At the beginning of the pandemic, things changed dramatically and in the course of the following months we all went through what seemed unimaginable. During this time my mum was diagnosed with cancer and I found myself in a place which seemed even more surreal than what was going on in the world already. Waking up every morning with severe anxiety and wishing everything could just be normal like it was, it took me time to pick myself up.
After an emotional time struggling to get through the mornings especially, simple tasks like preparing my to do list the night before, waking up early and working out in the morning became easier and I started planning, sketching and coming up with ideas for designs. Soon, I woke up every morning to do what I love, I woke up knowing that I had a real life purpose and it helped me deal with what my mum was going through and gave me the strength to support her.
I have been designing, sketching, sewing, painting, singing, dancing all my life and yet it felt like nothing ever came of it. I tried so hard the past years to start my own fashion brand but I could never afford it or find the time to figure out other ways. I worked with companies that promised to do “everything” for me all I had to do was design and promote. Nothing came of it.. and I’m thankful. ( I was too young and naive and thought this is the way forward). I took a lot of time off in the past years isolating myself for weeks, designing, sewing, contacting manufacturers and checking possibilities and it felt like I was working for nothing every time. I hit many dead ends when it came to finding manufacturers who can turn my designs into real pieces, quantities, financing… I cried each time and I would soon forget about it and push my thoughts to the back of my mind.
Finally, TLAASE happened because I could find the time and funds to create my own designs, all by myself. I went through the sampling process, set up operations including website and shipping and many other steps, small and large, towards finalising and launching this brand, without support from any third parties. I spent everyday for the past year constantly perfecting each design with a small factory in Nancun Town China. I quickly became close with their Ceative Director as we discussed every design in detail and they could see my vision. We were able to agree on the right conditions we needed for TLAASE including minimums and more importantly my often unconventional requirements for the designs.
The name TLAASE came from “tlase” a word in my native language Sotho, it stands for “down”. The extra “a” is included to hint at the pronunciation and for aesthetic reasons lol! I went for this specific word because of how down I felt during the creation process of this brand, my mums illness, every time I hit a dead end, every time I hit such a low, I couldn’t get out of bed.
It might sound odd, but I want a reminder of all the previously mentioned things because the biggest thing I learned about anxiety and depression is that you have to face the cause and work through it there is no hiding from it, there is no running away, no matter how much you ignore it, it will keep coming back until you try. It’s a reminder for myself, and anybody who understands and identifies with this story.
So.. TLAASE is for the Fearless, the Unapologetic, the Free, the Diverse, the Ordinary and mostly importantly for ALL.
- Nyane | founder & designer