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Matt Taylor's Toxic Ink Clothing on the Rise

By Jeff Ferrantino on February 28, 2006

Toxic Ink ClothingFor a brand that makes clothing and products by relying on quality art and attention to detail, it's interesting to note that its founder is the furthest thing from a gifted artist himself.

"I have no skills as an artist," jokes Toxic Ink Clothing founder Matt Taylor. "The closest that I got was drawing stick figures of the management at sales meetings and the vendors who came in to do their dog and pony shows."

Growing up in the San Diego area, Taylor always had an interest in the surf and skate market. He attended college for graphics and screenprinting, and worked a couple of odd jobs after graduation before turning to a career in sales, where he started by selling beach sandals.

"I got a taste of the true industry when I started doing the sandals, because I got into ASR (the Action Sports Retailer show) for the first time," Taylor recalls. "Once I got there, I realized that's where I really wanted to be. Vocationally, it was always my dream to do something that I liked, because I knew that would be the easiest thing to excel at."

After not finding himself content as a salesman, Taylor started envisioning his own business.

"I was already doing something successfully, but I didn't really care for what I was selling," he says. "I was selling a product that was a necessity, and I wanted to create something that people didn't have to have, but would desire to have."

Taylor focused his product ideas around tribal tattoos, which had started to explode back in the mid 90s.

"I started to make designs around a line of clothing with that as a focus," he says.

Taylor quickly went to work creating his catalogue online and submitting it to major chain stores around the country. He was able to secure appointments rather quickly with both Millers Outpost and Pacific Sunwear.

"When I sat down with Pacific Sunwear, I really was out of my league," he admits. "I really didn't know what to expect. I was still working out of my garage at that point, and I wasn't sure even how to fulfill an order, but I knew if I got one, I would figure it out."

Using his sales background, Taylor then turned his focus to Millers Outpost.

"I linked up with a buyer who really liked my ideas — he thought it was fresh," Taylor recalls. "I showed him my product line and he gave me a test sample on two products."