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Tom and Charlie

Here at Talanoa, we have been a little (over) obsessed with Tom & Charlie since the launch of their beautiful brand. We’ve been in love with everything – from the beautiful bursts of colour, the fact that their goods have been ethically made, all the way down to the heart of the brand – the name, Tom & Charlie, which is a tribute to Tomasi and Siale – both the Grandfathers of the founder, the gorgeous Elenoa Hawea. 

What is Tom & Charlie and how was the idea created?

Tom & Charlie is an online boutique specialising in exotic and handmade goods, most of which are sourced from fair trade partners globally. It is definitely something that has always been on my heart but took about 3 years to come to form. I had always wanted to pursue a career in the Fashion realm but I’m more creative-by-inspiration than naturally creative, so I shifted my goals to something more realistic and was lead to customer-focused roles. Wholesale leads, time, information and funds became available within a week and with the opportunity to merge fashion and people, after 3 years I couldn’t resist stepping out and pursuing it.

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What do you enjoy most about it?

It’s ridiculous amounts of fun! I’ve learnt so much and had to do some serious research into different ethnic groups, designs and the history behind particular pieces but aside from learning more about the artisans and their cultures, it is basically me seeing a need for a piece and going on a worldwide treasure hunt to find these goodies and sharing it with anyone who is interested. With everything so readily available and reproduced in masses these days, I’m trying to put back the exclusivity into handmade pieces with Tom & Charlie which can be exciting at times, especially when you know you have something good that you can’t find anywhere else (apart from Pinterest, you can find just about anything on Pinterest!)

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How do you stay motivated to push forward with your business?

It’s honestly so hard, it took me about 3 years before I sprung into action in the first place so to then have to deal with fluctuating online traffic and sales, it can take an emotional toll on you and have you thinking whether it’s worth it or not. However, I’m passionate about providing goods more than I am with making sales, it is a very important part of it but not the most important part and when the sales do come through – AMAZING! So I guess motives are a vital part in pushing forward in anything we do and with a generous portion of profit donated to humanitarian efforts in Cambodia (run by predominately Fijian missionaries and volunteers) both our customers and us are apart of something much bigger as well, which is motivating.

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Any advice for anyone who might be interested in pursuing their own business?

Do your research, there is a lot of online assistance out there- business.gov.au is a very helpful tool, they provide checklists and links to all the necessary providers you will go through to get your business up and running the correct way. Make time and don’t rush into it, and also share your passions with likeminded people, a good support group makes the pursuit extra special.

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What does the future hold for you and for Tom & Charlie?

Hopefully by the end of the year a bulk of the products online will be my own handmade pieces but other than that expect some winter goodies like chunky handmade scarves, statement jewelry and more ethnic bags hopefully from South America & India this time around.

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We’d like to thank Elenoa from Tom & Charlie for sharing her story with us. You can find them via their website or on Instagram. If you’d like to purchase one of their gorgeous items, 60% of all sales of their latest range will be contributed to relief for the people of Vanuatu who have been greatly affected by the devastation of Cyclone Pam. 

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