Tabitha McGregor: Thrills: Byron Bay

“…another change I have seen in the industry is the awareness of sustainability, ethics, and transparency across all aspects of a business from manufacturing to company culture…”

Name: Tabitha McGregor
Occupation: Head Designer and Creative Director for THRILLS
Location: Byron Bay, NSW

Where did the idea for Thrills come from? Did something/someone influence you?
My husband Brooke and I had just moved up to Byron Bay after living in California. We had just had our second child and were between jobs. We are both quite risk-taking, entrepreneurial by nature people and we were brainstorming with one of our friends from California, Ryan about importing vintage items from the USA as a business. Being passionate about vintage cars and bikes, Thrills was born when we decided on importing vintage motorcycles from the USA. We partnered with our mechanic, Yuichiro Nakama who still works on bikes daily at Head Quarters. We built a brand around these vintage bikes, concentrating on denim, jersey and military/workwear inspired garments, deconstructed yet wearable.

What is your creative background?
I grew up in a creative family, living between the US and Australia thanks to my American father and Australian mother. I went on to study graphic design and fine arts and now am fortunate enough to design clothing, creatively steer a brand and do my own art on the side.

How do you keep inspired and creative?
Being organised helps so I don’t get too stressed about grown up things like paying bills and taking the dogs to the vet. Also by nature, I don’t switch off, I think once you tap into your creativity and trust your own unique vision, you live and breathe a creative life. It is not separate or something to maintain.

What are your fav pieces/items in your home/creative space?
I am definitely a collector (not a hoarder I swear!) My favourite pieces in my creative space/home would have to be the curated shrines scattered around my home, wooden horse heads, cacti, crystals, artworks…and my plants. Wherever I travel I make sure I find a token, a treasure and add it to my collection. I love my ceramic Chinese child hugging a fish that I was given when I was a little girl. And a wooden Japanese horse that I found on my last trip to Japan.

What are you tools of your trade?
For work, it is my computer, camera, tape measure, and pens. For my personal artwork it is graphite pencils, inks, and brushes.

What is the secret ingredient to success?
Work hard, trust your own vision and don’t give up when things get hard….because there are always times when things get hard!

What changes have you seen in the industry?
Online shopping has been a huge one, when we started Thrills 8 years ago there was very little online shopping being done in Australia and Instagram was only just starting and was not being utilised as a tool for selling product. Many brands had websites, but not their own online store. It’s hard to imagine pre-online shopping but it’s true! There is access to a global market now, which has its own challenges, but mostly is exciting. Another change I have seen in the industry is the awareness of sustainability, ethics and transparency across all aspects of a business from manufacturing to company culture….which I love.

Has this affected your approach to your platform?
I think yes and no. Our brand vision always included becoming an international brand, having a strong online social media applications like Instagram has allowed us to expedite this process, enabling us to tell our brand story to an international audience. We also are excited about the sustainable push in manufacturing, we are partnered up with some exceptional factories, utilising sustainable fabrics such as hemp, linen and organic cotton from jersey to denim.

What do you think the Australian Government could be doing to support creative culture?
Making the creative arts accessible to all people, no matter their income, social standing or cultural background. Involving community to explore, support and participate in creative endeavors. Funding clearly is one way to do this, but also placing priority on incentivising local communities to explore and grow creative ventures. People need to realise that creativity births greatness, changes the frequency of our lives and honours priorities that are not just capitalistic.

What do you think about our Government?
I think our Government is conflicted. I think that we have a lot of people in places of power going through the paces, ticking boxes and stroking egos, but not looking at the bigger humanitarian picture. Very unsettling.

What is it about Byron Bay that makes you want to live there?
The Byron Shire is an exceptionally beautiful and unique place. Over the past 8 years we have watched an influx of incredibly creative people thrive here. There is awareness, connection and support everywhere you turn. Plus you can get kombucha everywhere and it is not weird to ask for cacao nibs in your smoothie.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would that be?
Exactly where I am right now. We live in an old A frame house with the river in our backyard and the beach a street away…

One thing you would like to do but haven’t got around to it yet?
Learning another language. And re-potting some plants sitting on my back deck.

What have been some highlights over the past 12 months?
Having my first solo exhibition in 5 years, taking our kids to Japan for the most wackiest week of fun ever, opening our 3 rd retail store in Bondi…and lots of little beautiful moments that add up to a great year. This past 12 months has been a healing time after losing my mum to cancer, a time to reflect, heal and celebrate people who I love.

Favourite website/s?

Favourite app/s?
I am slightly phone intolerant, but I flick between my Time Passages app (astrology) and Instagram for fun…I also rely on iTranslate when we travel.

Favourite creative/s?
Ooohh so many…hard to list them…I really love people who bring beauty and authenticity and a bit of controversy into this world. Here is a very random list off the top of my head…Georgia O’Keefe, Kiki Smith, Patti Smith, Sinead O’Connor, Cai Guo-Qiang, Phoebe Philo my husband Brooke…man the list can go on and on…

Do you have any upcoming events?
Launching our Summer collection this month, we have a few more store openings planned in the very near future, sponsoring The Growlers tour in January….

What’s 2019 looking like?
Expanding Thrills retail stores, creating more balance with my family/work life, another art show, less wine consumption (lol jokes)

Anything else you would like to add?
If we get drunk together I will do your astrological birth chart. // Thrills co Instagram // Tab Mcgregor Instagram

Photographer: Jess Lacroix

Interview: Michelle Owen