We had the good fortune of connecting with Taylor Ross and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Taylor, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I think taking risks is necessary to learn more about yourself. I try not to be afraid to take risks because there are only two things that could happen: 1) you succeed and you’re stoked or 2) you fail and you learn where you went wrong and how to avoid doing that again.
Risks are a great way to trigger personal growth. Taking risks allows you to challenge the norm and learn about yourself in the process. When you step outside your comfort zone, you are constantly learning and taking on challenges. I find that having to deal with these challenges over the course of my life has only better prepared me to take on whatever curveball life throws at me.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I founded a leather goods business based in Paraguay with my best friend from high school. I had taught English there for three years after college and was able to meet some great people that have helped me get the company off the ground. The leather artisans we work with have the ability to wrap anything in leather. I’m talking cocktail shakers, trays, coolers, pitchers, you name it. I once even saw them wrap a VW Beetle. The difficult stitching techniques required to do such work have been passed down to these guys generationally – it all stays in the family. They all help each other to get better, and this is something that has always stuck with me.
These techniques allow us to create certain leather products that other competitors would not be able to. When I’m in Paraguay, I spend the first two hours of my day stitching our products at the “taller” (shop). I’ve found that when I roll my sleeves up and work on the products with the team, I’m able to better learn the intricacies our our creation process and collaborate with the guys at an intimate level to elevate our designs.
We focus on home goods, but it hasn’t always been this way. We launched as a lifestyle brand and made bags, wallets, and accessories. We had measured success in our first few years, but had noticed just how saturated the bag market was. Although our guys did amazing work with the bags, we got our break after we decided to pivot.
2020 came, and retail was doomed. We realized, however, that because of the lockdown, home goods sales were flying through the roof. This got me thinking, “We have to pivot and fast.” I flew to Paraguay and created a new line of home goods. The following year, we attended every major Gift & Home trade show in the US. The reception we received from customers was amazing.
We started doing high volume deals with interior designers, restaurants, hotels and resorts. Our sales increased at each show we did, as did our knowledge of our target customer, the products they’d buy, and for how much. We more than tripled revenue in our first year after the pivot, and surpassed that number in March of this year.
Our operations wouldn’t be possible without our amazing artisans who I consider some of my closest friends in town. I feel thankful to have them a part of my life, and I would never have found them unless I had decided to take a risk and randomly move to a foreign country to teach English and learn a new culture. I believe good things happen when you take chances and try new things. I can’t understate how impactful spending the better part of my 20s in Paraguay was for me. I spent my 20s figuring out what I was good at and am spending my 30s doing what I’m good at.
We are currently focusing on scaling our production facilities in Paraguay to meet increased demand. High volume orders for handmade products can be tricky, so it was important for us to ensure we had a strong foundation in place to handle bigger orders. The project we’re excited about though is our plan to purchase a 13 acre plot of land in a nearby jungle town. It’s got the most amazing views in the state, and we hope to turn it into our Bati compound for years to come.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Monday – Do the Griffith Park hike and check out the observatory after. Play a round of golf at the nearby Wilson golf course.
Tuesday – Play paddle tennis or pickup basketball at the Venice Beach courts, watch the talent in the adjacent skate park after
Wednesday – Santa Monica Farmers Market, walk Ocean Ave after
Thursday – LACMA, stroll Melrose, people watch at Alfred’s next to the Pink Wall in WeHo
Friday – Dodger game, go out in Silver Lake or Echo Park after
Saturday – stroll / bike Venice Beach and hang by the ocean. Drive PCH at sunset and go to a nice dinner at Mastro’s in Malibu.
Sunday – Buy some cool stuff at Melrose Trading Post, watch Football
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to shoutout my Uncle Byron. He was a big time special effects guy in Hollywood and worked on movies like Star Wars and Titanic. He wasn’t happy though, and moved to Little Rock, AR to focus on his art. His incredibly talented and has sold works to celebs like Leonardo Dicaprio. He embraces the “starving artist” mentality and has always motivated me to lean into my artistic side and not worry about what people think.
Any time I have a little disposable income I try and buy one of his pieces. I’m slowly building up my collection for when he becomes posthumously famous.