Elizabeth Nichols is the CEO of Taigan, a premier online marketplace of handselected items. Taigan features a lifestyle collection of apparel, accessories, home décor, gourmet food, sporting life and children’s items created by emerging designers, artisans and purveyors from across the globe. Taigan curates this marketplace meticulously, experiencing each product that is selected by hand to ensure the best quality for its customer. With a background in finance and building retail shopping centers, Elizabeth’s switch to an online venue has been a rewarding one: “The perfect strike in life is a seamless marriage between form and substance. I’m a substance kind of girl with an appreciation for beautiful form.” A native of Nashville, Elizabeth is also known as a consummate entertainer, hosting some of the best parties in town.
Where did you grow up?
Nashville—I am seventh-generation Nashvillian on my father’s side of the family.
Are there certain childhood experiences or people that influenced you?
While Blair named Peachy for her beloved grandmother, I named my only daughter for my adorable grandmother Mary Britt Onstott Litterer (aka Mamie). Mamie made me think I could do anything to which I set my mind. She was the epitome of style and taste and loved the art of “the hunt” just like the Taigan dog!
Tell us about your business background.
Oh goodness, how long do you have? I spent my first career in real estate finance/development. After 20 years of building a business in shopping center development, taking it public and running a public company, I cried “uncle” and went on to do more creative things…like going to interior design school, chairing The Swan Ball in Nashville and launching an online shopping center called Taigan!
When did you launch Taigan and how has it grown?
Taigan was launched in 2009, smack dab in the middle of the great recession—our growth so far has been mainly organic!
Where do you see Taigan in five years?
Let’s hope the Internet hasn’t been taken over by Martians in five years— give me a crystal ball and I will tell you.
You have chosen to live in Nashville. What makes it so special?
I should be head of the Chamber of Commerce—I am obsessed!!! Nashville offers a great quality of life; native Nashvillians are just southern enough, but not too southern. Plus the energy that is pervasive in the city (due to our many interesting and creative newcomers) is simply contagious.
What is your favorite place for dinner?
Definitely the loggia just off the library at my house—it is my most favorite dining room in Nashville, particularly on the night of a full moon. And it’s really special when Kate, our former cook, comes back to do a meal!
What about lunch with your friends?
I simply don’t “do” lunch unless I am on vacation, and if I am on vacation, it would definitely be La Plage, on St. Barths, with the Gambill family.
What is your favorite weekend getaway?
I love Libby and Ben Page’s farmhouse in Giles County, Tennessee. It is just simply the best place to chill, chat, eat and drink a vodka tonic or two! Leave the keys at the door!
What is your go-to hostess gift?
If I am going to a house party, I love to take a colorful pitcher from Orbix Hot Glass, but if I am going to a dinner party I either take a bag of Schermer Pecans or Melina’s Olive Oil.
Do you have a style icon?
Clare Armistead—social doyenne, octogenarian, significant volunteer in Nashville and one of my favorite friends. I dream of waking up and looking like her.
Tell us a little about your art collection.
The collection is one of American abstract expressionists from the 1930s and 1940s. It was an under-collected area when my husband and I started, and now it is not!
What are you reading now?
Our 2015 budget! OUCH!
Where do you like to interact with the arts?
I am hugely supportive of the arts in Nashville, having been a founding member of the Nashville Ballet. I have also served as chairman of the Nashville Ballet Board of Directors and have enjoyed serving on the boards of Cheekwood Gardens and Museum of Art as well as the Tennessee Repertory Theatre (now Nashville Rep). I love to listen to music at Robert’s Western World, my favorite honky-tonk in Nashville, as well as to stand on the sidewalk in Soho and listen to an impromptu a cappella group. But I think two of my most favorite arts experiences are going to the SainteChapelle on l’île de la Cité in Paris to listen to Vivaldi’s Quartre Saisons, or to the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I don’t sleep on the same side of the bed every night—I’m simply NOT a creature of habit.
What is your favorite quote from your grandmother?
My grandmother’s favorite quote was “be careful of the toes you step on today…they may be connected to the ass you have to kiss tomorrow.”