Bargara mum Emily Gradon is jumping for joy after her home-based business Tribe Tropical has won a prestigious Good Design Award accolade in recognition for the outstanding design and innovation of children's sun safe swimwear.
Emily designed the tropical-themed swimmers, featuring cockatoos and galahs, in December and they were an instant hit with locals and tourist alike.
At the beginning the mother-of-two never thought that almost eight months down the track her design would be recoginised along with designs from prominent businesses and people, including an Australian surfing legend.
“Other entrants in my category include Mick Fanning’s surfboards and a Britax car capsule, so it’s quite insane to be up against these people and companies,” Emily said.
“I’m blown away to say the least, as I don’t have an official background in design but have always found myself thinking in a creative way.”
It was by chance that Emily took a punt and entered her swimwear in the Product Design category of the Good Design Awards after a friend suggested she explore ways to broaden her product's reach.
“Locally everyone got behind me, including local businesses, Windmill Café, Bargara Pharmacy and Mantra Resort as they all said they would sell the swimwear without taking a commission,” Emily said.
“It was just incredible and I am so thankful and without the help I don’t think it would have gone so far so fast.”
After the Tribe Tropical brand took off Emily’s friend suggested she take a chance and enter the swimwear design in any awards she could, in hopes it would help get the Tribe Tropical name out a little further, that's when Emily came across the Good Design Awards.
“It was weeks out from the Good Design Awards closing and I wasn't sure if I should enter because it cost a bit of money to, and I ended up speaking with the general manager and he said because I was such a new business I wouldn’t have to pay the entry unless I won, and I took a chance and I was shocked to receive an email saying I had won,” Emily said.
“I mean, I was in the same category as Mick Fanning’s surfboards.”
Every year, Good Design Australia invites renowned design experts from around the country and the world to participate in the Good Design Awards evaluation process.
The Good Design Award judges consist of leading design experts and are selected based on their area of expertise and ability to bring an individual perspective to the evaluation process.
The judging experts take great pride in setting international best practice in design evaluation.
They praised Emily’s Tropical Tribe sun protective design saying they loved that she addressed sun-safety in awareness.
“The design goal of making sun-protection trendy and acceptable has been delivered in spades. Inspired by Australian resort destinations the range appeals to children and parents,” a Good Design Australia spokesperson said.
“The long-term positive impact on sun-safety awareness through a product such as this is evident and in an era where damage from harmful UV sunlight is steadily growing, this is a good design solution with mass market appeal. Well done.”
How the design of sun-safe swimwear started
Emily said the idea of the swimwear was developed because she is a redhead and she wanted to create sun-safe swimmers to help protect her daughters, Anelise and Lilia, from the Queensland sun.
By utilising the internet from her kitchen bench Emily had access to an international market platform by using Alibaba and she was able to speak to people from around the globe to help create the Tribe Tropical swimmers.
Emily is now pleased all her hard work has paid off, and said when it came to building a small business online there was more to just ticking and flicking boxes.
“It really does take so much work, I’m always busy in the background as the design process is really involved,” Emily said.
“There were many long Skype calls to a gentleman in Pakistan; then there were barriers that included time differences and language barriers!
“So many tiny details that go in to the whole process, but I made it and I am thankful.
“And I know it will be at least five years before I make any profit, but I am patient and the end result to have swimwear on the rack is a nice achievement and now I have this award it is just lovely.”
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