August 1, 2018
Style with Substance
A trip to East Timor inspired Jess Abraham to transition into the fashion industry; an area that she had very little experience in. But it was years of working as an environmentalist with a clear vision for her life, that led to the creation of a label that was completely innovative in the industry.
With a passion for the environment, a deep-seeded love of travel, and a trusty steed in the form of a silver campervan by her side, Jess Abraham could easily be mistaken for your average 20-something living the Sunshine Coast life. But don’t be fooled by her chilled vibe, Jess has accomplished more in her 23 years than most of us will do in a lifetime, as the owner of fashion label, Tasi Travels. But like all good stories, the transition only came about by accident when Jess discovered the answer to a problem most of us don’t even realise we have.
With a background in plastic pollution, Jess and her friends travelled to East Timor for a part-holiday, part-beach clean-up trip in 2016. Jess had been the owner/editor of Tidal Magazine for four years prior and was feeling it was about time to try something new. On the very day she decided to call it quits on Tidal, an idea sprung to mind that would utilise her passion for the environment while fixing a problem regularly encountered when traveling overseas.
“I struggled so much to pack for that trip because East Timor is so hot, but really conservative,” she says. “I remember I had this big suitcase full of stuff, which just felt excessive and the whole packing situation wasn’t as easy as it could have been. I’d taken a dress that I thought was appropriate, but it was just designed so poorly and the fabric and the cut was so frustrating. I said to a friend that I wish it was easier to find travel clothing.”
Tasi translates to “ocean” in the local Tetun language from the Atauro Island in Timor-Lest (East Timor).
Full of inspiration, Jess returned to Australia and immediately began working on a travel clothing label; something completely new and innovative to the fashion industry. The only problem was, Jess’s only experience in the fashion industry was writing an article here and there for Tidal.
“I’d been environmentally-conscious my whole life, but I knew nothing about the fashion industry until a couple of years ago. I had no idea of the impact. In one of the issues of Tidal we did an interview with a designer and she talks a lot about the ethics and sustainability. That was when it started ticking over in my head. When I had the idea for Tasi I knew I wasn’t going to go ahead unless it was as environmentally friendly as possible,” she explains.
Jess began researching fabrics and came across tencel; a fabric that is not only crease-free and quick-drying, making it ideal for travel, but biodegradable with minimal impact on the environment during production. It’s created using the wood cellulose from eucalyptus trees, which are grown on marginal land unsuitable for crops using minimal water. Tencel is more absorbent than cotton, softer than silk and cooler than linen. It was the perfect solution for fuss-free travel; exactly what Jess had been searching for.
Since officially launching in April 2017, Jess’s made-to-order manufacturing system has provided full time work for her seamstress, Charlie Mackay (a previous Profile cover star from February 2015). So much so that they’re now having to outsource some of their manufacturing to an ECA (Ethical Clothing Australia) accredited manufacturer in Melbourne.
Having recently launched new lines and a new campaign, the future of Tasi Travels is promising, thanks to Jess’s clear vision, which she’s fostered over the last couple of years.
“I’ve been pulled towards the right intentions and been clear on what I want for the business,” she says.
“Even for months before Tasi, I had this statement of what I wanted for my life and the kind of work I wanted to do and what I wanted that to be. I didn’t know what it would look like but it was just how I wanted it to feel when I had it. And that’s exactly what Tasi is now.”
Jess has also recently launched a new project called Travel with Purpose, which offers small group journeys with a purpose to amazing travel destinations. Much like the one that originally inspired her.x
“The clothing I love and will always be a part of it but it’s not my sole purpose. I have a vision that I’d love for all the profits that we’re making from the clothing to funnel back into these projects,” she says.
“I’m pretty open to whatever happens next. I’ve always been like that. I feel like the right opportunities and the right people come to you.”
1. Elsewhere Tee Black rrp $59 with Wilder Wrap Skirt Moss RRP $179, available at tasitravels.com 2. Baggu bag RRP $69.95, available at wellmadeclothes.com.au 3. Kate Spade New York Wireless Headphones RRP $249.95, available at theiconic.com.au 4. Roamer Shorts Charcoal RRP $119, available at tasitravels.com 5. Fallen Broken Street Bambi Wide Brim Hat RRP $109.95, available at theiconic.com.au 6. Birkenstock Arizona RRP $149.95, available at Footgear, Maroochydore