Making a dream reality
Tashida Cox will be the first to admit she was never a “girly girl”. Growing up, she would fight tooth and nail to get out of wearing dresses and skirts.
The owner of the fledging boutique DFB that she runs from home and one of the names behind the Miss Barbados World franchise, she said, “My mum was always fashionable but I was a tomboy. I didn’t like dresses and even now I still don’t like all the make-up. I fell into fashion. Five years ago I never saw myself here. I don’t have the clichéd story of being that girl that liked dressing up and always looking on point.”
Tashida’s fashion interest was piqued when she went to London to do her masters of arts in public relations (with merit).
She had to do an internship and ended up with Ted Baker fashion House and Chinese Laundry (trendy shoe line).
“At the time I was trying to figure out where I wanted to be in the PR field. This field isn’t what people think . . . . It is ruthless and the fashion side of PR is that times ten,” she said.
Tashida, a past student of People’s Cathedral and Luther Thorne Primary and The Lodge School and St Ursuline Convent, also hold an associate degree from the Barbados Community College in law and information technology. She attended the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, and attained a bachelor of arts in psychology with honours.
“Working with those two companies (in the UK) was an eye-opening experience. It was part time for three days and it was on weekends doing mixers and press events. It was so much work that on Sunday nights all I wanted to do was get into bed as I had classes on Mondays.”
Tashida said doors were opened for her because of her year’s experience in the internships but as fate would have it she had to return to Barbados.
“I really wanted to stay and work and build my portfolio, but my dad got into an accident and I came home to be with him and help my mum. I even had a couple of interviews lined up.”
Tashida completed her dissertation back home and while having some free time on her hands, a friend recommended her for an opening at the high end Louis Vuitton store. That was in 2012 and she had an enjoyable two years working there.
“It was a hands-on job. I had to write editorial pieces for Barbados and the Caribbean, style photo shoots and manage customer relations and produce some social events.”
After leaving LV she joined the Burberry team, helping them with their launch in Barbados this year.
All the while doing this she was managing the PR for Miss Barbados World 2009 Leah Marville, a job she got without even meeting the beauty queen.
“Social media is a powerful tool,” she said. “I reached out to her through Facebook and told her I wanted to work with her on the Love Campaign she had started. We never met until she came back from the pageant in South Africa.”
Tashida worked studiously on the campaign and it seemed she did all the right stuff as when Leah returned she kept her on the payroll from 2009-2011 and “we became good friends after all that”.
Leah went to do her law degree and Tashida went to do her Masters and in 2011 when Leah Took over the Miss Barbados World franchise she called upon Tashida.
“She asked me to be a part of it and I said let’s go for it.”
Tashida is Leah’s right hand, holding the title of vice-president, but also is as the proverbial saying goes “head cook and bottle washer”.
“I do PR duties, work with the committee to get the girls at public events, prep the girls for appearances, arrange meet-and-greets and media interviews. It is a hectic time when the pageant is nearing as I also manage the Facebook page, Instagram account, design the tickets, and so on.”
Tashida has been fortunate to travel with the franchise, going to London in 2011, Indonesia last year and will be off next month to London with reigning queen Zoe Trotman.
Even though she has her hands full with Miss Barbados duties, Tashida knew she wanted more.
“I used to help my friends pick their outfits while I was at UWI in 2010 so you can say I started delving into fashion from there. I would also help them when they go to buy items and I would buy items and sell them.
So I started small buying pieces here and there doing it for fun.”
This year, when she left the rigours of the 9-5 she said, “let’s go big.”
“So I spoke to my mum Marian Cox and my aunt Joan Cox and they were behind me 100 per cent. Mum has a good eye and she attends fashion shows with me and helps me select stuff. We travel together to go to buy stuff. Joan manages my finances . . . . Well she manages me and my finances,” Tashida she said laughing, adding that Joan has to rein her in on her shopping.
Tashida said she started out with 50 pieces, not much stock, selling to friends and family European apparel.
“People always liked my outfits so I look to my style when I buy pieces,’ she elaborated, hand-picking all the pieces herself.
The name of the boutique is DFB (De-Fine Beauty) and is only a few months old but business has been good, said Tashida.
“It is better than I expected. I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I am a bit stubborn and want to do things my way, so the only way I can do that is own my own.”
She sells women’s and men’s (just added recently) clothing and recently launched the boutique online, which also includes accessories (shoes is a long-term goal).
“I have a small, intimate set-up in my house where clients can come and shop in comfort. You have time to peruse. I want my clients to feel like how I want to feel when I shop.”
Tashida is very hands on – managing social media, shooting all the pieces for the online store with pictures and descriptions: “I am style director and everything falls under that,” she said.
The 26-year-old said she is up at 6 a.m and “I don’t go to bed before 1 a.m.”
“I am building my name and brand. I want in five years time to be the No. 1 Caribbean shopping online store. I am looking to carve a niche territory in fashion in the Caribbean.”