Read Part 1 here: https://tca.fit/blogs/blog/the-tca-story-part-1
In the summer of 2013, TCA existed as a tiny business with three products and 1000 ideas. I was introduced to a super-smart young manufacturing expert named Ivy, who became TCA’s first employee. Born in China but living in London, Ivy could speak Mandarin, Cantonese and English perfectly. She had worked with garment manufacturers both big and small and had a hard-working and no-nonsense attitude: perfect for TCA!
Ivy and I got on a plane that summer to Guangzhou, China to visit the Canton Fair, otherwise known as the world’s biggest trade show. It was here that we met the amazing people who would ultimately become TCA’s manufacturers and vital partners. We also visited our current suppliers who we had been in contact with via phone and email. I can clearly remember their shocked faces, expecting a senior, suited businessman and instead meeting a 23 year-old kid.
Outside the Canton Fair in Guangzhou, China. It took three full days to see the whole show.
The Far East has a mixed reputation for product quality, but in our industry it's where you can find some of the most advanced technologies and machinery, capable of producing technical products that are impossible to make at scale anywhere else.
Working with Ivy, and finding small, ambitious suppliers who believed in our future was a crucial step in taking TCA to the next level. With these partnerships in place, we could move forward quicker than ever before. Building relationships for the long term paid off for us. Our most popular products including the Elite Tech Short and Power Compression Range are still produced by the same manufacturers as they were on day one. New products were designed and put into work. We introduced our first technical training tees, and after a long period of development, launched our first women’s style.
The Supreme Legging took about 14 months from inception and design to going on sale. By today’s standards this is a ridiculously long time to spend developing a product. Conventional wisdom says that consumers are fickle and move on quickly, by the time a product comes to market their tastes have changed. My approach was different. My gut said that rushing the product would lead to taking shortcuts on quality, which I was not prepared to do. I felt that getting the quality right first time would create trust in the brand, a loyal following, repeat customers and ultimately a sustainable business. We spent many, many hours sourcing and developing the fabric, making sure it met our exacting standards and would perform beyond expectations. It was worth it. The Supreme Legging launched in 2014 and sold 11,000 pairs in the first 12 months. We’d proven that our strategy worked, now we needed to expand it.