The Latch has partnered with Set For Life to spotlight incredible Australians who are pursuing hobbies, side hustles and passions that feed their souls and enhance their lives. All our “Lifers” have the same thing in common: they’ve followed their dreams down a path to find true fulfilment.
Allie Evans had worked in the real estate industry in the eastern suburbs of Sydney for 20 years when she decided to change her career and life. In the pursuit of feeling “set for life”, she started to think about what would actually make her happy. She came to the conclusion that finding work that was enjoyable, inspired her daily, and where she was constantly learning and growing was a priority.
It’s this hunger for “more” that lead her to start the sustainable swimwear label, Tama.
Tama is a locally-designed swimwear label that puts sustainability front and centre, as a member of 1% for the Planet. The 1% initiative puts people and the planet above profit and every business that signs up (like Tama) commits to donating 1% of annual sales or salary to environmental causes. “I wanted to be able to give back in some way,” Evans tells The Latch. “I think is important for consumers to make more conscious decisions about how we spend our money and our responsibility as a business to support not-for-profit organisations.”
Keep on reading to find out how Evans started Tama and how it has added to her quality of life, every day.
Can you please tell me about yourself and your business?
I grew up in the Eastern suburbs of Sydney, and Tamarama Beach (Tama, for short) was always my favourite since I was a teenager — it draws many joyous nostalgic feelings. It’s one of my happy places. The warmth of the sun, a refreshing swim, a snooze on the sand, where even for an hour, stress and worry disappear, a place to find space and recharge.
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One of the swimwear prints is actually a photograph of a rock pattern at Tamarama, so I really enjoyed taking creative inspiration from nature and having the print featured in my first collection.
What inspired you to start Tama Swim?
I have always been creative; since I was a child and art was my favourite subject at school. My dad is a professional photographer and we have lots of creatives in the family, but somehow I fell into real estate, and while I love it (I’m a people person), it got to the point where I felt I had learned all there is to know.
I wanted to challenge myself creatively and also learn something completely new. I did an e-commerce course which got me started. I wanted to do swimwear as I am at the beach almost every weekend and it’s something I have always loved. I actually briefly did a TAFE fashion course when I was younger with the aim to design swimwear but I felt too overwhelmed at the time and thought it was better to get a job and start earning money.
When looking to start the swimwear business this time I realised that I don’t necessarily have to be behind a sewing machine — there are so many ways to outsource the design elements.
I felt empowered doing all the research myself and actually creating a beautiful product and seeing my visions become a reality. Launch day was also a proud, pinch-yourself moment where I couldn’t help but think, ‘I actually did all of this myself’.
What were you doing before you started Tama Swim and what was it like to run a business in the early days?
I was working as a business development manager in real estate and just felt like I had learned all there was to learn, and I wasn’t enjoying the nine-to-five anymore. I needed to reconsider what would make me happier and I realised my creative side wasn’t being nurtured.
As soon as I started the side hustle, the enjoyment levels of my real estate job increased again as I felt fulfilled and satisfied with a creative outlet I’d created for myself. Plus, I loved learning about a completely different industry.
My process of starting a business began with a lot of initial research and sourcing manufacturers. To balance it all, I ended up going down to four days per week at my real estate job and eventually took a reception role which was less demanding and not so much pressure, so I could focus on the swimwear launch. Now that Tama is more established, I am back to full-time property management and do the swimwear on the side. It’s nice to have the income to put back into the business in the early stages.
How has having this business improved your daily life?
It has made me feel more confident as a businesswoman and proud that I was able to create something beautiful that is also sustainable. It makes me feel good that I’m inspiring other women to shop sustainably, which I think is the way of the future — how and where we choose to spend our money can effect real change.