People often ask about the story behind TCA, so I thought it would be good to get something down in writing to share with our customers and followers. We're often so busy working on the next big idea, that we don't take the time to step back and think about how we got here. I'm proud that creating and building TCA has been an organic journey driven by creative, hard-working people, dedication, ambition and a love of sport, fitness and competition.
I started TCA in 2012 from my bedroom in Hackney, East London, with £100 of my own money. Recently graduated from university and having been rejected from multiple job applications, my goal was simply to turn that £100 into a small profit while I worked out what I would do with my new life as an adult. I had always dreamed of starting a business, but hadn't yet matched that ambition with a tangible idea.
The business took off when I launched a collection of technical compression sportswear (still some of our most popular products today). Compression wear had become very popular in the USA, and top athletes were starting to wear it during competition. I knew there was a space in the market for high-performance product that was fit for professionals, but accessible to amateur athletes like me.
I designed and developed the first collection myself, testing the product on runs and in football matches. I found a manufacturing partner and stored the product in my family home. Those early days included many long hours sat at a desk in the corner of my bedroom, packing each order by hand, printing labels and carrying a small bag to the Post Office to send them off to customers. Over the following months, that small bag turned into a rucksack, then a mailing sack, a suitcase, and eventually I needed a lift in the car. There were days when I spent so many hours packing orders that I barely made it to the Post Office before it closed. It was hard work but I loved every minute - I was living my dream of being an entrepreneur and building something from scratch.
Getting my first label printer was a game changer - saving me many hours with scissors and sellotape.
One of my fondest memories from this time was a van turning up at the family home and unloading about six enormous pallets of sportswear. I hadn't quite realised the physical footprint of that much product and I'm not sure who was more shocked, me or the driver. It was a strangely proud moment, seeing the entire hallway jammed with boxes of a product I had created. Eventually, when the living room resembled a warehouse and I literally couldn't pack orders fast enough, I outsourced the product fulfillment to another small company, freeing up my time to focus on building the product range and the team. TCA was starting to feel like a real business, but I had no idea just how much potential it had.
Next time in Part 2: Building the TCA team, visiting the Far East, creating new products!