The purpose of the IN HER BAG interviews was never just to showcase pretty bags, or just to featuring inspiring entrepreneurs building beautiful brands, but more importantly to discuss the struggles many (most?) of these incredible women face along the way (whether it be stress, anxiety, a general lacking of self-confidence, imposter syndrome, even depression, and disordered eating). The idea was to dig a little deeper and uncover the true challenges these amazing Australian women have faced and the grit and determination they used to come out the other side, smarter, stronger and happier. In this week’s IN HER BAG interview I had the privileged and pleasure of speaking with Tully Humphrey the founder and creative director TULLY LOU active wear, who had to overcome significant mental health struggles to follow her passion and create an abundant and full life. Tully is warm, kind, generous, down to earth and passionate and it was such a treat to chat to her about business, fitness, wellness, style mental health and more. I hope you enjoy our chat. Meet Tully.
What is in your BRIGITTE bag right now?
Phone, Wallet, lipstick, keys, air pods, Hand Sanitizer and antibacterial wipes (for obvious reasons!!)
Taking a peek inside Tully's BRIGITTE bag
Can you share with us your favourite beauty tip?
Drinking at least 1.5 litres of water and washing your face before bed!
How would you describe your style?
My style is very street/sporty and tomboyish so a little masculine too. I love buying from vintage stores and from the men’s section of most labels!
As a stylist you have access to incredible wardrobes – what are 3 items every woman must have in her wardrobe?
- A black blazer – I love an oversized one to match with bike shorts, leggings, or black tight pants
- One pair of designer sneakers – to match up with a formal outfit to give you a street style vibe. I love Balenciaga’s or Golden Goose’s are also great.
- A decent handbag!!!
Tully's go-to uniform: designer sneakers and handbags
What are some wardrobe/styling tips for women who want to look chic and well put together, but may not have a huge budget?
There are so many stores that you can purchase fashion forward items from these days we are honestly so lucky.
I think the best places to find bargains are stores like ZARA/ H & M etc. You can almost always find items that are on sale and still very on trend.
Team a nice ZARA black blazer with a white tee from H&M or a vintage tee and some black black jeans, the BRIGITTE bag and you are done – super chic.
What is the worst fashion advice you’ve heard, or something you wish women would stop doing/wearing?
The worst advice is don’t do double denim! NOOO double denim is a vibe!!
Tully Humphries exudes tomboy chic. Image credit: LMB Management
When did you launch TULLY LOU and where did your inspiration come from?
I came up with the idea and concept in 2011. I officially launched the label at end of 2012. My inspiration came from a yoga class. I was constantly looking around the room and realising that there was a massive niche in the market for fashion forward activewear that made women feel and look good when working out.
How did you get it off the ground? Did you fund it yourself?
Yes, I did fund it by myself. I was lucky enough to have been given some money from my parents when I turned 18 and I could use it for travel however I always had this burning desire to work for myself and start a clothing label, so I just kept it aside + used this.
I am not your typical business owner I didn’t have a business plan at all. I just had an idea and went with it, started designing and getting all my tech packs ready. I then moved over to Bali to find a factory and that’s how it started!
TULLY LOU has grown year on year and now has a slew of celebrity fans. In a crowded active wear market, how has Tully Lou managed to cut through and win over women Australia wide?
Wow it is so saturated isn’t it?! We had a little bit of different strategy. I have always had this thing in my head go big or go home. So, we really pushed the brand overseas before Australia and focused on China, UAE and America.
I think just staying in our own lane – not following other brands. Not comparing our brand with what they are doing is really important. It’s very easy to get caught up in what other people are doing and it’s so important to stick with why you started and what the brand is about.
Tully enjoying some morning Yoga in her TULLY LOU activewear
What is the most challenging thing about running an activewear business?
Things that are out of your control.
We are currently fighting a very long legal battle in China and to this day that’s been the most challenging thing about running a business. It’s the unexpected stress and expenses. It can be very stressful and frustrating.
You’ve spoken openly about your struggles with mental health. What methods do your practice to manage your mental health and remain happy, grateful and present?
- Meditation is an absolute must – I would be lost without this.
- Gratitude diary – So important to incorporate this into your daily life if you have not. So great to practice gratitude.
- Spending times with family + friends – I find that once you start isolating yourself your brain is in overdrive. So, spending time with loved ones keeps me happy and grateful.
And with all that you have on your plate (running TULLY LOU, styling clients, your role at content agency Never Find Us, yoga teaching and a podcast in the works as well as managing a busy social life and family commitments) you’re an incredibly busy lady. How do you manage your stress levels?
Well I make sure I am doing all of the strategies mentioned above I’ve also learnt to say NO if that’s to work, catch-ups etc and that is ok to not have to say yes to everything.
You started TULLY LOU at 24. What advice would you have for young women who are wanting to start their own fashion brand, but are not sure where to even begin?
Just do it! If you have an idea or a dream just go ahead and do it. If you don’t do it someone else will + if it doesn’t work out then at least you know you tried, or if you lose money you can just work your butt off at a few jobs to earn it back.
The one thing I have learned in life and business and that’s it's ok to fail or make a mistake you just become stronger from it and learn for next time!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in the past year?
To make sure you look after your inside and not just the outside. For example I spend a lot of time and money on gyms and working out but often forget about the inner stuff like seeing a therapist etc.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given, that you didn’t follow but wish you did?
I think now I have probably followed all the advice I’ve been given. However back when I started, I would say: Make sure you ask for help. For a long time, I didn’t ask because I thought that it was me failing!
If you could go back to young Tully, at say 18 or 21, and give yourself 1 piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t compare yourself with others.