Opening a brick-and-mortar store during the pandemic may seem like a risky business move, but it’s one that has paid off for New York City store owner Telsha Anderson. The entrepreneur opened her clothing store, t.a.,
in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District in July of last year. At the time, the city was still in phase three of reopening businesses, and many storefront owners remained uncertain of their future. “The biggest challenge was not knowing what was coming next,” says Anderson. But almost eight months later, the store is continuing to sustain a crowd of fashion fans—all of whom flock toward its eclectic assortment of cool, indie labels.
The store’s success is even more impressive considering Anderson opened and grew it while studying brand management at NYU (she graduates in the spring). She said she was inspired to open a retail space that offered an assortment of clothes that were quirky and unique, and felt there was a void in the city for this, especially after some of her favorite boutiques like Opening Ceremony and Totokaelo closed their doors. “I truly believe in experiential buying,” Anderson says. “For me, it was about creating a space that was welcoming. A space that’s not only inclusive of the cool brands, but a brand that no one really knows. Bringing back that excitement behind discovery.” Telsha Anderson’s t.a. Photo: Justin Boone In her bright, airy store, one can currently find a contemporary selection of cool emerging brands, such as Ottolinger, Simon Miller, Private Policy, and Beaufille—which are often not stocked at larger department stores. She
says being situated in the Meatpacking District, which is full of chain retailers and stores for singular brands, allows her to offer something more different. “[I go for] brands that have their own identity, and their own
outlook towards fashion,” she explains. “Someone like Christopher John Rogers, for instance, is still creating some incredible gowns and runway pieces, regardless of the pandemic.”
Anderson also limits the number of brands she carries in her store at one time—it can range from three to 10—and instead focuses on the pieces themselves. She wants to offer her customers unique, standout items, rather than the everyday basics. “Picking the most obscure thing off a line sheet has sold quicker [for us] than a basic top or pant. You can get your basics anywhere,” says Anderson. She takes an instinctive approach to buying, taking in feedback from customers or considering what the fashion girls she follows are posting about. “[Our shoppers] are not necessarily coming here to create their style; they’re coming here to add to what they already know to be true,” Anderson says. “City girls love a good statement moment.” “I always get dressed up to come to the store and talk to people,” she says. “I’m definitely an extrovert; I’m a Leo!” She says she gained her love of fashion from playing in her mother and grandmother’s closets growing up, and today, she continues to gain inspiration from simply seeing what the people of New York are wearing on a daily basis. “I’ve been inspired by the people that get up, go out, and get dressed up for literally no reason at all,”
As she gears up to drop her spring collections, Anderson says she will be bringing some new designers into the mix, including Bevza, Christopher John Rogers, Christopher Esber, and Rosie Assoulin. “It’s going to be full of life and color and movement,” Anderson says. And as always, they will all be statement items that she
herself would want to wear. “I would wear it all,” she says. “I often have to tell myself, ‘You need to sell that. You need to take that off.’”