Telsha Anderson's New York Boutique is a Haven of Refined Style and Obscure Gems
Black History can not be confined to one month. Black Culture is a walking, breathing, living tapestry that expands and evolves with each new generation. At Complex SHOP, we’re using our unique platform to shine a spotlight on Black artists, designers, curators, and business owners. By telling their stories, we want to offer recognition and exposure to their deserving communities—a portion of sales from their products will also be donated to their chosen charities.
First up is Telsha Anderson, founder and owner of t.a., a new boutique in New York. We worked with her to curate Black-owned businesses she loves and believes in. The products she handpicked are available in the SHOP now, with 10% of proceeds going to Black Lives Matter.
When Telsha Anderson of t.a., a new boutique and online platform that should be on your radar, was planning to launch her shop back in March 2020 she had her sights set on t.a. being an elusive (heavy on the if you know, you know vibes) style entity, sans e-commerce, with an emphasis on the in-store shopping experience. As COVID-19 restrictions were locked into place, her entire idea of what the store could be was flipped on its head; she had to embrace the beast of e-commerce, temporarily abandoning t.a.’s original brick and mortar concept.
Luckily, Anderson, born in Akron, Ohio and raised in New Jersey, has proven herself a pretty fierce adapter throughout the trajectory of her career. With an already established interest in fashion, after studying Retail Management at Syracuse, Anderson knew for a fact that she wanted to be a buyer. But there was a significant roadblock to immediate pursuit of that dream: entry-level positions for a buyer just weren’t available at the time. “I was 100 percent discouraged, but I ended up going into social media,” she says. “It worked really well for me at the time because it was new and companies were realizing how important it was to promote themselves digitally and how you can gain sales or revenue because of social.”
Anderson secured a job as a social media manager at Hypebeast, but she still saw buying as the ultimate goal. She’d also come to the conclusion that she didn’t want to work for anyone but herself. The journey to t.a. as we know it today started as a saved folder on Instagram, titled “store concept,” where she archived all types of fashion photos, color palettes, and interiors that would help solidify the visual inspiration for the shop. From there, she worked out a business plan and sought out guidance from SCORE, a non-profit organization that provides mentorship to emerging, small business owners. “I went to SCORE and I found this guy that opened so many stores across New York and around the world, and he just volunteered his time,” she says. “I went [to SCORE] for four months straight on my lunch break when I worked at Hypebeast. I knew I wanted [t.a.] to be a creative space, and the word ‘concept store’ was a thing at the time, so through research I realized that it could be anything I wanted it to be—as loud, or as quiet, or as muted as I wanted it to be.”
“I did a lot of research on what boutiques were out there and saw that a lot of the stores, like Rick Owens or Theory, we're going for more muted approaches to their spaces to kind of maximize their clothing, essentially, to create an artist feel,” Anderson adds. “So I knew that's what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted it to be full of color because that's just who I am. I knew I wanted to do the complete opposite.”
After working in social media, she transitioned into a role at a PR firm. A month before she quit that job, she secured her shop space. From there, things progressed pretty quickly. The week after locking in her space, she was on a plane to Paris to visit 15 showrooms and wound up locking in 10 to 15 accounts from that trip from brands all over the world. The top selling points for the brands, Anderson says, was t.a.’s location in NYC’s Meatpacking District, a chic Manhattan locale for the trendiest luxury stores, but also an opportunity to be able to work with and uplift a Black business.
For Anderson, t.a. Is a store with a distinct intention and vision. It’s a place to find obscure brands and designers of a certain refined aesthetic that bigger retailers would probably overlook. “In terms of standing out, I think I just went the opposite when it came to the buy and to the presentation,” she says. “So instead of going minimal and getting a lot of inventory, I got little inventory. If there’s a skirt, there's only a small, a medium, and a large. I went for brands that no one really knew. I took a risk on those brands, just like they were taking a risk on me. I went for shapes and sizes and color patterns from a whole line sheet that I knew a Net-a-Porter or whoever was looking at it wouldn’t go for just because that isn’t what their vibe is.”
After making it through a difficult first year that most small businesses barely survived, Anderson’s primary goal for the future is expansion, yet more proof of her dogged determination. Ninety percent of t.a.’s sales come from California, so it’s important to her to set up shop in L.A. to meet that demand. She also has plans for a possible Paris store in the future. “Global expansion is for me the biggest thing,” she says. “And then of course maintaining—I'm just excited to be open a full year."
Telsha’s Curations For Complex SHOPThe New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion by Antwaun Sargent
The New Black Vanguard is a book by recently appointed Gagosian director, critic, and writer, Antwaun Sargent that represents a new wave of art and fashion photography through the lens of Blackness. Sargent enlisted 15 Black photographers included Tyler Mitchell, Quil Lemons, Nadine Ijewere, Ruth Ossai, and more. The book sets out to capture the fresh perspectives of the burgeoning photography class with vibrant fashion imagery at its core.
Savoy’s Objects is a marketplace offering luxury, vintage home decor sourced by its founder Reegan Savoy Houston. The pieces are inspired by Houston’s love for the Blaxploitation era of cinema as well as popular design aesthetics ranging from the 1960s to the 1980s. Current offerings on their e-commerce site include candle holders, lamps, decanters, and more.