By Marguerite Cleveland
Photo by Samantha Elise Tillman
Brandelyn Tafoya never dreamed a trip to Whole Foods would be the day she met her future husband Joe Tafoya. She turned down his request for lunch, but feeling bad she changed her mind and invited him to her barn where he helped her shovel manure for two hours. She had no idea when they met that he was a “famous” football player and had just moved to Seattle a week prior to play for the Seahawks. The two are now married with a 6-year-old son, Jaxon, who is obsessed with baseball, and an 8-year-old daughter, Brooklyn, who is an accomplished equestrian.
During her years as a football wife, Brandelyn noticed a lack of football apparel for women. The only products on the market were nondescript, sized for men, and just weren’t cute! She began designing patterns and stylish clothes that would flatter women. In 2013, she launched Lady 12, and it was an immediate hit with female Seahawks fans who loved her flattering tees, yoga pants and accessories. Brandelyn designed items in mind that you could wear for work or for game day but feels everyone needs some sparkle in their life. Many of her designs incorporate sequins that add a bit of glitz.
In addition, she wanted to create a line that was affordable. After her first year in business, Brandelyn realized the plus-sized market was very underserved when it came to fan clothing. Her line is now carried in sizes XS through 4X.
It was during the NorthWest Women’s Show in 2014 that stands out as one of her favorite moments when it comes to Lady 12. “After a year of trial and error, we were exhibiting, and a group of women stopped at our booth,” recalls Brandelyn. “They started looking through our Navy V-Neck Sunday's Finest tees when they stopped and pulled out a shirt. Two of the ladies began whispering, then one started crying! ‘Oh crap!’ I thought. Then she said, ‘I can't believe they have my size in this! It’s so hard to find cute stuff.’ She gave us a hug and they each bought two.”
Brandelyn is excited for the new home of the Lady 12 Fan Cave at Paseo by the stadium for pre-game brunch or after the game. "They are amazing and doing lots of girl fan-inspired things!" she says. Joe, who is the president of the official NFL Alumni Association, meets with fellow alumni at Paseo, their hub.
Q. You are a horse gal, but your business relates to football. Have you become a fan? A. I became a football fan when I met Joe! It was so much fun to watch him play. Watching games got a lot more boring after he retired, however, I do like it more now that I can watch with him.
Q. What was it like to start your own business? Any challenges? A. Oh my goodness, it’s been extremely challenging! Extremely rewarding as well though. Pretty much a new hurdle to jump over every day. I say to be an entrepreneur you must get comfortable being uncomfortable. I'd have to say we have gotten pretty good at that.
Q. You are a contributing member of your community. Can you tell our readers a little bit about your charity work? A. Early on I noticed what an amazing platform we had been given to support charities through all of our events and community engagement. We are rallying groups of super passionate women! So, we like to direct that passion toward a good cause while we have their attention. We have had a different charity involved with every event since the beginning. We were so excited to bring our Fashion Show to the South Sound in partnership with Mercedes-Benz of Tacoma and to be able to support the Humane Society for Tacoma Pierce County. It’s been really amazing to be able to give back to so many different causes!
Q. Your fan gal designs are super cute; do you have a designer and what are your inspirations? A. Thank you! I have been the designer for all our clothes. It really has been a fun outlet for my creative, perfectionist side. I personally am a huge fan of sparkles, and that has played a big part in my design process. It hasn't made it the easiest, but a girl must have her sparkles! We also are trying hard to serve the underserved market of plus-sized women! All of us want to feel beautiful and look cute!