessories showroom, learned more about the industry, worked with many talented emerging designers. I co owned that showroom for a short time as well but ultimately the nagging desire to open my own creative outlet kept coming back. I had had kids, settled down, continued in wholesale but finally in my 40’s decided it was now or never. Do it and try whatever the outcome; fear of failure became less an issue than fear of regret later.

Q: Was there anything in particular that prompted you to completely develop your retail shop online only?

I decided to go online only mainly because Chappaqua, where I live with my family, does not have a large walking and shopping area. As well, initially being online only allowed me to be around for my kids with a flexible schedule. I do love helping customers in person and I often feel frustrated with online sales as they do not easily allow for you to get to know your clients or to help/suggest things personally. I do try to reach out as much as I can and answer all the client questions about product directly via email or phone. In this way I have gotten to know some amazing people and I cannot tell you how much I Iove that! Plus, now I can buy with a more specific person in mind and I am privy to their comments and the impressions of the products they received.

At some point the plan was always to consider opening a small physical store that I could work out of. This is something I hope will come to be within the next year or two.

Q: How has the shop and its offerings evolved since launching?

Initially the idea was to only buy bags for men and women with small goods, focusing on unisex offerings that were minimal and modern in nature. I had been exposed to so many amazing collections over the course of my career that it was so easy to find product. Over the last 3 years I have found that adding in other categories helps to keep things more interesting. I have filtered in shoes, socks, hats, scarves, jewelry, cashmere separates and key luxury items. I try to stay away from products that involve a serious fit consideration. I veer towards easy basics that have a quirk or twist that makes them subtly unique. It could be material, context, or some other design detail. Categories are evolving but I don’t see ever delving fully into clothing collections top to bottom. Many other online stores do this quite nicely. I’d like to say in my own lane.

As most people are aware, online can tend to feel a bit saturated in terms of clothing and accessory retailers. What are some of the ways that you choose to set the shop apart?

I try to carry a few better known designers who work with my concept and then bring in others to keep the mix unique. The Roztayger niche is about design driven classics with a light handed touch of fashion or quirk; some collections I have are only available through Roztayger in the US. Some of this is a conscious decision and some is just the right fit for me. I would say the balance of known and unknown. As you build your client base they come to trust you – and know even if there is a brand they may not know of personally, they trust that it is on the site because it’s met my personal test of quality, usefulness and uniqueness. Bottom line– if its worth it. I am fully aware that my products are not inexpensive but the idea has always been that you invest in quality and in return, you have that piece in our closet for many, many years.

Q: In your words, who is the Roztayger woman or man?

My client is (generally speaking) 30 and over, educated, discerning, with a mind of their own. They often work and travel a lot. They may enjoy fashion and they definitely follow elevated design but don’t have time to read or follow a world of blogs, magazines etc. They want a filter. They want to stand out but in a low key kind of way. They don’t’ like overly apparent logos and instead appreciate simple details, materials and the context in which the product was made. In the end they know what they like, what looks good on them and they dress for themselves – not to impress others.

Q: How do you select the brands that are featured in the shop? Are they simply a selection of your personal favorites or do you follow certain criteria when buying?

I buy from many varied places: local NYC shows, Paris shows, from client recommendations, from outreach or from designers directly. It’s very organic I don’t buy anything I don’t connect with on some level personally. It has to make sense in the mix. It needs to be cohesive to the brand vision.

Q: Where do you see Roztayger in 5 years? Any plans to go into brick and mortar down the road?

I do hope to see continued growth in the coming years as I have in the past. Retail is not terribly predictable and economic conditions can change quickly. I hope that people continue to find me and connect with what I am trying to achieve. So far the growth is steady and in the right direction.

Yes, I do hope to open a small local store and am currently researching this idea further. It has to be the right space. I am not in a rush but I do look forward to being able to connect directly with clients on a regular basis.

Q: Anything else to share in closing?

I would just like to thank my customers and vendors for their loyalty. Their relationship in business is everything and I work hard to maintain positive experiences. Many people have been with me from the beginning. I feel a lot of gratitude for their support in allowing me to live out my creative dream. It’s not an easy business but I do still love it after all these years.

I’d like to thank my family as well. My husband does the web development (aside from his regular job) and my children (George 14 and Sofia 12) are now old enough to do hard physical labor on behalf of Roztayger. ☺ I have been lucky enough to have talented people help me build along the way with branding, graphics and marketing. They know who they are. I could not have done this alone.

Lastly I can’t forget to thank my lovely grandmother Rosalind Jeffer (Rosalind Tiger = Tayger). Aside from her name, she truly was a big part of the inspiration to believe in myself and finally strike out on my own. Always a strong example of grace, dignity and style she supported the Arts and women in general in their quest for strength and self-actualization.


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