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Arts & Culture

Fashion entrepreneur who lived more than 100 years ago featured in Kentucky Museum exhibit

Kentucky Museum
This wedding dress designed by Carrie Taylor is in the Kentucky Museum on the campus of WKU in Bowling Green.

An exhibit at the Kentucky Museum on the campus of Western Kentucky University spotlights a woman entrepreneur who was highly successful in the fashion business more than 100 years ago.

Carrie Burnam Taylor was born and raised in Bowling Green. She developed her clothing design skills and business sense in a time when Victorian women were expected to focus on marriage and child-rearing, as opposed to business interests.

Curator of the exhibit, Carrie Cox, says Taylor was a major employer and had clients from around the country.

“Even when she was told, ‘Don’t hire women. They’ll get married. They’ll have babies and they won’t stick with you.’ But she looked for talent," said Cox. "She also hired women who needed to supplement their husband’s income.”

University Photographer
Clinton Lewis/Clinton Lewis/WKU
Western Kentucky University
A coat designed by Carrie Taylor is in the Kentucky Museum in Bowling Green.

Taylor also hired high school students to run errands and widows who needed to support themselves. She also employed men at her company.

“She employed more than 300 women, at one point, in her factory, so she was very, very successful and was making $50,000 a year in 1905,” said Cox.

Taylor launched her business, The Mrs. A.H. Taylor Company, in 1885 and it thrived until her death in 1917.

The Kentucky Museum exhibit showcasing her life, her fashions and her business runs through June 2023.