After connecting with 6’4” Helen Pappas, she moved straight on to our ‘must interview’ list! Not only is she a lovely person; she is the Founder, Owner and driving force behind Talltique – The Tall Boutique; an online boutique for tall women, specializing in clothing for ladies over 6’0 tall. If you’re fortunate enough to be living near Bethesda, MD in the USA, or you are travelling to the Washington, DC area, you can also shop in the Talltique showroom by appointment.
Helen stands at a statuesque 6’4” while her Mom Diane (Mum to those of us on this side of the pond!) clocks in at 5’4”. There may be a foot between them but it is through her daughter, that Diane knows the tall struggle all too well. Like so many of us, Helen grew up with all the usual tall girl challenges. It was that, combined with her frustration of shopping for clothes that drove her to chase her dreams and set up Talltique – The Tall Boutique, and we’re very happy that she did!
Talltique was established in 2011 and it’s not only the business which has grown over the past 6 years, so have Helen’s tall friendship circles! As we chatted away, like we’d known each other for years, I repeatedly saw Helen light up when she spoke of how it felt to be helping tall women find clothes that fit, how it felt knowing that she’s been part of someone’s journey to body confidence and how it felt when a customer gifts her with glowing feedback of their shopping experience. It’s so much more than clothing, Helen and her Mom are putting love into what they do and making a real difference to people’s lives.
These are authentic business owners who genuinely care about their customers and they take every word of feedback on board to improve the products that Talltique offers. So without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to the delightful Helen Pappas and her Mom, Diane.
We’ll get to Talltique in a moment ladies but first, can you tell us a bit more about yourselves?
We were both born and raised in the Washington, DC area. We come from a very tight-knit Greek-American family and most of our extended family lives in the local area with us. Think: “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, if you’ve seen it. Now, add in the fact that one of us (Helen) is a foot taller than all of the other women in our family, and that should shed even more light into our family dynamic.
Diane: I’m a graduate of Georgetown University. In addition to being the Creative Director at Talltique, I am a certified yoga instructor and teach multiple group yoga classes a week. I’m a mother of 4 and grandmother of 3. I’m also an accomplished Greek cook, and we often enjoy family gatherings with large buffet-style meals including Greek specialties.
Helen: I’m a graduate of the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. My height comes from a connective tissue disorder called Marfans Syndrome. Due to the effects on my heart, I was unable to play team sports (like basketball) growing up. This led to an alternative: horseback riding. Since age 5, I have been an avid horseback rider and my horse is equally as tall as I am. I’m an animal advocate, with a special love for horses and dogs. I am also the Marketing Manager of Pete Pappas & Sons, our family’s wholesale produce business near Baltimore, MD.
As an international collective of tall women, we’re more than familiar with the trials of growing up tall and many of us are or will be raising tall daughters, so we’d love to hear from you Diane. Can you tell us what was it like for you raising a tall daughter and impart some words of wisdom for others who already are or will be walking in your shoes?
Standing at 5’4”, I was surprised when Helen outgrew me at age 6. Helen is by far the tallest person (not just female) in our family. She was always the tallest at our church and was forever the tallest girl at her school as well. This came with all of the fun and difficulties you could imagine.
Instead of paying attention to people’s constant comments about her height as we walked by, which even included “are you adopted?” and “where did you come from?”, I felt the need to instil a sense of confidence in her. I had one phrase that was always coming out of my mouth: “Head up, shoulders back” because I noticed Helen would slouch down to try not to look so tall. It wasn’t until college that the phrase really stuck, and I’m so glad that it did.
Being a tall woman makes you unique, but the hardest thing for a child is sometimes that they just want to blend in with the crowd. I wished I could have introduced Helen to more tall women growing up, because the advice coming from me at 5’4” wasn’t particularly helpful. I was experiencing all of these “tall issues” with her, but had never dealt with them myself before.
My hope is that whether you’re a tall mom or a not-so-tall mom that you will guide your daughter to things that bring her both joy and confidence. Find the clothes that make her face light up, find a sport or activity that she excels at and makes her happy (be it basketball or not), help her find friends who lift her up, and find ways to point out that being different is one of the most beautiful blessings in life.
How do you split the running of Talltique between you? Who does what and how do you find balance?
Talltique is the culmination of our vision of a need for clothes for tall women. We both collaborate on what we buy and the planning of our Talltique Private Label items. Our mutual goal is to give special attention to fit and length on items that we produce, with a focus on quality and US based manufacturing.
Because we have both a website and a showroom, we field online orders and also give customers the option to make an appointment in the showroom to shop in person. Helen runs all of the appointments personally, and Mom, Diane joins on Wednesdays and some weekends. Because we don’t have any additional employees, between us we personally pack each and every online order that comes in.
Helen is our stylist extraordinaire and tall fit expert. She oversees the planning, designing, buying, sales and marketing of the company. All company emails and calls go directly through her. If you have any questions or want some help finding tall clothes, she’s your girl. Diane is a multitasking mom-machine. She assists Helen with the above, and oversees inventory management, brand acquisition, buying, party planning and in-person appointments.
The way we run our business is very fluid, and both of us pick up any slack and fill any holes as necessary. The business runs smoothly because both of us are passionate about helping tall women, and feel truly fulfilled by the business. It is comforting to know that when one of us needs help, the other is there no question asked.
How many people does it take to make Talltique a reality?
As of right now my mom and I are the dream team. We do have other tall women who work with us as Brand Ambassadors – women who love Talltique so much that they help us spread the word to other tall women. We do hope to bring more tall women on board soon!
Helen, you have a full time job alongside Talltique plus you’re the business owner, the managing director, the designer, buyer, the marketing department and many other roles in the business. Your ability to achieve is inspiring so if there is such a thing, what does a typical week look like for you?
Thank you! My typical week looks something like this: 4 days a week I work in Baltimore and then take clients and pack online orders at Talltique (in Bethesda) in the late afternoons and evenings. Wednesdays I am in the shop all day with my mom, we pack online orders and take clients all day and generally “take care of business”. Then, on the weekends I run the shopping appointments all day.
My schedule may sound crazy but… it’s completely worth it for me! I am able to do what I love and make a difference in people’s lives. At the end of the day, I am so grateful to be able to help our community. Whether someone is simply looking for a pair of jeans long enough, or is deeply struggling with their self-esteem as a tall woman, I’m amazed that I can lend a helping hand across the board. At a minimum, I want to be able to help with the shopping issues we all face as tall women. But, it’s an incredible bonus to be able to help some tall women who are struggling to feel good in their skin and to give them a way to feel better about themselves.
Before you founded Talltique, did you have any previous fashion or business experience?
I studied business at Georgetown University where I began to formulate my business plan and solidify my hopes of opening my own tall clothing business. When graduating, I found a job managing an online and retail boutique. This gave me the opportunity to figure out the lay of the land so to speak. I learned how to manage my time between packing and shipping online orders and fielding customers coming in to shop. It also gave me a better glimpse into the customer service aspects of the fashion world; what people like, what customers complain about, how to react, how to remedy situations and how to make customers happy.
So many women are out there proving that it is possible to start up a fashion brand but as the owners of one that’s been around for over 6 years now, can you tell us how you’ve build a successful fashion business?
Starting up the business isn’t the hard part, its managing the forward motion (or lack thereof) of the business. Talltique has become a household name for many tall shoppers because these things set us apart:
- Our fit – We have perfected the fit for tall ladies! As a 6’4” woman myself, our specialty is clothing ladies over 6’0 tall, and up to 7’0.
- Our quality – although there are many other tall businesses in the world, there are NOT many who sell clothes that last season after season. Growing up, I knew that well-fitted clothing was scarce. When I did find something that fit I was devastated that only after a few washes my favorite items would shrink, fall apart, lose shape/fit or lose its colour. I want beautifully fitting clothes that last, so Talltique is the answer for ladies who are of the same opinion as me.
- Our customer service –From hand written notes on our online orders, to personal follow ups on orders and appointments, our customer service is a rarity especially in the tall shopping world. We build personal relationships with our customers. We listen to what people want and need. This leads to happier shoppers!
Your collection is fantastic but we’d particularly like to talk about your private label and your denim range, both of which translate very well across the Atlantic! Let’s start with your private label…
Our Talltique Private Label is what we are the most proud of! This is a collection of items that are produced exclusively by Talltique ranging in inseams from 36” to 40”. Each piece is selected based on the needs of us tall women. And handcrafted in America with the highest quality fabric, construction and fit. Our TPL yields pieces that are timeless and seasonless. You can dress them up or down and wear them all year ‘round. It is so important for us to give our customers the option to buy timeless, staple pieces. One’s that can be worn for years on end.TGM: Your denim offering recently caught our attention when one of our fabulous contributors and budget-friendly tall blogger, Akia of The East on the West was spotted out in the $50 Talltique Boyfriend Jeans. That’s around £40 / €47 for those of us on this side of the world – budget friendly indeed! We love that Talltique is offering the customer quality denim for all budgets and lengths…
Another goal of ours is to offer a variety of both price points and sizes. We know that not every tall woman comes in a certain size or shape, so we love universally flattering styles. We have recently extended our sizing to cover ladies US sizes 0-22 (which goes up to a UK18). The same goes for price point. We have taken this into account by offering denim starting at $50 up to $168.
Your website mentions International shipping. For those of us looking to shop Talltique outside the US, can you tell us more about the costs. And if anyone has a query, how can they reach you?
Yes, we absolutely offer international shipping. Some of our loyal customers have been ordering throughout Europe for more than 5 years!
Currently, there is a $30 flat rate charge for international shipping on our website. However, if you’re ordering one item, we can see if the price could be brought down based on weight.
You can reach out to us directly. I can always be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via our website. Alternatively, you can always reach us through direct messages on Instagram and Facebook.
Last but certainly not least, we’d love to hear what’s next! What can we expect to see from Talltique in the future…
We are currently working on building out our Private Label. This year it has included two of our best selling styles: joggers and palazzo pants. We’ll be bringing in more jeans and some fun dressy holiday items later this year. We also can’t wait for next Spring… Stay tuned!
Helen’s Tall Guides Takeaway:
What pieces of advice would you give to other women looking to start their own business or a fashion brand?
- Don’t be afraid to dream big, but START SMALL. Work your way up to your goals, rather than starting with them.
- Focus, focus, focus! Focus on something and perfect it.
- Followers don’t necessarily mean sales!
- Make connections with other business owners. Whether they’re tall or not, there’s no better advice than that of another business person.
- Work within your budget. There are a lot of ways to save money or do things in a professional way but for free!
Diane’s Tall Guides Takeaway:
- “Head up! Shoulders back!”
- Remember that height is a blessing and a beautiful thing, whether its your own or your child’s
- Confidence comes from within, but can always be encouraged by those around us.
- Remember to build others up rather than tear them down.