WORDS BY JOSEPH FURNESS
Having set up shop in a location with hard-to-crack locals, during the Covid-19 pandemic, Telsha Anderson — founder of concept boutique t.a. New York — has proven herself to be both a valiant businesswoman and true manifestor. Her winning formula? Combining an entrepreneurial mindset with an ability to successfully merge aesthetics that shouldn’t work together, but do (see the boutique’s Tumblr x Y2K-vibes Insta: its brash-yet-minimal web page; Anderson’s engaging, uncategorizable style).
The 27-year-old’s impressive Manhattan boutique is a tangible reflection of her multifaceted mind, pushing the envelope on luxury bricks-and-mortar retail spaces. Stocked with carefully curated pieces from cult brands such as Ottolinger, MRZ and Brother Vellies, Anderson’s East-Coast shopping destination is less retail space and more creative hub. In fact, we imagine returning customers treat it as their extended walk-in wardrobe.
We caught up with Anderson to discuss t.a New York, the brands she’s most excited about for 2021, and her experience of running a Manhattan-based boutique as a Black businesswoman.
How would you describe the t.a. aesthetic?
Contemporary, intentional and provoking. The store is not only a reflection of my personal style, but an ode to the style and interest of other women I’m inspired by. t.a. is, in its true nature, a melting pot of culture and self-exploration through stylistic choices and outward decisions.
How would you describe your own style?
My personal style is constantly evolving. It’s not left, right or in the middle, but inclusive and conscious of all three. I believe that personal style does itself a disservice when it’s labelled by one word. For instance, the idea of exclusively dressing ‘girly’ or like a ‘tomboy’ has exhausted itself as it limits the desire of personal exploration. We carry a brand at t.a. named Beaufille which, in French, means ‘handsome girl’. If I had to pinpoint my style, or somehow formulate it into words, that’s what I’d land on: handsome girl.
How do the two overlap?
t.a. features brands from all over the world that vary in colour, size and stylistic approach. I carefully select brands to build a brand matrix. I consider those that stand out on their own and complement the others. Uncoincidentally, you can perceive my personal style just like that – an accumulation of pieces that stand on their own and work together.
Who are your dream customers?
My dream customer is as expressive as they are mysterious: character traits that can be discovered through someone’s attire, the bag they’re carrying and even the wallpaper of their phone. Tessa Thompson, Zoe Saldana, and Solange are all incredible women who generate intrigue in and outside of their creative fields. Each of these women thrive in their artistic professions and, from my point of view, perfectly balance their public and private life.
What criteria does a brand need to meet to feel ‘right’ for t.a.?
There isn't a checklist-based criteria for joining the t.a. brand matrix. I’m grateful to work with over 20 brands who all supported me during the Covid-19 pandemic. I often tell people, creating a brand matrix is similar to developing a loyal friend group – my approach to buying is ultimately to discover if a brand’s aesthetic and point of view complements my own.
What brands are you most excited about in 2021?
I'm very excited about MRZ’s SS21 collection. It’s knitwear with a fresh approach; unlike anything I’ve seen or felt in a while. MRZ’s knitwear works in both colder and warmer weather and I’m looking forward to seeing customers try on some of the remarkable pieces for the summer. The best aspect of being a buyer and store owner isn’t necessarily when something is sold, but when a customer falls in love with an item you personally sourced.
What trends are you most excited about in 2021?
I'm excited to see how masks evolve in 2021. There are a variety of brands producing their own face masks, enhancing the safety precaution using their aesthetic. I’m also excited to see how the idea of dressing up to stay in develops. This trend has an immense amount of digital opportunity.
What accessories couldn’t you live without?
My phone! I check my emails at least four times an hour.
Why did you choose Manhattan as the location for t.a.?
Deciding to launch t.a. in Manhattan was strategic and necessary. As a Black-owned business, I wanted to launch in an area that we’re not often seen in, to tackle a difficult audience and help them discover cult and upcoming brands.
If you could pick anywhere in the world to set up a second t.a. store, where would you pick and why?
Los Angeles, hands down. My mother is from Oakland, California, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamed of living, working, and raising a family there, namely because I want to live in the sun 365 days of the year. Plus, there’s a lot of opportunity in terms of store design in LA, as there’s much more room to build than in New York.
How are you hoping to change the industry with t.a.?
The industry as a whole is an old beast. Of course, there are larger aspects of the industry I’d love to see shift, especially for Black creatives. However, I believe there’s an approach I can take within my own self-developed bubble that’ll inevitably make waves. I have full autonomy over who I hire, who I represent within the brand matrix, how I interact with customers, and even what I post on my personal and professional Instagram page. It’s in my best interest to believe that If I continue to operate with integrity and grace, those who notice will follow.
What are t.a’s most important values?
Do. Act. Be.
t.a. New York’s curated collection is coming soon to FARFETCH.