Fashion Savvy blogger Tamela Tatum loves vintage.
Her desire to collect the stylish coats and handbags of yore is so strong that on a recent trip to Lansing to visit a client, Tatum vowed to hit every Salvation Army and thrift shop on the two-hour trip from Detroit.
The 41-year-old fashionista is the founder of Fashion Savvy, a platform for all things style. Tatum is a stylist, a personal shopper, a proprietor of clothing and accessories, and, at the end of the day, a workhorse.
Tatum and her twin sister grew up in Detroit, raised by grandparents who were huge role models in their lives. They lived off Outer Drive, near the Avenue of Fashion, once home to B. Siegel’s and many clothing boutiques and salons.
She will follow in those footsteps, and soon add another business to her others when she opens Fashion Savvy Beauty Bar at Southfield Rd. between 696 and 10 Mile on Sunday, March 18.
The grand opening will include a ribbon cutting and an appearance by the mayor of Lathrup Village. The new shop will add to Michigan’s growing fashion industry.
“I am fully staffed already,” says Tatum of the crew that will include five hair stylists, one aesthetician, one makeup artist, and one manicurist (herself). “It’s been a lot of hard work, but I’ve had great support from friends and family.”
Tatum will offer apparel, accessories, and products from well-known companies in the area and offer wine, and a tea and coffee bar. Her shop will add to the growing fashion industry in Michigan.
“We want to create a space where women can come in and relax and enjoy themselves, and to be inspired,” she says.
Tatum and her boyfriend, Geno, have done everything in their new establishment from day one, sometimes working until 1:30 a.m. Daunted, though, isn’t an adjective that would apply at any turn.
“You have to invest the time, energy in your business,” she says, attributing her work ethic to her grandfather, Seth Tatum, who retired from Ford to open his own trucking company, Tatum Trucking.
Her blog, Fashion Savvy, serves as Tatum’s outlet to display her love of great clothing. She sells apparel and accessories on the site – her style services, her travels, and her line of all-natural beauty products, Nude Sugar, which she makes right in her kitchen. Tatum even sold the line in a pop-up shop over the holidays in downtown Detroit.
“The products did exceptionally well,” she says. “I was delivering merchandise every three days.”
It’s no mistake Tatum is such a success. It’s part savvy and part perseverance that has brought her to this place. The entrepreneur will celebrate five years in business on April 15 when she took the leap to do what she loved.
She had worked for 23 years as a medical assistant, the last 15 for a neurologist. When her workplace wanted to increase her hours, or let her go, she knew what she needed to do.
“I am a big believer in speaking things into existence,” she says. “Ever since then, though, it has been so successful. I wouldn’t change a thing,” she says.
As she launched her business, Tatum worked evenings and afternoons using another of her talent, as a licensed manicurist.
Although the blog had initially started as the germ of an idea way back in 2008, Tatum transitioned it into a business, adding merchandise for sale as she went.
“If I’m showing you how to style things, I need to make it available to buy too.” She wants people to be engaged when they come to Fashion Savvy.
“I don’t’ want anyone to be bored when they look at the page.”
The style services Tatum offers forms a large part of her business.
“My styling clients have busy lives,” she says. “They’re women who are working or who are entrepreneurs. They want to dress and have a lot of events they need to attend, so they reach out to me.”
Tatum does closet takeovers and even puts together look books for clients to let them know what they should add to their collection.
She attributes her sense of style – her love of vintage glam – to her 90-year-old grandmother, who now resides with Tatum at her home in Southfield.
“My grandmother was my biggest inspiration,” she says. “She would go to church on Sunday and really get dressed. Watching her always made me want to do the same. She is one of my fashion muses.”
Tatum has many of her grandmother’s pieces, like a Chanel pocketbook and vintage gloves.
“I love everything about her. She taught me style and grace,” she says. “When I wear any of her pieces, I remember what I learned from her: That you have to wear everything well.”
How does Tatum define vintage glam?
Her definition of feminine pieces of the past that are utterly chic – and well-made, read … coats with little fur collars, great handbags, killer heels.
“Everything done before the ‘70s I love,” she says.
This spring Tatum will offer her seasoned advice to women eager to hear it when she speaks at the Go Get Her Conference, Saturday, April 21, in Flint. The day-long event is meant to educate and inspire new, emerging, and established entrepreneurs.
Started by Tachina Mack and Catrina Tillman, two women who took the entrepreneurial route and pursued their own personal dreams, it will be held at First Trinity Baptist Church where Tillman’s husband, Ezra, is pastor. Women aged 18 to 45 are encouraged to attend.
The theme of Tatum’s talk will be how a woman’s appearance should match her inner gifts. Too often a woman is judged, at least initially, by her appearance and, in what is essentially very much still a man’s world, women have to go the extra mile to get noticed. Tatum understands this all too well, but also knows the importance of looking the part. It is, she says, often the key to getting ahead.
“People might get offended by that, but I want women to have a better understanding of what I mean when I say that. My tag line is ‘Dress how you want to be addressed,’” she says. “If you want to be addressed a certain way, you have to look a certain way. If I tell you I’m a personal stylist, and I show up in jeans and old shoes, you may not believe me. I have to present myself a certain way.”
The conference is to inspire and motivate women to get back to taking pride in dressing.
“It’s not a shallow comment,” she says. “I talk to women about their style all the time. We’re not telling you that you have to break the bank, just to be proud of how you present yourself.
“Everything you touch should be pretty and stylish. Let’s face it, women like pretty things.”
To see more of Tatum’s style, visit www.fashionsavvyjunkie.com, or link to her Instagram page at Fashionsavvy714, Shopfashionsavvy, or fashionsavvybeautybar.
To find out more information on the Go Get Her Conference, visit www.gogetherconference.com/about.html.
Editor’s Note: Statistics show Michigan could become the latest epicenter of fashion. Between Flint Fashion Week and Detroit’s Avenue of Fashion, chances are good. According the most recent data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2016, approximately 210 Michigan residents were employed as fashion designers, with a median hourly wage of $25.16 and an annual mean wage of $59,300.
Groups like the Detroit Garment Group (DGG) are pushing to attract more businesses to the state with aggressive efforts aimed not only at the business of design but that of the industrial sewing community – manufacturing and the cut-and-sew industry. Last August, Pure Michigan Business Connect (part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation) and DGG teamed up to host VERGE, a fashion trade show that showcased apparel and accessories by Michigan designers. The event took place at the Garden Theater in Detroit and involved 30 Michigan-based designers, bringing them together with buyers from both small shops and larger retailers to view designers’ locally produced merchandise.