NEW YORK — While other designers have rushed to open flagships only to close them when times get tough, Rebecca Taylor has taken her own sweet time.

After nurturing her business for seven years, Taylor in February will open her first U.S. store in a 1,000-square-foot space at 260 Mott St. in NoLIta.

The designer, who calls herself “very conservative” — fiscally, at least — considered taking the retail plunge a few years ago, but decided it was more important to grow her wholesale business.

“My partner [Beth Bugdaycay] and I financed our business ourselves,” she said. “We didn’t start it with very much capital, so every bit that came in went toward manufacturing. One day we looked at each other and said, ‘We can do this now. We’re ready.’”

After scouring the Meatpacking District, Taylor found a suitably quirky space on NoLIta’s busiest commercial block near Lucien Pellat-Finet, Cafe Gitane and Calypso.

“A lot of great stores [are] moving into NoLIta,” Taylor said. “It’s very boutique-y and not mass oriented at all.

James Smith, a broker at Butler Kane who worked with Taylor, said that while NoLIta had fallen on hard times, the area is making a comeback. “It’s kind of surprise shopping, where you turn the corner and there’s an interesting store,” he said.

Taylor’s shop is expected to do $1 million in sales at retail. In addition, Taylor said orders for spring 2004 are up 50 percent. The company’s business is projected to be 52 percent ahead next year.

Taylor, who champions a kind of approachable romance with a dose of hip has been known to embellish her designs with sequins and antique beads and has a penchant for all things shimmery and iridescent.

The designer hired the architects Derek Sanders and Serge Becker of Can Resources, who designed Bowery Bar, to transform the space into a whimsical backdrop for her girly fashion.

“I’m glitter-crazy. I love anything sparkly,” said Taylor, who is trying to find a shimmery surface for the floor. Shona Heath, a U.K. set designer, is painting three-dimensional iridescent murals on the walls. Recessed lighting in the shape of stars and fiberglass fixtures will continue the fanciful theme.In the back of the store, a glass wall with French doors will lead to a small garden where Taylor will install a comfortable couch and water bowls for dogs.

Like other designers, Taylor plans to use the store as a lab for testing new products, such as a capsule denim collection and the Rebecca Taylor Gold line. “I’d like to do something a little more expensive,” she said.

In addition, Taylor will be importing and selling many of the items she produces in Japan, including wallets with a rosebud print, handbags, shoes and boots. She’ll also collaborate with her sister, Victoria, a jewelry maker.

“There will be little surprises here and there,” she said.

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