Community Voices

Black in Time: Carole Ann Taylor, visionary and entrepreneur from New York to Miami

At the Bath Club in 2011, from left, Jason Walker, Carole Ann Taylor, President Barack Obama, Priscilla Taylor and Jaesyn Mixon.
At the Bath Club in 2011, from left, Jason Walker, Carole Ann Taylor, President Barack Obama, Priscilla Taylor and Jaesyn Mixon. Photo courtesy of Carole Ann Taylor

With sand in her shoes and sun in her hair, Carole Ann Taylor is on a mission to advance international trade by connecting artisans and craftsmen of Miami, West Indies and the Caribbean to the global world economy through retail tourism.

She and local partners provide a platform for artists, artisans, jewelers, musicians, writers and other talented individuals of varied cultures, heritages and traditions to share their gifts with the world. The entrepreneurs established www.CulturesToGo.com.

Taylor’s passion for business development is uniquely cradled with her talent as a jazz singer and participation in politics. Her businesses include Little Havana To Go, Miami To Go and Miami Gifts To Go. Her first store was Bayside To Go, 1987-1998. In 1993, she became a director of Perfumania Holdings, Inc., listed on NASDAQ.

For her efforts in international trade, Taylor was one of five women to receive the 2015 International Women’s Day Award from the World Trade Center. The award honors women who have made significant contributions in advancing international trade and business in Florida.

Carole Ann Taylor was nominated for this award by Bill Talbert, director of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. At the luncheon Miami World Trade Center President, Charlotte Gallgoly welcomed this year’s honorees including Mikki Canton, Mary Hernandez, Janet Jainarain, Sharyn Koenig. Lenny Feldman introduced Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera. City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado; City of Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon; and Florida Secretary of Commerce President & CEO of Enterprise Florida, Inc., Bill Johnson were among the recognized guests. President, UPS Americas, Romaine Seguin introduced the speaker, Teri Griege, author of Powered by Hope in a ballroom filled to capacity with executives and supporters.

In accepting the award Taylor, a transplant from New York, spoke passionately about her family businesses in Miami. She later reminisced about childhood memories that influenced her life. She and sister, Priscilla, heard stories about their extended family in Barbados and the Panama Canal. Growing up, the immediate family relocated to cities throughout New York when their father, an itinerate Baptist minister, relocated to churches in Yonkers, Peekskill, Mt. Vernon, Schenectady and Harlem. Their mother, a housewife, was a consummate community volunteer. In the context of the time, at an early age Taylor learned that as a black woman she would have to work extra hard to make things happen.

After attending Oberlin College for several years, she transferred and graduated from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. She returned to Harlem and became active in politics and began singing professionally. Then a registered Republican, she received a coveted assignment, research assistant to New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller.

A founding member of the National Women’s Caucus, her first trip to Miami was in 1972. She attended the Democratic National Convention to testify on women’s rights, equal pay and housing returning one month later as a delegate to the National Republican Convention.

While active in the Women’s Rights Movement, she also sang with band masters Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton.

After Rockefeller left office, Taylor joined the disaster team of the U.S. Small Business Association. With her young son, Jaesyn Mixon, she traveled to disasters around the country as an SBA loan officer. Following the 1980 riots, she was assigned to Miami. They lived in Coconut Grove. One of her son’s playmates, Jason Walker, joined their family.

Taylor enjoyed the sand and sun with courage and determination, and decided to make Miami home. She sang jazz at the historic Tobacco Road restaurant and was an assistant to then-City of Miami Mayor Maurice Ferré. Both of her boys grew each became successful in related fields.

Mixon worked at Bayside To Go before majoring in Business Management at Hampton University in Virginia. After returning home, he worked for Taylor part time while attending Johnson and Wales University graduating with a degree in Fashion Merchandising. He is now her business partner.

Walker said he is most impressed with Taylor’s immediate impact on the people she serves.

“People thank her for simple things that she was able to accomplish for their cause. I caught the bug of politics (from her) at age 8…wanting to be a change agent, too,” he said.

Now the Village Manager at the Village of El Portal, Walker attended Florida A&M University.

Taylor, is the new chair of GMCVB’s Multicultural Department and seeks opportunities for neighborhoods to self promote. A special feature in The Harlem Times characterizes her as an unsung hero and visionary who creates success in Miami.

Dorothy Jenkins Fields, PhD, is a historian and founder of the Black Archives, History and Research Foundation of South Florida Inc. Send feedback to djf@bellsouth.net.

A previous version of this story misrepresented Jason Walker’s educational status. He attended Florida A&M University, but did not graduate from there.

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