Episode 21: Mallory Hagan, Hagan for House

Mallory Hagan is a native of Opelika, Alabama where she graduated from Opelika High School in 2007. From Alexander City to the Auburn-Opelika area, Mallory’s family has been in Alabama’s 3rd congressional district for more than five generations.

In 2013, Mallory earned the job of Miss America. Her service consisted of traveling North America championing for children as the National Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. In 2014, Mallory co-founded a small personal branding and marketing business, DEFINE: Mind. Mission. Marketing. In 2016, Mallory joined the news team at WLTZ First News NBC 38 in Columbus, Georgia.

Now Mallory wants to work across party lines for the future of all Alabamians.


Episode 14: Taylor Jones, The Tiny Closet

Taylor Jones is the Founder & CEO of The Tiny Closet, located in a retrofitted and solid pink school bus. The concept is great, but the brains and family behind the concept are even greater. We talk fashion, entrepreneurship, marketing, and all about the pink school bus on this episode.

Show Notes:


Tony: I’m sitting here at the Tiny Closet with Taylor Jones, Taylor CEO and founder of the Tiny Closet, thank you so much for sitting down with me today.

Taylor: Of course I’m all about talking about myself.

Tony: Tell us a little bit about your story. Where did you grow up and where did your love of fashion come from?

Taylor: I grew up in Auburn Alabama. I’ve been here since I was 5 years old. Like I was telling Holt earlier I really didn’t grow up in fashion. My mom did, mostly. She was always very trendy and like it wasn’t the typical mom look I really wasn’t a big girly girl. All through high school, I was in t-shirts and sweatpants as much as I could be. And. I had a lot of trials and tribulations that happened to me and circumstances through high school with exes and was in a terrible relationship and it brought me down and all my confidence was shattered and I really was kind of told like you’re a woman and that you have to be in the kitchen that you need to be a housewife. Women aren’t supposed to do this and not supposed to do that and I just didn’t think that that’s who I was at all. So I decided I wanted to be my own boss and yes so this is kind of what happened.

Tony: Well cool, that kind of goes a little bit into my next question about how did you get this job. So what made you think about buying an old school bus and painting it pink?

Taylor: Well to me it’s all about an experience. There’s a lot in our industry now that like Macy’s and J.C. Penney’s are all closing down their huge brick and mortars and I really wanted to do something to where people could still try the clothes on and see them that have that experience because I’d much rather spend money on an experience than I would a product.

Taylor: But if I can get someone to experience it and see something inside of it that I love then want to buy then that’s a relationship in itself right there.

Tony: I think the cool thing to is that you do have a website people can buy things online and so bring them the experience out where you know people see pink boxes drop on the street that picks their interest.

Taylor: They think it’s crazy.

Tony: Its genius marketing. It’s in a school bus. It’s tiny in size but awesome inside but it’s just genius marketing.

Taylor: Oh yeah we want we said we want to take it during game days and like we’ve got speakers outside of it and just go through downtown not even stop just have this huge pink school bus go by and we’re like that would be perfect just for our marketing. You know I don’t even have to stop.

Tony: Absolutely. We were talking a little bit earlier about how it’s kind of a family thing. You don’t necessarily have people working for you but there’s a lot of them working with you. Tell us a little bit about that aspect of the from the from the business side all that goes in the background.

Taylor: Well it’s really me that I do the buying of the store the marketing and the social media wise of it. I understand that a ton just because I do have a great following on there and I do a bunch of research about how to pique people’s interest on social media because you’re not one on one talking with them. You’re trying to show them something. Mom does a lot of the finance and the shipping part of it the stuff that I don’t want to do the boring stuff to me. Dad is the one that created the school bus. He was the one that allowed this crazy idea to happen. And he loved every part of it. My brother created our website and the kind of answers questions whenever I have them. And then my boyfriend takes all of the photos and helps me edit because it’s weird…we had a professional photographer come out and help us and we had like other models with me. And nothing sold when they did it but when he does it I think people think like oh this is so cute like it looks like a candid like that Instagram boyfriend took. I mean if it sells and I hate it for him because he asked me the other day. So am I going to be doing this the rest of my life? I was like well if they sell you’re going to have to be sorry. He has no idea about anything with camera stuff. So we’re learning as we go.

Tony: Yeah well I think the COO aspect there as well. You have that relationship so it’s just like you said it’s fun. It’s you know it’s it’s real it’s authentic and that’s what draws people to your business because it’s you. You own your own business but you’re also part of the business. Right. And it’s you model the clothes you show and the items for sale.

Taylor: And that’s what whenever before when we first kind of started and launched it wasn’t me in the photos and I had people tell me like people know you they know you. So they want to wear what you’re wearing. So if you’re modeling them a little better. And I was like OK cool. So once I did it I was like great. I tried to get out of modeling for years now, and now right back into it.

Tony: Yeah. It’s probably a little bit more a better experience knowing that it’s your products.

Taylor: And it leaves me a little bit of money not having to somebody else to do it.

Tony: Tell us a little bit about what is next for the Tiny Closet. Do you have any big plans that you can share?

Taylor: Yeah, of course, we kind of somewhat announced it, we are coming out with our own private label of clothing where we get to actually kind of design some of the clothes and we get to hand-pick them and have our own label on it. It will be called Top Left because it’s our more high-end brand. So it’s like everything that you have this expensive you want it up on the top shelf to the left so that way it doesn’t fall. So it’s called top left. We’re excited about it. We’re nervous about it because you just don’t ever know how people expect you to release a product. And just to continue growing. We are going to move to Nashville in a couple of years and we’re hoping that that kind of market as well because market the market in Nashville is like huge now like economically it’s grown so much and we really think that our kind of trend will work well there.

Tony: Yeah I love love the Nashville area. Franklin Tennessee area. There’s so much cool culture there.

Taylor: Yeah and even when we were in Nashville this past weekend we always when we go like we’re never on vacation we’re always somewhat working. We’re always giving out cards or putting stickers places. We’re always working and I love that because it’s I’d rather be at a job where I love than to be somewhere that I hate. So but there was also like another kind of like I guess pop-up. It was like a flower track and it went around and I thought that was the coolest thing because the first thing I wanted to do was put it on Instagram. So that was kind of another reason with the buss I wanted it to be like Instagrammable.

Tony: Everybody sees it drive driving them we’ll take a picture with it really quickly. Yeah. Or you know if it’s a game day. Yeah, I was just genius and I think it speaks to the true entrepreneurial spirit too when you just mentioned two years from now you want to move to Nashville but you’re already working in that area. That’s always planning ahead as an entrepreneur as a business owner. Even that far out in advance which is not two years now a long time away when you’re grinding every day in a business. It is. Yeah it’s really difficult to prepare for. That’s awesome. It’s great.

Tony: What principles have helped you personally that you may be transferred over to your business have worked?

Taylor: It’s just the whole concept of whenever we did do this it’s just it blows people’s mind that it was me that did it because like I said if you knew me in high school like I did the bare minimum I got through school. I didn’t care to do school. But I also think that my parents are going to kill me for saying this but I don’t necessarily think you need school sometimes. I’m not a very good student. I made B’s and C’s. Like I said bare minimum but I mean high school yeah, of course, you need high school but once you get into college it’s kind of like if I’m this creative person why do I need this. I mean I’m almost done with school now so I can’t drop now. But I was like this huge creative person. I see more of like a colorful side, a bigger dynamic of it, and there are some things that look very limit me to it so I stay in school kids. But like at the same time like do you want it.

Tony: I don’t know if you listen to Gary Vee. I know Holt listens, or we used to listen to GaryVee, now we’re taking Gary’s advice. But, it’s all about passion, and sometimes you know it’s good to get a college degree if you’re in college and your parents helping you through.

Taylor: My boyfriend does like nursing school, of course, like yes please go to school like you need.

Tony: But there are certain jobs where you have to go to school. But like you said being creative. I mean I want my kids to go to college I’m saving it for their college. I want them to do them you know to do what they want to do. But there is a lot of you know four or five years of waiting when you’re happy when you could be doing.

Taylor: I mean I feel like that now there are classes in my major because I’m in fashion merchandising that have helped like having one lab that was photoshop so of course that helps but then there are other ones that I’m like. I feel like I’m constantly repeating over and over and sometimes my professors don’t. Whenever I say like I can’t be there because we’re headed to the Mart in Las Vegas and we’re learning about this huge mart that I’m going to. And they’re like I’m sorry that’s not a university excuse. I can’t I can’t make up that excuse and I’m like well I mean I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do and some of them are really good about it and some of it I just I feel like in my major particularly it’s like it’s who you know where you are at the right place at the right time. So but like I said if you want to be a doctor or engineer please go to school.

Tony: Please…we need strong buildings and sound bridges.

Taylor: We need them all to save lives. Exactly.

Tony: There needs to be some kind of really cool hybrid of you know education but also I mean you know you have to have technical schools that you know or trade schools where if you’re going to go be a mechanic or write you know somebody like that be really to see some type of hybrid where you get the standard education that you need. But then instead of going four years maybe two years and then two years working out of extended internship or an extended hands on.

Taylor: Like I said in my major there’s like we have to take marketing and I remember getting into marketing thinking oh this would be great. Understand more about it. But it had nothing to do with what we were learning about with my major. Like I need like fashion marketing like classes. And I think the only ones that you can really get like that are like in New York at FIT. Like that’s about it and Auburn actually has one of like the top fashion industries in the country.

Tony: So it just blows my mind sometimes that I’m like. And I hope none of my professors are listening to this because you’re doing a great job. If you are. But we need better classes.

Tony: There is a word that I’m about to say it has a negative stigma attached to it’s called failure. Right. What do you think about the word failure and how do you how do you deal with it?

Taylor: I think everybody needs to experience failure and rejection because this is not one of the industries that everybody gets a participation award. You have to be able to fail to get up and keep going again because there have been many times where I have completely failed and I’ve seen somebody that posted this. She’s actually a boutique owner herself. But she posted the thing with entrepreneurs how it’s literally like a roller coaster.

Taylor: You go up and down like some days you’re up top and you’re thinking I’m making so much money I’m winning and the next second you’re just like oh my god I’m failing nobody’s buying anything. Oh my God here we are 10000 followers. We’re back down to ninety-five hundred. Like where did we go wrong? So I really think that if you don’t fail you’re not going to understand those highs and whenever you get those highs you’ve got to understand that there are going to be lows too.

Tony: Yeah I think it’s real important. What’s been the hardest thing for you and starting and running this business?

Taylor: The hardest part to me is since I am my own boss I don’t have that person above me saying you’re doing a great job like you’re doing awesome but like I need you to maybe fix this a little bit. It’s me doing a trial and error of things. I mean of course, I’ve got a tremendous amount of support from my family and loved ones that are saying oh my god you’re doing great. But then again that’s just family and friends.

Tony: They’re very biased.

Taylor: Exactly. So that’s probably a really hard part about it is I don’t have that top person saying that knows what they’re doing. It’s me telling myself like you know what you got this.

Taylor: I keep a journal actually that I take with me all the time so want to look at my lowest point of the job. I’m like this is what happened today. And then when I’m at my highest point I write that down as well. So in like four or five months, I can look back at it like oh my gosh Taylor look that was such a small thing but you got through it. And this is how you did it.

Tony: That’s so smart. Or any other sources of inspiration that you kind of follow up on blogs or podcasts or any type of reading that you do to kind of keep yourself inspired?

Taylor: Yeah we actually travel. That’s my huge amount of inspiration. We travel so much now. I told my mom that at the beginning of the show I was like I want to travel like when I’m stuck here in a town that it’s so small you know everybody it’s hard to get inspiration in. And so when we go to Nashville I love to go see all these different places eat different foods like be inspired by the fashion there. We just got back from Shreveport Louisiana for the Miss USA pageant and there was inspiration there because I got to dress up and do photos here and there and then we were in Nashville this past weekend and we head to Dallas on Sunday and then we go to New York in August and we’re in L.A. in July. So if I don’t travel I get so stuck in one place that I’m like I need to branch out to see what exactly I need to do. Like in September we go for Fashion Week. We may not go to any of the show. But to walk around New York and to see the different trends and window shop your understanding what will slowly drip down into Alabama. So we get there and it’s it’s just it’s more of just the travel.

Tony: What’s your favorite place that you’ve been so far?

Taylor: New York. New York is always like my number one. I always say it’s like the hustle city because you wake up like you could wake up at 6 o’clock in the morning. All right. How do I need to make money today? So that’s my favorite place. L.A. is pretty nice too but that’s more of a place where I just want to go and lay on the back. Yeah. But yeah its always work.

Tony: Well if you were to give someone some advice. I know you’re young but you’re you’re running this business. You’re grinding every day. If you were to give somebody a piece of advice that was just starting out maybe still in college about to graduate from college you want to start their own business what would that be?

Taylor: Do it just do it. I actually had the idea of the store way before we even started it. And I was so scared of failing and not knowing if people were going to like she thinks she is this trendy person, she thinks that she is perfect that she can do this. And I was terrified so I actually waited about seven months to actually finally just say just do it. Just start. I had my parents pushing me saying just do it. Just do it and I was just like, No I don’t know what people are going to think. I’m scared. My advice is to just do it. Just push the button. Launch the website, launch the blog, the podcast, whatever you want to do and just do it because you’re never going to know until you press submit.

Tony: That’s great advice. Well, I have one last question for you and this kind of sums up everything that we’ve been talking about so far and it deals with legacy.

Tony: When you look back on your life when you’re when you’re ready to leave this world you look back on your community your family your friends your business the people that you’ve impacted. What do you want them to remember you by them? What does that legacy look like?

Taylor: I wanted people to always think like oh she did this because she wanted to inspire others. Like I said that I did go through something very traumatic in high school with an ex. And I never wanted to be defined by that. I wanted to be defined as Taylor Jones who woke up every single day busted her butt, got to where she was and tried to make a difference in women’s lives by like we’ve always said that you can’t, a pair of clothes can change the world. But putting in a certain outfit on another girl to help them change the world makes it even better. We always want to be able to inspire women that no matter what happens to you no matter what people have ever said about you. You can be so much more than what your past was. So my legacy will always be to that I worked hard. I inspired and now have we changed the world with a big pink school bus.

Tony: That’s awesome. Well, Taylor thank you so much for taking some time out this afternoon to hang out with.