California native wears many hats and even sells them


Taylor Dowden. Photos by Destiny Thompson.

Destiny Thompson
Oxford Stories

On the first day of classes at his California middle school, Taylor Dowden got into a fist fight. He also met his best friend that day, and they remained close until Dowden moved from California to Memphis with his family and father, who was in the Navy.

Moving to the South was a “different, but a good change.” After graduating from high school, Dowden moved back to California briefly, taking a year off from school. However, because of the cost of living, he later returned to Memphis and attended Southwest Community College.

Today, Dowden, 23, is a University of Mississippi senior and former Oxford Stories reporter, who followed family members to UM and instantly fell in love with the campus. But he wears many hats.

At age 13, Dowden got his first job working with his dad. His father embroidered and sold items to his squadron. One day, he gave Dowden some leftover caps and let him sell them online.

Because Dowden made a profit selling the hats, his father and uncle created a joint business. Dowden’s father bought the hats. Dowden created sale listings, and his uncle handled shipping.

Dowden learned HTML and web skills he uses today, and the business has grown larger than expected with a warehouse and multiple units.


Dowden’s most recent job was with Center Plate Catering in Oxford. He helped cater events, such as basketball and football games, recruitments, and other activities. He said he learned a lot from his boss about how to problem solve and deal with people.

Dowden already knew a little about people. He has three brothers. The oldest is 26 and stationed overseas in Spain with the Navy. One brother, 19, graduated high school and plans to join the military. His youngest brother, 13, is biologically Dowden’s cousin, but his parents adopted him when he was 2. The two youngest brothers live in Memphis with Dowden’s family.

Dowden’s father spent 27 years doing explosive ordinance disposal, the process by which hazardous explosive devices are rendered safe, in Navy Special Operations, and his mother has been an ultrasound tech for about a decade.


Dowden’s roommate is Kellen Tadlock. He said Dowden “never ever ever” wakes up to his alarm, and it often rings throughout the house. Despite this, Tadlock describes Dowden as extremely thoughtful, meticulous, and tidy.

He said Dowden is determined and doesn’t give in, whether it’s playing rugby or doing schoolwork. He believes his roommate will be exceptional in anything he chooses.

After college, Dowden plans to join the military, go to law school, or join the family business. He said he hopes to make his friends and family proud.

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