A Little Something For Everyone with Taylor King: Founder, Espionage
I like to think in another life I would have been an interior designer. Nothing tickles me more than the vision of myself digging through antique and textile stores finding amazing mid-century furniture and funky throw pillows and maybe a fun lamp because this a dream and there is clearly no budget.
Taylor King is living that dream every day through her chic boutique, Espionage. Nestled in the Fairfax District, it has become a go-to stop for gifts, accessories, vintage finds and even more exciting, Taylor’s interior styling.
CURIO: Could you share a bit about your background and how you got into the industry?
Taylor: I was born and raised in Pasadena where I found my first job at the age of fifteen at the cutest gift shop down the street from my house. It was called Simply Fresh in San Marino's Mission District - I can still remember working every Saturday and Monday after school! That was where I learned my work ethic - never missed a day of work! I knew I had a responsibility and made a commitment and stuck to it. Now as a business owner it is so hard to find employees that share that same passion and want to work.
CURIO: Did you always know that you were going to go the entrepreneur route? Where does your love of interiors and design come from?
Taylor: I had no idea I'd end up working for myself. I graduated from college and had no idea what I wanted to do/what my skills in the real-life work world even were. I think after working as a hostess at a steakhouse in Pasadena is when I realized I couldn't work for anyone. I'm often misunderstood and did not do well with obeying management (laughter).
My love of interior design definitely comes from my mom. When we were little she probably reupholstered our sofa quarterly which really aggravated my dad. I started going to the flea market with her when I was just two years old. I grew up in that world!
CURIO: Your shop is part retail space, part interior design service - did you plan on that or did it just sort of happen?
Taylor: It definitely just sort of happened. There are so many branches of Espionage from our consignment resale clothing section to our vintage home to our gifts for every type of person. People always walk in and say they want to live in our store and we started getting people asking if we do interior design and it would be a lie if we said no as we decorated our store. However, since I never went to school for Design, I consider what I do Interior Styling. I work with what you have and help you create a space that's stylish and cohesive. Some people have a great foundation but they just need their place to be freshened up or updated.
CURIO: I love that you already work with what people have in their homes! It makes the whole process of re-designing a space seem less intimidating - do you have a favorite project/home you've worked on? If so, why?
Taylor: I decorated two floor-to-ceiling bookcases and a full bar at a spec home in Bel Air. That was really fun because I got to spend my time in a beautiful home that I could only dream of living in one day! I also love working with bachelors because they literally have no idea what they are doing and just listened to whatever I say. There's nothing I love more than a before and after and getting rid of shit that should never have seen the light of day (sad leather sofas, bamboo sticks in pots and colorful wax candles. Those are dust collectors, not decor!
CURIO: How do you curate the home decor and accessories? Do you prefer to stick to one style or do you like to mix it up?
Taylor: My favorite style for home decor is feminine french antiques/late 19th-century American but I do mix it up. Mid-Century modern style has been really popular in the past decade so I like to appeal to everyone. We have items in our store ranging from modern to antique.
CURIO: How do you find the items in the vintage collection(s)? Do you have a secret to scoring great flea market finds?
Taylor: I have the insider info on estate sales and I've created a network of collectors who reach out to me if they have anything amazing that they think I should sell at Espionage. My mom is also an avid vintage collector and is always traveling for work so she is always on the hunt all over the country.
CURIO: Who are your biggest inspirations for style and design?
Taylor: I am very inspired by Sofia Coppola. Her costume and decor are always on point in every single one of her movies. The Beguiled has a huge influence on my personal dress and decor style as well as Marie Antoinette. If I could have an entire store based on those two movies I would but then that would give me a limited consumer. I have all walks of life shopping at Espionage and that's what makes it so diverse of a gift store.
CURIO: Well, you're clearly after my heart as The Beguiled is one of my favorites! How do you a modernize your style inspo? Since these era flicks tend to feature such elaborate costuming, have you found a way to capture the vibe of their look without the petty coat (so to speak)?
Taylor: Since I am from southern California I'd say my style is inherently laid back. I will mix and match styles. If I'm wearing a white ruffly blouse (referencing the puffy shirt from Seinfeld) I'll mix it with a pair of skinny jeans and booties. I'm known to wear a white ruffly shirt from time to time. I love white, lace, ruffles and dresses. My favorite time of the year is when you can just throw on a dress and some sandals and walk out the door.
CURIO: There is (finally) a large push for brands to use ethical and sustainable practices - how are you navigating manufacturing and sourcing?
Taylor: A LOT of what we carry is locally made and woman-owned and it all kind of just happens organically. There are so many companies these days making sustainable products that give back that are so stylish and chic. I also like to give small businesses who are just starting out a platform to showcase their products to obtain feedback from our clientele. I have formed strong relationships with a lot of women who have started out selling their lines at Espionage and we've collaborated in so many ways personally and professionally.
CURIO: Any exciting projects or events coming up?
Taylor: I'm currently styling a lifestyle shoot for the Beverly Hills Hotel, doing a few vignettes at the new restaurant opening with Jay-Z's company Roc Nation called Mix Tape. set to open next week on Beverly Blvd. I'm also going to Oaxaca this summer in hopes to find some cool textiles and fun accessories for the store!