Tanya-Marie Designs: Making It In Miami

Step into the Tanya-Marie boutique and you immediately feel as if you are in the Caribbean, with the colorful array of dresses, tunics, and the soothing smell of a soy citrus candle. The store’s concept is from “bridal to beachwear” which can easily be seen from the couture bridal gowns in the windows and flowing summer dresses strategically placed throughout the store. Upstairs there is a design space where Tanya Marie creates her bridal gowns, dresses, and signature body hugging silhouettes.

This has been a labor of love for the designer/stylist turned retail entrepreneur. She started out drawing interest from celebrities based on clothes she was designing for herself. “The first dress I made to sell, I brought into a store and we sold it that day for $1,000. It really is a passion and people can feel it,” Marie said.

Designing and selling clothes to celebrities and socialites may seem like a dream job and a ticket to riches, but Marie is more than happy to let you know that “…opening a boutique is no joke. It is like a baby – you have to nurture it daily and see which way your market goes. Initially we started out buying other menswear brands and denim brands like Hudson and J Brand but what we found is that being in this cool, eclectic place people want my label; items that are different and one of a kind. Now we are focused on our own brand. We do some of our production in India but most of it is done in the U.S., right upstairs in my studio. We design clothes for men, women, and are currently working on a yoga zen line and several couture pieces.”

Marie’s typical customer spans “from 16 to 60 and beyond,” she said. She has dressed young girls in fun and unique prom dresses and dressed 70-year-old women that are interested in looking great. In her eyes “the TM woman prides herself on being unique, fit, and fabulous. You can’t put on one of these dresses and not care how you look. That is my goal – making people look the best that they can.”

As far as advice for retail entrepreneurs, Tanya Marie is a believer in location, location, location, along with great customer service. Her store is in Miami’s Design District.

“You have to choose your location wisely. It might be a struggle in the beginning but location is everything. You have to have the right product for the right area so you are able to build your clientele,” she said. “We are still learning the market. But having a solid clientele base before we opened the store has kept me going as we continue to feel out the market. Sometimes a mall location can be easier but we are trying to create something that is more artistic.”