“Some inherit a love for cooking, others an affinity for music. I inherited a passion for fashion,” says local designer, entrepreneur, and owner of TC Designs, Tara Cannon.
From as early as Cannon remembers, she recalls her grandmother seated behind a sewing machine. Through this influence she was sewing her own aprons and doll dresses by the time she was ten, and by the time she was 16, she started designing and make her own clothes.
Cannon remembers buying her first sewing machine in Grade 9, and how this further ignited her desire to become a fashion designer.
“As soon as I bought my first sewing machine after months of saving, I started making clothes for myself and friends. It was fun, but at that stage going on to start my own business was the furthest thing from my mind,” says Cannon.
After matriculating, she went on to do a diploma in fashion at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and it was during this time that she started receiving a lot more exposure for her work.
“I started posting my outfits that I made for myself and friends on my social media and the amount of traction I received was so inspiring. The orders flooded in,” Cannon adds.
After graduating, her plan was to find a position as a buyer for a fashion retailer.
“I started searching for a job but found that I did not even have time to do that. I was seeing an average of three clients a day, and I was doing well financially too. This is when I sat down with my parents and my boyfriend and decided to give up the job search and start building my own brand,” says Cannon.
She recalls not even having a moment to fully digest the decision as she was snowed under with orders for bridesmaids’ dresses, matric ball outfits, and the occasional bridal gown.
“I had to really sit down and challenge myself to think like a business owner. This did not happen overnight. The things I had to think about ranged from opening a business account, registering my business, registering my taxes, and figuring where this venture was going,” she explains.
Almost seven years in and Cannon is still refining her business as it grows with her.
When asked where she sees her brand in the next five years, she expressed a desire to grow into a bridal boutique.
For now, she still rents studio space at her parents’ home. This assists her in saving on rental costs and allows her the flexibility of being able to receive clients in a comfortable space at any hour.
“I’ve always worked from home. This has allowed me to dictate my time completely and its enabled me the flexibility of being able to see clients at their convenience. I always think of myself as a family brand. Consulting from my home has allowed me to enjoy and build a personal relationship with each client I invite into my space. They all become part of the TC family,” she explains.
Starting and maintaining a business in this already-saturated industry is hard. Cannon estimates that the start-up costs of the basic equipment, namely an over locker and a lockstitch machine, can set you back anywhere between R10,000 to R30,000 each.
Cannon says that she was lucky to have gotten her equipment through connections her grandmother had made, but she recognises that for those starting out who do not have this amount of money saved up, it can be a challenge.
“Starting a business is expensive. I was lucky enough to not have to rely on any loans, as I had the equipment and workspace. But for others it is not as easy,” Cannon adds.
Today she is juggling finishing a bridesmaid’s dress in between frequent feeds of her two-month-old baby.
“I love having my own business. I love creating and growing as a business woman. It’s a privilege to be able to invest in myself and my vision instead of helping someone else build theirs.”