You have to be living under a rock not to fully grasp the power and success of the Netflix reboot of Queer Eye—right down to its brilliant fab five. While every man in the crew is accomplished in their own right, the fashion guru, Tan France, is in a league all on his own—successfully catapulting his entrepreneurship to TV fame (all under the age of 35).
As so, he’s set to discuss his achievements in the business, fashion, and media world tomorrow at the WeWork Creator Awards, which is a global creators competition open to entrepreneurs, performers, startups, and nonprofits—basically anyone who embodies the mantra “Create Your Life’s Work.”
Ahead of his Master Class session tomorrow (Master Class: “Designing a BIG Life,” which explores the connection between design, lifestyle, and growth in finding a career and designing with purpose), we sat down with Tan to get a few career tips on how to navigate the fashion and business world with ease and prosperity.
Tan was always destined for greatness. “I always knew I want to be an entrepreneur and had many family members that were, he told us. “I just didn’t know exactly where I was going to find happiness.” Well, fashion was it.
After discovering at a young age that he wanted to work in fashion, he went to fashion college for design, and started working at a company doing operations for brands like Zara, then onto the department store Selfridges in the UK to learn more about the wholesale business side, and finally to a brand to learn more about manufacturing. “I wanted to diversify my experience, learning everything from design to delivery to wholesale.” The goal from all of this was to ultimately start his own business—which he did, a womenswear apparel brand called Kingdom & State and a brand he created with blogger Rachel Parcell.
What’s the biggest lesson he learned through the process of learning and starting a business? “Don’t pull money from the business when you first start,” he said. “You should wait until you’re actually profitable. As he went on, when you’re self-funding your own business, it’s easy to write yourself a big salary check, which can in turn can hinder growth and success. “I in fact took a temporary part-time job for my first two years of starting my business to keep me going," he said. Once he landed his first wholesale account for his womenswear business, he was able to grow.
The goal for Tan was to retire at 35, and thanks to his dedication and success (he was essentially a one-man show doing all tasks for the first two years of his business in order to remain profitable), he was able to sell his brands at age 33, which ultimately freed up his time to do Queer Eye (which he was actually scouted for on Instagram after the casting director uncovered shoots and videos he did with Rachel Parcell).
Now, as one of the stars of the biggest shows on Netflix, he’s using his fashion knowledge from his career to help men elevate their image and feel their best inside and out. His number one style rule, and one he swears by with the men he transforms on the show? “I think it’s super important to have your own look—not necessarily important to have a super-fashionable look, but to make sure that you are putting your best foot forward and that you’re comfortable and confident," he said. “Clothes are a lot more powerful than what we give them credit for and they can change the way you feel and act, which could ultimately help you succeed in your career and life.”
And for those Queer Eye cast members that get it right when it comes to personal style? “Jonathan because he wears what the heck he wants and what makes him feel good and Karamo because he steps it up and even wears suits when he doesn’t have to.”
Tan clearly gets it too, and proved to us all that if you work hard and go after what you want, the opportunities are endless. Aside from the new season of Queer Eye, we can’t wait to see what he does next. Whatever that is—it's bound to be huge, just like that gorgeous pompadour he rocks on the regular.
Click here for more information on the WeWork event tomorrow and how to get tickets.