Love it or hate it, Bravo's newest reality show,
Start-Ups: Silicon Valley, is going to have you glued to the boob tube come Monday. Produced by Mark's sis Randi Zuckerberg, the program profiles six outspoken locals who already have S.F. techies up in arms ... and that's just after the previews! A super-accurate depiction of our industry town or not, we're already super intrigued by the show, which is why we're extra excited to dip into the closet and play dress-up with one of Silicon Valley's sure-to-be-famous stars, Kim Taylor.
The most stylish cast member has a penchant for Oscar de la Renta dresses and baubles, Givenchy bags, and loads of other covetable goods. Plus, she's got a new fashion start-up she just can't wait to talk about. All of that and more, right here. Grab some popcorn, and let's go!
Photographed by Aeschleah DeMartino
Photographed by Aeschleah DeMartino
How would you describe your style?
"Modern and girly with an edge. San Francisco is such a casual town, but you can still mix it up here. I love combining high and low and will wear Herve Leger miniskirts with a hoodie. Growing up I was a serious dancer and gymnast, and I still gravitate towards pieces with a ballet look and then promptly add leather to the mix. I ignore trends and dress for my body type. I’m petite, so there are a lot of trends I love (hello printed pants!), but they don’t work on me."
Do you have any style icons?
"Victoria Beckham and
Harper, Blake Lively, and Emma Stone."
Kim poses on her SoMa rooftop in a Topshop dress, L’Agence jacket, Prada sandals, Oscar de la Renta earrings, and Givenchy bag.
Photographed by Aeschleah DeMartino
If you could wear three designers for the rest of your life, who would they be?
"The Row – The Olsen twins really hit a grand slam with their line. They have amazing basics in cashmere, leather, and fur. Immaculate design. I want every piece each season. Gucci is always modern and sexy. I live for its party dresses, which are never boring. I still wear my first pair of Gucci shoes I bought in Spain 12 years ago. And Alexander Wang. That man (an S.F. native!) can make a T-shirt sexy."
What's your philosophy when it comes to accessorizing?
"Everything in moderation — including moderation! As I’ve gotten older I’ve gravitated toward solid colors with cleaner lines, which has allowed me have a lot of fun with jewelry. Oscar de la Renta is my jam for costume jewelry. I own an embarrassing amount and have no problem wearing chandelier earrings with jeans and a T-shirt. Oscar's Las Vegas store has the best selection. You can fake a lot of things, but you can’t fake shoes. Anything super trendy I’ll buy at Topshop or Zara. But the day I could afford to, I splurged on all my shoes. Fendi and YSL platforms are my current favorites."
What three pieces in your wardrobe get the biggest workout?
"Christian Louboutin nude platforms. Every season he makes a pump with a 20mm platform and it's ten-times more comfortable than the rest of his shoes. I wear them with everything. Pro tip: I have the bottoms re-soled with red rubber and they last forever! My Stella McCartney tropical-print maxi dress — I bought two I wear it so much. The silk feels like pajamas. This is also my go-to for red-eye flights. And, my red rag & bone jeans. They are so comfortable and feel like leggings. Plus, my friends can always spot me a mile away."
Kim hangs out around the Yerba Buena Center For The Arts in Free People jeans, an A.L.C. top, a Marc Jacobs purse, Christian Louboutin heels, Oscar de la Renta earrings, and Eugenia Kim hat.
How did you get involved with Start-Ups: Silicon Valley?
"It was the usual NBC casting process. I can’t really say much more than that. It’s the ultimate product launch and one of the most complex things I will ever help build."
Are you a fan of any other reality show characters?
"I’m a huge fan of Ivanka Trump in The Apprentice, Mark Cuban in Shark Tank, and Jeff Lewis in Flipping Out."
What's been the best and worst part about being on a reality show?
"The best: Two things. First, capturing my normal life with my girlfriends that are not a part of the cast, many of whom are entrepreneurs. Secondly, all of the startups incorporated into the show are part of my everyday life. I used the things I normally use like Uber, Taskrabbit, Hipmunk, Quora, Crowdtilt, and The Daily Muse. The worst: The stress! You see me on day one of starting my company. That was mildly terrifying to let people see you fall on your face. I have nightmares about my burn rate and got a lot of gray hair during filming. You’re on camera and incredibly vulnerable. I wanted the good, bad, ugly, the stress, and paranoia. I wouldn’t recommend this for the faint of heart."
Kim poses outside of Benu in an Oscar de la Renta dress and earrings, Fendi heels, and a purse from Jeremy's.
What do you say to all of the folks already hating on the show, mostly for what they deem a non-realistic depiction of Silicon Valley?
"Relax! It’s going to be hilarious. I don’t think there is such a thing as a realistic depiction. I think everyone has their own reality. You’re going to see mine. I care about the tech community and do feel a sense of responsibility to women. And we can’t aspire to do things we don’t see. America doesn’t understand someone who is 'iterating and then pivoted to build a collaborative consumption social platform through equity-based crowdfunding.' But we make it digestible. The show is about those who don’t have exposure to the tech world. I certainly didn’t. Being from the Midwest, culturally we’re raised differently and driven towards stability. We’re told you need to work for a big company, you’ll probably be unhappy, you should wait in line, and maybe in five years you can get promoted if Steve retires. No one is telling us that entrepreneurship and startups are viable career options. I did the show for these people."
How would you describe your character on the show? How does that differ from real reality?
"Hopefully there is no difference. I’m not an actress. I only know how to be me, which is an incredibly girly tomboy. I’m intense. I swear. I drink whiskey. I have a Fendi shoe addiction. I can relate almost anything back to a sports analogy. I run my company like a football team and I’m the GM. I struggle with balancing my personal and professional life. I work hard and have a damn good time. In my free time I’m running around the city with my girlfriends and castmate/close friend Dwight Crow. We act exactly the same off camera."
Tell us about your background in tech. When did you start and what companies have you worked for? And, in what capacity?
"I’ve been working in online advertising since 2006 in the CPG, Luxury, and Education space in Chicago. Working for publicly traded companies, I was responsible for generating revenue and making the impossible happen just in time for our quarterly earnings calls. Most recently I was a director for a startup that became an early Facebook Ads API beta partner. I was the fifth employee and created my own job, since they didn’t have one posted. I wrote my own personal business plan to get to $1 million monthly revenue as the only salesperson in one year. They let me run my department like my own business. I had a blast there. Before that, I was a sales manager at Alloy Media + Marketing, best known for creating Gossip Girl. I do a mean impression of her."
Sitting pretty in an Alexander Wang tank, Daryl K pants, 3.1 Phillip Lim vest, Chanel earrings, Lanvin sneakers, American Apparel watch, and locket from the streets of Soho.
In the show, you quit your job to start your own company. Tell us about that!
"I did! I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it. I joke that it was my gift to the producers during filming. Shonova launches this winter. We’re stealthy, but focused on content curation and high-end fashion. There is going to be a huge movement for luxury brands to shift from baby boomers to Gen Y. Shonova was originally going to be an education startup, but I realized much of the concept would work for fashion. We’re also building an education app focusing on not-for-profit online schools. I’ve always been passionate about the education space and its movement to online. It’s one of the most competitive keyword markets in Google, which means these schools are at a huge disadvantage in competing with their bigger for-profit counterparts. When it comes to education, U.S. News and World Report is the new Craigslist."