The personal stylist harnesses her retail and sales acumen to create custom looks for her clients.
Nearly five years before Taylor Turner founded image consulting company Top N Tier LLC, she walked into the Orange Park Men’s Wearhouse and made a bet with the store manager.
“I told him, ‘I’m here for a job. I need it today,’” Turner said.
“‘I don’t have time for you to ask me questions and to see if I’m a good fit. And I don’t have time for you to go through an HR process. I have rent due.’”
Turner, a San Diego transplant, had left her four-year degree program unfinished at the University of North Florida.
She said the manager agreed to hire her if Turner could sell a suit.
“I didn’t know what a tape measure was. I didn’t know a man’s fit to save my life,” she said. “I didn’t even know how to approach somebody for a suit.”
Turner made a sale to a man preparing for his mother’s funeral.
She got the job, and Turner said she made it into the top five in sales for Men’s Wearhouse companywide and No. 1 in Florida for the next 3½ years.
Turner, 28, used her experience at Men’s Wearhouse and later as a personal stylist for Nordstrom to launch Top N Tier in 2018.
She said she wanted to improve on the two chains’ business models by providing customers interactive presentations and online tools to show how pieces from different boutiques and stores can coordinate and create a full wardrobe. She works with men and women as clients.
“I was able to take my knowledge of style, fit and color and make it identifiable for my clients and easily digestible,” Turner said. “They wouldn’t feel overwhelmed having to go online and shop for just whatever or in-store.”
Top N Tier creates a budget for its clients for its styling service and for the clothing in five tiers:
■ Business casual
■ Special event
Turner does one-on-one consultations with customers to match the fit and color pallet to body type and skin tone. She also offers packages and a la carte services like personal shopping; closet reconstruction; alterations; custom clothing; and corporate seminars.
Turner says her company has vendor contracts with boutiques and mainstream brands nationwide — White House Black Market, Macy’s and Men’s Wearhouse are the largest.
The contractual relationships allow Top N Tier to offer customers prices below retail at the boutiques, according to Turner.
Turner moved to Clay County with her family at age 15. She said her father, Mark Turner, encouraged her to enter sales when she was losing interest in college.
School clothes shopping trips with him to Southern California boutiques instilled her sense of style, color with an element of play, she said.
Turner said she and her sister would recreate the scene from the 1990 movie “Pretty Woman,” emerging from the dressing rooms and modeling outfits.
“I knew if I can find my image, I also want to help somebody else find theirs. That’s what I did,” Turner said.
Since August 2018, Turner has expanded her recurring client base from five to 97 customers in Florida and throughout the U.S.
She used resources from the Florida Small Business Development Center at UNF for business accounting and to hire a social media marketer.
Top N Tier hit its $62,000 first-year revenue target. Turner said the business lost $13,000 in 2019. COVID-19 social distancing and lockdowns kept third-year sales below Turner’s targets, but she said Top N Tier recorded a $28,000 profit in 2020.
Turner changed her business model during the pandemic. She reduced travel and is using the professional networking site LinkedIn to reach her target C-suite market.
Client demands have shifted from stylings toward personal shopping, alterations and closet reconstruction requests.
“Their mindset shifted and so did mine,” she said. “People started decluttering their closets. When you declutter, you replace it with the basics.”
Turner calls herself “a known rule-breaker.” She said she left Nordstrom’s St. Johns Town Center location in the middle of a shift so she could attend a business meeting that produced Top N Tier’s first client.
Thomas Caulfield is a computational chemist-scientist and medical research doctor for a national health system.
Before COVID-19, Caulfield’s international travel schedule created a need for his wardrobe to be professional and always up-to-date.
“I’m not a connoisseur of suits, I’m more of a science guy,” Caulfield said. “I don’t have body dimensions that fit right off the shelf. I need someone to ID the appropriate fabric and ID the appropriate fit.”
Caulfield said Turner showed him how to mix and match pieces to turn four suits into 10 looks.
Turner said she has seen a slow rebound in sales in 2021 and has a goal for Top N Tier to engage 250 new clients by year-end.
As workers return to the office, Turner plans to push Top N Tier’s corporate styling seminars. She hosts group workshops for companies to teach employees to refine their professional image.
The 3-year-old company also intends to launch a Top N Tier-sponsored clothing line.
“We want you to have an image that nobody else does. I don’t want you to go into a store and look like somebody else,” Turner said. “I want you to look like yourself.”