As seen in the Los Angeles August 2014 issue of Locale Magazine.
She’s reminiscent of Garth from Wayne’s World if Garth was a girl and really pretty. She’s dressed to the tee in the highest teetering pumps you can imagine. She appears under a neon sign shining TaylorSays in cursive, the pink glow contrasting with her white head of hair, the white walls, and the white desk she’s sitting in. Her view is of the lengthy, narrow boutique harboring all of her creations nestled on Broadway in Long Beach’s Belmont Heights.
There are paintings on the walls portraying girls that are topless, girls that are covered in tattoos, and girls with horns on their heads. There are skateboards exposing girls that are green with blue hair and purple bowties, girls with purple fish-tail braids and watermelon bras, and girls that are ginger-headed and partial to owls carrying skeleton heads. Peppered in the mix of the bright and funky art however, are the real moneymakers—the handiworks that have put this particular lady on the map. Say hello to the heels.
We sat down with 28-year-old Taylor Reeve of Encinitas, who is sauntering her way to the top of the high heel shoe scene with her custom designed leather painted soles, to talk how she got to this point (one way’s on that ’65 Vespa against the wall), and just what celebrity has taken a special liking to the ruby red rhinestone number in the glass lantern hanging from a noose in the corner.
The girl is talented and creative to the max, and there’s a lot to feast your eyes on in her eccentric little gallery, and to that we say, “Heel Yeah!” But first, party on Miss Reeve, party on.
How did you come up with the name TaylorSays?
TaylorSays goes back to my artist days like eight years ago. People would always ask about the meaning of my paintings and expect a really deep description about them. I’m pretty out there but sometimes I don’t really want to spill my whole life story to someone so I’m like, “These are my paintings, this is what I have to say. Take it or leave it.” So it just kind of transferred over from that.
How would you describe the brand’s style?
Fun, flirty, look-at-me…just different. But then I also have some toned-down stuff too. I try to design for everyone. I mean, maybe someone’s not going to wear black and white striped seven-inch wedges, but another girl will wear a traditional black pump but still want to show her personality, and that’s how she can with the sole. I’m just all about having fun, living in the now, and having attention. It’s so fun wearing them out because people always come up to you to talk about them. I always warn the girls, “You’re going to get attention, so if you don’t want it… don’t get them!” You’ll get noticed from across the room.
It runs in the family on both sides. Everyone can paint or draw. I’m the only one who took it as a career in this generation though. I have uncles who drew for Disney; my late grandpa was a sculptor. It’s in my blood. I would draw on everything.
You were oozing talent since you were a little kid. A teacher noticed and let you teach an art class in 2nd grade. Tell me about the very beginning.
I always knew I wanted to be an artist. I thought I wanted to be a toy designer but in 7th grade it really sunk in. I knew I wanted to do apparel or something with my art. I took a screen printing class at night in high school just for fun, so I’d screen print all these wife beaters and go to school the next day and sell them out of my backpack. I was slinging things at an early age! I just knew I had a special thing and I get a kick out of people reacting towards it, and the fact that people like it means the world to me.
You’ve collaborated with numerous companies. What are some fun projects you’ve worked on?
I did Quicksilver’s Artist Series where I would put out a special piece. I also did some men’s snowboard outerwear with them, which was really cool because I snowboard all the time so I would see my stuff on the hill, which was rad. I totally freaked someone out one time when I was like, “I made that!” I’ve done stuff with Dragon Sunglasses. I went on tour with Skullcandy, painting live. And I still do stuff with Bell Helmets. Other than that I’m working with some big names right now—Dita Von Teese and some others. Now that I have different silhouettes and a different heel there are some really cool things in the works. I just had the sky highs for the first launch so now I can reach out to a lot of new people.
How did you start painting on high heels?
I was painting on everything—motorcycles, surfboards, skateboarders, my shoes…then I was like, Why am I not painting on my heels yet? When I started I actually painted the sole and the upper but the upper scuffed in like two seconds cause when you walk you don’t even realize all the stuff you bump into. So I looked at the sole and it was perfectly untouched so I just rolled with that idea. I love wearing them out and having unique things. Ironically the stuff I was designing with the different companies was for men, so I decided I wanted to start doing stuff for my girls.
What inspires you and your designs?
Everything. I’m constantly jotting down notes. I’m doodling on everything. I’m always searching online looking at fashion and what’s trending. Anything I think is cute and fun. I always try to think of every girl in my head. What would this girl wear to a wedding? On a date? So I try to design for someone else in mind, not just myself.
I started on Etsy. My sister was getting married at the time and was constantly on the site looking up wedding stuff so she told me to start selling my stuff on there. It didn’t happen right away, but once that one person found them it just never slowed down. They blew up. It was crazy.
How much blow up are we talking?
I mean I wasn’t a factory, but I was working on like 30 a day. So actually… I kind of was a factory. But I wouldn’t finish 30 in one day, I was working in stages, I would base 30, then start outlining on 30…
Then boom! Needed a bigger spot. You opened your store in October of 2013. How did you choose Long Beach as the location?
I went to Long Beach State and my husband works for DC Shoes, so I’m just down the street. I ride my scooter here—a 1965 Vespa. I wanted to represent Long Beach and be close to home. I love being here and I love this spot; I think it’s rad. I’d rather work from here than from home. I work on small pieces here on the desk, but I still work on larger pieces at the house. We have a good space. I’ll work outside and get tan. But when I’m here it’s just so nice—sometimes I get way in the zone and forget someone’s in the store, then I’ll look up and they’ll scare the shit out of me.
How are your customers finding you? Online, walk-ins?
I have a huge following online which is awesome. Some of those girls will come in to the store and I don’t think they realize it’s me who works here so they get excited. I’ll show them a sneak peek of what’s coming and stuff like that. But I get a lot of foot traffic here too, which is awesome. It’s just me who works at the store right now, so we have really weird hours, but eventually I’ll hire someone else on. But right now I feel like since we’re still so new and people are still embracing the concept it’s good to have me in here, explaining it—really backing it up and being the face of the brand.
What is the foreign market like?
Dubai is huge. Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico—Internationally for me is really great. My shoes are in a really cool store on Palm Island in Dubai. Any time they want me to come out, I will! I love traveling and meeting new people.
Where are the shoes from?
Now I design them. When I first started I was just finding shoes that I liked and painting on the sole. But now that they’re printed I get to actually design the shoes, so I can really tell a story with what’s going on with the upper and bottom and make them super funky and fun. Like what I was always looking for but could never really find.
I have the black and white striped “Sydney’s” on. They have little hot air balloons on the bottom. We are going to the King’s game tonight so I’m all King-ed out. [Like literally, she’s in an oversized LA Kings jersey and black and grey leggings—a true fan.] I’m always in them… now that I have a lower heel I can wear them day or night, no problem. But some of the high-highs I’ll just throw on for the evening.
How many collections have you done so far?
There have been four collections. Instead of launching 30 shoes at once, I’m now breaking them up so there will constantly be a new product coming every 10 weeks. There will be 10 new pairs every 10 weeks. I’ve named them different things. Like “Legs for Days” and “Heel Yeah!” I’m just trying to keep it new and exciting.
New and exciting is working. Have you had any high profile buyers yet?
Of all people Whoopi Goldberg. Whoopi Goldberg loves them! She wore the Ruby Red Rhinestone “Topeka’s” to the Oscars for that Wizard of Oz tribute they did. She lifted up her skirt and had them on. She was introducing Pink to sing. That was amazing. She found me online. Anyone who orders online I see the invoices and it’s always interesting to see styles and sizes and where they are going. So I saw Whoopi come up and I was like What?! Yea right! So I called the number, and it was Whoopi and we talked for like 10 minutes and she was like, “Yea, ya know my style’s always like I just rolled out of bed, but my shoes do all the talkin’.” And I was like, “Hell ya girl!” Now that I know I look at her and her shoes are always crazy. So that was pretty cool.
What advice would you give an artist just starting out now?
Just believe in yourself. Like Wayne’s World, “If you book it they will come.” It doesn’t happen overnight. It happened really organically. I never gave up. I was a starving artist for a long time. What I’ve built now has taken basically 10 years to get here. And yes, I’m young but I started at an early age cause I knew what I wanted to do. After college I was a server. I flowed a lot of free stuff just to get my name out there. I met a lot of great connections in the action sports industry, so I got to put my stuff on a lot of cool things. But it took time, which is where the never give up thing comes in. Because yes, I was a server trying to sell my art, trying to get my name out there, but I just never gave up. I knew I wasn’t going to be a server forever—it was just in the meantime, just to live life and go out on Friday night if I wanted to.
And now your Friday nights consist of hosting events at your own store. The shop is always popping. Tell me about the events you host.
We had Wahoo’s, Drinks, & Tattoo’s Night which was a blast. We just started doing Food Truck Night which has been awesome. It’s monthly and goes until October. Hopefully I’ll have a band in here every time and drinks and stuff. I’ve also had little get-togethers when I launch new shoes. I’ve had people rent it out for birthdays—I’m always down to do stuff in here, so I’m open to ideas. I think it would be fun to have a bunch of girls in here for prom and just completely style-out their shoes. I also do customs too if someone wants something special for their wedding or event. I can’t change the upper, I can’t change the heel height but I can always change the sole.