When Tara Jane was 21-year-old she made the bold decision to repurpose the $10,000 she’d saved for a European holiday to create her own swimwear line - and she hasn’t looked back since.
Tara launched TJ Swim from the laundry of her parent’s house in 2015 after seeing a gap in the market for high quality Brazilian coverage bikinis that would last longer than one summer.
Now, at 26-years-old. Tara’s brand is reported to be a multi-million dollar business, with stars such as Chrissy Teigen, Miley Cyrus and the Kardashians all donning the sunning bikinis on their Instagram accounts.
Speaking to Yahoo Lifestyle, Tara revealed that at the age of 21, social media was her second language, so she decided to leverage that to get her new business venture some exposure.
“Using Instagram I had access to millions of young girls who had similar interests to me so it was actually quite easy at the time to build an organic following. It was predominantly social media that helped,” Tara said.
Within months, the brand had blown up online, with sales of the minimalistic bikini designs going through the roof.
The brand only grew in popularity when some of the most well-known faces in the world started to wear the bikinis in their own Instagram photos.
“It’s crazy. I still have to pinch myself every time I see a celebrity wear a TJ Swim, it’s really cool,” Tara said.
“I think my favourite would have to be the Kardashians and Jenners though, because Keeping Up With The Kardashians is my guilty pleasure. I’ve also had Miley Cyrus and Chrissy Teigen, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, so it’s been very cool. It's very exciting.”
Tara explained many of their celebrity posts have been organic, as bigger celebrities like Kim Kardashian would be seeking compensation if they were to tag the brand.
“We do see the styles usually sell out but it’s usually not as quickly as when the celebrity tags,” she said.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, TJ Swim has seen a 50% increase in sales, although they were initially ‘a bit concerned’ about the impact travel bans around the world might have on the business.
“We did find that people are still travelling domestically and going to local beaches so there was an increasing demand. Customers have been really supportive and loyal and understanding during the uncertain times, and that was good,” Tara said.
The company also pivoted during the pandemic, making face masks from the fabric offcuts to minimise wastage.
Tara said they went down a storm with customers and they are constantly having to restock the face masks, which is “pleasantly surprising”.
While the Australian swimwear market is saturated with brands, TJ Swim have managed to set themselves apart from their competition by focusing on the quality of their designs and on “female empowerment and sustainability”.
“It's motivated us to differentiate ourselves and stand out amongst the crowd,” Tara said.
This passion for giving back motivated TJ Swim to partner with I=Change in August, meaning $1 from every purchase will be donated to one of three life-changing projects that are close to Tara's heart.
That includes Keep Girls In School (providing access to menstrual hygiene management that secures a girls education), Restore The Reef (preventing sediment reaching the Great Barrier Reef) and Prevent Women Dying ( supporting researchers uncover new drugs targets for chemo-resistant breast cancer).
So far, TJ Swim has helped remove 50 tonnes of sediment from the ocean and positively impacted approximately 200 women and young girls thanks to the partnership.
As for what’s next for the brand, Tara said she’s focused on “exploring new markets and continuing to empower women to look and feel their best. Also implementing further sustainable practices through the business and supply chain”.
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