Ann Taylor

Ann Taylor, 43
COO, Gold Violin

One of the things Ann Taylor likes best about her job is working with her little sister, Connie, who came up with the idea of selling useful, high-quality items designed for older people.
Two years ago, the sisters, both graduates of the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, launched the specialty retail company that sells most of its products online or through a catalog. A former executive vice president at Monticello, Taylor had experience in catalog retailing that turned out to be just the thing for Gold Violin.
Taylor credits several mentors for their support along the way. Her 12 years working with Monticello head Dan Jordan taught her about management. Roger Horchow of the upscale Horchow catalog is another adviser. And designer Pauline Trigere, who died earlier this year at 93, was “an amazing role model in every respect,” says Taylor.
Like many other entrepreneurs, Taylor finds “the highs very high, the lows very low.” The current economy is particularly challenging to a retailer trying to launch a new concept and brand. 
What would she advise a young woman with entrepreneurial tendencies? “To raise funds, you need to be able to ask people for money,” she says. “Networking, mentors, and angel investors are very helpful.”
Above all, “Be passionate about what you’re doing, because if you aren’t, it’s time to make a change.”

Read more on: Gold Violin