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Tour The Sunshine Coast Studio Of Our Sustainable New Summer Brand, Tasi Travels

by: Rosie Dalton | 2 years ago | Features

Image: Jess Abraham inside the Tasi Travels studio.

Tasi Travels is the brainchild of Jess Abraham, who founded this inspiring sustainable label on Australia’s beautiful Sunshine Coast a couple of years ago. Initially inspired by a trip to the pristine Atauro Island – and a subsequent desire to create clothing that causes no unnecessary harm to the environment – Abraham says that responsible design has always been part of her modus operandi.

As one of the newest brands we have welcomed to the Well Made Clothes family for summer, we are delighted to share the carefree, sunny aesthetic of Tasi Travels with you. And we asked Jess to take us on a tour of her Sunshine Coast studio, so we could share the brand’s story with you as well.

Rosie Dalton: Can you tell us a bit about how Tasi Travels first began and why you were inspired to start your own label?
Jess Abraham
: Tasi Travels was inspired by a trip I took to Timor-Leste (East Timor) in late 2016. Timor-Leste is an incredible country, however I’d found the climate and culture made it really difficult to pack. Timor is in the high 30 degrees, 80% humidity, but it’s also quite a conservative culture so you need to be covered up. Nothing I owned was practical; either the material was too thick, wrinkled or didn’t dry quickly enough; or the cut just wasn’t practical or flattering enough. One morning after a hike, I mentioned to the girls that I wished it was easier to find practical, well-made, and yet stylish travel clothing. The idea just kept ticking over in my head, so when I came home, I got started straight away and we launched eight months later.

Rosie: What made you decide to focus on sustainability and what does this mean for the brand?
: I have been really active in the environmental movement since I was about sixteen, particularly in terms of plastic pollution. So it was never a question of whether Tasi would prioritise sustainability; it was just a given. There are two key areas we look at to ensure that we are a responsible business: people and the planet. From a people perspective, we make all of our pieces here in Australia. I have one seamstress, Charlie, who has been with me full-time from the word go. And another seamstress, Deb, who works with us here part-time.

We have recently also started working with a small manufacturing house in Melbourne, which is accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia. While also supporting local industry and businesses, manufacturing in Australia lowers our contribution to fossil fuels.

In terms of the planet, our fabric is a beautiful textile called Tencel, which is regenerated from the wood cellulose of the eucalyptus tree. The cellulose is treated in a closed loop system, meaning no waste is produced. Our pieces are also made to order, which limits wastage. And then all of our garments are packed and shipped plastic packaging free.

Image: inside the Tasi Travels studio.

Rosie: How does Tasi Travels seek to close the loop through design?
 At Tasi we use the same one style of fabric and the same five colours throughout our entire collection; this means that if there is ever a style that isn’t selling well, the fabric is still being used throughout the rest of the collection and there is never any waste. Making to order also means we are only making stock that we have already sold. Our fabric, Tencel, is biodegradable when composted properly, so at the end of its life it won’t sit in landfill. 

I have a goal of getting all our garments to the point where each part can safely return to the earth at the end of its life. We are not quite there yet with all of our trimmings, but this is where we're heading. If there are ever any issues with garments that need mending, we will gladly take them back to repair in our studio and, thus, extend their lifetime.

Rosie: Can you tell us a bit about where you produce your pieces and what the average day looks like at the studio?
 Most of our pieces are still made in-house at our Sunshine Coast studio, with the remaining styles being made in our manufacturing house in Melbourne. Our Sunshine Coast studio is in our hometown of Moffat Beach; just a few streets away from the beach. There are so many amazing local businesses in this area – we are next door to a boutique brewery and just down the road from surfboard shapers, jewellers, authors and screen-printers.

Every day is different, depending on what we are working on. Charlie could be cutting, machining or pattern making, whereas I could be designing new products, sourcing fabrics, working with our wholesalers, managing production calendars, organising shoots or creating content.

Image: hanging out at the Tasi Travels studio.

Rosie: How do you seek to minimise your waste by focussing on a made-to-order production model?
Jess: Initially our made to order approach came about from a sustainable business model perspective. It allowed us to launch in a small, manageable way and learn from our customers what sizes, colours and styles they liked most before investing in hundreds of units of stock. But we’ve just been so busy from the moment we launched that we’ve never had any time to work on building up additional stock.

Sustainability definitely comes into this decision as well, because making to order means we are never sitting on stock that we can’t move. Even now, working with our Melbourne manufacturer who is doing bigger production runs, this is all stock that we have already pre-sold to our wholesale customers and it is based off sales data. We don’t bring out new styles seasonally like most fashion brands – over the past year we have only released two new women’s styles.

Rosie: Have you found that your prior experience running Tidal Magazine has informed your approach with Tasi Travels at all?
: Most definitely. I made a lot of mistakes with Tidal that stopped me from making the same ones with Tasi, but I’ve definitely made some different mistakes this time around too. I had a team of creatives with Tidal and always needed to be coordinating a hundred different tasks, pieces of content and deadlines – this experience has really helped now that I am managing bigger production calendars and more people. Tidal was all about people and it was successful because of the relationships we built with our community, and this is probably the biggest lesson I have taken into Tasi. Being kind and supportive to others is one of the best things you can do for your business – people remember that and will support that. I believe that your legacy is much bigger than the products you create; it is about how you make people feel.

Image: inside the Tasi Travels studio. 

Rosie: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your latest collection, which has just dropped on Well Made Clothes?
 I am very much inspired by nature and my own travels. Our new Wilder Wrap Dress is my favourite Tasi piece, because it perfectly combines practicality and style, in my eyes. I know that when I’m travelling, I love comfortable pieces that I can just throw on, but which will still carry me through from mornings at the beach, to afternoon wines at my local café. That is what inspired the design.

I have always been drawn to Australiana as well – I love our incredible country and all of the colours and native flora that goes with it. Our Wilder Wrap Dress also comes in a Native print, which features beautiful local flora that was hand-illustrated by an incredible local textile designer.

Rosie: And finally, what does ethical fashion mean to you personally?
Ethical fashion to me is about empowering people and feeling empowered in what we wear. It’s about making sure that everyone in the supply chain is looked after; not just those at the top. 

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