SELF TALK w/
founder of B_ND, TALA + SHREDDY
Did you always think you would do business?
I studied music, completely unrelated but that’s why I worked at IBN beforehand because I always knew I wanted to go into corporate business side. My ultimate dream was to have a company at the end, but I always wanted to do 5-6 years with experience and then see where that took me. I knew I wanted to do something businessy, but I would have never sat down and said I want to start a business, I’ve got a passion for entrepreneurship. It was more I need money, what can I sell, I had a lot of knowledge but I was like I don’t want to sell anything until I have a personal training qualification, which I don’t have. Now everything’s approved by a personal trainer, but at that time I was like I don’t have a qualification this is the same as your friend telling you what to do. We brought out about 3 more guides, and started looking into resistance bands, because the shitty rubber ones were always in gyms but would do next to nothing compared to the fabric ones, but the fabric ones would be like £40. It’s like who’s going to spend £40 on a piece of fabric, so we started looking into it and started producing them and selling them for £14. So they could be accessible, and they look nice so that people can actually feel good going to the gym, and now the idea with BND having all these cute accessories, cute work out gear, two years ago that didn’t exist. Two years ago I had two pairs of leggings, two sports bras from sports direct, I wore them every single time I worked out for 2-3 years. You didn’t just buy things because they look nice, or because they add something to your workout, but now going to the gym all you’re little accessories that match each other, that are ethical, all of this it automatically adds to your workout or your home, whatever it might be. I think we had 200 to buy, because 200 to buy is expensive too. They literally sold out in seconds, and we had 40,000 people on the sight trying to buy them, so we were like there’s clearly a market for this. They haven’t been marketed to anyone other than the bodybuilding community, but people should use them they are soooo good! So we said, we’re on to something. We amped up the production, we bought the factory, we made it so that it was constantly running and it just grew and grew. Now it’s two years on, we’ve completely rebranded, we’ve had over 50 products.
How has it changed your life, you have a pretty massive platform?
Positively obviously huge things, it’s given me the platform to create these businesses it’s completely fast tracked that for me. I have no idea how much it would change it, for example to start TALA, I had to go to investors like I did to essentially ask them do you have manufacturers, could you do this, that I couldn’t have done that without the guarantee of the fact that. Well obviously I had proof from BND, but the BND proof came from the fact that I had a following. So I already have signed a huge influencer from the fact that I’m obviously influencing for all the brands. Beyond that the support and love has been mad, I can bitch about social media so much because its hard, you could be having the shittest day you log on and someone’s like ‘I know where your house is I’m going to find you and kill you.’ It happens even if you want to go to a festival or something, for example at uni events, there’s loads of students there that is like walking into instagram for me. I think it definitely affected my uni experience, I wouldn’t say in a bad way because I was able to pay my way through uni and now only have one year of student debt which is incredible. But it definitely gave me bad social anxiety, someone would look at me and it was probably because I was in the way or something. But I would suddenly think ‘Omg they think I’m ugly in person’ or ‘Omg they hate me’. Things like that you think because it’s the shit you pay attention to online, most of it is so nice but you pay attention to the bad stuff which is human. It’s hard to get beyond that, you might look like shit but you just want to get something from the shops and people are their tapping friends. I’m not even huge, i’m not a celebrity, i’m not blasted out to the internet, I’m not on love island where millions of people are watching everyday where they think they have their full view of you. But like even I get it badly, I can be quite an anxious person, someone can walk up to me on the street and grab me saying ‘OMG Grace!’ It’s like why would you touch me without my permission, I mean surely that’s something you don’t do, but people do. Especially because I’ve got such a lovely following who actually ride for me, my success and beyond the fact that I might look nice in a picture. My top posts are actually me just experiencing life, people want me to do well.
How long did it take you to develop T/ala?
A year, it was really really quick. The time is now in terms of sustainable and ethical, so the fact that I knew exactly what I wanted my first collection to look like in terms of how it fit in terms of the product and terms of the business. I always was interested in a similar thing, but I never thought I could do a clothing brand because I kind of just thought I wasn’t cool enough because I was like I wouldn’t go off my taste. But I really know active wear, I really know it. I know how I want it to perform, feel and look. I think active wear is the best if you feel like you can wear it to lunch with someone, but you can also wear it to a gym class. All my favourite clothes now, are T/ALA. Our brand guidelines were all based around the fact that we were a sustainable active wear brand. Then we brought it out and did our tracksuit stuff too and people were like this is amazing, I finally feel like I can be myself whilst shopping sustainably and ethically.
The idea that you can have something that’s good quality and a basic, but actually its not basic. Even when I did buy fast fashion, and try and get a basic T shirt. It comes and it’s A: See through, B: Not soft and C: Breaks through weeks later. It’s like I want basics that make me feel good, that accentuate what makes me feel good and look good. A lot of brands will go to a certain size, and even if they’re really inclusive with their sizing, they won’t look at how something will fit differently if you’re a size 6 or a size 20, they won’t look at that. Whereas what we wanted to do, was have everybody not just be able to buy it but actually feel confident in it, being able to feel amazing and say I look good. Especially in the fitness industry, it’s accessible to people who are a certain size, but we are so fatphobic and yelling at people “You’re so unhealthy!” All of this, yet you can’t even buy active wear, you can’t even feel good in the gym. But people don’t just go to the gym loose weight, you can go just to feel healthy, to feel good about yourself or literally to use it as therapy. But people have this concentration on the fact that you need to even look a certain way to even go to the gym, but it’s like where did that even come from? So we thought a lot about how we wanted to come across, and in terms of inclusivity we wouldn’t launch the brand until we could be fully with what we stand for. We didn’t want to have anything to hide, I think that’s one of the biggest things for T/ALA. We can expand shamelessly since our launch, we don’t need to change our production because we are sustainable and ethical. These big brands are going to have to change soon, I really hope they do but we can just continue going, we’ve got the demand we can just brainstorm and go. We want to bring on trend items, that is sustainable and ethical that you can buy from us instead of the next shop because of that fact. We don’t want to just shout at people and say stop this or stop that, we want to provide a middle ground, which is a really good middle ground. For example the leggings are made from 92% of upcycled materials, which would have gone to landfills or incinerated which in terms of Co2 is awful and also there are people out there who need clothes and clothing brands do it to maintain their brand identity so that nothing goes on sale. So things like this we need to have stepping stones, I would love someone to buy from us once a year and we’re the only one they buy from because that way technically they’re only buying recycled materials which is amazing. But also would love someone to stop shopping at the equivalent brand that’s not recycled or upcycled or even sustainable at all and doesn’t care about anything other than their business as a success, you know fair enough. I’d rather shop from things like the tracksuits that are made from plastic bottles.