While finding ethically made clothing that suits my personal style is becoming easier than it was two years ago, finding clothes for men that fit my stringent criteria has been like finding a needle in a haystack.
Worry not, as I’ve found the perfect place to begin to introduce your partner, boyfriend, friend, brother or Dad to the world of ethics and sustainability in fashion, and that they do not have to be mutually exclusive, or must therefore lack in style. Plus, it’s a place for women to find stylish, yet practical pieces that are perfect for travel. Win-win.
Tasi travels is a small business that was designed with the purpose in mind of creating clothing that is perfect for travel and adventures. Their ethos surrounds that of minimalism; buying less, but buying better. All of the garments they offer are designed to last a lifetime and don’t harm the environment in their creation.
How? Well, each garment is handmade and made to order in the Sunshine Coast and Melbourne, Australia. As a result, making pieces to order means that Tasi doesn’t sit on stock, and as a result there is no wastage. They also use one of the most sustainable fabrics available, called Tencel. Tencel is part of the Lyocell family and is made from sustainably grown wood cellulose from the eucalyptus tree.
These trees are grown on marginal land which is unsuitable for food crops, and are grown with minimal water. When the cellulose is treated to be turned into fabric, it’s done so in a closed loop system, which means that there is no waste produced and the solvents that are used to help treat it are recycled with a recovery rate of 99.5%.
The goal of Tasi, is to offer an ethically made, sustainably sourced wardrobe of travel essentials, where you can travel with less and use the same items more. This philosophy is yet another reason why Tencel was chosen as it is incredibly breathable, more absorbent than cotton, softer than silk and cooler than linen. All of the garments are also designed to be appropriate for both conservative cultures and hot climates, while also offering coverage as well as relief from the heat with light, breathable materials.
On top of creating a mindful product, Tasi also offer trips called ‘Travel with Purpose’.
These trips are designed for those looking to dive deeper into travel, to connect more with local people and culture and to have a truly authentic travel experience. Part of these trips include working on marine debris projects combatting plastic pollution. It’s the perfect extension of the Tasi brand.
Behind the Brand:
An interview with Jess Abraham, the founder of Tasi Travels.
What made you start Tasi Travels?
Tasi was inspired by a trip I took to Timor-Leste (East Timor) in late 2016. Timor is an incredible country, but the time of year we were there was incredibly hot and humid, however it's also a conservative culture so you need to be covered up. I'd found it really difficult to pack for the trip - everything I owned was either a really thick material or it wrinkled, or it didn't dry quickly or you just couldn't wear it a lot throughout the trip (I'm all about minimal packing).
After a sunrise walk one morning I had offhandedly said to one of the girls I was travelling with that I wished it was easier to find well made, practical, yet stylish travel clothing. I just couldn't get the idea out of my head the rest of the trip and as soon as I got home I started researching and planning.
What has been the most challenging thing you have uncovered since the beginning?
There are so many challenges everyday when you have your own business and some of them can feel really crippling sometimes. Managing cash flow and margins has been really hard and it's something I still lie in bed at night stressing over a bit too regularly. Manufacturing in Australia using high quality, sustainable fabrics comes at a cost, but it's something that is really important to me so I know I can make it work.
Within the ethical fashion community, there's a big question that we ask which is 'who made my clothes?'. In the scope of Tasi Travels, who made your clothes? Can you tell us a bit about them?
Up until very recently my amazing seamstress Charlie has made all of our garments, with the assistance of her mum Deb who works with us a couple of days a week. Charlie works full-time from our Moffat Beach studio and has been with me from day one of Tasi. We've recently outgrown our capacity out of our studio alone, so we have just started working with the wonderful team at LCN Fashion in Melbourne as well (accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia).
Why did you pick the fabrics or materials that you have chosen to work with?
I had two key criteria that my fabric had to meet when I started researching; it needed to be a fabric that was kind on the planet but it also needed to be practical for travel; lightweight, quick dry and wrinkle resistant. I didn't even know if a fabric like this existed, but I started researching and came across Tencel - which has been amazing!
Tencel is regenerated from sustainably grown wood cellulose from the eucalyptus tree. These eucalyptus trees are grown on marginal land unsuitable for food crops are are grown with a minimum of water, using sustainable forestry initiatives. The cellulose is treated in a closed loop system, meaning no waste is produced and the solvents are recycled with a recovery rate of 99.5%. It is an exceptionally soft fabric, with a smooth and cool feeling against the skin. Tencel is more absorbent than cotton, softer than silk and cooler than linen, making it perfect for travel!
Best piece of advice you have ever received?
I read this quote in the book 'Leap Stories' by Of Kin and it's come to mind a lot lately when having to make tough decisions..
"You can be comfortable or you can be courageous, but you can't be both at the same time."
Last week I quit my job with an amazing company who I've been with for five years so I could pursue Tasi full time. This was such a hard decision and during this time that quote came to mind a lot, but I really believe a lot of the time it takes doing something that scares the hell out of you to get to where you want to be.
Why was it important to you to make your brand ethical?
Ethics and a responsibility to the environment have always been really important to me. I first got involved with the environmental movement when I was about 15 or 16 and have been really active in that space ever since, particularly in the area of ocean conservation and plastic pollution. It's never been a question to me whether my business would be responsible to people and planet, that's just a non-negotiable to me.
What is something others wouldn't know about starting an ethical business that you think they should?
I think most people would expect the answer to this question to be a warning about something, but actually I've found this industry to be so surprising in the best ways. When I first started Tasi I was a bit lost as to where to start in looking for manufacturers in Australia. I reached out to a few brands who I knew manufactured in Australia asking if they would be able to share their contacts with me and they all replied straight away and were so helpful.
This really surprised me, I was expecting to get ignored - there's no way a fast fashion brand would share their manufacturing details with you. But as one of the brand owners said to me, "we've all gotta work together to keep this industry alive!" And that's exactly how I've found the ethical fashion industry, everyone is so supportive and so willing to share and help.
One tip you'd give to others who are wanting to start their own business?
Get clear on your vision for your life first.
I'm pretty big on intention setting and I have never seen more rapid growth or more amazing opportunities come to me than in the times that I have been super clear on what I want and where I'm heading. Take time to think about the kind of life you want, the values that are important to you, the kind of schedule and routine you want to have (or not have) and the impact you want to make. Then go back to your business, make sure it aligns with all of these things - because if it doesn't it's always going to be a fight.
Where do you envision Tasi Travels in the future?
I've always been pretty open to the idea that Tasi might expand into areas I never imagined and the first sign of that happened this year. We recently launched a new initiative called 'Travel With Purpose;' small group trips to remote parts of the world for epic travel experiences with a purpose. We are currently leading several trips a year to Timor-Leste - the reason I was in Timor in the first place when I had the idea for Tasi was as part of a marine debris program a good friend of mine had set up.
These trips are continuing that work in running beach clean-ups and working with the local community to reduce plastic pollution. It's still the early days for these trips so I don't know exactly where they will end up but I'm pretty excited about taking Tasi in that direction.
What or who inspires you to do what you do on a daily basis?
I'm inspired by lots of different things in different ways. Over the last few years I've spent a lot of time thinking about the kind of life that I want to lead, the kind of work I want to do and how I want my days to look. Getting really clear on that has been a big inspiration for me; even though having your own business can be really hard sometimes (a lot of the time), I'm motivated to work hard because I know I am creating the life of my dreams.
I'm creating a life that's really my own, built on values that are important to me. Running the kind of business I do, I'm also inspired by travel and the places I've been, and the fact that my work could inspire others to travel themselves and have similar incredible, authentic experiences.
Do you have a morning routine? If so what is it you do to set yourself up for the day ahead?
Lately I've been doing pilates most mornings of the week which has actually been really amazing - it's such a good energy boost for the day and I'm always in a much better mood when I'm active first thing in the morning. As the weather starts to get warmer again I'll be back to surfing and spending time in the ocean a lot of mornings too - the ocean is my favourite place in the whole world and when I start my day that way I always have that big stupid grin on my face all day haha.
One book everyone should read? Why?
It's not ethical fashion related but 'Tracks' by Robyn Davidson is my favourite book - I've read it so many times. It's such a great story of ditching society's expectations and chasing what's in your heart. I always get the itchiest feet when I read that book.
One documentary everyone should watch? Why?
This answer is probably given pretty often but 'The True Cost' honestly changed a lot for me. I was only just starting to learn about fast fashion and it's impact on people and planet when I was first told to watch this doco, and after seeing it there was no way I could go back from there. Once you know you know - and that's why I've become quite passionate about sharing what I've learnt, because at one point in my life I didn't know, so I can't get frustrated and expect everyone else to know too.
Are there any other Movers & Shakers out there in your world that you think people should know about?
My amazing friends at Clean Coast Collective (@cleancoastcollective) are doing such incredible work in the marine debris space, definitely check them out. In terms of ethical fashion my seamstress Charlie has recently launched a business called Common Stitch, a pattern and clothing brand that encourages customers to make their own garments, it's a pretty amazing concept!