In November last year, HerCanberra hosted an amazing dinner party with 10 of Canberra’s most…
She’s one of Canberra’s best-known style mavens and the proud co-owner and curator of Designer Op Shop Emporium.
But who does Taylor Pitsilos glean inspiration from, and what was it like to own one of Canberra’s best-loved retail spaces during the COVID lockdown?
We sat down with Taylor to chat Chanel suits and steering a business through unprecedented times.
You’ve become one of the best-known faces in Canberra’s fashion and retail scene—tell us how your love of fashion and design started?
Growing up, my mother and now business partner, Sharyn, had a fashion boutique called ‘Chin Chin’. I used to take every opportunity to stand by her, just to be in the shop with her amongst the beautiful clothes.
However, by the time I was a teenager, she had since moved on from her store of 20 years and taken a break. Yet, I knew after finishing school that fashion was the only option for me. I was always creative but never interested in school academically, besides business class.
My mother and I loved going to markets and sourcing second-hand pieces and this passion somehow became a business overnight. The timing was just right as my mother was ready to work again and I was 19, freshly studying fashion business.
I was totally committed to my fashion education as well as starting our new venture buying and selling pre-loved. We drove to Sydney once a week so I could go to class and Mum would go buying, all in the first year we opened Designer Op Shop. Slowly it grew and so did my love of fashion.
I began styling fashion editorials for my store and after around five years I knew, in the back of my mind I always wanted to delve into styling as a profession. But I had to wait for the right time.
Owning my own boutique was me following in my mother’s footsteps but being a stylist was truly my dream job, so I enrolled with the Australian Style Institute.
Australian Style Institute delivers innovative courses that empower students with everything they need to become successful professional stylists, from personal styling to editorial, red carpet and so much more.
From the moment you enrol, to when you’re there and after you leave, you are so looked after and supported by the team. The curriculum was so engaging and interesting, everyday leaves you wanting to learn more.
Then, also in my early twenties, I bought my apartment and the love for interiors was born.
Your personal aesthetic is ‘Vintage x Modern’. Tell us why this is the perfect formula when it comes to styling?
Vintage offers something modern can’t, yet compliments it so well. Vintage has a more individual personality and most of the time is greater quality. Modern keeps things in tune.
Often too much of one trend, whether that be vintage or modern, can seem overwhelming and lacking individuality. Mixing the two is the perfect balance. The key is to keep it simple and not over complicate your outfit or room.
I use the aesthetic of contemporary and traditional throughout both my fashion and interior styling. It embodies our ethos of DOS Emporium so much I had the phrase made into a custom neon!
Designer Op Shop Emporium has become a touchstone of the Canberra retail scene—why do you think this eclectic way of shopping is so popular?
Designer Op Shop Emporium is full of surprises. You never know what you’re going to find. Our 12 vendors are dedicated to offering the best treasures to our clientele, whether that be a vintage hand-beaded gown from the ’50s or the latest vase trend.
Whilst it’s all under the one roof, we try to keep things simple so as not to overwhelm.
The experience of shopping at DOSE is great. The well-manicured gardens and soft music lures you in. A ceiling of chandeliers awaits and the scent of beautifully roasted coffee from Emporium Espresso welcomes as you wander through.
We are a family business that embraces a relaxed yet dedicated approach to keeping our customers happy. All for the purpose of recycling while supporting local small businesses.
If you could purchase any three items with an unlimited budget, what would they be?
Tough question! A vintage Chanel Suit; I’m picturing wide-leg trousers, embellishments and pearls on the lapel, you know, something fancy from the archives in Paris.
Then, a vintage black Hermes Birkin in size 40 and a custom green marble dining table from Noma Co.
What was it like for you and Designer Op Shop Emporium in 2020?
A rollercoaster to say the least—I presume the same for everyone trying to ride the wave as small business owners during a pandemic.
We closed for a month and built an online store in two weeks and launched with 600 products. Thanks to Instagram, we were able to keep selling. The return on Mother’s Day weekend was insane and one we never predicted.
We feel so loved and supported by the locals here in Canberra, we can’t thank them enough for keeping us all afloat. If our store had been located in Melbourne, I think it would be a very different story.
Overall, it was extremely challenging but we feel so very lucky.
What are your plans for the future for Designer Op Shop Emporium and for yourself?
DOSE is going from strength to strength and I couldn’t be prouder of our little store. Next year we are turning 10, so hopefully if COVID permits, there will be big plans for that.
Series Magazine is taking an evolution so watch this space. For myself personally, this year I am focusing on working smarter not harder and freelance styling when I need to release my creative flare.
If you could invite three people—deceased or alive—to dinner, who would you invite?
Audrey Hepburn—the fashion icon, Steve Cordony—the modern muse and my late grandfather, Papou—a piece of my heart.
Coffee or tea?
Magazines or books?
Books, I have over 100.
Netflix or cinema?
Northside or Southside?
Beach or mountains?