Instagram influencer, multiple business owner and former Oxford university student Grace Beverley, is a force to be reckoned with in the world of fitness. Just two years ago, she shot to social media fame after releasing her hugely successful Grace Fit Guide.
At twenty-two, Grace is named as one of the ‘top 20 most exciting entrepreneurs to watch’ for 2019, by the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, and now – this self-starter has launched an activewear brand like no other on the market, TALA.
But what makes her sustainable activewear different? We sat down with Grace to find out.
Hey Grace, we’re so excited to get to chat to you about your recent launch of TALA. What inspired you to venture into the world of sustainable activewear?
“Hey! Thanks for having me. So I guess it all started because I’ve had to work with active wear brands due to my job in the past, and quite a big part of my job is reviewing them in the fitness space. A lot of stuff was coming out about fast fashion and how bad it was, and I think people had two reactions. They wanted to keep buying amazing clothes at good prices, but they also wanted to be able to help the planet. So I started looking at sustainable brands, and as amazing as they were, most seemed to be marketed towards a particular type of person with a certain income. £100 for a pair of leggings just isn’t possible for a lot of people. It seemed that sustainability was a trendy thing so brands went, ‘we can charge a premium on that’. So I thought, let’s find a middle ground. At TALA, we sell activewear that’s 92% sustainable but the difference is, it’s affordable. Basically, we don’t want people to have to take out a loan to buy some leggings!”.
Amazing. So tell us, what makes your activewear sustainable?
“So a lot of our stuff is made from upcycled materials. We just released the REC collection which is tracksuits, a cropped hoodie and a jumper in grey and black. These are made out of plastic bottles, which are wound down into the yarn. On the other side, there is the CORE collection in grey, black and burgundy, which is seamless, and made from factory offcuts. We’re using materials that would otherwise be going to landfill, so being able to repurpose them into something people will buy, over non-sustainable brands, is great. Also, we are completely transparent! Our garments are produced and hand finished in Portugal. In the manufacturing, we are conscious of water usage, reducing co2 emissions, recycling and avoiding harmful chemicals. This is all so important in order to market ourselves as truly sustainable.”
Sounds right up our street. But we’re curious, how have you managed to keep the prices so low?
“Well, we had a lot of epiphanies along the way in terms of how other brands do it. In the end, it turned out that there were tiny, tiny compromises we could make. So, for example, by making the activewear just 2% less sustainable, in terms of the material we’re using, we were able to literally halve the price. So some of the products are 92% upcycled, instead of 94%, meaning we can price them at around £40 – rather than £80. In the grand scheme of things, we think it’s making a real difference because the amount of people who will buy TALA, is worth it for the compromise. So yeah, we are trying to make sustainability mainstream”.
You have thousands of loyal TALA customers already. How are you managing to meet the demands of fast fashion, when you’re in the business of slow fashion?
[Laughs] “Well yeah it’s been difficult! When we have 20,000 people trying to buy leggings as soon as they come out, it means we sell out fast and have to restock which takes time. People see big companies who are able to provide for that demand, but we are very much a slow fashion company, so we have to make sure things are done months in advance - we need to be elastic. Everyone has expectations of us as if we are a fast fashion company, when we are not - we pay our workers fairly and use sustainable materials, and I’m proud of that! TALA is worth the wait. We don’t feel comfortable with a trade-off between paying our workers a fair amount and having cheaper products – ethics comes first.”
So you’ve just graduated from Oxford, you’ve been running your social media accounts and launching TALA activewear at the same time? Are you superhuman?
“Well…people don’t realise I’ve been a business owner for two years now and that’s my full time job. Funnily enough, only 0.002% of my life is fitness nowadays, I know a lot about it, and I owe a lot the gym, but on a day to day basis that is fraction of what I do. I haven’t been to the gym in two weeks! My university experience was very full on too. At Oxford, you have one-on-one tuition and 10,000 words a week... There wasn’t really a way to swan through, as they don’t let you. So it was all very rewarding!"
What’s the best thing about TALA?
“This is my dream activewear brand. We’re different because we don’t want to be just attracting people who are sustainably minded already, we want people to think, ‘oh these leggings are cool – and they’re sustainable too!’. The idea is, you might buy our products when you’re not even thinking about being eco-friendly, you just want to look great – and it happens to be sustainable. Our new FLARE collection, in neon pink and yellow, is a great example of fun activewear that doesn’t cost the earth. We feel we’re fulfilling a niche that doesn’t exist yet.”
Finally – we’ve got to know, what does TALA mean?
“It’s a funny story actually, because it doesn’t really mean anything! I wanted to find a name that wasn’t associated with something already, we wanted the brand to come to mean something on its own. So I was looking at words in other languages, and I came across a fake translation for the word Tala, saying it meant a bright star – and I thought ‘I just like how the word sounds’. In the end, it didn’t mean that at all, it’s literally just a nice little name! Fingers crossed in a few years, it will be something people associate with our sustainable brand and we’ll be doing well in the fitness world!”