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Designed by a City woman: a wardrobe that works, even at 7AM

IT is not easy to pin Tamara Rajah down. At 27, she is a full-time management consultant at a top firm, a fashion designer, retailer and in the process of setting up a mentoring scheme for women entering the City. Taking time out to meet me meant scrambling meetings, delicately readjusting her work schedule and keeping everyone happy even while she was out of the office. But she did it – punctually, and with a big smile.

We meet to discuss Tamara Kanes, Rajah’s clothing and accessories line that is geared towards women working in the corporate world, born of her own struggles at 7AM to assemble a sharp, comfortable and practical outfit to wear to the office. As any City woman will tell you, it’s remarkably difficult to put together something that fits well, looks good, keeps you warm and carries all your stuff elegantly – and that’s just what Tamara Kanes seeks to address.

Meeting Rajah, it’s hard to believe she has anything but the fashion business on her plate – her speech is dotted with reference to warehouses, tailors, websites, payment systems, packaging suppliers. She is one of those people that can do a million things – properly – at the same time, and make it seem easy.

What’s her secret? “I don’t sleep much,” she says. “I just prefer to do other things. I work on my business, I see friends, I do other projects. I don’t want to miss out on anything just because I’m busy with work.” Yet Rajah – who sleeps about four hours a night – looks as fresh and relaxed as if she’d just got back from holiday.

BUSINESS AND PERSONALITY
Each decision is a careful blend of business and personality – Rajah’s business is named after her father (Kanes is his first name) because she thought it sounded and looked better as a brand than her own name. She flew herself to Thailand to source a tailor that would tick the quality and cost boxes – and appeal to her fashion taste. And the latest addition to Tamara Kanes is something that first and foremost makes Rajah smile: a tights service where women sign up for regular monthly deliveries, so that just when they’re cursing ladders in the last pair, a new one arrives.

Rajah has researched and refine her business more than most. After a masters in biosciences enterprise at Cambridge University, she took a break from her burgeoning consultancy career to do an MBA at Wharton, the US’s top business school. It was here that she entered a Dragon’s Den-style competition, with the idea for a women’s businesswear company – and got to the final round, alongside engineers, IT honchos and pharma gurus.

BESPOKE SERVICE
Though she didn’t win, she had done reams of valuable market research and decided to launch the business for the less crowded British market when she returned to the UK. “I heard over and over again from women how much they needed just the simple basics in sharp, versatile styles. There were overwhelmingly similar opinions about how the standard sizes in the shops just don’t fit or flatter all body shapes, and how the fabrics on offer are woefully limited.”

With this in mind, she has made the basis of the business is an impressive bespoke service. Seamstresses measure every customer at her office or wherever suits her, and offer advice on measurements, fit, style, cut, fabric and colour – essentially an image consultancy plus tailoring service that results in a personalised suit that costs anywhere from £395-£555.

The online boutique offers accessories, from attractive leather handbags that also fit laptops and files (pictured left) to scarves, cufflinks and cardigans that work with and without a jacket – one of the main complaints among the women Rajah interviewed was lack of simple items such as the black cardie.

I watch Rajah walk towards the Tube at the end of our meeting and I admire the compact elegance of her outfit – sassy grey pencil skirt, neat blue blouse and a red leather laptop handbag. She’s dressed from head to toe in Tamara Kanes – and is the picture of elegant corporate femininity. City ladies: it’s time to rejoice.
www.tamarakanes.co.uk