Nicky Tebay and Elizabeth Webb are the perfect example of friends who put their money where their mouth is by turning their joint passion for fashion into a successful business. The pair launched their luxury T-shirt business TWseven in 2017 after they saw a gap in the market for producing a range of stylish and uniquely designed tees.
“The idea for TWseven started in November 2016 when we were discussing our daily uniform of jeans and a jacket. We both are great believers that a T-shirt is a wardrobe essential as they are easy to wear, look fresh and clean, and are perfect for layering or rocking with jeans.”
Both Nicky and Elizabeth drew on their previous professional experience in retail and finance respectively in order to write their business plan and eventually launch their brand but they admit they didn’t have any real experience of setting up a small business.
“Although we’ve both worked for large organisations we had very limited experience of setting up a small business. So it has been a real learning curve with us both having to learn new skills like setting up a website and understanding new technology and being disciplined with our time management.”
After graduating from Newcastle University with a fashion marketing degree, Nicky worked in the retail industry for 15 years, buying for the likes of Wallis and Marks & Spencer, where she worked in departments as diverse as footwear, swimwear and ladies’ tailoring. She also worked for a boutique in Cape Town designing ladies’ resort wear so it’s fair to say Nicky has strong sartorial credentials.
Elizabeth meanwhile brings business acumen to the table having worked in the financial services industry both here and in Asia for the past 20 years.
The duo’s debut Sunrise collection came about after the women worked with a graphic designer on a number of circular designs. “We launched our first three designs in the summer of 2017 and as our collection has evolved, we have added placement prints in addition to our more identifiable circular designs.” The TWseven range now includes metallic coral motifs, coloured animal prints and monochrome text designs but the original circular ones remain a constant theme with every new collection.
All of TWseven’s designs are 100 per cent cotton, printed in the UK and most importantly are limited edition, which the pair says helps them to ‘constantly refresh’ their offering.
“We have both got a very keen eye for fashion and although we follow all the latest fashion trends, we hopefully translate them into design and colourways that we feel are suitable for our target market. The design of our T-shirt is the focal point of the outfit. The one-colour design allows our customer to easily coordinate with her wardrobe. TWseven designs elevate a basic white T-shirt into a stylish, eye-catching outfit.”
Although TWseven attracts orders from the USA, Australia, Hong Kong and a number of European countries, Nicky and Elizabeth say that being based in Tunbridge Wells not only allows them to work around their family commitments, they also like it because they can interact with their local customer base.
“We have shown at three Wealden Times fairs and also at the One Warwick Park Support Local pop-up events and it gives us a real buzz when customers return to purchase new designs and often comment on how much they enjoy wearing them and the outstanding quality of the T-shirt.”
They say they have also found the local entrepreneurial mums’ community to be very supportive and have recently done a collaboration with West Kent Mind, donating £10 from each sale of a limited design T-shirt to the charity.
The pair say they have also relied heavily on social media, specifically Instagram, using a number of local fashion influencers to help promote their brand.
“We started posting on Instagram in June 2017. It is a fantastic marketing tool, though putting parameters around how seriously we take it is important. We have worked with the likes of Bricks and Stitches and The House Build alongside stylists including Victoria Genevieve, Sue Mee and Jane Dumas. Other influencers who have helped support us through Instagram are Wellies and Champagne, My fashionable 40s and Back of the Wardrobe 70.”
Nicky and Elizabeth will be showcasing their latest range at this month’s Wealden Times Midsummer Fair at Hole Park (June 6-8)
How did the brand’s name TWseven come about?
“We both live in Tunbridge Wells, hence the reference to TW but coincidentally Nicky’s surname is Tebay and Elizabeth’s is Webb so that also fits nicely”
TWseven’s three top tips for the perfect t-shirt
1 The fit should be comfortable, offer a relaxed look and must compliment your body shape
2 Larger chested ladies often feel more comfortable in a V-neck style. Ladies with a thicker waist aren’t comfortable with a short boxy fit so we have made sure our T-shirts fit below the waist
3 A slight tuck on one side at the waist gives the impression of length and defines the waist. This is called the French Tuck
Who is the TWseven customer?
“We envisage she is a lady who wants to look effortlessly stylish without spending a lot of time thinking about what to wear as our T-shirts make an eye-catching statement.”
She is originally from Yorkshire
She lived in South Africa for four years
She’s run five London Marathons in aid of Action for Children charity
She grew up in Canada
She spent eight years living in Asia
She left city life to retrain as a Pilates instructor
Why we love Tunbridge Wells
Best place to shop: Bod and Ted, Kitch and Anna Poulsen
To eat out: The Ivy or Seventeen at One Warwick Park
For cocktails: Chapel Place or Framptons on The Pantiles
To get away from it all: Kingdom in Penshurst or a leisurely dog walk in Dunorlan Park
Art Direction: Lee Smith | Photography: Craig Matthews