Lucia Pang and Natasha Bordizzo

Lucia: We met in grade 10. We were 16 – I think that’s sophomore year here [in America]. We got in contact and realized we have a lot of mutual friends. We eventually did did photo shoots together and from there, we just hung out.

Natasha: We both discovered mutual weirdness with each other. [Laughs]

L: That’s how we started out.  It’s been about 2-ish years now.

N: I was already planning on taking a gap year and Lu was originally going to go to uni. [Editor's Note: "Uni" is the Australian equivalent of "college" in America] We got talking about what we wanted to do and thought it’d be cool to start our own little project. We were like let’s do something to keep us busy. So, I convinced her not to go to uni.

L: Yeah, on my first day of uni, I deferred.

N: [Laughs] I was a terrible influence. We wanted to travel, so we wanted to combine the blogging aspect and the store.

L: Also, we were broke teenagers. We are broke teenagers, and constantly thinking of ways to make money through jobs.

N: But, we have a lot of friends who hate their jobs and yet have to do it. The bottom line is that there is not another time when we have a year to ourselves like this. We realized that there is a little market and gap and it made sense for us to fill it up with Elle Tassy.

L: The thing is, we didn’t take into consideration how much work it would take.

N: Seriously. We completely underestimated the workload.

L: It wasn’t even a side project. It was our whole lives.

N: It is really about the time it takes. You don’t really realize how many things could go wrong. Mentally, physically – there are so many things that just don’t work.

L: Plus, financials and money. Just everything.

N: Even the little tasks that are just necessary for a store to function – you think it is easy but it takes an entire week to complete. Literally, like all the daylight hours. But, the same goes for all aspiring business owners.

L: We saved quite a bit of money in high school and didn’t have time to blow it, so that’s where most of our initial money to launch Elle Tassy came from.

N: We try to take the financial load off of ourselves by doing everything by ourselves. We literally are doing 5 peoples’ work.

L: Money is definitely an issue. We always say, “If we had the money, we would do things entirely differently.” We have a lot of imagery of where we want to go, but financially we are not there yet.

N: I mean, while we try to find solutions to the financial situation, we can’t ignore the fact that we’re just out of high school.

L: Plus, we can’t work because this [Elle Tassy] is taking all of our time! I think we are doing fairly well without that much of funding, though. I mean our parents are always helpful and incredibly supportive.

N: The both of us have been efficient with our money. We’ve always thrifted and been vintage shoppers. Basically, we saw that chain stores in Australia were always selling similar clothing and wanted to offer different styles from the typical online Australian shops. Vintage allows us to hand pick everything.

L: Yeah, we tried to do the whole place-a-massive-order thing, but there are minimum orders and only so many styles that they offer. We found that very limiting. It wasn’t like our style. We’re very fussy people. [Laughs] 

N: That’s so true! If we don’t like it, we won’t get it. Even if it’s the only option, we won’t do it if it’s not our style.

L: In terms of our interest in fashion, I think it’s more that we’re both just big online shoppers. I mean growing up I did fashion photography and she modeled.

N: But it mostly has to do with the online shopping sites, which are mainly American brands. We’ve noticed that most customers prefer American shops to Ausralian shops because there are more options. Through Elle Tassy, we’re trying to fill that gap.

L: Australians would definitely dress differently if there was more variety. It’s all about what is available. If you think about it, in Australia, stores that are mainly chain stores like Sportsgirl, which usually has a massive picture in the front of their store with tie-dye, make people feel obliged to wear that sort of clothing.

N: I’ve noticed that the main difference between American and Australia is that in the US, if you want to shop for a specific style, there’s always somewhere for you to go. But in Australia, it’s all about the extremes – too expensive, or simply not available. Most online Australian shops don’t import because it’s hard, whereas in America, everything is pretty affordable.

L: I guess we’re just stuck on our isolated island. [Laughs]

N: Shopping in Australia is definitely a different experience.

L: Yeah, I mean I don’t mind chain stores. It’s just tough because they are such a huge influence and in a way, they dictate what you wear. I’ve noticed that when I go into a chain store, I never find everything that I want. We went to H&M and Forever 21 here [in America] and things were well-priced, but there were only some items that either fell into the category of “I would never wear that” or “that would be good in my wardrobe”. It wasn’t very consistent.

N: I’m certainly not against them [chain stores], but it does annoy me when everyone owns the same clothes. I’m just picky.

L: The difference between chain stores and Elle Tassy is that we would style things differently.

N: Exactly, chains are always quite commercial, where as we’re more about realistic street style. We’re constantly asking ourselves, “Would you wear that? Would I wear that?”

L: In Australia, though, we don’t even have H&M. I don’t’ even think we have Forever 21,

N: We have Forever New.

L: Oftentimes, I’ll get my basics from chains. I recently got a white singlet from Forever 21. But cooler pieces, you want to properly look for.

L: With regards to thrifting tips, there’s really no shortcut. If there’s a bin, you just jump into the bin.

N: Literally, I have so many pictures of Lu just swimming in piles of clothing. [Laughs]

L: On average, I’ll find two good things in a pile, and that’s on a really good day.

N: I mean, our store has done the job [thrifting] for you. We could thrift for 6 hours a day and only find 3-4 things.You just have to search through everything. You could think that this corner has nothing and it could be holding a surprise.

L: Tash and I are always saying that other normal friends often go catch a movie but we’re thrifting. We’re catching up while digging through clothes.

N: It’s very rewarding though. You go through a thousand items and then find the one item that makes it all worth it. Like the other day, Lucia found a pair of overalls and started crying.

L: Legitimate tears.

N: I’m the same way though. I’ll just have a breakdown over anything nice that I find.

L: But you have to be careful though. Sometimes you’ll pull out a ridiculous fluoro-pink singlet and that’s when you realize you need a second opinion.

N: After you look at clothes all day, you forget about what looks good.

L: Out of everything we’ve thrifted, though, I have to say I really enjoyed the items we DIY-d. [Editor's note: DIY is an acronym for do-it-yourself.] We spent quite a few nights at my place DIY-ing shorts.

N: I personally love all our knits. Sometimes, we look at an item and we’ll be like, “You remember this one?”  We remember every piece. And when we send items we’re like “Oh, it’s leaving!” [Laughs] We’ve developed a bond with our clothing.

L: We actually booked this America trip before Elle Tassy. This is a pure holiday, but we can’t do anything without involving Elle Tassy.

N: That’s so true - we were just in Los Angeles and yet found ourselves organizing, shipping clothing at loading docks, thrifting…

L: It’s just became our everyday life. Just the other day we were on the subway and all of the sudden said, “You know what would be really cool for Elle Tassy?”

N: I was like, “Why are you even thinking about it?”

L: But it’s like that in Sydney as well. We could be sitting on a bus and then you realize something conceptual for the store.

N: Right now, our favorite stores are the markets. We got lost and went to the Brooklyn Flea Market and ended up in Williamsburg.

L: Also, the Melrose Trading Post.

N:  There’s a lot of really great stores that aren’t chains, like in San Francisco, where there are whole streets of privately-owned businesses.

L: Urban was pretty cool too. In Australia, we only have the website and free shipping.

N: In the short term for Elle Tassy, we’re looking forward to launching the next season. We launch two weeks after we arrive.

L: Only two weeks? That’s no time at all! Well, that is very short term.

N: But that’s how we think. We’ve learned that plans in the long run can change, so we concentrate on short term problems and solving them first.

L: In the future we’d like to extend our stock. It’s very difficult for us though. One clothing means 4 photos – back, front, sides. There’s measuring, sizing, describing, and that’s just for one item. It’d very difficult if we did 2,000 items for the store.

N: My god, could you imagine if we did 2,000? It’s impossible. That’s the thing: we have a bunch of ideas but we have long term goals that aren’t set in stone.

L: We literally can’t open a physical shop without selling our kidneys. That’s where we’d like to go, but realistically…

N: We haven’t been open for a long time, so we want to establish our style a little bit more. It’s important that people know we are here.

L: We’d like to make Elle Tassy a lifestyle-thing. We’re very focused on not just the clothing, but also the design, the travel, the blog, for example. We want to tell everyone that it is a big personality and not only a store.

N: A persona.

L: Precisely. But I have to say, social media is massively important to our site, especially considering we’re online. We launched a month before we left for America, so we didn’t have much time to establish ourselves.

N: Wow, it’s only been one month. It feels like a lifetime already!

L: Originally we were supposed to launch after we returned from America, but we were just so bored.

N: The plan was to go to America in April for Coachella. The whole music festival is very Elle Tassy.

L: The main thing about our business is that we don’t have a physical store. We don’t have our billboard on buses. That’s what the blog and instagram are great for – we don’t have to pay for advertising. It’s all our own photos and two cents.

N: It’s so hard because we are our own PR. We’re our own everything. But that means that nothing is ever irrelevant.

L: Next year we’re definitely going back to school. The discussion is now whether we want ot return part-time or full-time.

N: It’s all up in the air because we don’t know how big our project will become.

L: We do like living in Sydney as a home base, though, because our lives are there. But we always like to move about. That’s why we are always traveling.

N: I’ve always considered doing a semester in Melbourne or America, so we’ll see.

L: Tash fell in love with Los Angeles! But it’s her first trip to America and she came here [New York] and was like, “Why is everyone in a rush?”

N: [Laughs] I didn’t realize how different the coasts are.

L: With regards to beauty, everyone has their own perception. Some people think it’s very physical while other people are like it’s about personality.

N: It’s about how people hold themselves. I do agree with the saying that happy girls are the prettiest, though.

L: At the end of the day, it’s about how you present yourself, not even physically, but just in relation to other people. Your composure, your attitude.

N:  Dang, that was a hard one – never got that questions before.

L: Yeah, but I think that’s the best way we can define beauty.

 

For more of Lucia and Natasha’s work, check out their store and blog.