From being the first model to land six major magazine covers in the same month, to becoming an entrepreneur and most recently walking in The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection event at New York Fashion Week, supermodel Niki Taylor is far from off the radar. Today, the 43-year-old’s infectious smile and easy-going personality is only part of the equation to her success.
Dressed in a colorful Lilly Pulitzer Colby Silk Clip top with white denim jeans and nude heels, the wife and mother of four returned to her Fort Lauderdale roots in January for the grand-opening celebration of Lilly Pulitzer’s Las Olas Boulevard pop-up location. We met up with the South Florida native to discuss her career and everything in between.
How did you start modeling?
I want to say 13, going on 14, is when my mom took my first modeling photos, and she was a photographer. We were just having fun with it, but you know, I always got those comments like, ‘Oh you’re really tall, you should be a model.’ My mom was a model, too. She was on the cover of Gold Coast magazine, I think in the [’70s]. She was laying on a beach, and it was a far-away shot, Barbara Taylor. (Editor’s note: Taylor also appeared on the cover in 2000.) She took my first modeling photos, and we made a little comp card, and we sent it to all the local Fort Lauderdale modeling agencies. I went and saw them, and everyone told me ‘no’ at first, and then I got braces and dyed my hair orange, and my mom was like, ‘No, what are you doing? Let’s go back and try again.’ That’s part of the business. You’ve go to go, and you’re going to get those hundreds of ‘no’s’ before you get that one ‘yes.’ And if that didn’t work out, then you go and do something else. We decided to go back, and that’s when a scout had recognized me, and I signed with a local Fort Lauderdale agency.
What are some of your stand-out modeling moments?
There are so many. I would have to say modeling with my little sister, Krissy. It was very cool, we got to do a lot of European fashion shows together. Gosh, I got to swim with dolphins, model on icebergs in Iceland. Being on the cover of Vogue back in the ’90s.
Why did you want to collaborate on this Lilly Pulitzer grand opening?
Fort Lauderdale—this is my hometown. I feel like it’s a match made in heaven. I’ve always loved the beach and being a Florida girl, and Lilly opening up her first store in Palm Beach—it just made sense. This iconic resort wear. Everybody has to have a Lilly Pulitzer outfit.
You recently shot a Lilly Pulitzer campaign for spring with your daughter, Ciel. How was that?
That was very cool. It’s for Mother’s Day coming up. We got matching outfits, and we couldn’t have had more fun. We have a great team at Lilly, and the photographer was great.
Who is your style icon?
Jessica Chastain right now is one of my favorite actresses, and I love her style, too. She’s classy—American classic. I’ve always admired Christy Turlington. She’s another classic American girl who has great style.
Where do you now call home?
I’m in Nashville, Tennessee. Sixteen years ago [I moved]. That’s home. I miss Fort Lauderdale. Grandma and grandpa are still here—still in the same house I grew up in. We love coming back and visiting them.
If you weren’t a model, what career path would you have liked to pursue?
I would still be in the fashion
industry. So a photographer, makeup artist, hairdresser or stylist. It’s just in my blood.
What’s the best beauty tip you’ve ever received?
The best advocate: sleep. I think a good night’s sleep does everybody good, and I just know that I feel my best after a good night’s sleep—and you know, running after little ones all day… It’s always an adventure. It’s the best. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.