One of the best things to come from this little blog are the connections I’ve made with small business owners. As the daughter of a small business owner I make it a priority to support these independent retailers and brands whenever possible. I want to introduce you to the people behind the brands I’ve grown to love and support so I’m starting a new interview series: Shop Talk.
I started chatting with Elizabeth, founder of roztayger, after I bought a bag from her site. Elizabeth and I are kindred spirits when it comes to our taste in handbags. We prefer quality over a fancy logo any day. Roztayger has become my go-to for an expertly curated selection of handbags and accessories so it just made sense to kick off the series with Elizabeth. I hope you enjoy learning more about the woman behind the brand and be sure to check back tomorrow for a special discount code!
Tell us a little about your background and why you decided to launch an online boutique.
In a nutshell I have been trying to talk myself out of opening a traditional store since graduating from college many moons ago. I studied art history as an undergrad – loved painterly visuals and merchandising. I worked at a small specialty boutique in Berkeley during my college years and this cemented the obsession for me . However knowing as much as I came to know about how hard it was to run a specialty boutique, it made it easy for me to back out and find excuses not to go for it. Instead I started a career as a rep for smaller niche accessory designers looking to grow. I enjoyed it for some time. Later after moving to NY for a showroom job, having kids and settling in a bit I realized I was no longer enjoying the work and it had becomes increasingly hard to make money. More importantly I had a bit of mid life epiphany. I had better go for my dream or it would never happen. Of course I had wanted a brick and mortar store but the times dictated a different approach and presented an opportunity to cast the net wider. I do hope at one point to open a small store locally in Chappaqua – I miss the constant interaction and feedback from live beings although I feel lucky that I have managed online to form some wonderful new relationships with clients as I get to know them via email or phone or pictures when I get them to send out a snapshot of themselves. It really helps to advise someone when you can see them and see their personal style.
Roztayger is such a unique name. Is there a story behind it?
Roztayger is just a made up word that pays homage to my late Grandmother Rosalind Tiger Jeffer (pronounced Tayger in Lithuania where her family is from ) I wanted a word that had no specific meaning or connotation to anyone else so that I could shape the direction of the site in a variety of ways – Grandma Roz was a very important person in my life – someone I looked up to – always very kind, generous, unpretentious, loving – she supported the arts and women’s causes and loved style but never made it out to be more than it was. She was very low key – she spent money and always looked stylish but she never tried to call attention to it or to herself personally. She enjoyed it but she was always focused on making sure everyone was happy – she was one of the warmest, most loving people I have known (other than my own Mother !) In short she was an inspiration to me across the board so it made sense.
Your collection is so well curated. What are the most important things you consider when selecting new lines to carry?
Today I look to round out the offerings for men and women in the bag world while staying true to the type of design I believe in: that being quality materials paired with understated and what I like to call timeless modern design. Products that are worth the extra bit of you pay because they are going to be around for a while. Anytime you pay for quality you are paying a bit more but my hope is that you will have it for longer and pull it out of your closet for many seasons. I also look for designers that you don’t see everywhere. Luckily there are tons of amazing designers out there and my only issue is editing down to the ones I believe in the most as I grow the business and connect with the client “out there.”
How would you describe your aesthetic and where do you gain inspiration?
I like classic items, sometimes vintage inspired but usually with clean modern lines: I definitely like to mix masculine and feminine. For example I am obsessed with men’s style shoes but I love to wear pearls. I appreciate quality materials, well thought out design with subtle details that make the item unique without taking away from its functionality. I pretty much dislike all logos unless subtly executed. If wearing color I prefer unexpected colors that are off the primary chart. I always wear lots of basics in black, grey, brown and white. I don’t buy anything for roztayger that I don’t see a client being able to use in a myriad of ways: from jeans to a dressy setting. I see my client as not spending long periods of time trying different outfits on. They have kids, a job – maybe both and he or she is busy but she still wants to look like they have a style.
I’m sure you have an enviable handbag collection. What bag are you carrying lately?
I switch around a lot as you can imagine…Not daily but more than most people. I do feel like I want to speak from authority- I use and I do own a lot (but not all of course) of the styles on the site. Right now I am switching between the Samuji navy unlined tote and the Purple Rivet Me tote from Frrry. I wear a lot of black and grey so having a bit of color to mix with that is pleasing to the eye. Also I don’t go the an urban office so my dress is much more casual than it used to be – mostly jeans and khakis for me in the winter and linen skirts on the summer…When I was dressing to go to an office I was always on the hunt for the perfect black bag so I like to always have those on hand for my stylish and a bit more buttoned up clientele.
Care to give us a peek inside your bag?
Sure would love to. I love editorials where you see what’s in peoples bags…. for some reason it’s fascinating!!!
Clockwise from top left: Clare Vivier zip wallet, triphone + headphones, Paul Smith sunglasses, Anthropologie notebook, uni-ball Vision medium, Fresh Brown Sugar hand cream, Frrry Rivet Me bag, Brontibay Paris coin case used as card holder, YSL gold gloss in Fuschia #4, YSL Touche Eclat, Ted Gibson hair sheet for frizzie/dry hair, Shawn Burke Mini Necessaire bag, Altoids sugar free wintergreen, Science Pro SPF30 sun protection powder stick – clear
Not pictured, but I love this keychain. I never lose my keys in purse now !! this thing is so long that I can always find a piece of it easily.
What are your goals for Roztayger in the next year?
My goal is to add a luxury essential travel section this fall to roztayger. It will feature for Fall items like cashmere wraps and scarves, t-shirts from Japanese cotton and a pair of handmade shoes…made in Italy by a Japanese woman I met in Paris. I was instantly obsessed with these shoes (always on the hunt for the perfect pair of men’s brogues for the ladies). They will be expensive but will last you a decade at minimum. I slowly hope to expand in a small way into jewelry, socks…. all the things you tack onto basic clothing to make an outfit a bit different.
Do you have any advice for women looking to invest in a bag?
I would say see what you own, assess your lifestyle/how much you carry day to day and decide how much you want to spend. You will need to pay for more nice leather if you want something to be a staple in your closet. Its very tough to find a good quality leather bag for less than $300. If you own a lot of color then look for a timeless neutral. If you own all black maybe it’s time to look for a bag that is a foil to the black or neutral. Choose a strong pigment rich color if you want longevity.
Any new trends that are on your radar for spring/summer?
I don’t really follow trends per se because I feel like many are created to promote another reason to buy. I get it and I like to shop as much as the next person but I also want to buy what feels right for me and is not a gimmick. That being said of course I see trends and am influenced by them. If I feel they are relevant and useful than I pick some up. Small duffle bags and clutches continue to be popular for women so I touched on this across the boards…bright color is also continuing to be a trend – blue especially. I cannot keep leopard in stock. It flies out as fast as it comes in. For the men it seems they are liking color too. Blue is very popular and in small goods men are taking some chances and buying wallets and card cases in color. Good to see. Of course brown and black bags for men are always in style so I stock up on these.
Best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given:
Stay to stay true to your gut and instinct. As a small business owner who is not catering to the masses I think this makes good sense – Whenever I start second guessing myself (and I still do often) I come back to that. So far so good. I seem to be slowly but steadily connecting with people that are appreciative of my perspective – for this I am very grateful.