Fashion designer Jodhi Meares has just launched the first stand-alone store for her successful activewear brand, THE UPSIDE, in Mosman. Her designs are stocked around the world and have been spotted on fashion and sports icons including Kelly Slater, Kim Kardashian and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Meares, 45, chatted to me about developing an activewear empire, finding love with her 29-year-old husband, Nicholas Tsindos, and her secret to being a better wife.
Tell me a day in the life of you?
Gosh, it changes so much. I’m still travelling a lot, I don’t have like a really regular day … [THE UPSIDE] needs a huge amount of attention as it’s still a young company … I read a lot of philosophy and I find that that’s inspiring, for my work. …We really look at THE UPSIDE [as] the Heroine and now we’ve launched men’s, he is the Hero. So, we look at so many aspects of the brand and we talk about it, politically, what she or he stands for, what they might be reading at the moment, what films they’re watching.
What has been the biggest milestone for THE UPSIDE?
I think, days like today when you see it on somebody. To me that’s where I get the most joy, watching it come to life and see somebody enjoying wearing it and playing with the kids on the beach in it.
Why did you decide on Mosman for your first bricks-and-mortar store?
I like to shop on streets, so we were just looking for really good areas that we could do good retail. Mosman was on our list and this shop came up and it was perfect … I’m excited and I know the area because I went to school over here and we think it’s right on point for the brand.
As a designer, where do you get your inspiration?
I look at so many things … When I started developing the [Jocks & Nerds] collection, I was in Paris and we were looking at some of the ghettos of Paris and watching kids play basketball … it’s good to look at things from the street level.
What made you first launch THE UPSIDE?
The evolution really was, I’ve sold Tigerlily [Meares’ bikini brand, sold to Billabong in 2007], I’ve taken some time out, I’m spending a huge amount of time in New York and this phenomenon happens … For me, it started with that one Lululemon Black Legging and it’s what I was wearing at the time and then I was kind of looking for other things because it became such an important part of my wardrobe and just seeing it on the street, it was so there … It just felt so obvious, the gap in the space, that it was like, “You just have to do this. This is such an obvious need” and then, the timing was really perfect.
With so many activewear brands, how do you set yours apart?
We try to stay very true to the philosophies of the brand. I mean there is so much scope in this area: we’re going to launch new categories, which I can’t give away, I wish I could, but because it opened this huge spot, it’s really a lifestyle business.
What did you learn from your experience with your label, Tigerlily?
I’m much more involved in the business now. I think I was very nervous of that with Tigerlily because I had no experience in it … I understand what we need to do, but with Tigerlily I was very nervous and I don’t think that’s a good place to be in business … I had to learn the hard way a lot of times with Tigerlily, [I] really made some big mistakes.
Did you always plan to go into fashion and have your own company?
I did. Tigerlily was an absolute dream. I didn’t know that I would have any success in it … but I am absolutely a bikini nerd, it was my first love … I had an education in that business anyway, I knew pretty much every surf retailer in the country and that’s where Tigerlily started.
If you hadn’t gone down that path, what would you have done?
I don’t know … I probably would have been a yoga teacher I think … I still might be one day!
Congratulations on your marriage to [photographer] Nicholas Tsindos.
Thank you, yes. It was very unexpected, but very wonderful.
What drew you to him?
He has got so many wonderful qualities, but he is incredibly kind and for me kindness is probably at the top of my list.
Your husband often shoots campaigns for THE UPSIDE. What is your advice for mixing business and pleasure?
We get along so well. We’re really great mates, so it’s really nice if you go home and talk to somebody credibly, because I really love my work. I’m a chatterbox. It fully drives Nicholas mad sometimes, but it’s really easy because he has got such a great eye … He is already so close to the creative, he is my husband anyway, so by the time we get to shoot he knows what we’re trying to do.
What are you most proud of?
In the end, it’s about relationships, so probably my relationships with my family and my friends.
What do you think really helped you to grow your commercial ventures?
I think the timing was really, really good; and the right team.
What’s the vision for the brand?
Ultimately, I have a huge vision for the brand and outside of apparel, completely; I can’t divulge any of it just yet.
What do you do to stay fit?
I love yoga, I’m a yogi, and I love to walk and I love to paddleboard when I’m in Hawaii. But really, I’m not a gym person; it feels like going to the office … Some weeks I do yoga every day and sometimes, at the end of a long day, the answer is yoga and some days at the end of the day the answer is a bottle of wine!
What do you do to relax?
Yoga. I think I’m a nicer person, a better boss, probably a better wife, a better friend, better sister when I’m practising yoga, that also makes a difference … I think even if you’re not going there for spiritual reasons, [spirituality] … will happen anyway.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I don’t really think in terms of that, I probably should more. I do try to actively stay present in what I’m doing … There is that old saying that if you live in the past you’ll be depressed, if you live in the future [you’ll be] anxious, and if you live in the now you’ll be peaceful and I think that’s true, so I don’t really think about it too much.
We went to Public Dining Room, Balmoral Beach
We ate Hermosa Kingfish Carpaccio with pine nut puree, grapefruit, radish and puffed quinoa
We drank Still mineral water
Jodhi wore Celine pants, JBrand top and Chloe shoes.
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