During the brainstorming process, when did you feel like Tabii Just was the perfect name for the clothing line?
“It was a name that I chose on a whim, actually! I wanted to incorporate my name and keep it personal but I wanted to relay the sustainable aspect of the clothing. I was playing around with a few names and tossing them around with friends and I just kind of ran with this one. People ask why I chose two i’s for Tabii and the answer is simple. It looks cuter than a Y.“
Your brand is very big on using recycled fabrics for new creations, what was the motivation behind this choice?
“We actually use new fabric but we use all of it. We take the excess from the clothing and use that to make different smaller items. We take pride in our Zero Waste ideology in regards to the fabric. For me, the motivation was simple. I wanted a type of sustainability that I could keep a close watch on. I love organic fabric but it’s regulated by certifications. It’s not personal to me. I have to trust that it’s being done that way. With Zero Waste, I make the patterns myself and I work directly with the
How involved are you and your company in the recycled materials and organic clothing?
“We haven’t been very involved but I was recently introduced to a great organic fabric supplier and I’m thinking of using some of those in the next collection. I celebrate any way to make fashion more sustainable.”
What’s your opinion on how many Americans are now being more self-aware of organic and sustainable fabrics?
“I think that it’s become a bit of a fad, now. It’s become mainstream for sure. It’s a sort of trend to be organic but there are some designers who maintain it as a part of their line DNA. These are the guys that I respect.”
What’s a typical day in the life of Tabii Just?
“Every single day is different! Right now, we’re getting ready to design Spring 2014 while selling this current collection. Typically, we do social media in the morning. Twitter and Facebook are our faves. I usually answer the bulk of emails. I line up meetings in the afternoon. I’m looking for a salesperson so I have meetings scheduled for that. I’m also a mentee with the Ben Appelbaum Foundation so I either meet with or talk with my mentors about strengthening the foundation of Tabii Just and growing at a realistic rate. I’m getting ready for a pop-up shop on June 20th at the Fashion Center with a few other wonderful designers so I may either meet with them or email with them about preparations. I tend to do fittings and visits to the factory during production in the afternoon, as well. If I’m in the Garment District, I frequently stop by my favorite fabric supplier and check out what new fabrics they have. I also blog about fashion and beauty so I may go to an event in the evening, wearing Tabii Just, of course. My intern usually finishes the day at around 5pm but I keep going until around midnight with emails, events, etc.”
Tabii Just is manufactured in the USA, New York to be exact. As a designer is that decision a pro or con for the brand?
“It’s been a personal pro. I wanted to get to know the people who make Tabii Just clothing so it was necessary for me to have the clothing made locally. As a brand, making Tabii Just clothing locally has been perfectly in line with our conscientious approach to fashion.”
What do you expect to see from your company in the next 5 years?
“I expect us to expand retail-wise. I’d like to take Tabii Just to as many states and countries as realistic for us.”
As a college graduate from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, what piece of advice would you give young adults aspiring to be fashion designer or work in the field of fashion overall?
“Get ready to work hard. It’s tough to create your dreams and also have the know-how to market and sell it. Keep moving forward. Oh, and definitely work for someone else before venturing out on your own.”
What influence does your Caribbean heritage have on your designs?
“It has a tremendous influence on my designs. I grew up there so everything I reference from my childhood is within the context of Trinidad and Tobago. A few years ago, I played in our annual Carnival for the first time and the explosion of color, culture and talent is incomparable to anything else I ever experienced. It blew my mind. I’m drawn to color and vibrancy. I love movement in clothing and I also gravitate to things that are a little sexy. This is the spirit of Trinidad and Tobago. I am so proud to be Trinidadian and it’s in the DNA of Tabii Just for sure.”
As a woman how important is it for you to design pieces that are not only engaging to look at, but also flattering to the female body?
“No woman will feel confident wearing something that she thinks doesn’t look good on her body. It was important to me to create styles that women would strut with pride in. Having something look beautiful is easy when I’m designing in my studio on a dress form. When I see someone wearing my design and it hits at just the right place on their thighs and shoulders and they pair it with their favorite heels….that’s the ultimate high for me.”