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Gayest & Greatest 2019: Shopping & Services

Heather J. Taylor excels as a businesswoman, a volunteer, and in brand development.

Heather Taylor, Mad Hat Maven

Heather Taylor, 50, wears many hats, so her multiple G&G category awards are no surprise.

“I’m very busy with my company and all my volunteer and political work,” Taylor says. “That’s pretty much all I do.”

The Army brat was living in Houston in the ’90s when she came out. That’s also about the time she read Julia Cameron’s self-help book The Artist’s Way, which deals with creative development.

“It asks you to list five things you want to be when you grow up,” she explains. “I think

I put down CEO and basketball player.” One out of two isn’t bad.

Taylor left Houston around 2002 to spend ten years in Los Angeles as a creative consultant. She came back here in 2012 and continued to work as a freelance consultant, but it wasn’t until last year that she felt the need
to expand.

“I just outgrew myself,” she says. “So I decided to start Mad Hat Maven creative agency, and it just skyrocketed.” Today she has more than a dozen employees, all of whom wear multiple hats. Which means that a client may want a writer, but they’ll also get someone who is a creative director, brand consultant, and video editor. Although the company has worked for some major oil and gas interests and large companies, they will also work on smaller accounts.

“We work with mom-and-pops and businesses just starting out,” Taylor says. “We can do brand development, set up a website, put together a marketing plan, and then teach them how to continue on their own.”

Despite that busy schedule, Taylor also makes time for volunteer work in the community. Her company did the creative in-kind work for the Victory Fund this year, and also sponsored the Victory Brunch. She is also cochair of Victory in Houston, a volunteer for the Human Rights Campaign, and involved in politics.

“When I woke up on that fateful November morning in 2016, I made a pact with the universe that I was going to do everything I could to stop this,” she says of the Trump election.

Taylor also has a background in theater, with a drama degree from London’s Regent’s College and The Poor School of Acting. She certainly has a flair to her, but also a sense of duty—which explains why her favorite film is Roman Holiday, where a young Audrey Hepburn plays a princess who flees her structured life for a wild fling in Rome.

“She has the courage to take a risk,” Taylor says, “but she also knows she has to go back to her duty.”

Taylor likes hanging out with friends, travel, and monthly trips to Waco to visit her mother—whom she calls her best friend. Otherwise, she’s content living with her two rescues (a transgender Chihuahua and a terrier mix) and the occasional evening at Eddie V’s for some old-school service and live jazz. Of course, she’s also a big Madonna fan, as her tastes in music reflect her numerous talents.—Marene Gustin

Best Astrologer

Lilly Roddy
Finalists: Kevin Casey, Bill O’Rourke

Best Copy/Print Shop

Finalist: AlphaGraphics Sugar Land

Best Grocery Store

H-E-B Grocery
Finalists: Kroger, Trader Joe’s

Best Jewelry Store

Silverlust (tie), Tenenbaum Jewelers (tie)
Finalist: Select Jewelers

Best Liquor Store

Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods
Finalist: Total Wine & More

Best Men’s Clothing Store

Hyphen Boutique
Finalist: Macy’s

Best Place to Buy Cellular Phones

Finalists: Sprint, Verizon

Best Place to Buy Erotic Playthings

Houston Eagle
Finalists: Adam & Eve, Executive Adult Video Theater, Hollywood Super Center

Best Place to Buy Eyewear

Eye Gallery
Finalists: Eye Contact, Eye to Eye, Montrose Eye Care, Spectacles, Warby Parker

Best Specialty Food Store

Phoenicia Specialty Foods
Finalist: H-E-B/Central Market

Best Creative Agency

Mad Hat Maven Creative
Finalists: Like Minds Communications, Public Content

Best Managed I.T. Services

Cyber One Solutions

Best Commercial Photographer

Ashkan Images
Finalist: Sebastian Gutierrez

Best Thrift Store

Out Of The Closet
Finalists: Blue Bird Circle, Retropolis

Best Women’s Clothing Store

Finalists: Neiman Marcus, Tootsie’s

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Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and Gayot.com, among others.
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