We launched The Home for Dreams Initiative last fall in order to support Black-owned, product-centric businesses with capital, advisory meetings and brand amplification. The response was overwhelming, with many strong candidates. Today, we are pleased to announce the first participant of our mentorship and grant program, Taylor Long, the Founder and CEO of Nomads Swimwear – a size-inclusive, destination-inspired swimwear brand.
The six month program includes mentorship from our Founder and CEO, Ariel Kaye, access to the entire Parachute team, coverage across marketing channels and a $25k grant to invest in their business.
Get to know more about our Home for Dreams Mentee in this exclusive interview featuring Taylor and Ariel.
Tell us more about Nomads Swimwear. When did you start the business and what inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Taylor Long, Nomads Founder and CEO:Nomads Swimwear is a destination-inspired, size-inclusive brand that creates chic, high-quality swimwear for bodies of all sizes. I started the business in July of 2019 but didn’t officially launch our first collection until July of 2020. I’ve always liked the idea of having my own line and love learning about all the different facets of business, so I’m sure it came as a surprise to no one that I decided to start my brand.
What caught your eye about Taylor and Nomads swimwear?
Ariel Kaye, Parachute Founder and CEO:Taylor stood out from the start. First off, the swimwear she is creating is really beautiful. The styles and prints immediately caught my eye. Beyond the product, it was Taylor’s passion and excitement about Nomads that made her special. Similar to my experience starting Parachute, Taylor recognized a distinct void in the market. As a model, she saw first hand the lack of size inclusivity in the swimwear category and set out to make a change. I continue to be impressed by Taylor’s hustle and dedication to her brand.
How did you become interested in design? Can you detail your design process for us from conception to launch?
Taylor:I’ve been obsessed with fashion and design for as long as I can remember. I started as a fashion merchandising major for my first two years of college. But transferred after my sophomore year and began the fashion design program at the University of Cincinnati. That’s where I got the idea for Nomads; it was my senior capstone project. I had just returned from a trip to Australia a few weeks before the semester started. I was going through photos I took on my phone, and they were of cliffs and rocks that weren’t like anything I’d seen before. I decided to use them as the prints for the collection—this shaped everything from the name, to the overall concept behind the brand. From there, I decided each collection would be a different destination I had personally visited and photographed, and those photos would serve as the prints for the swimwear. The prints inform the color story, and from there, I solidify the swim styles, do fittings, get samples made, shoot the collection, then launch!
What drew you to swimwear specifically?
Taylor:Throughout my time in design school, I always preferred to work with stretch fabrics instead of wovens. But the idea for swimwear came from my experiences being a plus-size model. I was getting booked on swimwear jobs and modeling matronly, modest swim skirts, skorts, and tankinis. I was only 24 then and could not imagine those being the majority of my options for shopping for swimwear. So I started researching and noticed a hole within the size-inclusive space for chic swimwear.
How did you first hear about the Home for Dreams Mentorship program and what drove you to apply?
Taylor:I heard about the Home For Dreams Mentorship program through the Parachute website. I found the page the very last day you could apply, so it was clearly meant to be!
I applied because I loved the idea of seeing the inner workings of a super successful DTC brand and being mentored by Ariel and the rest of the incredible Parachute team! Of course, the grant was amazing also, but it was the mentorship and what I knew it would do for my business that drove me to apply.
What do you hope Taylor gets out of this program? What are you most excited about sharing with her?
Ariel:I hope this program allows Taylor to find new ways to accelerate her brand. I think we will offer invaluable practical and tangible feedback that will help her evolve Nomads. I’m excited to see the evolution over the next six months and experience the growth alongside Taylor.
I also believe this is a great opportunity for the Parachute team as well. Mentorship relationships are reciprocal. In helping Taylor, we will have the opportunity to think outside the box and problem solve from a new perspective. Everyone should get a lot of this program!
What are you most looking forward to in your partnership with Parachute?
Taylor:I’m definitely looking forward to having assistance in business areas that aren’t my strong suit. I’m a true creative, so the design and creative direction aspects come naturally. Things like accounting and finance do not, so I’m grateful to get assistance in those areas.
How will Taylor and the Parachute team work together?
Ariel:We plan to kick things off with a series of deep dives with different departments to identify the key parts of Nomads she would like to grow. From there we will establish action items and schedule regular touch bases to give feedback. I plan to specifically work with her on initiatives around brand building, fundraising and pitching investors. We are all learning in this process and want to “Taylor” the program to her and her business.
Share three words about mentorship that describe why it’s meaningful to you.
Ariel:Collaborative, thoughtful and inspiring!
Taylor:Inspiring, educational and supportive.