The Women Who Start Their Own Fashion Business

Clarita Farrugia is the woman behind Tom Boi, a new Australian clothing line that which makes briefs and shorts for women and bois. The brand launched late in 2014 and has had great successes so far, with women who are were as fed up as Clarita with the quality and cuts of women’s underwear flocking to purchase these new bad-bois. Clarita speaks to The Women Who about how the company started and life as an entrepreneur.

Tom Boi was born from frustration at the current fashion industry, and it’s division of the sexes. How does a frustration become a business?

I am very fortunate to have the love and support from my family that enable me to have no fear of failure in all that I do and I am so thankful of this. It is this support that gave me the ability to make a decision to stop being frustrated and make a change to the gender specific clothing industry.

One of my favourite saying is ~Accept the things you can’t change; have the courage to change the things which you can; and have the wisdom to know the difference~

I decided that the frustration outweighed the fear and I was up for a new challenge so I just decided to make a change and I also wanted the clothes I am creating so it’s a win win.

What were you doing before launching Tom Boi?

I took some time to find my way professionally and went through many different jobs after reluctantly finishing secondary school until I was encouraged to go to university to not `waste` my talents. I successfully and very happily finished a double degree at Monash University, Gippsland in Sport and Outdoor Recreation and a Bachelor of Education. I went on to become what I never dreamed of, a secondary teacher at the same school that I went to for secondary education, Wellington Secondary College.

I love teaching and the energy that teenagers bring to life. If you give them the time of day and actually listen to them as people, they have some amazing thing to say. They are some of my biggest fans of Tom-Boi even before I had created anything, they just loved the idea and the passion I have for it.

What have been the best and most tedious parts about starting your own business in the fashion industry?

For the most part it has been a fun and energetic journey learning a whole new industry. I have a massive curiosity for life and learning so to be honest I have loved all of it, however the business side of things isn’t my favourite part. Doing all the research to build my business plan was fun but putting in the hard yards of writing up the business plan was a little tedious and I am also not a fan of doing the finances but it must be done until I can afford to hire someone to take it over.

The best parts are meeting with my designer to come up with the designs, colour ways and sampling. I have no fashion background other than loving shopping and putting my outfits together. I have found myself enjoying being part of the fashion industry and staying ahead of what is on the runways around the world. It can be difficult as Australia is always in the opposite season to the main fashion world but we aim to stay quite classic so the latest fashion isn’t always going to be an issue.

I have to admit that my marketing/PR/Social Media meetings with The Ideas Library girls Megan and Gwen over coffee and breakfast are awesome and I have to tear myself away to make sure I get all my other work done.

It is great being your own boss with the flexibility of making your own hours even if these can be long and odd sometimes.

What have the general reactions been to the line of ‘men’s underwear for women’ that Tom Boi has launched?

I can’t believe the support I get from everyone I talk to about what it is I am doing and how excited everyone is about the concept. Even the boyfriends of the excited girls love the idea as it means the boyfriends get their underwear back and girl get their own boi-boxers finally.

The amazing reaction is coming from all age groups, even teenagers are super excited about it all and the excitement is coming from all over the world. We now have happy customers from Belgium, Switzerland, US, UK and New Zealand.

The big question is when you will expand the range cos the concept is loved so much. We will expand slowly to ensure we are in the fashion business for a very very long time.

Clarita’s company, Tom-Boi, is a Melbourne based company born from frustration of a fashion industry that keeps clothes almost always gender specific.