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  • Writer's pictureFaye Bradley

10 Minutes With…Taylor R, Model, YouTuber & Founder of Toat

An interview with Taylor R, Model, YouTuber & Founder of Fashion Brand, Toat

Image courtesy of Taylor R

The Questions

1) What is your story, in brief?

I’m Taylor, a girl from a small town just outside Toronto that moved to Hong Kong at 21 years old. In my mid-twenties I left Hong Kong for a bit to work in Tokyo for three years before moving back here. I’m currently a content creator and a small shop owner.

2) You moved to Hong Kong originally from Canada. What inspired the move?

I was originally brought here by a modelling agency that had a contract with my mother agency in Canada for me to work here for three months. I ended up falling in love with the city and staying.

Image courtesy of Taylor R

3) You have your own online store and lifestyle community page, toat. Can you tell us about it and how you started this project?

Fashion is one of my true passions, and since I do less modelling now, I’ve been focusing more on creating and sharing content. I also wanted to create a place to share more photo- and information-based content that people can come back to, like city guides of places I’ve travelled to, recipes, and my most asked questions. I’m a big fan of old-fashioned blogs where you sit and read so I wanted to combine the two. 

4) When did you get into modelling? What was your first shoot?

I was 16 years old when I started part-time modelling. My first shoot was a TV commercial for a kid’s toy in Canada. 

Image courtesy of Taylor R

5) What do you miss about Canada?

A lot! Mostly my family. I miss being in the same time zone as them so that I can just call any time. I miss family dinners on Sundays and every special occasion.

I miss the space, the air, the nature, and the peacefulness. People are really friendly there and you really get to know your neighbours and being able to talk to everyone. I also miss having four seasons, I really love fall with the crispy air and colourful leaves. 

Image courtesy of Taylor R

6) Favourite thing about Hong Kong?

A lot too! It’s the opposite of Canada in so many ways, which is what intrigued me. I love how it’s so fast-paced, but there are pockets of calmness there when you need it, like the mountains and sea. It’s the perfect mix of nostalgic and new, like having skyscrapers next to old temples. I love the family-owned businesses and traditions passed onto new generations (also the way those shops/restaurants make you feel like family when you walk in, in a loving but no B/S kind of way).

At first, I was caught off guard by how blunt people can be here but now I appreciate it. I like how people tell you their true feelings, it always seems real and authentic even if it’s not what you want to hear. The colourful buildings. The markets. THE FOOD. You can get pretty much anything from anywhere in the world here and it’s authentic and delicious.

7) What are your top five favourite restaurants in Hong Kong?

  1. The Drunken Pot for hotpot, they have so many delicious homemade soups and you can choose five per pot!

  2. Nan Tei for yakitori—it’s one of me my husband’s favourite date night spots

  3. Man Wah for dim sum

  4. Mana for vegan food

  5. Sai Kung for fresh seafood

Image courtesy of Taylor R

8) What are your favourite fashion brands?

This changes all the time depending on the collections. For luxury brands, I really love Celine, Chanel, and Bottega Venetta. I love looking at their shows and using their outfits as style inspiration for what I have in my own closet.

I really love the French Brand Maje and the Japanese brand Snidel. Their clothes make me feel very feminine and put together. I love discovering new small shops on Instagram, I could spend hours on my explore page. A shop I discovered this year was Shop Soko. They are a women-led shop selling beautiful handmade jewellery from sustainable materials in Nairobi, Kenya.

Image courtesy of Taylor R

9) Which models do you look up to?

Growing up it was Kate Moss because she was a short model and made it (I’m just 5’7” which was the minimum modelling height in most countries). I used to study her, her angles, style, and poses from books and magazines (this was pre-smartphone time).

Tyra Banks for her business sense. She turned her image into a brand and a lot of businesses.

Ashley Graham—she is so fun and real and empowering. I love listening to her podcast.

Image courtesy of Cara G McIlroy

Cara G—she was in the same modelling agency as me when I arrived in HK and I really look up to her as a model, friend, entrepreneur, mom and activist. She is one really inspiring woman.

I love Rosie Huntington-Whitley for her ‘off-duty’ style. Everything she wears is perfection and she inspires my outfits a lot. I love Elsa Hosk for the same reason.

9) Favourite comfort food?

Something my grandma makes—soup, chicken and dumplings, stews.

Image courtesy of Taylor R

10) What’s something that you’ve learned this year amidst difficult times?

To be more quiet and to really listen, reflect, and learn. This year brought big changes (some very much needed) so the first lesson was to embrace change and educate myself more so I can better facilitate positive change.

To slow down and be aware of what adds value to my life. To really pay attention to the habits, routines, thoughts, and people that energise me.

Image courtesy of Taylor R

To be more disciplined. After worrying and reflecting a lot at the beginning of the year I decided what I wanted to do and began working at it every single day with the resources I had from home (during self-isolation) in small steps. Planning things out and staying on top of things no matter how much I wanted to procrastinate (although there were some days I allowed myself to) was really key. Also, always having things to do (both career-wise and personal life-wise) helped me to focus on what I had to look forward to and not what I don’t have to look forward to, and that made/continues to make a big difference.

To embrace the ‘negative’ feelings. Being lost and uncertain can be a good thing because it caused me to explore different avenues, and discover new things about myself (which I wouldn’t normally do in comfort).

It forced me to get vulnerable and have deeper conversations with the people around me and in turn, build stronger relationships, both in my online community and offline.

Image courtesy of Taylor R

11) Christmas wish list this year?

A working vaccine and a healthy 2021.

Image courtesy of Taylor R

12) Top 3 staycation picks in Hong Kong?

I’ve only stayed at the Mandarin Oriental so my opinion is biased, but it was fantastic! The view, the food, the friendly staff, the fact that they allow dogs, I enjoyed every minute. I would really love to try glamping in Hong Kong next.

Follow Taylor R and toat on Instagram


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