How An Ex-Olympian Switched Gears To Start A Fashion Line

How An Ex-Olympian Switched Gears To Start A Fashion Line

The track of life doesn’t always offer you a straight and narrow path. Former Olympian Tabia Charles-Collins knows that first hand, as she has faced many obstacles in her life. After competing in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Bejing, Charles-Collins sustained an injury which put her future Olympic dreams on hold. While many athletes might wonder, “what next” or might face some sadness about where their career might be headed, Charles-Collins saw it as an opportunity to explore her second passion: fashion.

“If I can be honest with you, I’ve always had a passion for fashion, even when I was running track” Charles-Collins tells me on the phone.


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A post shared by Tabia Charles-Collins (@tabiacharles) on

She explains that while she was training with the Canadian team, she always had dreams of having her own fashion line or perhaps styling others, but figured they were just that – dreams.

She frequently made her own outfits, and as a person who was frequently called out in the media for having an electic style that made her stand out, she figured she might be on to something.

“People would stop me and they would tell me, “Oh my god, that is great, it’s beautiful! Where did you get it from?” and I would tell them I made it myself, and time after time people would tell me that I needed to sell my stuff.”

As her career as an athlete came to close, she returned to school, graduating with a Master’s Degree in Industrial Relations and HR from the University of Toronto which resulted in a successful career in Project Management.

It gave Charles-Collins the perspective and knowledge that she needed to create her own business, and the courage to start her fashion label Anisah.

tabia charles collins fashion line

Saving all the money she had, she wanted to create something that was special and impactful, but true to her vision. She hired a seamstress, who helped her pick the right fabrics and she started developing sketches of skirts, jackets, and jumpsuits.

Charles-Collins tells me on the phone that when people browse through the line, she wants people to have a reaction and to be attracted to the bright bold colours and prints.

“I’ve always been that kind of person, the kind that wants to make a statement,” she explains. “I want someone to wear an Anisah piece, and you don’t know who they are, but they can garner a genuine authentic reaction from people wearing them.”

Browsing the line on her website, these are definitely statement pieces that range in sizes XS-XXL and pricing from $75 to $210.

tabia charles collins fashion line
Anisah by Tabia Charles

If you were going to a dinner or a corporate event, you could throw on one of her jackets or skirts, and definitely brighten the room. It is the type of item that can be streetwear or high-end, which Charles-Collins says was exactly what she was going for.

Since the launch of the line, Charles-Collin has mentioned that the reception been amazing and she has had inquiries from as far as Spain on how to get her pieces.

Having just launched her first collection, she mentions, “It’s my first ride really, so to put it out there and have all these people love the colours and prints. It’s been such a great reception.”

She also notes that right now it’s exciting to be a women designer in Canada as there is such a market for women supporting other women.

tabia charles collins fashion line

“I think it’s great and I love designing for women. I’m so big on women’s confidence and self-esteem and just women being authentic to themselves.” This collection is a huge extension of Tabis Charles-Collins fashion brand and personality, and she’s excited to continue sharing that with the world. 

Featured Image: Instagram/@tabiacharles taken by @usernamedshani

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