Jess (Jessica Abraham) is an amazing young Sunshine Coast chick paving her own way in the design world. Creating the label
Tasi Travels is more about a lifestyle than "fashion" and we absolutely love that and all that she stands for as a person and as a label. Tasi Travels is a label that is Ethically manufactured right here on the Sunshine Coast, made from Sustainable materials and created for adventures and the adventurous at heart.
GRB: We ask everyone this question because we froth on our local community and we want to know why it is special to others.
So what do you love about working and living on the East Coast of Australia and does it influence your designs?
JESS: Lifestyle is really big for me and is a key driving factor when I make any decisions about work or other opportunities. It’s really important to me that no matter what I’m doing, I’m able to work flexible hours and work remotely as I love to travel and sneak out to surf during the day. I am so fortunate to live and work in beautiful Moffat Beach on the Sunshine Coast, and this again comes down to the amazing lifestyle this allows. We have such an incredible, collaborative community here on the Coast and this definitely influences my work, particularly the way I work. I’ve collaborated with so many local creatives since launching Tasi and am inspired by the business community here at home every day.
GRB: Why is it so important to you to use sustainable fabrics?
JESS: Textiles are a massive part of why the fast fashion industry is so detrimental to the environment; the amount of water, pesticides and toxic chemicals used is staggering. The predominate fabric we use is called Tencel and is regenerated from the wood cellulose from the eucalyptus tree. It’s made in a closed-loop system which means no waste is produced throughout the process, and no harmful chemicals are used in production. Tencel also doesn’t wrinkle and dries quickly, so it’s perfect for travel! We also use a small selection of hemp and organic cotton in some of our pieces.
Choosing sustainable fabrics just comes down to basic business responsibility for me, I am always going to choose the option that causes the least harm possible, both in production and at the end of the garment’s lifetime. Plus sustainable fabrics just feel so much more amazing on your skin, have you ever compared hemp to polyester? It’s a no brainer!
GRB: How has travel inspired you and how does it impact your design process?
JESS: Travel is so important for inspiration, understanding and fresh perspective. A trip to Timor-Leste late last year was actually what inspired Tasi Travels (Tasi means ocean in the local Tetun language). I had found it really difficult to know what to pack for their climate; East Timor is in the high 30 degrees but also a very conservative culture, so you need to be covered up. I was inspired to start a brand of sustainable travelwear that focused on minimalism and practicality, meaning you could travel lightly and easily, while still looking and feeling good.
Travel for me is so important as it creates space for ideas to be born. When we’re at home we are often so distracted by the day-to-day, or we just can’t see innovation clearly as we’re too “in” the business. I recently had a month off and took my van down to the South Coast, and during this time of slow, mindful travel I found so much clarity around what I wanted for my business and clear ideas on how to get there. Travel allows us to grow as individuals, which means our businesses will naturally follow suit.
GRB: One of the main goals of our blog is to showcase local designers and their stories but also to inspire others through sharing your story. So we wanted to get a bit of your background as a designer. How did you get in to fashion and design?
JESS: I actually have no background in fashion and design, and I’m not overly comfortable calling Tasi a “fashion” brand. I’ve always been incredibly passionate about ocean conservation, since my early teens. When I graduated high school I did my first year of an Environmental Science/Marine Science degree but ended up deferring when I realized uni wasn’t right for me. During this time I was still running Tidal Magazine, my first business. I started working in marketing in 2014 and have been doing that part time since, as well as graphic design.
I think not having a fashion/design background has actually been to my advantage in this instance. Particularly when it came to me being so hell-bent that all of my practices were of the highest responsibility to people and planet. In speaking to other fashion designers with years of training and experience, it’s been harder for them to backtrack and implement sustainable practices because it goes against what they were taught, and it’s been difficult to contradict all of that knowledge. Whereas for me, I had absolutely no idea about anything, so when I started, with every decision or step that I went through I was able to make sure it was sustainable from the get go. Maybe what I was doing was wrong, or more expensive or harder, but I was none the wiser so I just did it anyway.
I have definitely been really fortunate in that I have so many amazing connections through Tidal, so I’ve had an army of people that I’ve been able to call on to ask questions or bounce ideas off. But I’m definitely a thrown in the deep end person, that’s always been the way I learn best.
GRB: Tell us a little about your manufacturing process and what about that process is important to your label?
JESS: All of our pieces are handmade to order here on the Sunshine Coast by my wonderful seamstress Charlie. Manufacturing locally has always been really important to me; as well as supporting local industry and local businesses, it also allows me to intimately know every step of my supply chain and to be able to oversee production. We also make our pieces to order in an effort to minimize wastage and allow customisations.
GRB: Grass Roots is all for supporting new designers and creative minds. Any final advice for anyone just starting out now?
JESS: Start today. If there’s something you’re passionate about, something you believe in, if there’s an idea that’s been in the back of your mind for some time, start putting the wheels in motion today. A lot of people have been surprised that we launched our first Tasi collection eight months after I had the idea, but that’s always how I’ve worked. You could spend months, years working on a concept without even knowing if it has legs yet – but I think there’s a lot of value in getting an idea out into the world early. You’ll make a bunch of mistakes but you’ll learn fast, you’ll scale first.
And just talk to and learn from as many people as you can. It’s such a circular community in the creative/start-up world, when I started Tidal I was always meeting people for coffee to pick their brains about things, then when Tidal took off and my platform grew within that industry I had so many people coming to me to ask me questions, then when I started Tasi I was back at square one and needing support from others in the industry, and now Tasi is up and running and I have some experience, I’m having others again come to me. I always try to be as open as possible to sharing my time and knowledge, as I know that there’ll be a time when I need that myself. So don’t ever be afraid to reach out to someone you admire or to ask questions.