Q+A WITH TA3 DESIGNER/ENTREPRENEUR LEILA SHAMS
How did you get into the industry?
I went to Parsons School of Design in NY for fashion but I’ve always been a horrible student and never graduated. Once I started working though I really hit my stride. I started at DKNY Jeans, then worked for other large brands in NYC like Express & Tommy Hilfiger. At the same time I launched my own LEILA SHAMS line which was an immediate hit. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Nicki Minaj and Kelly Clarkson loved it and it was sold in the best boutiques & on-line retailers. Eventually the amount of styles I was churning out year after year started to feel redundant and wasteful. I decided I wanted to make one thing people were obsessed with instead of hundreds of things they liked for a season.
What was the inspiration behind your new swimwear line?
I was always self-conscious about my stomach, particularly when I was wearing a swimsuit. I’d diet for weeks leading up to a vacation which totally took the fun out of it. Eventually I decided to get liposuction on my belly. During recovery I had to wear a surgical compression garment and was blown away by its shaping ability. I thought, if I could wear something like this on the beach I would have never gotten surgery. TA3 was born. My dream is to take that swimwear dread away from every woman, so we can relax and enjoy ourselves. That’s why TA3 is EAT backwards. You should be able to eat and still look good. When I put up a video of myself in a regular swimsuit and in a TA3 swimsuit the suits quickly sold out. So many women said to me “where have you been?!”
What’s your mission?
I am obsessed with developing innovative products that transform womens bodies and make them feel their most confident. I’d like to be known as the fashion designer that stopped shoving women into thin, stretchy clothing that made them look like shit. Confidence is power.
Ideal experience for your customer?
Originally I put my phone number on my site but no one contacted me. So now I have an app that pings me when a customer has a question. I love making my customers feel cared for. That’s really important to me.
What's next for the business in the near future?
I’m adding lengths and fits to my best-selling styles and I’m adding bodysuits. I’m also expanding my team.
Career advice to those in your industry?
So many people tell me they have an idea for a line but they’re not sure if it’s good or not. If you think that way you’re never going to succeed. The key is unrelenting belief in yourself regardless of what other people think. There are plenty of “bad” ideas making millions.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
There is a huge opportunity in womens fit. Every company is still fitting the same way, with one tall, thin fit model who has a very well-proportioned body or, if you do plus size, maybe another perfectly proportioned plus model. The reason clothing has become so stretchy is because we are trying to fit a wide range of heights and shapes with one spec. Most people do not look good in thin, stretchy clothes. You don’t see men wearing suits made of nylon lycra (legging fabric). We need to fit womens clothing according to body shape and length.