Montee Holland, a Detroit-based entrepreneur and veteran, is the President and CEO of the Tayion Collection.

Black Military Veteran Overcomes Financing Barriers to Grow into Successful Men’s Fashion Entrepreneur

Small Business Loans
Success Story
April 1, 2024

Hobbies are considered something we do on the side, after the important work of a day or week is done. Not so with Montee Holland of Detroit. His hobby became a siren’s song of style that lured him into a new vocation and the world of men’s fashion.

From an early age, Montee was always intrigued with the way his athletic coaches and businessmen dressed:  tailored suits, colorful shirts and ties, and shoes to complement the trendy attire.

“I always liked how clothes distinguished the male role models in my life,” said Montee. “My coaches in high school and college were proud men and always dressed nice. I liked that.”

When he joined the Marine Corps right out of high school and was stationed in Japan and Korea, Montee often found himself on weekends strolling into clothing shops, surveying the men’s fashions on display. It piqued his creativity. He’d select different fabrics and combinations of trimmings and have the shop owners tailor suits for him.

“People began to notice and compliment me on my designs which inspired me to make more,” Montee recalled.

Montee Holland, showing off one of his Tayion Collection suits.
“I still get pumped up as much now as I did when I first started making my own suits,” says Montee. (Photo by Ara Howrani)

Evolution of a Hobby

Honorably discharged from the Marines, and back in his Detroit home, Montee started designing classic, high-fashion suits for friends, which in turn generated more attention and buzz. But his penchant for assembling unique looks in men’s clothing remained just a hobby as he completed graduate school, tried his hand at teaching high school and was then recruited by Pfizer where he worked as a sales representative for seven years. All the while the call to make clothing design more than a side gig became louder until he could no longer ignore his passion.

Newly determined to turn his avocation into a small business, in 2003 Montee loaded a trunk with his most dapper suits and displayed his Tayion brand (his middle name) at a booth at the Las Vegas Magic Garment Industry Convention. Would-be buyers stopped in their tracks to admire his eye-popping collection, including TV celebrity Steve Harvey, host of Family Feud.

“At the time, Steve was promoting a line of men’s clothing of his own, but he wanted his brand to look more like mine,” said Montee. “Steve took me under his wing and the following year, he hosted my Tayion brand in his booth.”

Montee meets with three of his Tayion Collection team.
Montee clearly loves fashion, and he surrounds himself with a team as style-conscious as he is. From left to right: Montee, Avery Williams, Davon Jones, and Shelly Townsend. (Photo by Ara Howrani)

Montee’s association with Steve Harvey attracted more attention. Peerless Clothing ― the largest producer of fine-tailored clothing in North America ― took note and licensed the Tayion brand as part of the company’s family of brands sold primarily in Macy’s department stores nationwide.

“Peerless wanted more diversity in their product lines and the Tayion brand was a good fit,” said Montee. “They appreciated my gift for pairing different fabrics and styles into ready-to-wear suits that looked tailored.”

Financial Investment Program Provides Pathway to Brand Expansion

Through Montee’s new affiliation with Macy’s, he learned about an innovative funding program created in collaboration between Macy’s, Inc. and the Momentus Capital branded family of organizations, which invests in and lends to underrepresented entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs who serve underserved communities – often excluded from conventional financial systems and unable to access the capital they need to grow their small businesses. 

Montee adjusts his tie surrounded by suits displayed in his workspace.
While stationed overseas, Montee found himself strolling through local fashion districts, ultimately designing his own clothes. (Photo by Ara Howrani)

Needing an injection of funding to take his Tayion brand to the next level, Montee applied and was accepted into S.P.U.R. Pathways: Shared Purpose, Unlimited Reach, a multifaceted funding program designed to advance entrepreneurial growth, close wealth gaps, and shatter systemic barriers faced by under-represented entrepreneurs and underserved communities. Through S.P.U.R. Pathways, Montee was approved for financing to help him expand Tayion production and digital marketing. Since the program’s launch in late 2022 (through early 2024), S.P.U.R. Pathways has deployed more than $9.2 million of critical funding, with the average loan totaling $400,000.

“Black-owned and veteran-owned small businesses, particularly in the Detroit metro area, are a core priority for Momentus Capital,” said Elisabeth Chasia, investments director for the family of non-profit organizations. “Montee was impressive because he’d built Tayion largely on his own and already demonstrated a high level of success. He was a perfect fit.”

In addition to expanding the types of accessories he produces as part of his flagship Tayion Collection, Montee has created another men’s clothing line called T-Fusion, a brand designed for more price-conscious consumers. Projections indicate he’ll achieve double-digit profitability through 2026 as he generates more revenue from licensing and direct merchandising.

Montee goes over designs with a member of his team
Montee’s hobby became a siren’s song of style that lured him into the world of men’s fashion. Montee and Jade Mays work together at his Detroit facility. (Photo by Ara Howrani)

The years of hard work and overcoming barriers have not dampened Montee’s enthusiasm for the business. With the leverage gained from his new financing, he’s on the threshold of taking another leap forward in turning heads with his fashionable designs.

“I still get pumped up as much now as I did when I first started making my own suits,” he admitted. 

And for would-be entrepreneurs willing to bet on themselves, he offers this advice: “If you hear that little voice in your head and match it with conviction and passion, you will succeed.”

Learn more about how CDC Small Business Finance and the Momentus Capital branded family of organizations invests in small businesses.

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