GTAB is a unisex streetwear brand with a really strong ethos and message. I grew up in Bankstown in Western Sydney where I saw a lot of things like domestic violence, youth homelessness, drug abuse and racial profiling. I love to infuse my designs with these types of stories and I feel that, in a way, art heals.

In 2018, I had the opportunity to showcase my debut GTAB collection at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week because my graduate collection from fashion school won Virgin Australia’s Young Designer of the Year. As a woman of colour doing this solo, it was challenging, but it was so rewarding because I felt like I was one of the first designers who put Bankstown on the map. My designs are very avant garde and they really made a statement. From there, you could see a ripple effect of designers coming and out and telling their own stories.

For a long time, I struggled with my identity and I really wanted to fit in, but when I did some self reflection, I realised I should stop hiding and share who I am. My parents are both immigrants, Syrian and Brazilian. When they came here, they were mostly in survival mode. I went through a lot of challenges in my life, claiming who I am, overcoming bullying by students and teachers. I struggled with authority. We weren’t well-off, we moved a lot, we went through homelessness. All of these struggles made me who I am and they fuel my art. 

I went through unemployment – God knows, I tried so many times to find jobs, but I felt like I would die if I did a regular job and wasn’t being creative. The story I needed to tell was so much bigger than a business. I thought, ‘I have this skill and I have this trade, so why don’t I create my own business and create opportunities for other women and other creatives in my area?’ The dream is to hire local craftspeople and to create beautiful design work that tells stories. I want to create an empire for my community. Coming from a place where there’s not much help, I’d love to tell people to keep striving, to stand up and claim who they are.

In fashion school, they teach you how to design but there’s missing knowledge around how to start a business, how to do taxes and accounts. I love how Global Sisters aids and empowers you to be your own businesswoman. The challenging part was not only understanding and learning but implementing that into a business that is actually going to be functional and sustainable and give you income.

When things go haywire, you know you can reach out to Global Sisters and there’s someone there who can help. You may have started your business alone, but then you have all these other networks you can reach out to.

I would love it if a bank created some kind of service or incentive for women who are building businesses. I feel like women create magic money.

Young girls need to know that they don’t have to keep up with what people are doing on social media. I’d love them to go inwards and understand who they are as a person. If you’re creative and you have a beautiful idea, just go for it. Don’t worry about self-doubt. There is always going to be fear – you don’t have to eliminate it. Allow it to fuel you. 

Everything that has happened was exactly what was needed to propel me to the next step. I feel so grateful. I would love to have a solo show and to take it on tour. GTAB is ready to create her own multimedia experience show – sound, visuals, taste, a complete embodiment of the collection. I feel like GTAB is going to change the fashion industry.

If I could, I would give my 13-year-old self the biggest hug and be like, ‘You’ve got this. You have no idea what’s waiting for you. You’re going to have the wildest experiences.

Ginan TabbouchGTAB