The motivation behind starting Tom-Boi came from my love of men’s clothing. There were many men’s fashion pieces I adored and would want for myself, but they never fit that well on a woman’s body. I also knew many other women who experienced the same. There was a gap in the market, and with absolutely no fashion or business knowledge, I decided to fill it.
At the time, I was working as a secondary school P.E. teacher, and in this role I was constantly exposed to teenage girls with body image issues, struggling with their own sense of self against society’s image of how a woman should look and dress. Thus, Tom-Boi was built upon the message of empowering women to be anything they want to be and wear whatever makes them happiest.
From this evolved a fascination with the word ‘tomboy’ and a desire for it to be representative of a female who is free from the restrictions of social gender rules. If you think about what a tomboy is, really it is just a girl who isn’t afraid to do what she wants to do, despite what society says she should do or how she should behave. I think we all have an inner tomboy and we are here to hear them roar!
So from these idealistic beginnings, Tom-Boi was born!
I love that I get to be part of all areas of the business, so every day is different from the last and I am always learning something new and exciting.
Mostly though, it lights me up to be able to provide a product that women want but have never been able to have – Australia’s first and ONLY women’s boxer brief – while simultaneously creating a brand that makes people who are part of it feel like they belong to a wider community of empowered women, aka tomboys.
Firstly, I started a fashion label with next to no starting capital, and secondly, I started with NO experience in any area of business, fashion, marketing or sales. As I said earlier, I left my job as a P.E. teacher and took a chance. It has been two years of steep learning and really thinking outside the square to generate exposure.
It’s not easy staying motivated when you’re on a shoestring and results are slow-coming. Whenever I find myself in a slum, I think about the greater purpose behind Tom-Boi and find I am encouraged to keep persevering knowing that this is bigger than me.
A well placed PR campaign resulted in attracting an entrepreneur, Hayley Barrett, to invest in and become a partner in the business. Realising that people believe in the brand and want to get behind it has really helped to overcome the challenges that come with starting on a shoestring.
For sure, there were many days, especially at the beginning, when there was so much to learn and do while I was still working full-time. For me I find that my 9am “Quote of The Day” app is really helpful (never underestimate the power of a good quote) and is mostly the boost I need.
Taking a step back and remembering that there are bigger and more important things in life and that this is just what I am doing at the moment. I accept that I will not enjoy every aspect of what I am doing and that a down moment or day will pass, as they always do – so just keep swimming!
Leaving the comfort of a secure teaching career to jump head first into the completely unknown world of fashion designer/business owner with no fashion background, business knowledge, business partner or capital. This is all about the dream!
Every mistake is a lesson or part of life’s master plan to take you in a different direction so always keep an eye out for why something isn’t happening the way you imagined and just go with it. Some of Tom-Boi’s signature styles come from mistakes in communication with our manufacturer! Who knows, your next accident might be the next biggest thing.
Also be curious about everything!