Carole Ann Taylor talks about her growth as one of the first black businesswomen in Miami
As we wrap up Back History Month and kick off Women’s History Month, we got to sit down with Carole Ann Taylor. If you don’t know Carole Ann Taylor then there is little, we can say about who this woman armed with a brave heart is but we will try to share the experience and essence she is to Miami. Ms. Taylor started her business in Miami before recently returning to her music career after 20 years. Her soulful voice has touched the hearts of hundreds, and her shops in and around Miami International Airport have attracted tourists from around the world.
Read on to hear what she had to say about her career and life in Miami:
How Carole Ann Taylor became a national champion
Carole Ann Taylor has been an activist for more than fifty years. Her father was a Baptist preacher and social worker, and her mother spent her entire life volunteering in the community. Ms. Taylor, a New York native, began her professional life in 1968 as an aide to the Honorable Dorothy Height, President of the National Council of Negro Women. She was a founding member of the National Women’s Political Caucus and co-chaired the first National Women’s Political Convention in 1971. Members included Fannie Lou Hamer, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, Betty Freidan, Gloria Steinem, and Senator Gwen Cherry. She also worked for Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York until he resigned in 1973.
In 1975, she passed the required exam to become a qualified mediator/arbitrator, and since then, she has worked with the American Arbitration Association and the Institute for Mediation and Conflict Resolution mediating and arbitrating cases across the country. Soon after she was stationed in Miami during the 1980 riots as a government affairs consultant for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Disaster Loan Program.
Carole Ann Taylor and Maurice A. Ferre help small businesses
During her time at the SBA, she published a business column in the Miami Times and led a program that helped more than 50 African American professionals learn the skills they needed to start their own businesses After working for the Small Business Administration, she left in 1982 to join the administration of Miami Mayor Maurice A. Ferre and ran for the City of Miami Commission in 1989.
At the Bayside Marketplace, Carole Ann Taylor was instrumental in getting over twenty-five Black-owned businesses a leased space and in founding the Bayside Minority Foundation to support and finance Miami’s minority-owned businesses. After serving in the administrations of Mayors Ferre and Xavier Suarez, she ventured out on her own in 1987 and set up shop in the Bayside Marketplace with Bayside To Go.
Carole Ann Taylor the catalyst of tourism on Calle Ocho
Once she gained the rights to the local Bayside store, what followed was Ms. Taylor, who had no previous expertise in retail, became an immediate success without realizing the full magnitude of her achievement. She eventually sold Bayside To Go to open Little Havana To Go on Calle Ocho because she realized that Little Havana would soon be discovered by the tourists frequenting Miami, and so it was.
Little Havana To Go is a Cuban memorabilia store on the famous Calle Ocho, started by a Black woman who barely spoke Spanish and was relatively new to Little Havana, and for this, she got a lot of heat from the locals. She got dismissive comments, and some locals didn’t take her shop seriously. Keep in mind that there wasn't a sizable black business population in Miami at the time, and finding black-owned businesses was a challenge. Ms. Taylor’s shop was one of the first tourist businesses in the City of Miami.
While in Bayside and Little Havana, Ms. Taylor realized she needed to get closer to the tourists coming to Miami. It was clear that she needed to be in the Miami International Airport if she was going to accomplish this goal, so that's where she set up shop. There are now five successful stores there which draw customers from all over the world.
Returning to herself through the art of music
Carole Ann Taylor had been a longstanding board member of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau for 33 years when she stepped down in 2022. She was instrumental in the creation of the Multicultural Tourism Development Department whose objective has always been to promote tourism and business development in Miami’s historic heritage neighborhoods.
After finding success in the corporate, government, and business world, Carole Ann Taylor has decided to pursue her musical career once more. She had stopped singing jazz for twenty years and decided to pursue her jazz vocal career again. One reason she did not pursue a singing career for two decades was that she wanted to establish herself in Miami. The other more important reason was her first son. She wanted to enroll him in school when he turned 5, and she was in Miami at the time. Hence, she has been in the Magic City for years, watching now two sons and businesses grow and flourish.
Ms. Taylor is a mother to two sons, grandmother to six grandchildren, and the recipient of countless accolades and recognitions. She frequently performs at the Betsy Hotel in Miami Beach so make sure to check the Betsy Hotel Calendar for updates.
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