Founder and Managing Director
Having spent over a decade as a celebrity makeup artist, Taylor Handsley made the leap to digital media in 2011 where she helped build the media site Refinery29 in NYC. Since then she's worked in Berlin, London, Paris, and now lives in Amsterdam heading up her own business Tailored. the Agency. Here, Taylor explains why her team is her biggest inspiration, and how getting diagnosed with autism in her 30s helped her be the leader she is today.
Where are you working now?
I recently launched my own social-first creative agency in Amsterdam called Tailored. the Agency. We focus on providing tailored solutions for brands instead of the typical one-size-fits-all approach we were seeing. We do strategies, creative concepting, execution and production, and influencer marketing.
How did you land the job?
I actually have investors which is something I never thought would happen. I saw an ad on LinkedIn looking for founders in Amsterdam for agencies, I applied, pitched my idea, and next thing I know, they wanted to invest in me. They're super supportive about my values and being neurodivergent and they really want me to be myself 100%.
Tell us a bit about your career trajectory?
I started in digital media as a multi-hyphen, wearer-of-many-hats at Refinery29. I did editorial work, made and starred in videos, worked with the sales team on all client work and also did social. From then, I've basically been trying to hone all those skills. I've worked in the US, EU, and APAC and have lived in NYC, Berlin, Paris, London, and now Amsterdam. I've worked with Amazon Fashion, Vestiaire Collective, Coty, Whereby, Edelman, and various media brands. Social has always been the red thread in my roles though, and I've spent the last decade really learning about customer journeys and how social can be used for brand building and growth.
What have been your career highlights?
Definitely helping to build Refinery has been one. My career highlights have been less about me and my work though, and more about the people I've managed. One has started her own cult haircare brand, another is a very sought after photographer. The people I've managed have gone on to do some incredible things.
I would also say being autistic and being a leader is a highlight, especially considering so many autistics are unemployed (85%). I want people to understand that neurodiverse people CAN be really strong leaders and even run companies and I want my fellow NDs to know they can do it and they can ask for accommodations.
What’s your view of working in creative?
Creative has always been a tough one for me because on one side you have traditional creative directors that work in old school advertising agencies and want to make big, cool OOH campaigns. On the other end you have the creatives that have some strategy background and fully understand the funnel and their role in it. I've tried focusing myself on all aspects of campaigns to be a better creative and be able to approach it with data and performance. I want my clients to have a positive ROI when they work with me.
What does “cool” mean for you? (is it the culture of the business or the projects you work on)
Well if you ask my entire Gen Z team, I'm definitely not cool haha. My Spotify Wrapped this year was all old school Paul Simon Albums and DeBussy. For me, coolness is being authentic to yourself. Whether that's knowing what new sneakers are on trend or whether that's only listening to albums others might consider dad songs haha. Autistic people tend to do things repetitively so I'm not the kind of person that is up on ALL the trends which is why I really rely on my team.
Any projects you are especially proud of?
Just recently Crocs gave us the go-ahead on a campaign that we tapped meme accounts for. It worked x10. The client was so happy and we also helped win them a Draper's Award and a Drum Award for best use of social media. That was pretty cool. The team trusted me when I brought up the meme accounts and it paid off.
Who’s been your most inspirational person to be around in the workplace?
I have a few. My best friend Christina de la Cruz is an incredible creative director. She's my career sage and we bounce ideas off each other a lot whether it's work related or career wise. The other(s) are my team, they're all young and super gutsy, they really inspire me to take risks and not worry too much about how things are going to look. We often have conversations where they tell me to trust them and 100% of the time it pays off.
What advice would you give 21 year old Taylor?
21 year old Taylor was a celebrity makeup artist living in LA and having the time of her life. But, I think if I had to go back I'd probably try and get better at some of the things I dabbled in, like graphic design or writing. I still want to write a book or two someday.